Sarah Palin hints she may run for US Senate in Alaska against Lisa Murkowski

Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin said she would run for Senate if it’s what “God wants.”

  • Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she hadn’t ruled out a run for US Senate.
  • “If God wants me to do it I will,” Palin said at an event in July.
  • Palin would challenge Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican who has distanced herself from Trump.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, hinted at an event last month that she was considering a run for US Senate.

“If God wants me to do it I will,” Palin said in remarks to ChΓ© Ahn, the senior pastor of the Harvest Rock Church, in footage that was uploaded to Instagram.

Palin would challenge Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican who has distanced herself from former President Donald Trump.

A post shared by Harvest International Ministry (@him_global)

According to Right Wing Watch, Palin made the comments during a July 22 appearance with Ahn at a leadership conference cosponsored by Ahn’s Harvest International Ministry and the Latino Coalition for Israel.

“I would say you guys better be there for me this time, because a lot of people were not there for me last time,” Palin said.

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Car dealers reveal the new normal for buyers, from zero haggling and non-refundable deposits to sight-unseen purchases

A man looks at his phone on the hood of an SUV at a car dealership
A confluence of factors has upended the market for used and new cars in the past year, drastically changing how Americans buy cars.

  • The pandemic has thrown the market for new and used cars totally out of whack.
  • Cars are flying off of lots as quickly as manufacturers can produce them, and prices are sky-high.
  • The buying frenzy has people pouncing on cars they never would have considered before.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Cameron Johnson, a fourth-generation car dealer with nine franchises in Virginia, was taught growing up that every morning when a dealer wakes up, their used inventory is worth less than it was the night before.

But in today’s absurd car market, that wisdom isn’t holding up.

A buying frenzy coupled with an historic shortage of vehicles on lots has sent used-car values soaring nearly 30% since last June, according to Edmunds’ automotive research. Over the last six months, Johnson’s Magic City Auto Group has raised prices consistently, and the buyers just keep rolling in.

“I’ve definitely never seen this,” he told Insider. “And I think if you had a group of the smartest people in a room a year ago, no one would have predicted this.”

A massive shortage of computer chips has devastated car manufacturing for months, choking off the supply of new vehicles to dealers. High markups and scant options from assembly lines are fueling a boom in secondhand sales, chipping away at used inventories and driving prices skyward.

Rental-car companies that pared down their fleets when travel ground to a halt in 2020 have resorted to hoarding used vehicles. Meanwhile, low interest rates, a strong economic recovery, and fluctuating travel habits have kept consumer demand high.

It’s completely upended the way car dealers do business.

Lee Walls, a salesman at Grainger Honda in Savannah, Georgia, told Insider his dealership would typically have between 300 and 400 new cars either on the lot or on their way there. Now, he’s down to about 60.

These days, most new Hondas destined for Grainger’s showroom are sold before they even hit the lot – and they’re selling at or near MSRP. The dealership has changed its policy to make deposits non-refundable since so many buyers are clamoring for new cars.

Read more: Here’s how EV startups like Rivian are tackling the chip shortage that’s wreaking havoc for major automakers

At Magic City Auto Group’s stores, too, cars are snatched up practically as quickly as manufacturers can ship them over. Margins are up and profits are solid, but the money is short-term, Johnson says.

“We’re selling them faster than we can get them, which in a normal world would sound like a great problem,” he said. But he’d readily give up the extraordinary margins for more volume, which keeps salespeople happier and creates more downstream revenue from service and trade-ins.

Everything is selling

With popular models so expensive and hard to come by, shoppers have been loosening their budgets and pouncing on vehicles they wouldn’t have considered before.

Arizona-based Lifted Trucks – which takes used SUVs and pickups, jacks them up anywhere from two to eight inches, puts new wheels and tires on, and sells them through four locations across the state – has broken a sales record nearly every month since May 2020.

Many of its recent customers weren’t seeking out a lifted pickup, they simply couldn’t find the model they were after anywhere else, Chad Staples, the company’s corporate director of training and recruiting, told Insider.

Pickups sold by Lifted Trucks in Arizona
Lifted Trucks has seen record sales and profits over the last year.

Moreover, vehicles that would’ve languished on Lifted Trucks’ lots in normal times – ones with oddball paint jobs like banana yellow, orange, bright neon green, or Tiffany blue – are selling like hotcakes, Staples said. Desperate buyers are coming from farther away than ever, with one recent customer driving his trade-in from Pennsylvania.

Amid the insanity, margins are up around 30%, Staples said.

Car owners cash in

Dealers aren’t the only ones benefiting from the insatiable appetite for used cars. Used-car owners are cashing in big on rising values.

The average price paid for a trade-in has shot up 75% year-over-year to around $21,200, according to Edmunds. Some car owners stand to make a killing, particularly if they have a vehicle they don’t need. Staples, for his part, said Lifted Trucks has bought back numerous customers’ vehicles for more than it initially sold them for.

Those with leased cars are making out like bandits, too. Peoples’ off-lease vehicles, in many cases, are worth significantly more now than the buyout price they set in their contract years earlier, meaning lessees can essentially flip their leases to another dealer for an instant profit. Johnson, of Magic City, said he helped a recent customer buy out a lease for $40,000, then took the car in on trade for $48,000.

Some people have been making monthly payments and putting miles on cars that aren’t even depreciating in value, Johnson said. “It’s bizarro world,” he said.

New-vehicle supply will only begin to improve toward the end of this year, according to forecaster LMC Automotive, so it could be quite a while before the market evens out. Johnson, for one, believes the pandemic may have changed car buying and selling permanently, as manufacturers realize they can ship out smaller numbers of vehicles with lower incentives.

“I don’t think you’re going to go back to seeing 900 cars on our lot anytime soon,” he said. “The days of coming onto a lot and seeing 50 different Explorers to choose from are far away, if ever.”

Are you a car dealer, owner, or private seller with a story to share about what it’s like to buy and sell cars right now? Contact this reporter at tlevin@insider.com

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Surgeon general says he’s ‘deeply concerned’ as COVID-19 cases reach record highs in Florida

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy
Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.

  • US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said he’s “deeply concerned” about Florida, where COVID-19 cases are surging.
  • Florida is currently leading the country in per capita COVID-19 hospitalizations.
  • On Saturday, the state registered more than 21,000 new infections – a record high.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Monday that he’s “deeply concerned” about Florida – where COVID-19 cases have reached record highs – and other states where infections are increasing.

“I am deeply concerned about what’s happening in Florida and certainly many parts of our country with cases rising,” Murthy said during an interview on “CBS This Morning.”

Florida is currently leading the country in per capita COVID-19 hospitalizations with more than 10,000 coronavirus patients, data shows.

The Sunshine State also hit a single-day record for new coronavirus cases on Saturday with more than 21,000 infections recorded.

“I think what we see time and time again … with COVID-19 is that it’s going to throw curveballs at us,” Murthy said, explaining that the highly tranmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus “is the latest curveball.”

Murthy added, “And what we have to be ready to do is increase our vaccination pace while we are using mitigation measures, including wearing masks.”

Read more: Internal CDC document warns ‘the war has changed’ with the more infectious Delta variant

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance and recommended that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear face masks indoors in areas where coronavirus transmission is high.

“That’s one of the reasons the CDC revised its guidance last week to encourage more mask usage because we know it’s a powerful way to reduce the spread of the virus while getting vaccination rates up,” Murthy said.

Despite surging coronavirus cases in Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order last week prohibiting schools in the state from requiring students to wear face masks when they return to classrooms this month.

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A giant Tesla battery pack burst into flames during testing, and it took 150 firefighters 4 days to put out

Tesla CEO Elon Musk wearing a construction helmet.
Tesla’s big battery in Australia burst into flames during testing on Friday, Australian authorities said.

  • A huge Tesla battery pack was on fire for four days until firefighters managed to put it out.
  • The “Megapack,” at an upcoming Australian power project, caught fire in a trial, authorities said.
  • It took 150 firefighters and more than 30 fire trucks to extinguish the fire, they said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Tesla “Megapack” battery pack caught fire during testing on Friday, and it took firefighters four days to extinguish the blaze, Australian local authorities said on Monday.

A Megapack is Tesla’s largest battery product, and can store energy generated by solar panels or wind turbines. The Victorian Big Battery project, where the fire started on Friday morning, is made up of 210 Megapacks.

The fire at the project in Victoria, Australia, was under control as of Monday afternoon local time, the Country Fire Authority (CFA) said in a statement.

Around 150 firefighters and more than 30 fire trucks and other support vehicles were called to the scene to tackle the fire, according to the CFA.

Firefighters “found a 13-tonne lithium battery inside a shipping container was fully involved,” the CFA said. The exact cause of the fire is still unknown but will be investigated, the CFA said.

The battery plant, first announced in 2019, was built by French renewable energy giant Neoen using Tesla’s 300 megawatt battery packs. Neoen said in a statement that the battery plant is on track to be operational by the end of next year, and will be able to power local homes.

Firefighters haven’t found any more fires at the project, according to authorities. They will stay on the scene as a precaution, the CFA added.

On Monday morning local time, the CFA reported that the fire had died down but still wasn’t under control.

“There was one battery pack on fire to start with, but it did spread to a second pack that was very close to it,” Ian Beswicke, CFA incident controller and a district assistant chief fire officer, said in the statement.

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Top Stories this AM: Matt Damon says he finally stopped using the word ‘f—-t’; Paul Gosar’s siblings shame him; Square pays for Afterpay

Good morning and welcome to your weekday morning roundup of the top stories you need to know.

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What’s going on today:

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The late CEO of a $1.2 billion publishing firm left control of the company to an exec he’d had a relationship with, rather than his family. His son called it ‘salt in an open wound.’

Richard Robinson Jr., Scholastic's late CEO, holds up a copy of "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" wearing a red tie.
Richard Robinson Jr. was the CEO and Chairman of Scholastic Corp., the US publisher of the “Harry Potter” books.

  • The late CEO of Scholastic left the company to its board chair, his former lover, per the WSJ.
  • Richard Robinson Jr. died on June 5. He left a controlling stake in the publisher to Iole Lucchese.
  • This means his family do not control the business. His son called it “salt in an open wound.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The late CEO of a $1.2 billion publishing house left control of the company with its chief strategy officer, with whom he had a long-term romantic relationship, rather than his two adult children or four siblings, the Wall Street Journal reported.

His oldest son called it “salt in an open wound.”

Richard Robinson Jr., the former chairman and CEO of Scholastic Corp., which publishes the US versions of the “Harry Potter” books, died suddenly in June aged 84 while taking a walk in Martha’s Vineyard.

In Robinson’s 2018 will, viewed by The Journal, he left his 53.8% controlling stake in Scholastic to Iole Lucchese, the company’s chief strategy officer. The pair had a long-term romantic relationship that was an open secret within the company, unnamed family members and former coworkers told the paper. They weren’t in a relationship when he died, according to unnamed former colleagues cited by the Journal.

In the will, Robinson also left all of his personal possessions to 54-year-old Lucchese, who he described as his “partner and closest friend,” rather than his two adult sons, four siblings, and ex-wife, the paper reported.

Robinson left about 3 million company shares, including 53.8% of its Class A shares, and more than 2 million common shares to Lucchese, per a securities filing.

A spokesperson for Scholastic told The Journal that about $70 million of Robinson’s common shares wouldn’t ultimately be owned by Lucchese, although it is unclear who will inherit them.

Read more: Office romances can be tricky. Here’s what to do if you find out an employee is in a secret relationship with a boss.

Lucchese, who started working for Scholastic in Canada 30 years ago, became chair of its board in July.

Robinson’s succession plan left some family members reeling: John Benham Robinson, the publishing mogul’s oldest son, told The Journal that his father’s will has “served as salt in an open wound.” John, 34, said that he spoke to Lucchese for the first time in late July about his father’s estate, per the Journal.

Some of Robinson’s family members are considering taking legal action, unnamed sources close to the matter told the Journal.

Maurice Robinson, the younger son, told the Journal: “You might think from the will that he didn’t see his sons. That’s not true. For the last two years I saw him multiple times a week.”

Robinson’s ex-wife, Helen Benham, also told the Journal that he had grown closer to his family during the pandemic, spending “all of his time” away from work with her and their children.

Robinson’s family wrote in his obituary that he had “expressed a strong desire to work less and spend more time with his family on the Vineyard.”

Scholastic did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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Obama is throwing his 60th birthday bash on Martha’s Vineyard with hundreds of guests amid Delta variant concerns

Obama and daughter Martha's Vineyard
Former President Barack Obama and his daughter Malia on Martha’s Vineyard.

  • Barack Obama is throwing his 60th birthday party outdoors on Martha’s Vineyard, Axios reported.
  • Sources said the party will have a “COVID-coordinator” and that guests are asked to be vaccinated.
  • The CDC updated mask guidelines for vaccinated people last week over Delta variant concerns.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Barack Obama is planning a massive outdoor party on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts next weekend to celebrate his 60th birthday as concerns over the Delta coronavirus variant rise.

Sources told Axios the hundreds of guests expected to be in attendance are asked to be vaccinated and that there will be a “COVID-coordinator” to make sure relevant protocols are followed. A source also said negative COVID-19 tests are required for every guest, but didn’t give details on how that would be monitored.

The party is likely to be a star-studded event, with Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney rounding out the guest list, one source told The Hill.

Read more: Fight the Delta variant, but don’t let it stop the reopening

Obama’s 55th birthday party, held at the White House, was attended by Paul McCartney, Nick Jonas, Ellen DeGeneres, Stevie Wonder, and Magic Johnson.

Sources told Axios and The Hill the party is being held at the Obama’s $12 million waterfront mansion. The seven-bedroom home sits on nearly 30 acres and has a swimming pool and private beachfront.

The party is being held amid renewed COVID-19 concerns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended this week that everyone, vaccinated or not, should wear masks indoors in areas of the country with substantial or high coronavirus transmission.

Dukes County, where Martha’s Vineyard is located, only has moderate community transmission, according to the CDC.

The updated guidance was prompted by new data on the Delta variant that showed vaccinated people can spread it as easily as the unvaccinated, Insider’s Hilary Brueck reported.

The study the CDC considered was on an outbreak in an unnamed town in Massachusetts, a state with a high vaccination rate, that held multiple large gatherings, indoor and outdoor, in early July. Local media reports made clear the town was Provincetown, located on Cape Cod, which is north of Martha’s Vineyard.

The study found 745 of the COVID-19 cases, or 346 infections, were among the fully vaccinated.

The CDC said the vaccines are still incredibly effective at preventing hospitalization or death, which is what they were intended to do, including with the Delta variant.

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NIH director says school mask rules for kids under 12 is the ‘best thing’ to reduce spread of COVID-19

francis collins NIH director
Dr Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss vaccines and protecting public health during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Washington, U.S., September 9, 2020.

Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, said on Sunday that “masks are the best thing we’ve got right now” to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools as students are gearing up to return to class.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended people wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, as some areas have recorded surging case counts in recent weeks.

Children younger than 12 years old aren’t currently approved to receive any of the COVID-19 vaccines. In its guidance for K-12 schools, the CDC emphasizes the importance of encouraging vaccinations among eligible student populations, in addition to “other prevention strategies” like social distancing and wearing masks indoors.

“When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet … it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking,” the agency said.

Collins on Sunday acknowledged the confusion over guidelines in workplaces, schools, and other public spaces as new case counts rise aross the US.

“I know people are frustrated, and it’s gotten very political, and people are looking for someone to blame. Just put all that aside and look at the facts,” Collins said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If Delta is as contagious as we now know it is, and we want to try to put an end to what is a very significant uptick right now, wearing masks, if you’re under 12 and can’t be vaccinated when you’re in school, is a really smart thing to do.”

Read more: Internal CDC document warns ‘the war has changed’ with the more infectious Delta variant

Collins also on Sunday emphasized the harrowing total of COVID deaths in the US. According to data from John Hopkins University, there have been nearly 620,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic as of August 1.

“If we are going to be able to continue, whether in business or in school, to do things that we really value, putting the mask on is the best way to ensure that things don’t get worse,” Collins said. “So it seems like a sacrifice worth making.”

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Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet is acquiring a license to provide blanket coverage to Britain, the Telegraph says

Tesla CEO Elon Musk with a hardhat.JPG
Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Germany this week.

Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet venture has secured a license to construct a satellite ground station on the Isle of Man, which will provide “blanket coverage” across Great Britain, the Telegraph reports.

Starlink, part of of Musk’s SpaceX, has filed an application with the communications regulator for the Isle of Man to improve its broadband coverage for rural areas in northern Britain that cannot be reached by fiber broadband or 5G internet, the newspaper reported.

By transmitting from a station on the island, which is west off the coast of northern Britain, Starlink can capitalize on the island’s less crowded airwaves so their signal can reach these rural broadband holes, the Telegraph said.

Starlink already has established satellite bases in Buckinghamshire and Cornwall. With the three ground stations and its network of satellites in orbit, the company is expected to beam down full broadband coverage for all of the UK, it said.

The internet service would compete with other British broadband companies in Britain, particularly the UK government-owned OneWeb, which also works with a low Earth orbit satellite network.

SpaceX is looking to provide Starlink satellite internet globally by this September and connecting in-flight internet service. The company has been working on launching 42,000 Starlink satellites into orbit by 2027 to support its global broadband signal.

Global coverage of Starlink’s service could allow more and more rural and underserved communities to get fast broadband.

Starlink launched a UK limited test service earlier this year, charging Β£89 ($123) a month, plus Β£439 ($610) for a satellite dish, according to the Telegraph. More than 500,000 people have placed an order for Starlink internet, Musk said in May.

Ofcom, the UK’s communication regulator, said last week it is updating the terms and process for obtaining licenses for low-orbit satellites, like the ones Starlink uses, and were halting any current or new applications. However, the regulators said they were in the final stages of issuing one license that was developed with their proposed guideline. Ofcom did not comment on who filed the application.

Starlink could not be reached by the time of publication.

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UK: Uber and food-delivery app Deliveroo to offer discounts to vaccinated customers

A Deliveroo rider cycles through central London
A Deliveroo rider cycles through central London

  • The UK government has announced a partnership with businesses to encourage uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The scheme includes ride-sharing apps Uber and Bolt, and the food delivery app Deliveroo.
  • The aim is to get more young people, aged 18-29, vaccinated.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Several UK ride-sharing and food delivery apps are offering discounts to young people who get their COVID-19 vaccine.

Food delivery and taxi firms including Uber, Bolt, Deliveroo, and Pizza Pilgrims will offer discounts as a part of the Government drive to have more young people take their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Uber will be sending notifications to all users in August to urge them to get the vaccine and will offer discounted rides and meals on Uber Eats for young adults who get the jab.

Bolt – another popular taxi app – will be offering free ride credit to vaccination centers.

Deliveroo will be offering vouchers to young people who get their vaccine, with Pizza Pilgrims joining on a similar offer.

A Deliveroo spokesman said: “We want to do our small part to support the NHS during the pandemic, including delivering a million free meals to frontline NHS staff and vaccine centers. This is the next step in helping people get vaccinated and safely back to normal.”

Thom Elliot, Pizza Pilgrims Founder, said: “By making getting your jab as easy as grabbing a pizza, hopefully, we can help our teams and our customers get both their first and second doses as easily and quickly as possible. Watch this space for more details.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I’m delighted that more than two-thirds of young people in England have already had a first dose of a vaccine, helping to build a wall of defense around our country.

“Thank you to all the businesses who are stepping up to support this important vaccine drive. Once available, please go out and take advantage of the discounts.”

The UK has a high vaccination rate, with 88.4% of eligible people having received one dose, and 71.8% had received two.

This particular campaign is focusing on the 33% of people aged 18-29 who have not received a first dose of the vaccine.

This campaign comes as the UK sees a decline in the recent peak in COVID-19 cases, which at its peak saw almost 43,000 cases of COVID-19 be diagnosed in a single day.

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