May 17, 2022

Millions of Texans Under Severe Storm Alerts and Outages; Prophetic Investor Bets Against Tesla; ‘Suicide Squad’ Director Gets Daily Death Threats; Chicago Businesses Excited for Lollapalooza; ‘American Idol’ Finalist Returns to Lakewood for Hometown Performance

Millions of Texans Under Severe Storm Alerts and Power Outages

Nearly 100,000 customers were left without power on early Wednesday after heavy torrential rain. Across Southeast Texas, millions are under severe weather alerts, including warnings for flash floods and tornado watches. The Houston metro area in Harris County, the state’s most populous county, was under a flash flood warning until 12:45 a.m. local time. 

Areas near College Station and Houston were also under a tornado watch until 2 a.m. as they were expected to experience hail, damaging winds, and heavy lighting.

Parts of Austin County, Burleson County, Colorado County, Waller County, Washington County, and Wharton County were all under flash flood warnings Tuesday night. Those counties received around 2-4 inches of rainfall, and it is expected to continue for the next few hours.

As of early Wednesday, nearly 100,000 customers were without power in Texas, according to the website PowerOutage.

Life-threatening flash flooding is expected to begin in creeks and streams, highways, streets, urban areas, and underpasses in the coming hours.

In Louisiana, authorities are investigating five deaths related to severe weather conditions. Three people were in submerged vehicles in various parts of the state. The other two deaths were people who were on oxygen when their power went out, Shane Evans, chief of investigations with the coroner’s office in East Baton Rouge.

Parents use boats to pick up students from schools after nearly a foot of rain fell in Lake Charles in Louisiana.

“Had their machines been working, there is no doubt in my mind they would be alive today,” Evans said.

The Louisiana State Patrol said a crash Monday night in West Baton Rouge Parish left one person dead, another missing, and others with minor injuries.

Extreme rainfall and increased rainfall rates are closely linked with warming temperatures and the climate crisis.

“The frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events across the United States have increased … and are expected to continue to increase over the coming century,” according to the US National Climate Assessment in 2018.

These trends are consistent, according to scientists, with what is expected in a warming world, as warmer temperatures cause more evaporation which leads to higher levels of water vapor in the atmosphere, which can, in turn, lead to more frequent and more intense rainfall.

Prophetic Investor Bets Against Tesla

One of the investors who became famous for predicting the epic collapse in the housing market in 2008, which was chronicled in the book and movie “The Big Short,” Michael Burry, has a new favorite stock to bet against Tesla.

As of the end of the first quarter, Scion Asset Management, Burry’s firm, revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Monday that it held bearish put options on more than 800,000 Tesla (TSLA) shares, worth about $534 million.

Put options will give investors the right to sell a stock at a specified price. It is a sign that an investor has projected that the stock will go down in the near future. No reason was given in the filing for why Burry thinks Tesla’s stock is due for a fall.

Shares of Tesla have taken a hit recently, plunging nearly 25% in the past month. The plunge was caused in part by concerns about CEO Elon Musk focusing more on bitcoin, dogecoin, and other cryptocurrencies instead of the company’s core electric vehicle market.

Musk recently became the guest host of “Saturday Night Live.” And on the side, he is running SpaceX as well. Needless to say, Musk is far too stretched with his attention, which worries some investors.

Burry bet against the housing bubble in the mid-2000s and profited from the eventual demise of the subprime lending market and many big financial firms in 2008. His prescient forecasts were detailed in the Michael Lewis book and subsequent movie, in which Burry was played by Oscar winner Christian Bale.

But Burry is not just looking to profit from stocks that he thinks are ripe for a fall. According to the SEC filing, Scion also holds call options, which give an investor the right to buy a stock at a certain price, on Google owner Alphabet (GOOGL), CVS (CVS), and Facebook (FB).

‘Suicide Squad’ Director Gets Daily Death Threats from Superfans

Director James Gunn has revealed that he receives death threats “every single day” about the fate of the characters in his upcoming sequel to 2016’s critically lambasted “Suicide Squad.”

The filmmaker’s new DC Comics flick — randomly titled “The Suicide Squad” — is set to premiere in theaters and on HBO Max on Aug. 6 — and die-hard superfans have strong opinions about it.

“This morning on IG: ‘This is a threat. If you kill (character name redacted) I will hate crime you.’ Every. Single. Day,” Gunn posted on Twitter, sharing an interview he did with the popular fan site Den of Geek.

In the conversation, Gunn also revealed a major character will die: “The first thing I had to do was ignore the potential blowback from killing a character. And it really had to do with the structure of the story, especially when we get into the main part of the film with the primary characters,” he told the outlet. 

“It’s all in relation to the story that I would kill anyone who the story saw fit to kill. I’m working on the story. I’m just the servant of the story. So whatever the story says is what I’m going to do, no matter what the repercussions are for anything.”

Gunn said he tries to ignore the negative comments. “If you read the comments below this thread, they’re someone around the average of 75 or 50 positive to 1 negative — too many artists get bogged down in the negative ones & grow numb to the positive ones. I try not to get bogged down in either & stay focused on what I love to do,” he continued to post on Twitter.

Next up for Gunn: “The Suicide Squad” reboot brings back star Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, the role the Oscar nominee played in the 2016 film and its 2020 spin-off “Birds of Prey.” John Cena, Viola Davis, Pete Davidson, and Idris Elba all have major roles, and newcomer Daniela Melchior also joins the cast as Ratcatcher.

Chicago Businesses Excited for the Return of Lollapalooza

The news of the return of Lollapalooza this summer to Grant Park after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled last year’s event made tens of thousands of music fans ecstatic. Chicago local businesses are also excited to take advantage of the stream of crowds expected to flock to the downtown streets.

“We are just so excited. We’ve been waiting for this a long time,” said Jackie Jackson, who owns three Kilwins Ice Cream shops, along with her daughter, Janel.

The Jacksons’ ice cream shop has been struggling through the pandemic and last year’s civil unrest, and the owners are doing what they could to hang on to their dream business.

“Lollapalooza, for our bottom line, means that we can possibly survive the winter months when there’s no foot traffic, no festivals, no tourism. We save all of our revenue from Lollapalooza to carry us through the winter months. So it means survival,” Jackie said.

On Tuesday morning, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the return of Lollapalooza’s this year in a video with Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, together with Perry Farrell, the festival founder, and producer.

Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Lollapalooza would operate at total capacity. However, the fans will have to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 24 hours of each day they attend.

The summer event is a massive boost for Chicago’s economy and small business owners. It is expected to bring in $100 million of estimated revenues.

“Lollapalooza weekend is always one of the biggest weekends in terms of tourism for the city. Our hotels are sold out across the city, people are working, people are enjoying their good time in the city,” said Michael Jacobson, CEO of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association.

“We can be out there, serving ice cream, listening to jams and music, and seeing people having a really good time, and Kilwins chocolates being a part of that,” Janel Jackson said.

The 2021 lineup of Lollapalooza will be released on Wednesday at 10 a.m., and the tickets will be available at noon at lollapalooza.com.

‘American Idol’ Finalist Returns to Lakewood for Hometown Performance

Grace Kinstler, an “American Idol” finalist, has returned home to Lakewood, Illinois, for a special celebration in her honor on Tuesday. Kinstler, 20, was greeted with a parade and overflowing fans lined up for blocks. The welcome celebration included special awards given by the town of Crystal Lake and her hometown of Lakewood.

Kinstler has secured a slot in the final three for the big finale on ABC this Sunday. Grace has impressed the panel of judges with a cover of Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This.”

“It’s absolutely crazy. I can’t believe these many people are here,” Kinstler said. “I just feel so grateful; I’m just so excited to be here right now.”

Close to the American Idol Finale, the show will be crowning a new winner. Grace is simply grateful for making it this far, and her dream has come true.

“‘Idol’ has made me realize that I’m able to change people’s lives,” Kinstler said. “Just the amount of people that have reached out to me and said, ‘You inspire my daughter, you inspire me and I’m 60 years old to have more confidence in my body and myself.’ That’s everything, that’s all I could ever ask for.”

She spoke with excitement to the hundreds of fans that stood out in the rain to greet her:

“Thank you so, so very much. I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know and this is, this is so cool and I’m just so grateful,” she said.

Kinstler studied at Crystal Lake Central High School and graduated in 2018. Kinstler’s former choir teacher, Kim Scherrer, said she “controlled the room” whenever she was performing.

She became the guiding light of the choir’s mentoring program. She often forgoes solo auditions to give others a chance.

“Just watching her work with a diverse group of students, and pulling back in her own voice and her own needs so that others can shine,” Scherrer said. “That is what Grace is all about and that is why our community loves her so much.”