×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
June 17, 2014
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Tesla and SolarCity CEO Elon Musk's today announced a deal to acquire Silevo, a solar panel firm based in Silicon Valley. Musk explained the decision in a blog post:

SolarCity was founded to accelerate mass adoption of sustainable energy. The sun, that highly convenient and free fusion reactor in the sky, radiates more energy to the Earth in a few hours than the entire human population consumes from all sources in a year. This means that solar panels, paired with batteries to enable power at night, can produce several orders of magnitude more electricity than is consumed by the entirety of human civilization. [Solar City]

To get there, though, solar energy needs two things — both of which Musk wants to address himself. First, mass energy storage. The sun shines when it's sunny. Storage is necessary for cloudy days and nights. Musk is addressing this with the Tesla Gigafactory, mass battery-manufacturing facilities that Musk projects will drive down lithium-ion battery costs 30 percent in the first year alone. And second, solar needs economies of scale. That's why Musk has acquired Silevo, with the intention to build Gigafactories for solar panel manufacturing:

We are in discussions with the state of New York to build the initial manufacturing plant, continuing a relationship developed by the Silevo team. At a targeted capacity greater than 1 GW within the next two years, it will be one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world. This will be followed in subsequent years by one or more significantly larger plants at an order of magnitude greater annual production capacity. [Solar City]

But that's just the start:

Even if the solar industry were only to generate 40 percent of the world’s electricity with photovoltaics by 2040, that would mean installing more than 400 GW of solar capacity per year for the next 25 years. We absolutely believe that solar power can and will become the world’s predominant source of energy within our lifetimes, but there are obviously a lot of panels that have to be manufactured and installed in order for that to happen. The plans we are announcing today, while substantial compared to current industry, are small in that context. [Solar City]

Of course, solar energy costs were rapidly falling even before this. But this kind of focused project is likely to keep that momentum going for a while yet. It is looking more and more likely that we will soon live in a world where renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuels. John Aziz

10:22 p.m. ET
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas wrote in an Instagram post on Tuesday that she was sexually abused by Larry Nassar, Team USA's doctor.

Douglas, 21, said she didn't tell anyone about the abuse because "for years we were conditioned to stay silent, and honestly, some things were extremely painful. I wholeheartedly support my teammates for coming forward with what happened to them."

Her former teammates Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney have both said they were abused by Nassar, 54, who served as the national team doctor for more than 20 years. He is accused of molesting several girls while working for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, and will plead guilty to multiple charges of assault, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press Tuesday. Catherine Garcia

9:25 p.m. ET
Sebastian Artz/Getty Images

The Partridge Family star and former teen heartthrob David Cassidy died from organ failure Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was 67.

Cassidy's family confirmed his death to People magazine, saying he "died surrounded by those he loved, with joy in his heart and free from the pain that had gripped him for so long." He was hospitalized last week with liver and kidney failure, and had been in the intensive care unit.

Cassidy hit it big starring in The Partridge Family, alongside his stepmother, Shirley Jones. A singer, he toured the world in his early 20s, but decided to quit and focus on songwriting and recording. Cassidy publicly shared his struggles with alcohol, and in February announced he had dementia. He is survived by Jones; son Beau Cassidy; daughter Katie Cassidy; brothers Shaun, Patrick, and Ryan Cassidy; and several nieces and nephews. Catherine Garcia

9:05 p.m. ET
Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump is spending Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago, his gilded private club in Palm Beach, Florida, and the members who pay $15,000 a year in dues have to start following special rules that go into effect when Trump's on the premises.

A notice was sent out Monday reminding members that they'll have to go through Secret Service checkpoints, which will likely take 10 to 20 minutes, Politico reports. "Pocket knives, laser pointers, pepper spray, and any other items deemed to be a safety hazard are not permitted on property," the memo said. "Any items surrendered will not be returned." Members are also only allowed to bring two guests at a time to the club, and all of the rules are enough to keep some people away. "We plan not to be there when he's there," one longtime member told Politico. "When he's there, it's a mess."

Trump has dubbed Mar-a-Lago the "Winter White House," and Chief of Staff John Kelly is reportedly trying to figure out a way to keep Trump from hobnobbing with the members in the club's main dining room, but friend and Mar-a-Lago member Chris Ruddy said he doubts he'll be able to keep him away. "The president thrives on the interactions he has with guests, friends, and members, and I'd be surprised if that didn't continue in some way," he told Politico. Catherine Garcia

7:39 p.m. ET
David Ramos/Getty Images

In October 2016, hackers stole the personal data of 57 million Uber customers and drivers, the company announced Tuesday.

Uber paid the hackers $100,000 to delete the data, which included names, email addresses, phone numbers, and in the case of some U.S. drivers, driver's license numbers. The company told Bloomberg they do not believe the information was ever used, and its chief security officer and deputy were let go this week for not going public with the hack.

"None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it," CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement. "We are changing the way we do business." A spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he has launched an investigation into the hack. Catherine Garcia

6:56 p.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Once tasked with everything from brokering peace in the Middle East to ending the opioid crisis in America, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has seen his responsibilities slowly fade away over the last few months, several White House officials told Vanity Fair.

It started when Chief of Staff John Kelly arrived over the summer. "Kelly has clipped his wings," one Republican close to the White House told Gabriel Sherman. He's made it so Kushner, who worked in real estate and once ran a newspaper, mostly focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and was angry when Kushner made an unannounced trip to Saudi Arabia right before the Crown Price arrested 11 of his fellow Saudi royals, Vanity Fair reports. Many believe the timing proves Kushner had something to do with planning the purge, and that's what ticked off Kelly. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders found this notion hilarious, telling Vanity Fair, "Chief Kelly and Jared had a good laugh about this inquiry as nothing in it is true."

Kelly's not the only person in the White House finding fault with Kushner — several Republicans told Sherman Trump is not pleased with the political advice he's received from his son-in-law, including to back Luther Strange in the Alabama Republican Senate primary. Strange ended up losing to Roy Moore, who now stands accused of sexual misconduct by several women. Three Republicans told Sherman that if Trump had his way, Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, would return to New York City with their family, where the president thinks they would escape negative press. Catherine Garcia

4:50 p.m. ET

On Tuesday, President Trump told White House reporters that "we do not need a liberal person" to win the open Senate seat in Alabama. "You have to listen to" Roy Moore's denials of the allegations of his sexual misconduct with minors, Trump told reporters, referring to the multiple women who have accused the Republican candidate of inappropriate conduct. Trump said that Moore's Democratic opponent Doug Jones — who convicted two KKK members for bombing a church in Alabama — was "terrible on crime" and "terrible on the border" before adding that allegations against Moore occurred over 40 years ago, "so, you know."

Although the Republican Party has largely distanced itself or withdrawn support entirely from Moore, the White House had been reluctant to give a firm opinion on Moore's candidacy. Last week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the president believed "the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their senator should be." On Monday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway gave a slightly less limp endorsement of Moore, saying on Fox & Friends that Moore's victory would help the Republicans pass tax reform — comments the Moore campaign latched onto as implicit proof of a White House endorsement.

Before Trump made his way to Mar-a-Lago for his Thanksgiving vacation, he was also asked about the recent wave of sexual assault allegations. His answer was noteworthy, given he has been accused of sexual assault and harassment by many women. Kelly O'Meara Morales

3:53 p.m. ET
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Disney Animation head and Toy Story director John Lasseter announced he is taking a six-month leave of absence from Pixar, which is owned by Disney, after "painful" conversations, The Hollywood Reporter writes. "It's never easy to face your missteps," he wrote in a memo to employees, adding: "It's been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent."

The Hollywood Reporter writes that it is "hard to overstate Lasseter's value to Disney. He is known as the genius behind Pixar films from Toy Story to the upcoming Coco. He took charge of Walt Disney Animation in 2006 and led a revival that included such gigantic hits as Frozen and Inside Out."

One Pixar employee revealed Lasseter was known by entertainment industry insiders for "grabbing, kissing, [and] making comments about physical attributes." Another employee recalled walking into a meeting where a woman was sitting beside Lasseter with her hand over her thigh and his hand on her knee. Afterwards the woman told the employee that "it was unfortunate for her to wear a skirt that day and if she didn't have her hand on her own right leg, his hand would have travelled." Read more of the allegations at The Hollywood Reporter. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads