US car manufacturer Ford said Monday it plans to invest $11.4 billion in electric vehicle production, in a bid to position itself to lead the United States' shift away from climate-damaging fossil fuels.
The company said it will build four new plants to produce electric vehicles and batteries that will create 11,000 new jobs by 2025.
Together with its South Korean partner SK Innovation, Ford will build the factories in Kentucky and Tennessee, the automaker said in a statement.
Ford will invest $7 billion, part of a $30 billion investment already announced last spring, and SK Innovation will put up the remainder.
Ford said it would be the "largest, most advanced, most efficient auto production complex in its 118-year history" and would place the company at the forefront of the country's shift to electric vehicles.
The statement said: "This investment supports the company's longer-term goal to create a sustainable American manufacturing ecosystem, and to accelerate its progress towards achieving carbon neutrality, backed by science-based targets in line with the Paris Climate Agreement."
The company expects between 40 and 50 percent of its global vehicles to be fully electric by 2030, according to the statement.
Executive Chair Bill Ford said, "This is a transformative moment where Ford will lead America's transition to electric vehicles and usher in a new era of clean, carbon-neutral manufacturing."
"With this investment and a spirit of innovation, we can achieve goals once thought mutually exclusive -- protect our planet, build great electric vehicles Americans will love and contribute to our nation's prosperity," he added.
The announcement came amid strong demand for the company's new F-150 Lightning pickup vehicle and other electric models such as the E-Transit and the Mustang Mach-E.
Like its competitor GM, the manufacturer is striving to catch up with Tesla, the main pioneer of electric cars.
Ford, which revolutionized automated car production a century ago, said its rollout would be "the largest ever US investment in electric vehicles at one time by any automotive manufacturer."
Under mounting pressure from public opinion, and with customers and investors increasingly sensitive to environmental concerns, many car manufacturers have started to turn towards electric vehicles to reduce harmful emissions.
Until recently, the shift to electric had not been so marked.
"We are moving now to deliver breakthrough electric vehicles for the many rather than the few," said Jim Farley, Ford's CEO.
Echoing a theme close to President Joe Biden's economic plans, as well as his determination to transform infrastructure to tackle climate change, Farley said the investment was "about creating good jobs that support American families."
Ford's announcement will give a boost to Biden's Democratic Party, who are putting their massive infrastructure investment plan of some $1 trillion to a vote in Congress this week.
The Democrats want to take steps to tackle climate change, insisting the switch to a greener economy could create millions of jobs in the future.
In its original form, the infrastructure plan provided for the construction of a national network of 500,000 charging stations by 2030 and a switch to electricity for 20 percent of the country's famous yellow school buses.
After an 18-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic and protracted labor disputes with its musicians and crew, the Metropolitan Opera reopened Monday with a history-making debut -- the first work by a Black composer.
"Fire Shut Up In My Bones," a poignant opera centered on the tension of growing up a Black man in the American South, was composed by Terence Blanchard, a top-tier jazz trumpeter and Spike Lee's go-to film score master for three decades.
When the premier US opera company in 2019 first announced its forthcoming staging, it was unclear when exactly "Fire" would come to Manhattan.
But the months of Black Lives Matter protests that reverberated nationwide and beyond over the summer of 2020 lent the project new urgency.
The Metropolitan Opera is the largest performing arts institution in the United States, but in its 138 years of existence has never before presented an opera by a Black composer.
Reopening the Met's doors with Blanchard's work offered an opportunity to make a statement.
It's progress "bigger than me," the Grammy-winning, Oscar-nominated artist told AFP when the Met first announced it would produce "Fire."
"It says more about what's going on in our country; what's going on in the world of art... and the statement that this makes."
"Fire," which originally premiered in St. Louis, is Blanchard's second opera.
With a libretto from film director Kasi Lemons, "Fire" is based on the searing memoir of Charles Blow, a columnist at The New York Times.
The book recounts his coming-of-age as a black boy in the US Deep South, grappling with racism and abuse, sexuality and and inner rage.
Blanchard, 59, is a showbiz regular: he's scored dozens of films during a vibrant career that has included working with greats like Herbie Hancock, Dr. John and Stevie Wonder.
About an hour before thousands of people dressed in evening-wear -- including a parade of vibrant jewel-toned gowns and feathered shifts -- began sashaying into the storied house at Lincoln Center, a long line formed outside an open-air amphitheatre in Harlem for a simulcast of "Fire."
Among that audience was Linda Talton, who called it "sad" that it took the Met more than a century to feature the work of a Black composer.
"There's so many Black composers who probably could have done this 50 years ago, 75 years ago," the 54-year-old education consultant said. "This is just America."
Blanchard's jazz-inflected score ushered the powerful show with a world-class set through a number of emotional scenes. The performance also featured several gripping dance sequences, including a collegiate step-dancing number that brought the audience to its feet with applause midway through Act II.
"Fire" began with Blow as a young child, played by the impressive Walter Russell III, and saw his development into a young adult, played by Will Liverman.
The acclaimed Angel Blue played his college girlfriend Destiny, and also appeared onstage throughout as a captivating metaphor for "Loneliness."
The Met's 3,800-seat theater opens its doors at Lincoln Center after months of heated labor talks -- a dispute that had threatened to derail the opening performance.
But in late August, the orchestra struck a deal with management, which reportedly included pay cuts for musicians with vows to restore some of that pay once box office revenues hit 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
All customers and staff along with orchestra and chorus members must show proof of vaccination against Covid-19 during the 2021-22 season, as will attendees.
The rest of the Metropolitan Opera season features works by Verdi, Mozart, Wagner, Stravinsky and Puccini.
"Fire" is currently slated to run until October 23.
"I have a feeling it's going to be a momentous thing, and not because it's me," Blanchard had told AFP of the historic staging.
"Just because it is."
TrumpWorld is having some difficulty maintaining unity at the moment. Cracks in the MAGA coalition have appeared in recent days in the form of a feud between former Trump White House official Sebastian Gorka and QAnon-supporting conspiracy theorist Bill Mitchell.
On Monday afternoon, Mitchell took to the far-right Gab social media platform to air allegations of wrongdoing by Gorka. Mitchell claims the onetime Trump official — sometimes described in Washington as the "The Great Hungarian Snowflake" — wrongfully tarred him with accusations of being a QAnon supporter. (Which by all accounts Mitchell is.)
"Sebastian Gorka accused me of working with Q to dox him. He actually called me on the phone personally to threaten me with legal action. Prior to this, he and I were friends, and I had him as a guest on my show several times," Mitchell wrote. "Of course, this accusation was preposterous. I have never had any connection to Q other than to interview two individuals associated with them, and I most assuredly had nothing to do with doxxing Mr. Gorka."
Mitchell went on to say that Gorka was "using his platform to smear me with blatant lies," adding that he considered suing Gorka for slander, but didn't want to "punch right."
QAnon conspiracy theory supporter Bill Mitchell and Seb Gorka are at war with each other, and it allegedly involves… https://t.co/RJ9HaSWAla— Zachary Petrizzo (@Zachary Petrizzo) 1632763799.0
"Regardless, I had nothing to do with his doxxing," Mitchell said. "I am not now, nor have I ever been a part of Q."
Asked for comment Monday afternoon, Gorka would not discuss the right-wing kerfuffle, telling this Salon reporter to "go to hell," while throwing in a profane but peculiar insult. "Are you going to tell me Hunter Biden's laptop are true now?" he asked. That awkwardly phrased question was probably rhetorical since he added that if Salon calls him for comment again, he will "take legal action."
Best described as a pro-Trump Twitter reply guy, Mitchell first got some TrumpWorld traction in 2016 by attempting to outdo other Trump fans in lavishing praise on the then-candidate.
"Traces of Mitchell's online presence from before he took his Trump oath of allegiance reveal an exceedingly average middle-aged man," BuzzFeed reported back in 2016. The Twitter pundit turned MAGA social media heavyweight actually alienated some Trump surrogates with his confident claims that Trump was destined to win the 2016 election. "Trump has a 100% chance of winning in November," he wrote on Twitter in September of 2016. That bold prediction proved out, but there was no repeat in 2020, when he was banned from the platform.
Loud and largely content-free disputes appear to be one of Gorka's specialties. Whatever the substance of his personal feud with Mitchell may be, it comes shortly after his attempt to sic his followers on a journalist after being duped by a fake Twitter account.
Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Raw Story Investigates and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.
$95 / year — Just $7.91/month
I want to Support More
$14.99 per month