Tesla's Elon Musk mocks short investors who bet against his company

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk used Twitter late Friday to taunt investors who have bet against his company, even though his previous Twitter comments have spurred a government investigation and shareholder lawsuits.

The tweets are aimed at "shorts," or investors who borrowed shares of Tesla and immediately sold them with the hope that Tesla's share price would fall. That would allow the shorts to buy back the stock at a lower price, return the shares to the lender, and pocket the difference.

Shorting a stock can temporarily lower its price, making short investors a frequent target of CEO wrath.

The Twitter comments could potentially affect Musk's legal situation. On Tuesday (local time) he tweeted that he had secured funding to buy all Tesla shares and take the company private.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Musk's disclosure of the potential deal, according to reports earlier this week.

Musk's attitude toward short sellers could be relevant, securities law experts have said. Musk's tweet about taking Tesla private sent the stock soaring 11 percent Tuesday and cost short sellers roughly $1 billion, according to some estimates.

If his motive for the tweet "was frustration with short sellers, then that could be a case of market manipulation," John Coffee Jr., a Columbia University law professor and corporate-governance expert, said earlier this week.

Late Friday Musk mocked short investors in a series of tweets, suggesting his antipathy toward them hasn't dimmed.
"Short shorts coming soon to Tesla merch," Musk tweeted. "What are your fav short shorts?"

James Cox, a professor of securities law at Duke University, downplayed the significance of the Friday tweets, noting that Musk's antipathy toward short sellers is well-known.

"It's hard for me to think that these blasts are going to get him in trouble," Cox said.

On Friday, two lawsuits were filed accusing Musk of seeking to harm short sellers by artificially running up the price of the company's shares through his Tuesday tweets.

One tweet on Tuesday said that funding to take Tesla private was "secure." If there is evidence that the financing wasn't fully locked down, Musk's claim would expose him to allegations of fraud, Coffee said.

speaks onstage at Elon Musk Answers Your Questions! during SXSW at ACL Live on March 11, 2018 in Austin, Texas.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Source: Associated Press


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President Trump condemns all racism ahead of anniversary of Charlottesville white supremacy violence

US President Donald Trump has acknowledged the anniversary of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville that turned deadly last year.

The rally turned violent and Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old legal assistant, was struck and killed when a white supremacist slammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters.

Two Virginia state troopers also died when their surveillance helicopter crashed near the protests.

"I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence,’ and critics have slammed the wording, saying it was just an offshoot of blaming ‘both sides," Trump wrote on Twitter.

At the time, Trump had blamed both sides for the violence. 

"You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides," Trump said.

White nationalists are again planning the rally this year outside the president’s home in Washington D.C.  A large counterprotest is also scheduled.

Authorities in Charlottesville say they have seized prohibited items such as brass knuckles as hundreds of people have passed through security checkpoints leading into the city's downtown area.

A news release from the city Saturday afternoon (US time) said several hundred people had made their way through the perimeter that was established at 8 a.m.

The city says law enforcement at the access points are conducting consensual checks for objects that were banned as a security measure during the weekend anniversary of last summer's violence.

The news release says individuals can refuse the searches but unsearched bags or packages won't be allowed inside.

The city tweeted just before 2:30 p.m. that two arrests had been made so far Saturday.

A 28-year-old North Carolina man was arrested for trespassing and a 64-year-old man from surrounding Albemarle County, Virginia, was arrested for disorderly conduct.

The city says each man was released on a misdemeanor summons.

Police blocked off streets and mobilised hundreds of officers for the anniversary of white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Tight security measures are in place for the anniversary of last summer's violence. Source: Associated Press

The security measures alarmed activists but reassured others who said they have painful memories of last year's chaos.

Local and state authorities framed the weekend's heightened security as a necessary precaution.

Late Saturday morning, when many businesses in a popular downtown shopping district were beginning to open, law enforcement officers outnumbered visitors.

Concrete barriers and metal fences had been erected, and police were searching bags at two checkpoints where people could enter or leave.

Nearby, dozens of officers carrying helmets and with gas masks strapped to their belts stood watch in the park where hundreds of white nationalists gathered last summer at a rally planned in part to protest the city's plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee.

The event descended into violence, with clashes erupting between attendees and counterprotesters.

Some community activists were concerned that this year's heavy police presence could be a counterproductive overreaction.

An independent investigation of the rally violence, led by a former federal prosecutor, found the chaos stemmed from a passive response by law enforcement and poor preparation and coordination between state and city police.

Lisa Woolfork, a University of Virginia professor and Black Lives Matter Charlottesville organiser, said police are mounting a "huge, overwhelming show of force to compensate for last year's inaction."

"Last year, I was afraid of the Nazis. This year, I'm afraid of the police," Woolfork said. "This is not making anyone that I know feel safe."

But some business owners and downtown visitors said Saturday they were comforted by the security measures.

"It's nice that they're here to protect us," said Lara Mitchell, 66, a sales associate at Ten Thousand Villages, a shop that sells artwork, jewelry, and other items.

Kyle Rodland, 35, took his young sons to get ice cream downtown late Saturday morning.

Rodland said he felt much safer than last year, when he left town with his family and stayed with his parents after seeing people armed with long rifles walking around outside his home.

Saturday marked the anniversary of a march by torch-toting white supremacists a day ahead of the larger event in downtown. The group paraded through the University of Virginia's campus, shouting racist and anti-Semitic slogans.

On Saturday morning, the university hosted a "morning of reflection and renewal," with musical performances, a poetry reading and an address from University President James Ryan.

Ryan recalled how a group of students and community members faced off against the white supremacists near a statue of Thomas Jefferson on campus, calling it a "remarkable moment of courage and bravery."

Later Saturday evening, students and activists planned to hold a "Rally for Justice" on campus.

Other events were also planned throughout the weekend, including on Sunday, the anniversary of the violence that erupted on the streets of Charlottesville.

After authorities had forced the clashing crowds of of white supremacists and counterprotesters to disperse, a car plowed into a crowd, killing 32-year-old counterprotester Heather Heyer.

James Fields Jr., 21, of Maumee, Ohio, is charged in state court with murder in Heyer's killing and also faces separate hate crime charges in federal court.

The day's death toll rose to three when a state police helicopter that had been monitoring the event and assisting with the governor's motorcade crashed, killing two troopers.

Jason Kessler, the primary organiser of last summer's rally, sued the city of Charlottesville after it refused to issue him a permit for another event this weekend. However, Kessler dropped his lawsuit last week and vowed to forge ahead with plans for a "white civil rights" rally Sunday in Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday, Gov. Ralph Northam and the city both declared states of emergency, citing the "potential impacts of events" in Charlottesville during the anniversary weekend. The state's declaration allocates $2 million in state funds and authorises the Virginia National Guard to assist in security efforts.

The city closed downtown streets and public parks and restricted access to a downtown "security area," where visitors were prohibited from wearing masks or carrying certain items, including skateboards, catapults, glass bottles, bats and knives.

Virginia State Police Superintendent Gary Settle said more than 700 state police will be activated during the weekend.

President donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House. Photo: Tom Brenner/The New York Times
President donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House. Source: (C) 2018 THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Californian firefighters make significant progress in battle against blaze south of LA

Firefighters made significant progress trying to tamp down a wildfire that threatened homes and has been raging for days south of Los Angeles, officials said Saturday (US time).

Aircraft have been making flight after flight, dumping water and bright pink retardant to protect Lake Elsinore and other foothill communities as the fire sweeps through the dense, bone-dry brush of the Cleveland National Forest.

The Holy Fire - named for Holy Jim Canyon, where it began Monday - grew to nearly 33 square miles (85 square kilometers) by Saturday morning. But firefighters also made progress, with containment rising from 10 to 29 percent.

High temperatures and dry grass and brush have made it difficult for firefighters to get a handle on the blaze.

Some hillsides were being allowed to burn under the watchful eyes of firefighters as a way to reduce fuel and make it harder for flames to jump roadways into communities if winds pick up again.

Although the fire burned a dozen forest cabins early on, only one home was lost Thursday as fire crews managed to fend off flames that stalked downhill and came right up to yards.

On Saturday, officials allowed some residents to return to their homes in Lake Elsinore, but others still remained under evacuation orders.

The man accused of deliberately starting the fire appeared in court on Friday, but his arraignment was postponed.

Forrest Clark, 51, made several outbursts, claiming his life was being threatened and saying the arson charge against him was a lie. A court commissioner ordered his bail to remain at $1 million.

The Holy Fire was one of nearly 20 blazes across California, which is seeing earlier, longer and more destructive wildfire seasons because of drought, warmer weather attributed to climate change and home construction deeper into forests.

A fire that broke out near the communities of Fairfield and Vacaville had destroyed a home and two other structures, according to the Vacaville Fire Department. A firefighter suffered a minor injury battling the blaze, which grew to about 2.6 square miles (6.9 sq. kilometers) and was 70 percent contained by Saturday afternoon, officials said.

The largest fire ever recorded in California - the Mendocino Complex - is burning north of Sacramento and has destroyed 119 homes but none in recent days.

The fire had reached 508 square miles (1,315 sq. kilometers) and was 67 percent contained by Saturday.

The two-week-old Carr Fire that killed six people and burned more than 1,000 homes was 55 percent contained.

Firefighters Ryan Foley, center, and Andrew Arthen with San Bernardino Cal Fire make a stand in front of an advancing wildfire as they protect a home Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, in Lake Elsinore, Calif. Firefighters on Friday are protecting foothill neighborhoods in the city of Lake Elsinore near where the blaze flared up amid unpredictable winds a day earlier. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Firefighters fighting the blaze that has been raging for days in California. Source: Associated Press