5 things you need to know before the markets open in Australia and around the world

1.Ministers Plead with MPs to back Theresa May’s Brexit Deal

British government ministers have renewed pleas to MPs to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal ahead of Tuesday’s crucial Commons vote.

No 10 has sounded the alarm on reports that MPs aim to take control of the Brexit process if Mrs May’s deal is voted down. On the opposition, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to table a vote of no confidence in the government should she lose, with the intent of triggering a general election.

Writing in the Sunday Express, Mrs May warned of a “catastrophic” breach of trust if the Brexit process is not seen through. About 100 Conservative MPs, and the 10 MPs of the Democratic Unionist Party, are expected to join opposition parties in voting against the deal.

Thanks to a controversial amendment by Tory MP Dominic Grieve, passed last week, Theresa May will have three working days to come up with a “plan B” if her deal is rejected.

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March, unless any intervening act of Parliament is passed to prevent it. With a potential rejection of Mrs May’s deal looking increasingly likely, many commentators are suggesting that the UK will have to postpone the exit date.

2. Elon Musk: Electric Car Industry to Provide Majority of Cars By 2030

According to Elon Musk, electric cars will soon form the majority of all cars produced. Speaking to Chinese media in Shanghai, the Tesla CEO claimed that the industry would reach this point in around 10 years’ time.

Reaching the tipping point in electric vehicle manufacturing versus conventional internal combustion cars will mark a major moment in automotive history.

For Tesla, the change will mark a significant step towards its stated mission to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”. The market for electric vehicles has exploded from around 100,000 electric vehicles in 2012 to 1.9 million in 2017.

Analysis by Morgan Stanley predicts that sales of electric vehicles will account for the majority of cars by 2038, while also claiming that internal combustion cars will become unprofitable as early as 2028.

Mr Musk was speaking in Shanghai to mark the start of construction for his company’s third Gigafactory, as a part of Tesla’s ambitions to bring more affordable cars to a broader audience. At full production capacity, the factory is scheduled to produce 500,000 cars per year.

Mr Musk claimed that construction of the factory could finish by the summer, with the first Model 3s rolling off the production line by the end of the year. 

3. Current U.S Government Shutdown Is Now the Longest Ever

This week the shutdown entered its 22nd day, making it the longest gap the American government has ever seen for it’s funding. An estimated 800,000 workers have been affected, with many facing uncertain futures on their immediate income.

Since 1976 the U.S government has seen a total of 21 gaps in government funding, with varying levels of shutdown. The previous record came during President Bill Clinton’s administration in 1995, with a total of 21 days.

Prior to the 1970s, government spending did not require Congressional approval as it does today. Due to cases of spending that was done without such agreement, a 1974 law shifted power from the executive branch to Congress. It did not take long for tense disagreements to arise.

November 1981 saw the furlough of 241,000 government employees as Ronald Reagan fought for $8.5 billion in budget cuts. It was the first shutdown of this magnitude. A congressional subcommittee placed estimates at the cost of the two-day shutdown at between $80 million and $90 million for taxpayers.

Subsequent similar shutdowns in 1984, 1986 and 1990 cost taxpayers at least $128 million, according to government analysis.

Following the most recent 2013 shutdown that lasted 16 days, Mr Obama said: “We’ve got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis”.

4. At Least 3 Dead, Dozens Injured in Paris Bakery Gas Leak Explosion

A Paris bakery experienced a powerful explosion and fire, apparently caused by a gas leak. Windows were blasted out and cars overturned, according to police, as several people were injured. Firefighters are still searching for victims.

French authorities have confirmed injuries to more than 40 people, with at least 3 dead, following the explosion in Paris on Saturday. The dead include two firefighters and a Spanish tourist.

Firefighters were called upon to evacuate wounded individuals, with a rescue helicopter also provided. The blast happened in a popular area at the Hubert bakery on 6, rue de Trevise.

The Paris prosecutor believes the cause to be accidental, though other explanations have not been excluded. Work is currently ongoing to reinforce buildings impacted by the blast, with residents facing a long wait before being allowed to return home.

Firefighters were initially responded to calls of a gas leak in the building when the explosion occurred.  Around 150 people have now been housed in temporary accommodation due to damage caused in the surrounding buildings.


5. Scientists Figure Out How to Travel Faster than the Speed of Light

The science fiction scenario of using a black hole as a portal to another dimension may be coming closer to reality than previously imagined. 

Black holes have frequently been the subject of wonder and mystery in our universe. They occur when gravity crushes a dying star without limit, compressing the entirety of the star down to a single point yielding an object with infinite density. This process punches a hole in the fabric of space-time, creating the opportunity for hyperspace travel.

Researchers previously believed that any spacecraft going through such a black hole would endure increasingly uncomfortable stretching and squeezing before being entirely vaporized.

A team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has shown that not all black holes are created equal. If a black hole is large and rotating it may open up the possibility for a gentle and peaceful passage through it. The experience can be compared to quickly passing one’s finger through a candle without getting burned.

An assumption was made in the research that the black hole is completely isolated and not subject to disturbances by a source such as another star in its vicinity. It is worth noting that most black holes are surrounded by cosmic material, including dust, gas and radiation.

Andrew Mortimer
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