YOUTUBE OVERHAULS KIDS’ APP AFTER COMPLAINTS ABOUT CONTENT 06 BATTLE READY: BIG LEAGUERS LOGGING LONG HOURS ON FORTNITE 12 AFTER FACEBOOK SCRUTINY, IS GOOGLE NEXT? 22 MUSK’S LA TRANSPORT TUNNEL PROPOSAL TAKES STEP FORWARD 32 iOS 12 AND THE FUTURE OF APPLE 34 FOR THE FIRST TIME, FACEBOOK SPELLS OUT WHAT IT FORBIDS 52 SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW: HOLLYWOOD ROARS BACK INTO ACTION 60 HERE’S WHAT’S PLAYING THIS SUMMER AT THE MOVIES 70 TWITTER IS PROFITABLE AGAIN IN 1ST QUARTER, GROWS OVERSEAS 86 STRONG AD SALES BOOST GOOGLE PARENT ALPHABET’S 1Q EARNINGS 90 EX-YAHOO PAYING $35M TO SETTLE SEC CHARGES OVER 2014 HACK 94 CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA FIGHTS BACK ON DATA SCANDAL 102 iTUNES REVIEW 108 BOX OFFICE TOP 20: ‘A QUIET PLACE’ NARROWLY BEATS ‘RAMPAGE’ 124 NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY EXPLORES RFK’S LEGACY 50 YEARS LATER 134 HOW COMCAST IS TRYING TO CHANGE THE CABLE GAME 140 TECH COMPANY TO CLOSE 2 GEORGIA PLANTS, CUT HUNDREDS OF JOBS 146 WISCONSIN DNR APPROVES 4 AIR PERMITS FOR FOXCONN 148 UK LAWMAKERS CALL ON ZUCKERBERG TO APPEAR BEFORE THEM 152 UK CALLS ON SOCIAL MEDIA FIRMS TO BETTER PROTECT CHILDREN 156 ENIGMA MACHINE COLLECTION RECALLS COMPUTER SCIENCE VICTORY 158 SCIENTISTS RELEASE MOST DETAILED STAR CHART OF THE MILKY WAY 164 EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY RELEASES 1ST IMAGE FROM MARS ORBITER 166 NINTENDO TAPS NEW PRESIDENT; PROFIT IMPROVES ON SWITCH SALES 170 IRELAND TO COLLECT BILLIONS FROM APPLE IN BACK TAXES 176 BEIJING AUTO SHOW HIGHLIGHTS E-CARS DESIGNED FOR CHINA 178 ICELANDIC FUGITIVE IN BITCOIN HEIST ARRESTED IN AMSTERDAM 186 CONSTRUCTION ROBOTS WELD, BOLT, LIFT TO BEAT WORKER SHORTAGE 188
YOUTUBE OVERHAULS KIDS’ APP AFTER COMPLAINTS ABOUT CONTENT
YouTube is overhauling its kid-focused video app to give parents the option of letting humans, not computer algorithms, select what shows their children can watch. The updates that begin rolling out Thursday are a response to complaints that the YouTube Kids app has repeatedly failed to filter out disturbing content. Google-owned YouTube launched the toddleroriented app in 2015. It has described it as a “safer” experience than the regular YouTube video-sharing service for finding “Peppa Pig” episodes or watching user-generated videos of people unboxing toys, teaching guitar lessons or experimenting with science. 7
In order to meet U.S. child privacy rules, Google says it bans kids under 13 from using its core video service. But its official terms of agreement are largely ignored by tens of millions of children and their families who don’t bother downloading the under-13 app. Both the grown-up video service and the YouTube Kids app have been criticized by child advocates for their commercialism and for the failures of a screening system that relies on artificial intelligence. The app is engineered to automatically exclude content that’s not appropriate for kids, and recommend videos based on what children have watched before. That hasn’t always worked to parents’ liking — especially when videos with profanity, violence or sexual themes slip through the filters. The updates allow parents to switch off the automated system and choose a contained selection of children’s programming such as Sesame Street and PBS Kids. But the automated system remains the default. “For parents who like the current version of YouTube Kids and want a wider selection of content, it’s still available,” said James Beser, the app’s product director, in a blog post Wednesday. “While no system is perfect, we continue to finetune, rigorously test and improve our filters for this more-open version of our app.” Beser also encouraged parents to block videos and flag them for review if they don’t think they should be on the app. But the practice of addressing problem videos after children have already been exposed to them has bothered child advocates who want the more controlled option to be the default. 8
“Anything that gives parents the ability to select programming that has been vetted in some fashion by people is an improvement, but I also think not every parent is going to do this,” said Josh Golin, director of the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “Giving parents more control doesn’t absolve YouTube of the responsibility of keeping the bad content out of YouTube Kids.” He said Google should aim to build an even cleaner and safer kids’ app, then pull all the kid-oriented content off the regular YouTube — where most kids are going — and onto that app. Golin’s group recently asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether YouTube’s data collection and advertising practices violate federal child privacy rules. He said advocates plan to meet with FTC officials next week.
BATTLE READY: BIG LEAGUERS LOGGING LONG HOURS ON FORTNITE
David Price and the Boston Red Sox are feeling every bit at home at the Flush Factory. And in Houston, George Springer and the Astros are just as likely to be talking Boogie Bombs as balls and strikes. Why is Xander Bogaerts making an L with his fingers and dancing on second base? Who’s the Ninja on Phil Hughes’ Twitter feed? What’s with Derek Fisher and llamas? Just like gamers everywhere, major leaguers have fallen hard for the Fortnite craze. And while it’s not how John McGraw would teach teamwork, Port-a-Forts and Slurp Juice may be the biggest thing bonding some big leaguers. Image: Kim Klement
“We play all day, every day,” Springer said. Fortnite Battle Royale is perhaps the world’s most popular video game, and baseball players are among its most voracious players. The game pits up to 100 competitors in a last-manstanding scenario, letting them mine materials from an ever-shrinking map while hunting down enemies with a variety of weapons. Working in teams is often critical, which is how the World Series champion Astros ended up with a 12-man crew which plays almost nightly at the team hotel on the road. Springer and Houston’s other outfielders have even been celebrating victories by performing dances from the game — the trio forms a circle, throws their hands in the air and quickly moves their feet, a move Fortnite apparently adapted from an episode of Seinfeld. Bogaerts was doing something similar on opening day, celebrating a double by doing the “Take The L ” dance — a popular Fortnite taunt. The Red Sox have a Fortnite squad that covers an array of ages. The 32-year-old Price was a little late to the game — he heard teammates talking about it near the end of spring training and privately tested it out before trying to break into the team’s Playstation rotation. He practiced a bit with J.D. Martinez, a former Tigers teammate who signed with Boston as a free agent this winter, then got into melees with reliever Carson Smith. “We play together at the field, at the hotel on the road or at home whenever we get home from the field,” Price said. “It’s something that’s kind of taken over.” 15
Craig Kimbrel, Chris Sale, Matt Barnes and Eduardo Rodriguez have helped them round out a regular Fortnite crew. Sale even bought himself an Xbox just to play the game. “Everybody’s kind of in on it,” Barnes said. “It gives us something to do outside the field. It’s fun and we’re still hanging out.” Barnes spoke while watching Rodriguez play Fortnite in the Fenway Park clubhouse before a game. He and Sale provided commentary on Rodriguez’s battle — at one point, Barnes cut off the interview to warn “watch it Eddie.” Turns out, hypercompetitive men in their 20s and 30s make the perfect audience for the 100-person showdowns. And at least in Boston, it’s been great at bringing players together off the field. “It is,” Martinez said. “In a weird way, we all play video games, but we play with each other.” Even the sport’s aging veterans are getting in on the act. That includes 34-year-old Dustin Pedroia, an elder statesman among the Red Sox. “I personally haven’t played with Dustin, but I understand he’s in the mix,” said Smith, supposedly the best player in Boston’s clubhouse. “He’s starting to figure it out.” Hughes, a starting pitcher with the Minnesota Twins, legitimized his Fortnite credentials in January by beating Ninja, one of the top Fortnite players in the world, and posting video of it to Twitter. Meanwhile in Houston, Jake Marisnick is the unquestioned king of the Tilted Towers, though Alex Bregman isn’t far behind. Fisher, on the other hand, might be the most entertaining. 17
“Fish is loud,” Springer said. “Especially if he finds a llama. Don’t let Fish find a llama.” “Don’t let me find a llama,” Fisher confirmed. The craze has gone far beyond baseball. Fortnite was a hot topic around the Final Four, and Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews says he rarely leaves his apartment on days off because he’s so consumed. Indiana Pacers player Lance Stephenson wore custom Fortnite shoes during a game this month, and NBA stars Ben Simmons and Karl-Anthony Towns have even connected with fans by live streaming their Battle Royales. Live streams of Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds — a similar game, often referred to as PUBG — have become a fascinating insight for fans into the lives of their favorite athletes. Tens of thousands of people have tuned into Simmons’ sessions on Twitch, but it’s not just superstars drawing eyeballs. Brewers minor leaguer Brett Phillips has had thousands of people view his Twitch feed, which has included cameos from friend and former teammate Lance McCullers Jr. of the Astros. Phillips’ Triple-A teammate Tim Dillard has even gotten over 30,000 views on a Fortnite parody video starring former big leaguer Quintin Berry filmed around the Colorado Springs clubhouse. The next time one of those Sky Sox crack a big league roster, they might find life isn’t so different between the minors and the majors. “It’s just a bunch of dudes playing video games,” Springer said.
AFTER FACEBOOK SCRUTINY, IS GOOGLE NEXT?
Facebook has taken the lion’s share of scrutiny from Congress and the media about datahandling practices that allow savvy marketers and political agents to target specific audiences, but it’s far from alone. YouTube, Google and Twitter also have giant platforms awash in more videos, posts and pages than any set of human eyes could ever check. Their methods of serving ads against this sea of content may come under the microscope next. Advertising and privacy experts say a backlash is inevitable against a “Wild West” internet that has escaped scrutiny before. There continues to be a steady barrage of new examples where unsuspecting advertisers had their brands associated with extremist content on major platforms. 23
In the latest discovery, CNN reported that it found more than 300 retail brands, government agencies and technology companies had their ads run on YouTube channels that promoted white nationalists, Nazis, conspiracy theories and North Korean propaganda. Child advocates have also raised alarms about the ease with which smartphone-equipped children are exposed to inappropriate videos and deceptive advertising. “I absolutely think that Google is next and long overdue,” said Josh Golin, director of the Boston-based Campaign for a CommercialFree Childhood, which asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google-owned YouTube’s advertising and data collection practices earlier this month. YouTube has repeatedly outlined the ways it attempts to flag and delete hateful, violent, sexually explicit or harmful videos, but its screening efforts have often missed the mark. It also allows advertisers avoid running ads on sensitive content — like news or politics — that don’t violate YouTube guidelines but don’t fit with a company’s brand. Those methods appear to have failed. “YouTube has once again failed to correctly filter channels out of our marketing buys,” said a statement from 20th Century Fox Film, which learned that its ads were running on videos posted by a self-described Nazi. YouTube has since deleted the offending channel, but the Hollywood firm says it has unanswered questions about how it happened in the first place.
“I absolutely think that Google is next and long overdue” JOSH GOLIN
“All of our filters were in place in order to ensure that this did not happen,” Fox said, adding it has asked for a refund of any money shared with the “abhorrent channel.” YouTube said that it has made “significant changes to how we approach monetization” with “stricter policies, better controls and greater transparency” and said it allows advertisers to exclude certain channels from ads. It also removes ads when it’s notified of problems running beside content that doesn’t comply with its policies. “We are committed to working with our advertisers and getting this right.” So far, just one major advertiser — Baltimorebased retailer Under Armour — had said it had withdrawn its advertising in the wake of the CNN report, though the lull lasted only a few days last week when it was first notified of the problem. After its shoe commercial turned up on a channel known for espousing white nationalist beliefs, Under Armour worked with YouTube to expand its filters to exclude certain topics and keywords. On the other hand, Procter & Gamble, which had kept its ads off of YouTube since March 2017, said it had come back to the platform but drastically pared back the channels it would advertise on to under 10,000. It has worked on its own, with third parties, and with YouTube to create its restrictive list. That’s just a fraction of the some 3 million YouTube channels in the U.S. that accept ads, and is even more stringent than YouTube’s “Google Preferred” lineup that focuses on the top most popular 5 percent of videos. 27
The CNN report was “an illustration of exactly why we needed to go above and beyond just what YouTube’s plans were and why we needed to take more control of where our ads were showing up,” said P&G spokeswoman Tressie Rose. The big problem, experts say, is that advertisers lured by the reach and targeting capability of online platforms can mistakenly expect the same standards for decency on network TV will apply online. In the same way, broadcast TV rules that require transparency about political ad buyers are absent on the web. “There have always been regulations regarding appropriate conduct in content,” says Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys Inc., a New York customer research firm. Regulating content on the internet is one area “that has gotten away from everyone.” Also absent from the internet are many of the rules that govern children’s programming on television sets. TV networks, for instance, are allowed to air commercial breaks but cannot use kids’ characters to advertise products. Such “host-selling” runs rampant on internet services such as YouTube.
“There have always been regulations regarding appropriate conduct in content, that has gotten away from everyone.” ROBERT PASSIKOFF PRESIDENT OF BRAND KEYS INC.
Action to remove ads from inappropriate content is mostly reactive because of lack of upfront control of what gets uploaded, and it generally takes the mass threat of boycott to get advertisers to demand changes, according to BrandSimple consultant Allen Adamson. “The social media backlash is what you’re worried about,” he said. At the same time, politicians are having trouble keeping up with the changing landscape, evident by how ill-informed many senators and congresspeople appeared during questioning of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg earlier this month. “We’re in the early stages of trying to figure out what kind of regulation makes sense here,” said Larry Chiagouris, professor of marketing at Pace University in New York. “It’s going to take quite some time to sort that out.”
â€œWe are committed to working with our advertisers and getting this right.â€? YOUTUBE
MUSK’S LA TRANSPORT TUNNEL PROPOSAL TAKES STEP FORWARD
A committee of the Los Angeles City Council has approved an environmental review exemption for a tunnel that Elon Musk wants to dig to test a novel underground transportation system. The Los Angeles Times reports that members of the council’s public works committee said last week they wanted to approve any proposal that could help untangle the city’s notorious traffic. In addition to his Tesla electric car and SpaceX rocket launch businesses, Musk has created a company to bore transportation tunnels. He envisions motorists’ vehicles being lowered by elevators into tunnels and onto electric sleds that whisk them along to destinations. The proposed exemption to the California Environmental Quality Act review still requires approval by the full City Council, amid concerns about rushing into the project without the analysis. 32
Image: Kate Allen
iOS 12 WILL BE APPLE’S BEST OS YET For software developers around the world, WWDC is one of the most exciting times of the year. Not only do the brains behind some of our favorite apps get together in one room to share their knowledge and have some fun, but they get to see what’s coming next for iOS and macOS. With concepts making us hungrier than ever for more information about iOS 12, we’ve delved deeper and pulled together everything we expect to see at June’s Worldwide Developers Conference.
Image: Prince Studio
PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENTS WILL MAKE iOS EVEN MORE RELIABLE Even the biggest Apple aficionados would admit that 2017 was a rough year. Starting out with the ‘appageddon’, which overnight cut off millions of 32-bit apps from use to critical flaws in root admin access on macOS which allowed anybody to gain access to administrative settings on a Mac, it seemed as though the latter half of the year was plagued with problems for Apple. Alongside that, macOS suffered from problems with file sharing and fixes not installing for some users, iOS 11 suffered from autocorrect and date bugs, and who could forget the December 2017 battery scandal, when Apple admitted it had been slowing down devices to improve battery conditions and decrease the likelihood of shutdowns? The latter caused Apple to issue an apology, saying that “customers’ trust means 38
How to fix the iPhone’s letter “i” glitch
everything” to them and that they will “never stop working to earn and maintain it”. Because of this, Apple insiders have reported that development on some iOS 12 features will be halted until 2019, so that time can be spent on cleaning up the code and making iOS and macOS as safe, secure and functional as possible. iOS 12 has reportedly been codenamed ‘Peace’, and will center heavily around refinements to code to address performance and quality issues and to make iPhones and iPads “more responsive and less prone to cause customer support issues.” For end-users, the under-the-hood improvements won’t be noticeable, but optimization could result in performance improvements and prolonged battery life, particularly on older devices. 39
iOS AND MACOS WILL BECOME EVEN MORE INTERTWINED Great strides have been made over the past few years to marry together iOS and macOS, what with Hand Off, Unlock with Apple Watch and iMessages being made available on the Mac. And while Tim Cook has ruled out an iPad/ MacBook crossover, it’s all-but-confirmed iOS 12 and macOS 10.14 will support crossplatform apps. In perhaps one of the most significant moves since the introduction of apps themselves, this update will allow app developers to create a single piece of software that will work across desktop and touch-screen devices, meaning your favorite iPhone apps will be accessible from your Mac, and vice versa.
AUGMENTED REALITY WILL PUSH FORWARD Apple has never been one to shy away from hidden messages and secret teases in its WWDC merchandise - and this year’s invitation looks to be no exception. The pamphlet, which was sent to journalists and developers, features an all-white design with 3D text and iconography - and that isn’t the only tease of an AR-heavy summer. “When technology connects with creativity, incredible ideas come to life,” Apple says in the accompanying invitation. “This summer, we invite thousands of talented minds from around the world to join us and turn their ideas into reality.” One of the most heavily-anticipated iOS 12 features is multi-person augmented Image: Martin Hajek
reality games, which would allow those with participating hardware to play alongside each other from all corners of the Earth. Other features could include developments to ARKit and a greater spotlight on AR-enabled apps.
… AND THERE WILL BE MORE FUN ALONG THE WAY It’s not just under-the-hood fixes coming with the next iOS release: there are some fun additions to make communicating with friends even more enjoyable. First, Animoji, which is available only on the iPhone X, will be expanded, with new characters and an updated user interface. Animoji will also make their way to the iPad if rumors of a new iPad Pro with True Depth camera are to be believed. Apple will also integrate their Animoji into FaceTime, meaning your next video call could be with an animated fox. Multi-user FaceTime calls could also be coming according to some reports, but changes to its development schedule may change this. Other likely changes coming in iOS 12 include a redesigned Stocks app, the ability to search for Photos using Siri, Do Not Disturb updates to allow users to reject calls and cut notifications, and a revamped iBooks app, featuring Today view, like the updated App Store released with iOS 11. One feature that may spoil the fun for some is an updated parentals control menu, with Apple giving parents control over their children’s usage. Known as Digital Health, the feature will let parents see how much time youngsters have spent online, and ration their usage if necessary. 42
Image: Prince Studio
PREPARE FOR A DARK TURN OF EVENTS When mainstream media reported an official Dark Mode was coming with iOS 11, iPhone users around the world got pretty excited. Unfortunately, though, reporters were misguided, and in actual fact, it was a ‘Smart Invert’ feature designed for accessibility reasons. So far, an official Dark Mode has yet to be introduced by Apple, despite some of its apps, like Clock and Watch, adopting a darker aesthetic. Even with functionality such as True Tone display and Night Shift, fans are still holding out hope for an always-on Dark Mode option in iOS 12. New reports already suggest that a systemwide Dark Mode would make its way to the next iteration of macOS this fall, so we’re pretty confident that an iOS-equivalent will be announced when Tim Cook and friends show off all of the operating system’s new features at WWDC in June.
Image: Prince Studio
Image: Prince Studio
iOS 11 Dark Mode Review!
EXPECT NEW FEATURES FURTHER INTO THE FUTURE While Apple fans have lots to look forward in iOS 12, several headline-grabbing features have reportedly been held back from a 2018 release so that Apple can focus its attention on under-the-hood improvements to its operating system. Bloomberg reports that several new features, like a redesigned home screen for both the iPhone and iPad and a redesigned home screen for it CarPlay functionality, will wait until
Image: Prince Studio
iOS 13 in 2019 so that resources can be spent on fixing bugs and hardening security. The delays in these features mark a huge shift in Appleâ€™s development policy, which now gives engineers and developers the power to push back features that they donâ€™t think are ready for public release. Because the Cupertino firm wants to maintain its annual iOS release to promote its latest iPhone, the new policy will reportedly mean developers will work on the next two years of updates simultaneously, allowing
under-baked features to be held back until they’re ready. Other features that are rumored for a 2019 release include a revamped Photos app, which will give image suggestions in core Apple apps, multiple windows for a single app on the iPad, a new multitasking feature, a ‘Mail mute’ feature to cut off notifications from specific email threads, and more functionality to the Apple Pencil, including the ability to use the pencil on an iPhone. Of course, journalists and critics alike can only speculate as to which features will be coming when iOS is announced this June. What’s more, delays and breakthroughs could see additional functionality being removed or made available by the time the updated operating system makes its way onto our iPhones and iPads this fall. For now, we will continue to speculate as we draw closer to an official announcement, and keep you up to date every day at AppleMagazine.com.
FOR THE FIRST TIME, FACEBOOK SPELLS OUT WHAT IT FORBIDS
If you’ve ever wondered exactly what sorts of things Facebook would like you not to do on its service, you’re in luck. For the first time, the social network is publishing detailed guidelines to what does and doesn’t belong on its service — 27 pages worth of them, in fact. So please don’t make credible violent threats or revel in sexual violence; promote terrorism or the poaching of endangered species; attempt to buy marijuana, sell firearms, or list prescription drug prices for sale; post instructions for selfinjury; depict minors in a sexual context; or commit multiple homicides at different times or locations. Facebook already banned most of these actions on its previous “community standards” page , which sketched out the company’s standards in broad strokes. But on Tuesday it will spell out the sometimes gory details. The updated community standards will mirror the rules its 7,600 moderators use to review questionable posts, then decide if they should 53
be pulled off Facebook. And sometimes whether to call in the authorities. The standards themselves aren’t changing, but the details reveal some interesting tidbits. Photos of breasts are OK in some cases — such as breastfeeding or in a painting — but not in others. The document details what counts as sexual exploitation of adults or minors, but leaves room to ban more forms of abuse, should it arise. Since Facebook doesn’t allow serial murders on its service, its new standards even define the term. Anyone who has committed two or more murders over “multiple incidents or locations” qualifies. But you’re not banned if you’ve only committed a single homicide. It could have been self-defense, after all. Reading through the guidelines gives you an idea of how difficult the jobs of Facebook moderators must be. These are people who have to read and watch objectionable material of every stripe and then make hard calls — deciding, for instance, if a video promotes eating disorders or merely seeks to help people. Or what crosses the line from joke to harassment, from theoretical musing to direct threats, and so on. Moderators work in 40 languages. Facebook’s goal is to respond to reports of questionable content within 24 hours. But the company says it doesn’t impose quotas or time limits on the reviewers. The company has made some high-profile mistakes over the years. For instance, human rights groups say Facebook has mounted an inadequate response to hate speech and the incitement of violence against Muslim minorities 55
in Myanmar. In 2016, Facebook backtracked after removing an iconic 1972 Associated Press photo featuring a screaming, naked girl running from a napalm attack in Vietnam. The company initially insisted it couldn’t create an exception for that particular photograph of a nude child, but soon reversed itself, saying the photo had “global importance.” Monica Bickert, Facebook’s head of product policy and counterterrorism, said the detailed public guidelines have been a long time in the works. “I have been at this job five years and I wanted to do this that whole time,” she said. Bickert said Facebook’s recent privacy travails, which forced CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify for 10 hours before Congress, didn’t prompt their release now. The policy is an evolving document, and Bickert said updates go out to the content reviewers every week. Facebook hopes it will give people clarity if posts or videos they report aren’t taken down. Bickert said one challenge is having the same document guide vastly different “community standards” around the world. What passes as acceptable nudity in Norway may not pass in Uganda or the U.S. There are more universal gray areas, too. For instance, what exactly counts as political protest? How can you know that the person in a photo agreed to have it posted on Facebook? That latter question is the main reason for Facebook’s nudity ban, Bickert said, since it’s “hard to determine consent and age.” Even if the person agreed to be taped or photographed, for example, they may not have agreed to have their naked image posted on social media. 56
Image: Alex Brandon
Facebook uses a combination of the human reviewers and artificial intelligence to weed out content that violates its policies. But its AI tools arenâ€™t close to the point where they could pinpoint subtle differences in context and history â€” not to mention shadings such as humor and satire â€” that would let them make judgments as accurate as those of humans. And of course, humans make plenty of mistakes themselves. 59
SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW: HOLLYWOOD ROARS BACK INTO ACTION
Summer starts early this year in Hollywood with the potentially record-breaking release of “Avengers: Infinity War”, and the marquee Marvel superheroes couldn’t be coming at a better time. The box office for the year is down nearly three percent, and the industry is looking to redeem itself after last summer, which, despite hits like “Wonder Woman,” had its worst performance in more than a decade. Although all studios are embracing the year-round blockbuster schedule and massive hits can emerge in any month, like “Black Panther” in February, “It” in September and “Star Wars” in December, with work and school vacations, nothing can beat the summer’s potential. This summer movie going season, which typically runs from the first weekend in May through Labor Day, could get things back on 61
track. Two of the most profitable franchises have major films on the slate. The Walt Disney Company and Marvel have “Avengers: Infinity War” (April 27) which some experts are predicting will score the biggest opening of all time, and Universal Pictures is releasing the sequel to the fifth highest domestic earner of all time, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” on June 22. And as with every summer, there are more than a handful of sequels and familiar brands coming to theaters, including: “Deadpool 2” (May 18); “Solo: A Star Wars Story” (May 25); “The Incredibles 2” (June 15); “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” (June 29); “The First Purge” (July 4); “Ant-Man and the Wasp” (July 6); “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” (July 13); “The Equalizer 2” (July 20); “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!” (July 20); and “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” (July 27). But Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Fritz whose new book “The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies,” examines the current state of the industry, notes that while the big, franchise, tent-pole films are always the highestgrossing and that films like “Jurassic World 2” and “Avengers: Infinity War” will be sure-fire hits, oversaturation is possible too. “People do like to see the big franchise tent-pole films,” Fritz said. “But even if the studios make more of them, people are not going to more movies. The more of them there are, the more they are competing for the same box office dollars and as a result you see more flops.” According to Box Office Mojo, in 2017, movie ticket sales were at a 25-year low, and 62
competition for audience attention is only intensifying. Netflix has a whole slate of summer films too, from an Adam Sandler and Chris Rock comedy (“The Week Of,” April 27) to the WWII-set adaptation of “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” This year too has shown a concentration of box office dollars on just a few films — “Black Panther,” Fritz noted, accounted for 23 percent of the ticket sales in the first three months of the year. And it’s at least part of the reason why many studios are touting the diversity of their slates beyond the spectacle of superheroes and blockbusters. “Today, it’s even more important that there is a wide variety of films out there, films that are provocative, that are thrilling, that obviously are entertaining and that you’re presenting them in new and exciting ways,” said Jim Orr, Universal Pictures’ president of domestic theatrical distribution. “We have right now a theatergoing audience who is discerning and I think we need to keep that in mind with everything we put forth.” Universal has “Jurassic World” and “Mamma Mia!” sequels, sure, but it is also releasing Dwayne Johnson’s action-thriller “Skyscraper” and its indie arm Focus Features has films like the dark dramedy “Tully” (May 4), with Charlize Theron, Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” (Aug. 10) and documentaries about Mr. Rogers (“Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” June 8) and Pope Francis (May 18). Warner Bros., home of Wonder Woman, Batman and the other DC Comics superheroes, doesn’t even have a major DC film on the slate this summer (aside from the animated “Teen Titans 65
GO! To the Movies,” July 27). Instead, its slate boasts films like the star (and female)-driven “Ocean’s 8,” with Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna and others, comedies like “Tag” (June 15) and “Life of the Party” (May 11), and an adaptation of the popular book “Crazy Rich Asians” (Aug. 17). “The business just gets spread out over 12 months,” said Warner Bros. domestic distribution president Jeff Goldstein. “It’s not about one particular season and for a studio, it’s about opportunistically dating your movies in a way to maximize your box office on any given film.” Beyond “Ocean’s 8” there are a number of gender-flipped reboots and bawdy female-led comedies, like “Overboard” (May 4) with Anna Faris, the “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” remake “The Hustle” (June 29) with Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson, “Book Club” (May 18) with Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen, and “The Spy Who Dumped Me” (Aug. 3) with Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon. And action fans can look forward to Mark Wahlberg as an intelligence officer trying to smuggle a police officer out of the country in “Mile 22” (Aug. 3) and Jason Statham fighting a shark in “The Meg” (Aug. 10). Audiences thirsting for more unconventional fare may just have to look a little deeper for the potential hidden gems, like “Uncle Drew” (June 29), a comedy about an aging basketball team competing in a street tournament, with Lil Rel Howery, Kyrie Irving and Shaquille O’Neal, and “Hereditary” (June 8), a trippy horror about the strange things that start happening when a family’s matriarch dies. 66
Sundance breakouts coming this summer include “Eighth Grade” (July 13) from comedian Bo Burnham, which follows an eighth grade girl around her last week of middle school, “Blindspotting” (July 20) about a police shooting in Oakland, and “Sorry to Bother You” (July 6) also Oakland-set, but with a quirkier sci-fi edge. There’s the almost too-strange-to-be-true “The Happytime Murders” (Aug. 17) from Brian Henson and starring Melissa McCarthy, where puppets and humans co-exist and a private eye takes on the case of a puppet on puppet murder. And then there’s “Hotel Artemis,” the directorial debut of “Iron Man 3” screenwriter Drew Pearce. It’s an original action-thriller about a hospital for criminals set in a dystopian, near-future Los Angeles with a star-studded cast including Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown and Jeff Goldblum that Global Road Entertainment is releasing on June 8. Pearce said there was no way he could have gotten it made in the studio system. “Hopefully this is a rallying cry. It’s not a sequel, it’s not based on a comic. It’s not a reboot. It’s its own eccentric and hopefully loveable beast of a movie,” Pearce said. “I think what we’ve seen in the last year is movies with real personality are actually what an audience is crying out for, whether that’s tiny movies that made good like ‘Get Out’ or taking the superhero blockbuster like ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ and essentially making a quirky New Zealand comedy out of it,” he said. “I think there’s a real appetite for something that’s just a little different and a little less cookie-cutter.”
HERE’S WHAT’S PLAYING THIS SUMMER AT THE MOVIES
Dates are subject to change.
APRIL “Avengers: Infinity War” (April 27) — The ultimate superhero mash-up, Iron Man, Black Panther, Captain America, Star Lord and all your Marvel favorites assemble to face the mad titan Thanos. “The Week Of” (on Netflix April 27) — Adam Sandler is the middle-class father of the bride and Chris Rock the wealthy father of the groom in this wedding comedy. ALSO PLAYING: “Kings” (April 27); “Disobedience” (April 27); “Duck Butter” (April 27); “Ava” (April 27).
MAY “Deadpool 2” (20th Century Fox via AP) “Overboard” (May 4) — The classic Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell comedy gets a reboot, and a gender swap, with Anna Faris in the Russell role opposite Eugenio Derbez. 71
“Tully” (May 4) — The “Juno” team (Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody) are behind this film about a mother of three (Charlize Theron) and her night nanny (Mackenzie Davis). “RBG” (May 4) — A revealing and often funny documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Breaking In” (May 11) —Gabrielle Union has to defend her family from home invaders. “Life of the Party” (May 11) — A newly single housewife (Melissa McCarthy) goes back to college, with her daughter, to try to reclaim her life. “The Seagull” (May 11) —Saoirse Ronan and Annette Bening star in an adaptation of the classic Anton Chekov play. “Book Club” (May 18) — Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen play lifelong friends, and book club members, who are unexpectedly affected when they crack open “Fifty Shades of Grey.” “Deadpool 2” (May 18) —Ryan Reynolds returns as the hilariously irreverent Marvel character, who’s got a new foe in Cable (Josh Brolin). “Show Dogs” (May 18) — Will Arnett teams up with some crime-fighting dogs. “On Chesil Beach” (May 18) —Saoirse Ronan stars in an adaptation of the Ian McEwan romance set in 1962. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (May 18) — The Stanley Kubrick classic is returning to theaters in a new, un-remastered 70mm print. “First Reformed” (May 18) — “Taxi Driver” scribe Paul Schrader directs this tension-filled drama 73
about a grieving pastor (Ethan Hawke) and a woman (Amanda Seyfried) at his church. “Solo: A Star Wars Story” (May 25) — The origins of Star Wars’ favorite scruffy-looking scoundrel Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) are explored, including how he met Lando (Donald Glover) and Chewbacca. ALSO PLAYING: “Revenge” (Theaters and On Demand May 11); “Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquait” (May 11); “Lu Over the Wall” (May 11); “Mountain” (May 11); “Sollers Point” (May 11); “Cargo” (on Netflix May 18); “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” (May 18); “Pope Francis: A Man of his Word” (May 18); “Summer 1993” (May 25); “Ibiza” (on Netflix May 25); “Woman Walks Ahead” (on DirectTV May 31).
JUNE “Adrift” (Kirsty Griffin/STXfilms via AP) “Action Point” (June 1) —Johnny Knoxville pulls some crazy stunts at a purposefully dangerous amusement park. “Adrift” (June 1) — Based on a true story, a young couple (Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin) on a deep sea sailing adventure attempt to survive a catastrophic hurricane and its aftermath. “A Kid Like Jake” (June 1) — Parents Claire Danes and Jim Parsons grapple with the apparent gender nonconformity of their fouryear-old son. “Ocean’s 8” (June 8) — All-star cast? Check. High-stakes heist? Check. Sounds like an Ocean’s movie, but with a little twist — women. Starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, 75
Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter and Awkwafina. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” (June 8) — Put on your comfy sneakers and cardigan for this documentary about Mister Fred Rogers, from Academy Award-winner Morgan Neville. “Hotel Artemis” (June 8) — Jodie Foster runs a hospital for criminals in a futuristic Los Angeles action-thriller. With Sterling K. Brown and Jeff Goldblum. “The Incredibles 2” (June 15) — Get your supersuit ready, the Incredibles are back, and Mr. Incredible has to stay with the kids (and baby Jack-Jack) while Elastigirl is out saving the world. “Gotti” (June 15) — John Travolta stars as mob boss John Gotti, with Kelly Preston playing his wife. “Tag” (June 15) — A group of adult friends (Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Rashida Jones, Isla Fisher) continue the tradition of their annual, competitive game of tag. “Eating Animals” (June 15) — Natalie Portmannarrated and produced documentary based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s book. “Set It Up” (on Netflix June 15) — Young assistants try to make their lives better by setting up their cruel bosses. With Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs. “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” (June 22) — Owen (Chris Pratt) and Clare (Bryce Dallas Howard) travel back to Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano. “Under the Silver Lake” (June 22) — A kooky Los Angeles-set odyssey from the director of 76
“It Follows” about a guy (Andrew Garfield) searching for a disappeared girl (Riley Keough). “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” (June 29) — Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro take on drug cartels responsible for smuggling terrorists across the border in this sequel. “Uncle Drew” (June 29) — “Get Out” scenestealer Lil Rel Howery stars in this comedy about a Harlem basketball tournament. “The Hustle” (June 29) — A remake of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” with Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson. ALSO PLAYING: “American Animals” (June 1); “Upgrade” (June 1); “Hearts Beat Loud” (June 8); “Alex Strangelove” (on Netflix June 8); “Hereditary” (June 8); “Loving Pablo” (June 15); “The Year of Spectacular Men” (June 15); “SuperFly” (June 15); “Boundaries” (June 22); “Damsel” (June 22); “Graduates” (on Netflix June 29); “The King” (June 22 in NY, June 29 in LA); “Leave No Trace” (June 29); “Valley Girl” (June 29); “Three Identical Strangers” (June 29).
JULY “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” (Jonathan Prime/Universal Pictures via AP) “Ant-Man and the Wasp” (July 6) — Paul Rudd is back as the shrinking superhero, now with a possible partner in Evangeline Lilly’s The Wasp. “Sorry to Bother You” (July 6) — A Sundance breakout, this Oakland-set sci-fi comedy stars Lakeith Stanfield as a telemarketer opposite Tessa Thompson and Armie Hammer. “Whitney” (July 6) —A documentary from Kevin Macdonald that explores the life of Whitney Houston with the support of her estate. 79
“Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” (July 13) — Dracula (Adam Sandler) takes his family on a cruise. With Mel Brooks, Selena Gomez. “Skyscraper” (July 13) — Framed and on the run, Dwayne Johnson has to save his wife and kids from the world’s tallest building which also happens to be on fire. “Eighth Grade” (July 13) — A 13-year-old girl navigates her last week of middle school in Bo Burnham’s directorial debut. “The Equalizer 2” (July 20) — Denzel Washington reprises his role as gun for hire Robert McCall. “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!” (July 20) — Pack your bags to spend another ABBAfilled summer in the Greek isles with a pregnant Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) who learns about her mom Donna’s youth. With Meryl Streep, Cher and Lily James. “Blindspotting” (July 20) — A police shooting tests a friendship in this Oakland-set drama. “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” (July 27) — Tom Cruise returns as agent Ethan Hunt in the sixth installment in the franchise. ALSO PLAYING: “The First Purge” (July 4); “The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter” (on Netflix July 6); “Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot” (July 13); “Generation Wealth” (July 20); “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” (July 27); “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” (July 27).
AUGUST “The Spy Who Dumped Me” (Hopper Stone/ Lionsgate via AP).
“The Darkest Minds” (August 3) —When teenagers get superpowers, the government turns against them in this sci-fi actioner based on the Alexandra Bracken novel. With Amandla Stenberg and Mandy Moore. “Disney’s Christopher Robin” (August 3) — A grown-up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is visited by some old friends. Jim Cummings voices Pooh. “Mile 22” (August 3) —Mark Walhberg re-teams with director Peter Berg for this actioner about an American intelligence officer and the police officer he has to protect. “The Spy Who Dumped Me” (August 3) — Two friends (Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon) get entangled in a high-stakes international conspiracy in this comedy. “The Wife” (August 3) — Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce star in a marital drama based on Meg Wolitzer’s book. “The Meg” (August 10) —It’s Jason Statham and a giant shark. Enough said. “BlacKkKlansman” (August 10) — Filmmaker Spike Lee tells the story of a detective (John David Washington) and his partner (Adam Driver) who go undercover to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. “The Happytime Murders” (August 17) — In a world where puppets and humans co-exist, two odd-couple cops (one human, one puppet) band together to solve a crime. With Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph and Joel McHale. “Crazy Rich Asians” (August 17) — An American woman (Constance Wu) gets transported into a world of excess when she flies 83
to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family in this adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s popular book. “Juliet, Naked” (August 17) — A romantic comedy with Rose Byrne, Chris O’Dowd and Ethan Hawke as an elusive rocker. “Slender Man” (August 24) — The terrifying boogeyman with the featureless face is coming to haunt theaters.
ALSO PLAYING: “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” (August 3); “Like Father”(on Netflix August 3); “Searching” (August 3); “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” (on Netflix August 10); “A.X.L” (August 10); “Madeline’s Madeline” (August 10); “Alpha” (August 17); “To All the Boys
I’ve Loved Before” (on Netflix August 17); “Dog Days” (August 10); “Captive State” (August 17); “Three Seconds” (August 17); “Replicas” (August 24); “The Bookshop” (August 24); “Papillon” (August 24); “Kin” (August 31); “The Little Stranger” (August 31).
TWITTER IS PROFITABLE AGAIN IN 1ST QUARTER, GROWS OVERSEAS
Twitter, driven by strong growth overseas, swung to a profit during the first quarter of the year, its second profitable quarter ever after a strong finish last year. But the companyâ€™s stock tumbled more than 6 percent when the market opened, reversing premarket gains. For the three months ended March 31, Twitter Inc. earned $61 million, or 8 cents per share. A year earlier the San Francisco company lost $61.6 million, or 9 cents per share. Removing certain items, earnings were 16 cents per share. Thatâ€™s 4 cents better than what analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research expected. 87
Revenue increased sharply to $664.9 million from $548.3 million, bolstered by a 53 percent jump in international revenue. The performance easily beat the $609.9 million in revenue that analysts projected. Daily active users increased 10 percent, but that’s down from 12 percent growth in the fourth quarter and 14 percent growth a year ago. It had 336 million monthly average users in the quarter, up from the 330 million in the previous quarter and the 319 million users a year earlier. Twitter’s been dealing with several broader problems. It’s struggled to get people to sign up, despite the attention President Donald Trump’s no-holds barred tweets have drawn to the company. Part of the issue is that anyone can read tweets without signing up. As a result, Twitter’s user base pales compared with Facebook and the Facebook-owned Instagram. Twitter has also wrestled with hate speech and abusive comments, fake accounts and attempts by Russian agents to spread misinformation on the site.
STRONG AD SALES BOOST GOOGLE PARENT ALPHABET’S 1Q EARNINGS
Google parent Alphabet on Monday reported a jump in first-quarter net income on the back of strong digital ad sales and an accounting adjustment. The Mountain View, California-based company’s net income surged 73 percent to $9.4 billion, or $13.33 per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains including those from the accounting change, were $9.93 per share. The results beat Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $9.21 per share. The internet search leader posted revenue of $31.15 billion in the period. After subtracting Alphabet’s advertising commissions, revenue was $24.86 billion, also beating Street forecasts. Eleven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $24.2 billion. Still, Google’s sunny quarter comes amid the backdrop of looming privacy regulations in the U.S. and Europe. 91
Backlash over Facebook’s “breach of trust” regarding Cambridge Analytica could spark U.S. regulation that would crimp political ad spending on Google properties including YouTube. The Federal Election Commission has begun to review rules around ads that directly support federal candidates, though that would not have prevented Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential race. In Europe, the May 25 kick off of the General Data Protection Regulation is forcing Google, Facebook, Slack and other U.S. companies to adopt policies that make consumers more aware of what data they are handing over to online services. If users around the globe get more squeamish about how their data is used, it could slow Google’s ad-revenue machine. But these clouds did not deter Alphabet investors who sent shares up about 1 percent in aftermarket trading. Shares in Alphabet Inc. have risen 2 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has stayed nearly flat.
EX-YAHOO PAYING $35M TO SETTLE SEC CHARGES OVER 2014 HACK
The company formerly known as Yahoo is paying a $35 million fine to resolve federal regulatorsâ€™ charges that the online pioneer deceived investors by failing to disclose one of the biggest data breaches in internet history. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the action this week against the company, which is now called Altaba after its email and other digital services were sold to Verizon Communications for $4.48 billion last year. Yahoo, which is no longer publicly traded, neither admitted nor denied the allegations but did agree to refrain from further violations of securities laws. 95
Personal data was stolen from hundreds of millions of Yahoo users in the December 2014 breach attributed to Russian hackers. The SEC alleged that, although Yahoo senior managers and attorneys were told about the breach, the company failed to fully investigate. The breach wasn’t disclosed to the investing public until more than two years later, when Yahoo was working on closing Verizon’s acquisition of its operating business in 2016, the SEC said. “Yahoo’s failure to have controls and procedures in place to assess its cyber disclosure obligations ended up leaving its investors totally in the dark about a massive data breach,” Jina Choi, director of the SEC’s San Francisco regional office, said in a statement. Altaba spokesman Mike Pascale said the New York company declined to comment on the SEC settlement. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who urged the SEC in September 2016 to investigate whether Yahoo met its obligation to inform the public, said this week that the company’s failure to do so “didn’t pass the smell test.” “Holding the company accountable is important, and I hope others will learn you can’t sweep this kind of thing under the rug,” Warner, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, said in a tweet. Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo eventually acknowledged that the 2014 hacking attack and a separate one in 2013 affected all 3 billion accounts on its service.
Image: Win McNamee
Yahoo ended up having to give Verizon a $350 million discount on their deal, reflecting concerns that people might reduce their use of Yahoo email and other digital services because of the breach, decreasing opportunities to show ads. In scooping up Yahoo’s digital services, Verizon’s strategy was to meld the operations with its AOL division with an eye to becoming a bigger player in the growing market for digital ads. Yahoo’s most valuable parts — investments in China’s e-commerce leader Alibaba, and in Yahoo Japan — were left in Altaba. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, a former Google executive who led Yahoo for nearly five years, did not join Verizon and was out of a job. Prosecutors have said that two Russian intelligence agents, Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, used information they stole from Yahoo to spy on Russian journalists, U.S. and Russian government officials and employees of financial services and other private businesses. In February 2017, they filed computer fraud and other charges against Dokuchaev, Sushchin and two other men — another Russian national, Alexsey Belan, and a Canadian named Karim Baratov. A U.S. judge in San Francisco pushed back a sentencing hearing for Baratov, who prosecutors say was hired by Dokuchaev to breach at least 80 email accounts obtained from the massive Yahoo hack. Baratov pleaded guilty in November to one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse and eight counts of aggravated identity theft. 98
Image: Dado Ruvic
Judge Vince Chhabria questioned whether the sentence of seven years and 10 months that prosecutors were seeking for Baratov was longer than what other hackers had received for similar crimes. Baratov’s attorneys have called for a sentence of three years and nine months. Chhabria stressed that Baratov was not behind the Yahoo hack. He continued the sentencing hearing to May 29. Authorities have described Baratov as an “international hacker-for-hire” who hacked more than 11,000 webmail accounts from around 2010 until his March 2017 arrest and used the money he made — roughly $1.1 million at about $100 per hacking victim — to finance a $650,000 home and fancy cars, including a Lamborghini and Aston Martin.
CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA FIGHTS BACK ON DATA SCANDAL
Cambridge Analytica unleashed its counterattack against claims that it misused data from millions of Facebook accounts, saying Tuesday it is the victim of misunderstandings and inaccurate reporting that portrays the company as the evil villain in a James Bond movie. Clarence Mitchell, a high-profile publicist recently hired to represent the company, held Cambridge Analyticaâ€™s first news conference since allegations surfaced that the Facebook data helped Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election. Christopher Wylie, a former employee of Cambridge Analyticaâ€™s parent, also claims that the company has links to the successful campaign to take Britain out of the European Union. Image: James Bell
“The company has been portrayed in some quarters as almost some Bond villain,” Mitchell said. “Cambridge Analytica is no Bond villain.” Cambridge Analytica didn’t use any of the Facebook data in the work it did for Trump’s campaign and it never did any work on the Brexit campaign, Mitchell said. Furthermore, he said, the data was collected by another company that was contractually obligated to follow data protection rules and the information was deleted as soon as Facebook raised concerns. Mitchell insists the company has not broken any laws, but acknowledged it had commissioned an independent investigation is being conducted. He insisted that the company had been victimized by “wild speculation based on misinformation, misunderstanding, or in some cases, frankly, an overtly political position.” The comments come weeks after the scandal engulfed both the consultancy and Facebook, which has been embroiled in scandal since revelations that Cambridge Analytica misused personal information from as many as 87 million Facebook accounts. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before the U.S. congressional committees and at one point the company lost some $50 billion in value for its shareholders. Details on the scandal continued to trickle out. On Tuesday, a Cambridge University academic said the suspended CEO of Cambridge Analytica lied to British lawmakers investigating fake news. Academic Aleksandr Kogan’s company, Global Science Research, developed a Facebook app that vacuumed up data from people who signed up to use the app as well as information from their 104
Facebook friends, even if those friends hadn’t agreed to share their data. Cambridge Analytica allegedly used the data to profile U.S. voters and target them with ads during the 2016 election to help elect Donald Trump. It denies the charge. Kogan appeared before the House of Commons’ media committee Tuesday and was asked whether Cambridge Analytica’s suspended CEO, Alexander Nix, told the truth when he testified that none of the company’s data came from Global Science Research. “That’s a fabrication,” Kogan told committee Chairman Damian Collins. Nix could not immediately be reached for comment. Kogan also cast doubt on many of Wylie’s allegations, which have triggered a global debate about internet privacy protections. Wylie repeated his claims in a series of media interviews as well as an appearance before the committee. Wylie worked for SCL Group Ltd. in 2013 and 2014. “Mr. Wylie has invented many things,” Kogan said, calling him “duplicitous.” No matter what, though, Kogan insisted in his testimony that the data would not be that useful to election consultants. The idea was seized upon by Mitchell, who also denied that the company had worked on the effort to have Britain leave the EU. Mitchell said that the idea that political consultancies can use data alone to sway votes is “frankly insulting to the electorates. Data science in modern campaigning helps those campaigns, but it is still and always will be the candidates who win the races.” 106
Peter Rabbit This feature film is a modern adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s classic tale. Peter Rabbit and friends take over Old McGregor’s manor house when he dies and fight to keep their new home when McGregor’s nephew turns up to claim it as his own.
FIVE FACTS: 1. Many of the live action scenes were filmed in Australia, however, the rabbits were not real. Rabbits were a pest in Australia in the 1800s, when the country was overrun with them, so no live rabbit can be brought into the country. 2. The character Bea was based on the author of the books, Beatrix Potter.
by Will Gluck Genre: Kids & Family Released: 2018 Price: $19.99
3. In one scene, Bea and Tom are playing with letter tiles, and Bea spells the word “Potter”, a clear reference to the original author.
4. In the 1930s, Walt Disney wanted to create an adaptation of Peter Rabbit, after the completion of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), but Beatrix Potter turned down the offer. 5. The character Felix D’eer did not appear in the books, and was created solely for this film.
Three Card Monte
The Commuter During his daily commute home, an insurance salesman/ex-cop’s is caught up in a criminal conspiracy. His journey becomes anything but ordinary, as he is forced to find out the identity of a passenger on his train in this action packed thriller.
FIVE FACTS: 1. The film is the fourth collaboration between Jaume Collet-Serra and Liam Neeson. 2. The film is located in Tarrytown, the town next to Sleepy Hollow where Johnny Depp’s movie The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is primarily set. 3. The watch Michael wore, is the same watch Liam Neeson’s character Bryan Mills wore in Taken 2 (2012). 4. Both Liam Neeson and Sam Neill were contenders for the role of James Bond in GoldenEye (1995).
by Jaume Collet-Serra Genre: Action & Adventure Released: 2018 Price: $19.99
5. This is the second time Vera Farmiga has starred in a film that features an incident on a commuter train.
“Who Are You”
Church of Scars Bishop Briggs Singer-songwriter Bishop Briggs got her break while attending the Musicians Institute. The aspiring singer performed throughout clubs in LA, before she released her breakthrough single “White Horses”. However, she got her big break when she released her hit single “River” in 2016.
FIVE FACTS: Genre: Alternative Released: Apr 20, 2018 10 Songs Price: $7.99
1. Bishop Brigg’s real name is Sarah Grace McLaughlin.
3. Bishop Briggs joined Coldplay on the second leg of their US tour last year.
2. Her stage name is inspired by the town her parents are from, Bishopbriggs in Scotland.
4. At aged four, she moved from London to Tokyo with her family and sang in public for the first time at a Tokyo karaoke bar. 5. She started writing her own songs aged 7.
Port Saint Joe Brothers Osborne Port Saint Joe is Brothers Osbourne’s second studio album. Their first album combined their love of old-school country with southern rock and the second album certainly followed suit. The album is named after the Florida beach town they recorded in and sees them reunite with producer Jay Joyce.
FIVE FACTS: 1. The album was recorded in a house in coastal Florida, which John Osbourne called “a terrible idea”. 2. Despite the house not being built to record in, they did admit that recording alongside the ocean was calming and let them focus purely on the recording. 3. The Osbourne brothers grew up in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, so are no strangers to coastal living. 4. John has a passion for guitars and has a substantial collection. He lent one piece of the collection to the American Currents: The Music of 2017 exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame. 5. The two brothers aim for the album was that it would reflect who they are in every way.
Genre: Country Released: Apr 20, 2018 10 Songs Price: $10.99
“Slow Your Roll”
“Shoot Me Straight”
BOX OFFICE TOP 20: ‘A QUIET PLACE’ NARROWLY BEATS ‘RAMPAGE’
John Krasinski’s thriller “A Quiet Place” rose to the top spot of the box office in its third weekend in theaters, just barely beating out last week’s champ “Rampage” for the title. “A Quiet Place” added $20.9 million from North American theaters, bringing its domestic total to $131.3 million, while “Rampage,” in its second weekend grossed $20.1 million. Both films beat out newcomers like Amy Schumer’s comedy “I Feel Pretty,” which placed third with $16 million, and “Super Troopers 2,” which landed in fourth with $15.2 million. 124
The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by comScore:
“A Quiet Place,” Paramount, $20,911,809, 3,808 locations, $5,492 average, $131,270,520, 3 Weeks.
“Rampage,” Warner Bros., $20,094,294, 4,115 locations, $4,883 average, $65,694,360, 2 Weeks.
“I Feel Pretty,” STX Entertainment, $16,030,218, 3,440 locations, $4,660 average, $16,030,218, 1 Week.
“Super Troopers 2,” 20th Century Fox, $15,181,624, 2,038 locations, $7,449 average, $15,181,624, 1 Week.
“Blumhouse’s Truth Or Dare,” Universal, $7,793,425, 3,068 locations, $2,540 average, $30,268,840, 2 Weeks.
“Ready Player One,” Warner Bros., $7,418,738, 3,208 locations, $2,313 average, $126,100,064, 4 Weeks.
“Blockers,” Universal, $6,835,145, 3,134 locations, $2,181 average, $48,102,190, 3 Weeks.
“Black Panther,” Disney, $4,932,627, 1,930 locations, $2,556 average, $681,374,736, 10 Weeks.
“Traffik,” Lionsgate, $3,941,338, 1,046 locations, $3,768 average, $3,941,338, 1 Week.
“Isle Of Dogs,” Fox Searchlight, $3,461,633, 1,947 locations, $1,778 average, $24,422,171, 5 Weeks.
“Bharat Ane Nenu,” Great India Films, $2,488,090, 190 locations, $13,095 average, $2,488,090, 1 Week.
“I Can Only Imagine,” Roadside Attractions, $2,428,761, 1,994 locations, $1,218 average, $79,392,663, 6 Weeks.
“Tyler Perry’s Acrimony,” Lionsgate, $1,965,529, 1,148 locations, $1,712 average, $40,980,412, 4 Weeks.
“Chappaquiddick,” Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, $1,834,181, 1,455 locations, $1,261 average, $14,289,282, 3 Weeks.
“Sherlock Gnomes,” Paramount, $1,417,592, 1,459 locations, $972 average, $39,569,048, 5 Weeks.
“The Miracle Season,” MIRR/LD, $1,123,854, 1,122 locations, $1,002 average, $8,829,419, 3 Weeks.
“Beirut,” Bleecker Street, $1,001,910, 755 locations, $1,327 average, $3,853,834, 2 Weeks.
“A Wrinkle In Time,” Disney, $731,702, 665 locations, $1,100 average, $93,718,321, 7 Weeks.
“Pacific Rim Uprising,” Universal, $585,085, 646 locations, $906 average, $58,671,825, 5 Weeks.
“Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero,” Fun Academy, $544,161, 1,386 locations, $393 average, $2,245,200, 2 Weeks.
Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.
Image: Bob Henriques
NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY EXPLORES RFK’S LEGACY 50 YEARS LATER
He was once called the most likely American in the 20th century to become president. But Robert F. Kennedy’s bid to follow in his older brother’s footsteps as commander in chief was cut short the same way John F. Kennedy’s White House term was: by a man with a gun. Fifty years later, Bobby Kennedy’s life and transformation into a liberal hero is coming to Netflix in a new four-part documentary series available Friday. Through archival footage and interviews with friends and staffers, “Bobby Kennedy for President” takes an in-depth look at what drove him to seek public office, the events that shaped him and his legacy decades after his assassination. “If we want to understand why Bobby Kennedy was so important to people, we have to understand all of it,” said Dawn Porter, director and executive producer, also known for “Gideon’s Army” and “Trapped.” The series opens with a broadcaster’s prediction that “no American in this century has ever 135
been so likely to be president as Robert Francis Kennedy.” It takes viewers through Kennedy’s combative time as attorney general, and his depression after his brother’s death, entry into the 1968 presidential race and assassination 83 days later. The documentary explores Kennedy’s growth on issues like civil rights, through the guidance of black leaders like John Lewis, now a Democratic congressman. In documenting Kennedy’s journey from a “cop-at-heart” lawyer to polished politician, it highlights experiences that affected him, like a trip to the Mississippi Delta that opened his eyes to rural hunger. Viewers hear from key figures in Kennedy’s life, including Paul Schrade, who was shot in the head when 24-year-old Sirhan Sirhan fired at Kennedy on June 5, 1968. The series, produced by RadicalMedia, Trilogy Films and LooksFilm, also features interviews from Sirhan’s brother, Munir Sirhan, and Juan Romero, the Ambassador Hotel busboy who was at Kennedy’s side as he uttered his last words: “Is everybody OK?” For Romero, a Mexican immigrant, it was one of the few times he has openly spoken about Kennedy’s death — something he had felt guilty about for years since Kennedy stopped to shake his hand before the gunshots. Romero had met Kennedy the day before while delivering room service. Kennedy thanked him and shook his hand then, too. “I never felt so American,” Romero told. Filmmakers spent more than a year gathering footage from museums, news outlets and presidential archives that transports viewers to a different time. Some of the footage, which shows 136
Kennedy from his college days to the last day of his life, had never before been digitized and was at risk of being lost forever, filmmakers say. “I didn’t want this to be talking heads with pictures as the background,” Porter said. “We wanted the archive to play out, to not be window dressing, but to let people watch that and absorb it and hopefully be in the moment, be taken back to that time,” she said. At a time when distrust of politicians is high, Porter said she hopes the series reminds viewers that people serving in public office can be human and flawed, but also inspirational. “Without saying (Kennedy) was the perfect person, there’s something comforting and inspiring to me about his willingness to try, his willingness to learn, his willingness to not give up,” Porter said. “Right now we all need a little dose of not giving up.”
Image: Matt Rourke
HOW COMCAST IS TRYING TO CHANGE THE CABLE GAME
If you can’t beat them, join them. Comcast is trying to refigure the traditional cable bundle, adding services like Netflix to its subscription packages and offering internet-only TV streaming. Comcast, the world’s largest cable company, and other cable operators are trying to work out new relationships with once fierce rivals in a changing media landscape. Comcast and others have been trying to build a business that combine both the “pipes” — the internet services that connect everyone — and the producers of shows, movies, and other video. Cable operators and internet service providers say this business model is key to their survival, given the inroads companies like Google and Apple have made on their turf. In this environment, Comcast reported a strong first quarter, boosted by $1.6 billion in ad revenue from NBC’s broadcast of the Super Bowl and the Olympics. 141
Philadelphia-based Comcast’s net income rose 21 percent to $3.12 billion, or 66 cents per share, from $2.57 billion, or 53 cents per share a year ago. Excluding a one-time benefit from the federal tax overhaul and the gain on the sale of an asset, net income totaled 62 cents per share. That beat analyst estimates of 59 cents per share, according to FactSet. Revenue rose 11 percent to $22.79 billion from $20.59 billion last year, edging past analyst expectations of $22.75 billion. This week, Comcast made a bid for British broadcaster Sky Plc for 22 billion pounds ($30 billion), topping an offer from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and sparking a possible bidding war. Sky is based in London but has strong news and pay-TV operations across Europe, and is particularly prized for its sports broadcasting operations, including the English Premier League soccer matches. Comcast has been leading the way in marrying pipes with the entertainment that flows through them. It bought NBCUniversal’s cable channels and movie studio in 2013 and added Dreamworks Animation in 2016. It has been tinkering with the traditional cable bundle, offering a la carte subscription services and so called “skinny bundles.” Earlier this month, Comcast said it will add Netflix to some cable bundles. The Netflix move was an effort to offer customers more “choice, value and flexibility,” Sam Schwartz, chief business development officer at Comcast Cable said at the time — words not often used to describe traditional take-it-or-leave-it cable bundles. 142
Image: Jeff Fusco
But combining the distribution of entertainment with its producers has drawn new concerns about monopoly. The Department of Justice is in the middle of a lawsuit against AT&T and Time Warner, claiming that their proposed $85 billion merger would harm consumers. AT&T and Time Warner argue theyâ€™re simply trying to stay afloat in the new streaming environment. But the Justice Department says the merged company could exert monopolistic control â€” for instance, by charging rivals like Comcast higher prices for Time Warner Channels like CNN or HBO, which would likely push up consumer prices as well. 145
TECH COMPANY TO CLOSE 2 GEORGIA PLANTS, CUT HUNDREDS OF JOBS
Atlanta-based financial technology company NCR says it will close two manufacturing facilities in Georgia this year as it shifts to some outsourced production of ATMs and other selfservice kiosks. NCR Corp. told news outlets Monday it will close both of its plants near Columbus, and another in Beijing. More than 1,000 jobs will be impacted in the Georgia closings. The move will eliminate about 360 full-time jobs in the state and effect about 680 contractors locally. NCR spokesman Tim Henschel says one Columbus plant will close in August and the other in October. He says the cuts are part of the companyâ€™s multi-year strategy to streamline its business to be more data-driven. Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson says the state labor department is expected to help find jobs for those losing theirs. 147
WISCONSIN DNR APPROVES 4 AIR PERMITS FOR FOXCONN
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources approved four air permits Tuesday for the Foxconn Technology Group campus in the southeast corner of the state, despite objections that the massive plant will increase smog emissions. Foxconn is preparing to build a $10 billion plant in Mount Pleasant that could employ up to 13,000 people. The plant would produce liquid crystal flat-screen panels. Filings made with the state by Foxconn show emissions from the manufacturing complex would rank among the highest in southeastern Wisconsin for toxins that create smog. 149
The most significant pollutants would be volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, according to documents filed with the DNR. The state’s air management staff said the factory would increase such pollutants by about 4 percent in Racine County, a figure officials said is manageable. The Taiwanese company said in a news release that it is committed to minimizing negative environmental effects from its factory. The company says protecting the environmental is a “fundamental responsibility for Foxconn.” The DNR’s website indicates the agency approved a permit for a flat-screen manufacturing facility, a nitrogen generation plant, an energy facility that will heat and cool the manufacturing facility and a flat-screen assembly plant. DNR spokesman James Dick said in an email to The Associated Press that emissions from the campus would represent at most 0.07 percent of nitrogen oxides and 0.1 percent of the volatile organic compounds within the three-state Chicago metro area based on 2014 emissions data. He added that Foxconn will be held to the same environmental standards as other companies. The company aims to break ground by the end of May and be operational late next year.
UK LAWMAKERS CALL ON ZUCKERBERG TO APPEAR BEFORE THEM
The U.K. parliament’s media committee demanded Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appear before the panel after lawmakers said the senior executive who testified Thursday failed to fully answer their questions about the data protection scandal that has engulfed the company. Committee members didn’t hide their frustration with Facebook’s chief technical officer, Mike Schroepfer, who was forced to defend the company against suggestions that it was cavalier with user data and has done little to stem the spread of fake news. Facebook dispatched the unassuming engineer to London despite a previous request for Zuckerberg to appear. During a four-hour plus session that covered many of Facebook’s perceived sins, lawmaker Julian Knight accused the company of “bullying journalists, threatening academic institutions and impeding investigations by legal authorities,” before declaring the company to be “a morality-free zone.” Schroepfer said he “respectfully disagreed” with such characterizations. 153
Image: Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Immediately after the session, committee Chairman Damian Collins issued a statement saying that said Schroepfer answer’s fell short “on 40 separate points,” particularly in regard to Cambridge Analytica and associated companies, which allegedly misused data from 87 million Facebook accounts. The committee asked Zuckerberg to appear on May 24, during what it described as a planned trip to Europe to give testimony to the European Parliament. “As an American citizen living in California, Mr. Zuckerberg does not normally come under the jurisdiction of the U.K. Parliament, but he will the next time he enters the country,” Collins said. “We hope that he will respond positively to our request, but if not the committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for him to appear when he is next in the U.K.” Collins sharply worded statement came after a session in which lawmakers demanded specificity, particularly in regard to the social media company’s actions on elections and alleged Russian interference. In one moment of candor, Schroepfer acknowledged that he himself was disappointed with Facebook’s handling of Russian disinformation campaigns. “We were slow to understand the impact at the time, and I am way more disappointed in this than you are,” Schroepfer said to laughter from the room. “It’s a high bar,” Collins retorted. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that,” Schroepfer replied. “It’s something we’re working very hard on.” 155
UK CALLS ON SOCIAL MEDIA FIRMS TO BETTER PROTECT CHILDREN
Britain’s health secretary says the government will introduce new laws targeting online social media companies if they don’t do more to protect children. In a strongly-worded letter to Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Twitter and others, Jeremy Hunt said their failure to prevent young children using social media and exposing children to its “harmful emotional side effects” was “unacceptable and irresponsible.” Hunt said this week he was particularly concerned about the lack of age verification measures, with thousands breaching minimum user age rules. He gave the companies a week to set out steps they are taking to cut underage use, prevent cyberbullying, and promote limited screen time. Hunt last year attacked Facebook for releasing a version aimed at children, telling the company to “stay away from my kids.” 157
ENIGMA MACHINE COLLECTION RECALLS COMPUTER SCIENCE VICTORY
Carnegie Mellon University will hire a researcher from the Library of Congress to help it decode a collection that includes two WWII German Enigma machines. The university wants to encourage the study of 19th and 20th century computers, calculators, encryption machines and other materials related to the history of computer science. “When we look back and we see this, we see who we remember,” Andrew Moore, dean of CMU’s School of Computer Science, said, adding his students are increasingly asking for courses about the history of the field. “We see people who took technology to save lives and save the world.” 159
Image: Science Museum
Pamela McCorduck, a prolific author on the history and future of artificial intelligence and the widow of Joseph Traub, a renowned computer scientist and the former head of CMU’s Computer Science Department, permanently loaned to the university a collection of early computers, books and letters. The collection, anchored by a three-rotor and four-rotor Enigma machine, is on display in the Fine and Rare Book Room in CMU’s Hunt Library in Oakland. The gift makes CMU one of a few institutions in the United States with Enigma machines. Even fewer display them. McCorduck said she hopes the collection shows students that computer science has a history of not only of inventions, innovations and breakthroughs but of the people surrounding them. “I hope that it enhances everyone’s understanding of where this field comes from,” McCorduck said. “It has a wonderful, rich history.” Moore said he asks each first-year student in the School of Computer Science to see the Traub and McCorduck collection at the library. He said he hopes it will persuade new students to study computer science not just to go off to work at Facebook or some other big tech company mainly focused on entertainment but to aspire to do something with real impact. Keith Webster, dean of CMU’s libraries, announced the university’s intent to hire the researcher at the conclusion of a discussion Thursday about the collection, McCorduck and Traub’s contributions to computer science, WWII codebreaking and artificial intelligence. The panel, moderated by Webster, included 160
McCorduck; Mary Shaw, a renowned computer science professor at CMU; and Julia Parsons, who graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1942 and worked as a codebreaker for the Navy during WWII. “We were day after day trying to decide what was in the messages,” Parsons said. “And sometimes we got it and sometimes we didn’t.” Parsons worked on figuring out how to set up the Enigma machine each day to decode messages sent to German U-Boats. She was there when codebreakers picked up on the weather forecast crib that helped bust the German encryption wide open. “It helped bring about the end of the war,” Parsons said. Moore thanked Parsons for her work. His parents grew up in Britain during the war, had their homes destroyed by Nazi bombs and barely escaped with their lives, Moore said. They spoke about the end of the war as the most important and extraordinary moment in their lives. “It was heroes like you that did that,” Moore said.
SCIENTISTS RELEASE MOST DETAILED STAR CHART OF THE MILKY WAY
The European Space Agency released the most accurate census yet of stars in the Milky Way and neighboring galaxies Wednesday, providing astronomers with a wealth of new data for further research. The high-precision measurements about the distance, motion, brightness and color of almost 1.7 billion stars were collected by the space agency’s Gaia probe between July 2014 and May 2016. Hundreds of scientists and software engineers took years to process the data and create a catalog of stars from which they were able to generate maps, including of the asteroids in our solar system and even a three-dimensional chart of some nearby stars. Antonella Vallenari, one of the lead scientists involved in the project, said astronomers have gained new insights into the life cycle of stars and how the Milky Way was formed. One theory supported by the observations is that our galaxy was struck by material from another, resulting in ‘ripples’ of stars moving in an unexpected way compared with the otherwise uniform motion of stars in the Milky Way, said Vallenari. ESA said professional and amateur astronomers alike will be able to access the data and hunt for new discoveries. It’s the second release following the publication two years ago of a smaller batch of measurements covering 2 million stars. Further data releases are planned in the coming years.
EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY RELEASES 1ST IMAGE FROM MARS ORBITER
The European Space Agency has released the first image taken by its Trace Gas Orbiter showing the ice-covered edge of a vast Martian crater. Scientists combined three pictures of the Korolev Crater taken from an altitude of 400 kilometers (249 miles) on April 15. Lead researcher Nicolas Thomas said Thursday the colors in the resulting image were also adjusted to best resemble those visible to the human eye. The camera used is one of four instruments on board the orbiter, which is designed to look for gases such as methane that could indicate biological or geological activity on Mars. The orbiter begins its mission to look for the trace gases this month. 167
Thomas said the camera will allow scientists to inspect areas where gases are found, monitor Mars for signs of change and help scout the planet for future landing sites. Europe plans to land its own rover on Mars in 2021. A European test lander crashed on the surface of Mars in 2016.
European Space Agency Full Image Link
Image: Neilson Barnard
NINTENDO TAPS NEW PRESIDENT; PROFIT IMPROVES ON SWITCH SALES
Nintendo Co. reported solid sales and profit for the fiscal fourth quarter, powered by brisk demand for its Switch machines. The company also announced Thursday that it will be getting a new president. Shuntaro Furukawa, director at The Pokemon Company, will replace Tatsumi Kimishima subject to approval at a general shareholders meeting in June. The move is an attempt to hand over the leadership to a younger generation, said spokesman Kenichiro Matsuura. Kimishima, 68, will retire and become an adviser to the company. Furukawa, 46, a graduate of Tokyoâ€™s prestigious Waseda University, joined Nintendo in 1994 and has helped oversee global marketing. 171
Kyoto-based Nintendo has had its ups and downs over the years, but it has recently appeared to be on a turnaround track. January-March profit for the Japanese maker of Super Mario and Pokemon games totaled 4.4 billion yen ($40 million), reversing a 394 million yen loss racked up the previous year. Nintendo is getting a lift from strong sales of the Switch, a hybrid game machine that works as both a console and a tablet. The company said it plans â€œto leverage this momentum to reach an even broader range of consumers,â€? pointing to the Nintendo Labo, which it rolled out this month. Nintendo Labo allows players to use the Switch with cardboard concoctions that enable them to use it as a musical instrument, a fishing rod and other items. Quarterly sales rose 12 percent year-on-year to 198.7 billion yen ($1.8 billion). More than 15 million Switch consoles were sold during the fiscal year through March, according to Nintendo. Itâ€™s expecting to sell another 20 million during the fiscal year through March next year. The company said sales of the 3DS handheld also kept up even after Switch went on sale a year ago. Nintendo, which brought the world the FamiCom game machine in the 1980s, is projecting profit for the fiscal year through March 2019 to grow 18 percent to 165 billion yen ($1.5 billion).
For the fiscal year through March, Nintendo recorded a profit of 139.6 billion yen ($1.3 billion), better than what it had expected. The company said its smart device game software, such as “Mario Kart Tour,” is also performing well. Nintendo had initially shunned games for cellphones and other devices besides its own machines, but has reversed that strategy. Other such games it has released include “Super Mario Run” and “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.”
IRELAND TO COLLECT BILLIONS FROM APPLE IN BACK TAXES
Ireland says it will begin collecting more than 13 billion euros ($15.9 billion) of back taxes from Apple, 19 months after the European Commission ruled that a tax deal with the tech giant amounted to illegal state aid. The Commission ordered Ireland to collect back taxes for the years 2003-2014, which it estimated at 13 billion euros plus interest. Ireland disagreed, saying the ruling undermined the integrity of the country’s tax system. But Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe says he will on Tuesday sign an agreement setting up the escrow account that will hold the payments while Apple and Ireland appeal. The payments should be completed by September. Donohoe says the government “fundamentally disagrees with the ruling,” but “Ireland is intent on complying with our binding legal obligations in this regard.” 177
BEIJING AUTO SHOW HIGHLIGHTS E-CARS DESIGNED FOR CHINA
Volkswagen and Nissan have unveiled electric cars designed for China at a Beijing auto show that highlights the growing importance of Chinese buyers for a technology seen as a key part of the global industryâ€™s future. General Motors displayed five all-electric models this week including a concept Buick SUV it says can go 600 kilometers (375 miles) on one charge. Ford and other brands showed off some of the dozens of electric SUVs, sedans and other models they say are planned for China. Auto China 2018, the industryâ€™s biggest sales event this year, is overshadowed by mounting trade tensions between Beijing and U.S. President Donald Trump, who has threatened to hike tariffs on Chinese goods including automobiles in a dispute over technology policy. The impact on automakers should be small, according to industry analysts, because exports amount to only a few thousand vehicles a year. Those include a GM SUV, the Envision, and Volvo Cars sedans made in China for export to the United States. 179
China accounted for half of last year’s global electric car sales, boosted by subsidies and other prodding from communist leaders who want to make their country a center for the emerging technology. “The Chinese market is key for the international auto industry and it is key to our success,” VW CEO Herbert Diess said on Tuesday. Volkswagen unveiled the E20X, an SUV that is the first model for SOL, an electric brand launched by the German automaker with a Chinese partner. The E20X, promising a 300-kilometer (185-mile) range on one charge, is aimed at the Chinese market’s bargain-priced tiers, where demand is strongest. GM, Ford, Daimler AG’s Mercedes unit and other automakers also have announced ventures with local partners to develop models for China that deliver more range at lower prices. On Wednesday, Nissan Motor Co. presented its Sylphy Zero Emission, which it said can go 338 kilometers (210 miles) on a charge. The Sylphy is based on Nissan’s Leaf, a version of which is available in China but has sold poorly due to its relatively high price. Automakers say they expect electrics to account for 35 to over 50 percent of their China sales by 2025. First-quarter sales of electrics and gasolineelectric hybrids rose 154 percent over a year earlier to 143,000 units, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. That compares with sales of just under 200,000 for all of last year in the United States, the No. 2 market.
That trend has been propelled by the ruling Communist Party’s support for the technology. The party is shifting the financial burden to automakers with sales quotas that take effect next year and require them to earn credits by selling electrics or buy them from competitors. That increases pressure to transform electrics into a mainstream product that competes on price and features. Automakers also displayed dozens of gasolinepowered models from compact sedans to luxurious SUVs. Their popularity is paying for development of electrics, which aren’t expected to become profitable for most producers until sometime in the next decade. China’s total sales of SUVs, sedans and minivans reached 24.7 million units last year, compared with 17.2 million for the United States. SUVs are the industry’s cash cow. First-quarter sales rose 11.3 percent over a year earlier to 2.6 million, or almost 45 percent of total auto sales, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. On Wednesday, Ford displayed its Mondeo Energi plug-in hybrid, its first electric model for China, which went on sale in March. Plans call for Ford and its luxury unit, Lincoln, to release 15 new electrified vehicles by 2025. GM plans to launch 10 electrics or hybrids in China from through 2020. VW is due to launch 15 electrics and hybrids in the next two to three years as part of a 10 billion euro ($12 billion) development plan announced in November. 183
Nissan says it will roll out 20 electrified models in China over the next five years. New but fast-growing Chinese auto trail global rivals in traditional gasoline technology but industry analysts say the top Chinese brands are catching up in electrics, a market with no entrenched leaders. BYD Auto, the biggest global electric brand by number sold, debuted two hybrid SUVs and an electric concept car. The company, which manufactures electric buses at a California factory and exports batterypowered taxis to Europe, also displayed nine other hybrid and plug-in electric models. Chery Automobile Co. showed a lineup that included two electric sedans, an SUV and a hatchback, all promising 250 to 400 kilometers (150 to 250 miles) on a charge. They include futuristic features such as internetlinked navigation and smartphone-style dashboard displays. “Our focus is not just an EV that runs. It is excellent performance,” Chery CEO Chen Anning said in an interview ahead of the show. Electrics are likely to play a leading role as Chery develops plans announced last year to expand to Western Europe, said Chen. He said the company has yet to decide on a timeline. Chery was China’s biggest auto exporter last year, selling 108,000 gasoline-powered vehicles abroad, though mostly in developing markets such as Russia and Egypt. “We do have a clear intention to bring an EV product as one of our initial offerings” in Europe, Chen said. 184
Image: Ng Han Guan
ICELANDIC FUGITIVE IN BITCOIN HEIST ARRESTED IN AMSTERDAM
Amsterdam police have arrested an Icelandic fugitive suspected of masterminding the theft of hundreds of computers used to mine bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Police spokesman Rob van der Veen confirmed that Sindri Thor Stefansson was arrested Sunday night in downtown Amsterdam. He declined to give further details, saying that prosecutors will now work on Stefansson’s extradition. Stefansson fled a low-security prison last week and flew to Sweden. Icelandic officials said it was unlikely that Stefansson had to show a passport at the airport since he traveled within Europe’s passport-free travel zone but the plane ticket he used was under someone else’s name. Stefansson was among 11 people arrested for allegedly stealing the computers in a series of burglaries in December and January. 186
Image: Koji Sasahara
CONSTRUCTION ROBOTS WELD, BOLT, LIFT TO BEAT WORKER SHORTAGE
Robots that can weld, lift and bolt are being developed to help bridge labor shortages at Japanese construction sites, though their use will be limited to night shifts when no human workers will be nearby due to safety and regulatory concerns. Major Japanese construction company Shimizu Corp. showed off several robots this week, including one already in use at construction sites that picked up a big pile of boards and took them into an elevator. The Robo-Welder and Robo-Buddy, with twisting and turning mechanical arms, will be deployed at construction sites later this year, the company said. 189
Japan’s construction sector is booming but contractors are struggling to fill labor shortages — a problem playing out in other parts of the world, including the U.S. The robots demonstrated at a Shimizu test facility in Tokyo can reduce the number of workers needed for each of the tasks they carried out to about a third or a fourth of what’s required today. But construction work is so varied, delicate and complex that the robots are able to handle just 1 percent of overall construction work, according to Masahiro Indo, Shimizu’s managing executive officer, who oversees construction technology. Trying to raise that to even 10 percent is a major challenge and might be too costly, he said. Robotics are common in manufacturing sites, such as auto plants, but those machines are stationery and carrying out the same task over and over, often in sterile and enclosed environments. Robots used in construction sites have to move around. Although much of what they may do is repetitive, they still have to respond to uneven floors and zigzagging routes, depending on a building’s design. Shimizu says it is developing its own artificial intelligence systems, using robots made by Kuka Robotics of Germany. If they work successfully, the robots could help reduce safety risks and long hours for construction workers. Shimizu showed that, in a typical task, a worker must use one arm — and his helmeted head — 190
Image: Koji Sasahara
Image: Koji Sasahara
to hold up a board and hold bolts in his mouth while using his other arm to bolt a board in place using a hand-held machine. Robo-Buddy made that look easy. It used suction cups to pick up a board and sensors to place it exactly where it belonged as a mechanical arm swerved around and bolted the board in, moving from spot to spot. Using robots makes sense in urban construction, where buildings are high-rise and the same work is repeated on each floor. In Japan, where the birth rate has been declining for years, the workforce has also begun to shrink. Many construction workers are older, and contractors are having a hard time attracting young people, Indo said. There were about 3.4 million construction workers in Japan in 2014. Thatâ€™s expected to shrink to 2.2 million by 2025, according to Shimizu Corp. Most work on robotics has focused on entertainment and companion robots, such as SoftBank Corp.â€™s Pepper and Toyota Motor Corp.â€™s Kiribo Mini. But officials have made developing robots for other uses a national priority. Toyota also is working on robots that might be used for construction, such as the human-looking T-HR3 and a scooting human-support robot. In the U.S., Construction Robotics has developed a bricklaying robot. Shimizu, which is involved in a number of overseas projects, said it was looking into exporting the robotics technology, but no decision has been made yet.
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YouTube is overhauling its kid-focused video app to give parents the option of letting humans, not computer algorithms, select what shows th...
Published on May 2, 2018
YouTube is overhauling its kid-focused video app to give parents the option of letting humans, not computer algorithms, select what shows th...