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Ayman's blog

With an election campaign in full swing, Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, must decide whether to charge his former patron, Prime Benjamin Netanyahu.
Former Canadian Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said on Wednesday she had come under persistent and sometimes inappropriate pressure from government officials to be lenient on a major firm facing a bribery trial.
Prime Minister Theresa May won a two week reprieve on Wednesday from British lawmakers, who postponed a threatened rebellion aimed at blocking a no-deal Brexit after she agreed to a possible delay to Britain`s departure from the EU.

Rober De Niro Al Pacino AP

  • Martin Scorsese`s "The Irishman" may be Netflix`s first movie to get a wide release.
  • A source tells Business Insider that the Oscar winner wants the streaming giant to make it happen.

 

Netflix may be taking one step closer to becoming a traditional movie studio.

On the heels of the streaming giant coming close to winning the best picture Oscar with "Roma" at the 91st Academy Awards Sunday — and still having a historic night with the movie taking home three wins — it is now reloading for another shot at the brass ring next year.

Martin Scorsese`s "The Irishman" may be the first Netflix movie to get a wide theatrical release. 

A source familiar with the release strategy told Business Insider the Oscar winner very much wants a run that goes wider and has a longer life in theaters than Alfonso Cuarón`s "Roma."

Read more: What Robert De Niro says about the de-aging in Martin Scorsese`s Netflix movie, "The Irishman," and everything else we know about the process

The Hollywood Reporter ran a story on Wednesday with similar news, reporting that Netflix is currently out talking to exhibitors to make it happen for Scorsese`s gangster movie that stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci.

But Netflix may have already shown its hand on its release plans for "The Irishman" with the trailer for the movie that ran during the Oscars. Though it didn`t show any footage, its text at the end read, "In Theaters This Fall." Typically when Netflix runs trailers for movies it gives a theatrical run, the text reads, "In Select Theaters," or "Exclusive Limited Theatrical Engagements," like it did with "Roma."

Here`s "The Irishman" trailer:

"Since that ran in the middle of the Oscars broadcast Netflix knew they had to go wide whether they won best picture or not," the source told Business Insider. "Filmmakers want awards, but they also want real theatrical releases."

And if Sunday`s Oscars was any indication, Netflix still hasn`t earned enough clout to get a best picture win.

Though the company broke protocol and gave "Roma" an exclusive limited theatrical release for three weeks before streaming, people like Steven Spielberg were adamant that movies considered for the Oscars should be ones that fully respect the theatrical experience. 

“I hope all of us really continue to believe that the greatest contributions we can make as filmmakers is to give audiences the motion picture theatrical experience,” Spielberg said days before the Oscars while accepting the Filmmaker Award at the Cinema Audio Society’s CAS Awards. “I’m a firm believer that movie theaters need to be around forever.”

The biggest chains in the country — AMC, Regal, and Cinemark — have refused to show Netflix titles because the company will not adhere to the industry mandate that theatrical releases have a 90-day run before showing up on any other platforms. And to have a true wide release for "The Irishman," Netflix will need to have at least one of those major chains on board.

It seems Netflix has begun to realize that to become the first streaming company to win Hollywood`s biggest prize, it has to do something it hates to do: play by the rules.

Netflix did not respond to Business Insider`s request for comment.

SEE ALSO: Stephen Dorff says his "True Detective" role is his favorite in a 34-year career, and explains how it`s changed his life

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NOW WATCH: I learned how to dance like Beyoncé from her choreographer and it was surprisingly difficult

Jack Dorsey Square IPO

  • Square is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter results after the market`s close on Wednesday.
  • The Jack Dorsey-led mobile-payments firm issued disappointing quarterly earnings guidance last November.
  • On Wednesday, Square shares were trading 23% below last fall`s record high. 
  • Watch Square trade live.

Square, the mobile-payments company, is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings after Wednesday`s closing bell — months after issuing disappointing quarterly earnings guidance.

Here`s what Wall Street expects, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

  • Adjusted earnings per share (EPS): 0.14.
  • Revenue: 454.6 million.

Wednesday`s report marks the first without the company`s longtime CFO, Sarah Friar. Her departure was first announced last October, a development that slammed the stock. Last month, the company named former Activision Blizzard executive Amrita Ahuja as her replacement.

Ahead of the results, James Friedman, an analyst at Susquehanna, told clients Square continues to innovate in the financial-technology space, and reiterated his price target of 77 — about 2% below where shares were trading Wednesday.

Previously, Friedman lowered his rating on Square`s stock from "positive" to "neutral" after the company offered weaker-than-expected profit guidance. Still, Friedman is positive in the long-term.

More broadly, Wall Street`s sentiment on the Jack Dorsey-led company is split between neutral and optimistic outlooks.

Of the analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, 17 say "buy," 15 say "hold," and just four say "sell."

Square shares surged 190% between the start of 2018 and its all-time high of 101.14 in September. Currently, they`re down 23% from their September peak.

Please check back for updates after the stock market`s close.

Now read:

Square shares.

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NOW WATCH: There are serious health reasons why you shouldn`t eat your boogers

CAIRO – 27 February 2019: Google mourned on Wednesday the victims of the tragic accident that took place at Cairo’s main rail station leaving 20 killed and more than 40 injured.

This morning a train locomotive rammed into the buffer stop at the end of the rail tracks at Ramses Railway Station, the main railway station of Cairo, causing a huge fire which left 20 people killed and 42 injured.

The public prosecution office said in a press statement that an altercation between two train drivers caused the deadly blaze at Cairo’s Ramses Railway Station that killed 20 at least and injured more than 40 passengers.

The investigation revealed that the locomotive no.2310 (the locomotive that caused the tragic incident) was on its way to the storage unit when it met locomotive no.2305 on the opposite direction.

Driver of the train that caused the accident left the locomotive running without brakes to start an altercation with the other driver over the right of way. The train arrived rabidly at platform six to crash into the buffers causing a huge explosion.



Tim Cook

  • Apple Music will be available on Google Home devices after all. 
  • A source familiar with the matter confirmed with Business Insider that "it was a bug in a rollout" that allowed Google Home users to see Apple Music as option to sync with their smart speakers. 
  • Previously, it was reported that the pairing option was due to a general "software bug," but we now know the mixup was related to a botched rollout plan between Apple and Google. 
  • For Apple, bringing its music streaming service to Google Home devices makes sense, as the company appears to be doubling down on its service offerings, like music, video, and news streaming. 

It looks like Apple Music will be available on Google Home devices after all. 

After a series of confusing events over the past two days, a source familiar with the matter confirmed with Business Insider that "it was a bug in a rollout" that allowed Google Home users to see Apple Music as an option to sync with the smart speakers.  

Previously, it was reported that the surprise pairing option appeared because of a "software bug," but we now know the mixup was specifically due to a botched rollout plan between Apple and Google. 

MacRumors first discovered on Monday that Google Home users were able to see Apple Music as a pairing option. The option seemed strange, however, given that there was no formal announcement by either company. 

Google Home

By Tuesday afternoon, Apple Music was no longer available within the Google Home app, and its appearance was reportedly, just a "bug."At the time, it was not immediately clear how a bug would have resulted in the Apple Music name and logo showing up in the Google Home app. 

Read more: It looked like Apple Music was coming to Google Home speakers, but Google says it was only a glitch

We know now the integration between Google`s smart speakers and Apple Music is coming, and the confusion over the last two days was due to a rollout plan gone awry. 

For Apple, bringing its music streaming service to Google Home devices makes sense. As iPhone sales have tapered off, the company`s focus may need to shift towards new product innovation and on doubling down on service offerings like music, video, and news streaming. 

Last December, Apple announced a deal with Amazon, making Apple Music available on smart speakers with Amazon`s Alexa voice assistant built in. Apple Music is also available on the company`s own HomePod smart speaker, which doesn`t support any other music streaming service apart from its own.

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via Signal or WhatsApp at +1 (209) 730-3387 using a non-work phone, email at [email protected], Telegram at nickbastone, or Twitter DM at @nickbastone. (PR pitches by email only, please.)

SEE ALSO: The Galaxy S10 is Samsung`s best smartphone yet, but you don`t need to prematurely ditch your old Samsung phone

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NOW WATCH: Everything we know about Samsung’s foldable phone

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  • Thanks to a massive population of 23 million, snarled traffic, and poor public transportation, Cairo has become a test bed for transportation startups.
  • Uber and U.A.E.-based Careem each launched bus services aimed at serving Cairo`s low-income population in December. But they are competing with local bus startups Swvl and Buseet, as well as other transportation startups serving other niches.
  • An Uber exec told Business Insider the Middle East’s expanding young population makes it an ideal place to invest after Uber pulled back in several markets in 2017 and 2018.
  • The founders of Swvl and Egyptian autorickshaw-hailing app Halan said they think the transportation needs in emerging markets are so great that no single provider will be able to dominate the market.
  • But Uber is testing out multiple transportation modes in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa in its quest to get to one billion riders before its I.P.O. later this year.

 

Spend any length of time in Cairo, Egypt and what sticks out immediately is the traffic. Every highway, road, and alleyway is clogged with cars and motorbikes spewing fumes into the air. Crossing a road is akin to beating the final level of Frogger: six crammed lanes with zero traffic lights or crosswalks and constant honking.

There are many options for navigating the city of 23 million people — considered the most populated in Africa – but few are attractive.

With a whopping 4 million daily riders on its three lines, the Cairo Metro is half the size of the Washington D.C. Metro and carries four times as many passengers per half-mile of track. The public bus system is similarly outmatched. Among the world`s major cities, Cairo has one of the lowest numbers of buses per million residents.

The most used, and most important, part of Cairo’s transit system is the microbuses, a network of semiformal private vans that are ubiquitous on the streets of Cairo (and most African cities). While dirt cheap and with lines all over the city, microbuses are known for driving at dangerous speeds, packing in as many passengers as they can, and ignoring traffic laws. Road injuries are a leading cause of death in the country. A study by the World Bank found that traffic costs the country 8 billion per year, or 4% of its GDP.

cairotraffic2.JPG

It would not be uncommon for an Egyptian to spend hours navigating several trains, multiple buses, and a taxi in a single commute each day.

Though the Egyptian government announced it would invest over 100 million to improve and expand the metro in the coming years, young Egyptians aren’t waiting for the government to fix the problem.

Transportation is a `mega opportunity` in Egypt and other emerging markets

Uber_Careem_Middle_East_Egypt (1 of 3)

As I walked around the Rise-Up Summit, a premier tech conference held in Cairo in December, transportation seemed to be on everyone’s mind. Among the booths of hopeful entrepreneurs and established regional tech stars was an assortment of Egyptian transportation startups, each serving a different niche.

Read more: Travel guides will tell you to skip Cairo, but the Egyptian capital is a fascinating city bursting with amazing food and culture

Swvl and Buseet each offer private buses traveling along fixed routes reserved and paid for using their apps. Fyonka is a ride-hailing service hoping to win on safety and harassment issues by connecting only female drivers with female passengers. Meanwhile, Halan is a low-cost, ride-hailing service that only features motorcycles and tuk-tuks, or that autorickshaws that are popular throughout Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

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When I asked Fadi Antaki, a veteran Egyptian entrepreneur and the CEO of A15, a leading Egyptian tech investment fund, why the scene is saturated with transportation startups, he looked bewildered and motioned to the traffic honking outside the Greek Campus where RiseUp was being held.

“A lot of people have long commutes and the existing public transportation isn’t working,” he said. “The public buses are always jammed and packed. Cars are twice the price here that they are in the US and parking is a nightmare. And the minibuses are packed, dirty, and unsafe.”

As RiseUp’s founder Abdelhameed Sharara told me the following day, there’s an added kicker. Egyptian entrepreneurs understand that the government is not capable of fixing the city’s transportation problems.

There is a mega opportunity there and technology can really enable [the solutions],” he said.

Tech giants Uber and Careem are in a dogfight for the Middle East

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Egyptians aren’t the only ones to have noticed the opportunity. Tech giants Uber and U.A.E.-based Careem, which operates in 84 cities across twelve Middle Eastern countries, are locked in their own battle for dominance over Egypt’s massive transportation needs.

In December, Uber and Careem launched competing bus services in the city, firsts for both companies. Like Buseet and Swvl, both are focused on using tech to remake the ubiquitous microbus sector. Uber Manager of Matching Science Eoin O’Mahony wrote on LinkedIn that it could “unlock a new global business for Uber, serving the 100B, 100 billion annual rides ultra-low-cost transit market for high capacity vehicles.”

Like microbuses, Uber Bus and Careem Bus fit around a dozen passengers each with prices aimed at a working-class population that can’t afford daily private rides.

Uber has said prices will be 80% cheaper than a standard Uber, while Careem has said its service will be 60-70% cheaper than a standard Careem. Rather than sign existing microbuses onto the service — most of which are old and in disrepair — both services advertise safe, new, branded, and air-conditioned buses.

UberBus.JPG

The launch represented a retrenchment in the Middle East for Uber after years of backing out of international markets like China, Russia, and Southeast Asia, where Uber has partnered with or sold its business to local rivals like Didi, Yandex, and Grab respectively.

Earlier this month, Anthony le Roux, Uber’s chief executive for the Middle East and Africa, told the Wall Street Journal that his region would “play a massive role” in helping Uber reach its goal of a billion users before its initial public offering later this year.

That sentiment was echoed by Tino Waked, Uber’s general manager for the Middle East and North Africa. In an interview with Business Insider, Waked pointed to the Middle East’s rapidly expanding young population, limited transportation infrastructure, and large demand for low-cost transportation solutions as reasons the company sees the region as an ideal place to invest and test new services.

In the battle for dominance over Egypt and the Middle East, Uber and Careem have made localizations to cater their product to the market. Both companies allow cash payment and offer low-cost rides on scooters, tuk-tuks, and motorcycles. In order to deepen its smartphone penetration in Egypt, Uber will soon launch a version of its app requiring less data, after launching a similar app in other Middle Eastern countries last year.

Uber has reportedly engaged in talks to purchase Careem, according to the Wall Street Journal, which reported that some bankers see the sale as inevitable given how much more cash Uber has to burn in its duel with Careem.

Solving Egypt`s transportation problems could help solve issues for other countries in emerging markets

Cairo_Egypt_City_Guide_Travel (14 of 37)

The battle to win Egypt is likely about more than just winning a lucrative market: It`s also about unlocking access to other countries suffering similar transportation woes.

“There is tremendous opportunity in Egypt. This is a country of 100 million people and there’s a sense that solutions that work here will work in other parts of the world with similar obstacles,” Antaki told me.

While the two whales duke it out, the other Egyptian transportation startups are hoping they can outmaneuver both with a better understanding of the needs in a developing market.

Last year, bus startup Swvl raised an approximate 38 million, putting its valuation close to 100 million, and in January it launched a pilot program in Nairobi, Kenya, another city notorious for its snarled traffic and anything-goes microbuses. Swvl has plans to launch in several Southeast Asian cities in the coming months.

Meanwhile, Halan, the startup focused on tuk-tuks and motorcycles, raised 4.3 million in Series A funding in December, opened up a second market in Sudan, and added Uber founder Oscar Salazar to its board. In the announcement, Salazar cited Halan’s desire to bring transportation to “the remaining 6 billion” people not being served by major ride-hailing companies.

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When I asked Swvl founder Mostafa Kandil how the company could compete with Uber and Careem, he suggested that the transportation needs are so dire in Cairo and other similar markets that, unlike cities in the US, one or two transportation companies cannot serve all the demand.

“You see the same problem across emerging markets, whether it’s Manila, Nairobi or Jakarta. One single player is not enough to build the network,” Kandil told Business Insider. “We like to see ourselves as building a profitable mass transit system from scratch in emerging markets and taking it off governments’ hands.”

Rather than crowd out smaller players like Swvl, Uber Bus has expanded demand in Cairo, according to Kandil, who said that Swvl signups have quadrupled since the launch of Uber Bus.

For now, Halan founder Mounir Nakhla believes concerns about competition from Uber or Careem is overblown, saying it’s like comparing a plane to a taxi. Whereas Uber or Careem is typically used by wealthier consumers for mid-length rides and Swvl and other bus serves are for long commutes, Nakhla said, Halan is focused on short rides of around a mile or less, areas not typically served by Uber or Careem, and low-income passengers.

“When you live in a country like Egypt, where there are so many needs and pain points, it means there are a lot of opportunities,” Nakhla told Business Insider.

Nakhla has deep experience both with tuk-tuks and Egypt’s low-income population, having co-founded Egypt’s largest financing business for utility vehicles like tuk-tuks in 2009 and a micro-finance business in 2015.

Both Kandil and Nakhla suggested their more clear-cut focus on the low-cost market and their first-hand knowledge of emerging markets will help give them a leg up when they do eventually come head-to-head with the tech giants.

That day may be coming sooner than later. As Waked, Uber’s general manager for the Middle East and North Africa, told Business Insider, Uber’s goal, particularly in the Middle East is to “become a one-stop shop for all your transportation and delivery needs.” Every transportation modality — from bikes to scooters to buses — is part of that.

SEE ALSO: Uber’s biggest competitor in the Middle East says it has mapped 45,000 miles of road in its bid to compete on a global stage

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NOW WATCH: Here`s how to use Apple`s time-saving app that will make your life easier

A Brazilian judge on Wednesday ordered the release of eight workers for Vale SA who had been jailed in connection with an investigation into a burst tailing dam that killed an estimated 300 people, news website G1 reported.
At least 8 tons of gold were removed from the Venezuelan central bank`s vaults last week, an opposition legislator and three government sources told Reuters, in the latest sign of President Nicolas Maduro`s desperation to raise hard currency amid tightening sanctions.
Britain`s opposition Labour Party will put forward or support an amendment in favour of a public vote to prevent a damaging Brexit, the party`s Brexit spokesman said on Wednesday.
Brazilian Senate committees on Wednesday passed a bill to tighten dam safety in the country, after a mining dam owned by Vale SA burst and killed an estimated 300 people in the town of Brumadinho.

Amazon Seattle

  • Amazon has pulled out of an under-construction 30-story skyscraper it intended to occupy in downtown Seattle.
  • Amazon had leased the entire structure but will now sublease it. 
  • Amazon hinted that this subleasing could come in a sort of threat in May 2018. At the time, Amazon was unhappy that the Seattle City Council passed a new tax, aimed at combatting homelessness, that would disproportionately affect companies with a large number of employees in the city. 
  • It was unclear whether Amazon would follow through with the subleasing plans after the tax was repealed.
  • A company spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement that the company is constantly evaluating space requirements and adjusting its plans.

Seattle`s Rainier Square will no longer be occupied by Amazon.

The company has nixed its plans to move into the 30-floor, 722,000-square-foot building, the company confirmed in a statement to Business Insider on Wednesday. GeekWire first reported the change after obtaining a flyer advertising the subleased space.

Amazon had originally planned to occupy the entire building, but it will now sublease the space.

"We are always evaluating our space requirements and intend to sublease Rainier Square based on current plans," an Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement.

Amazon hinted that this subleasing could come in a sort of threat in May 2018. At the time, Amazon was unhappy that the Seattle City Council passed a new tax, aimed at combatting homelessness, that would disproportionately affect companies with a large number of employees in the city.

Amazon said at the time that unless the council repealed the tax before it was enacted, it would halt all construction on Block 18 — another skyscraper it is building in the city — and sublease all of Rainier Square. 

"I can confirm that pending the outcome of the head-tax vote by City Council, Amazon has paused all construction planning on our Block 18 project in downtown Seattle and is evaluating options to sub-lease all space in our recently leased Rainier Square building," Drew Herdener, Amazon`s VP of global corporate and operations communications, said at the time.

Read more: Amazon`s bitter fight with Seattle over a new tax shows just how important HQ2 will be to the company

Amazon restarted planning for Block 18 even though the tax was approved, but it seems Rainier Square was not included.

"We are disappointed by today`s city council decision to introduce a tax on jobs. While we have resumed construction planning for Block 18, we remain very apprehensive about the future created by the council`s hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here," Herdener said in a statement in June 2018, notably omitting any mention of Rainier Square`s future. 

Rainier Square, which is further south than most of Amazon`s Seattle campus, is set to open in 2020.

"We are currently building two million square feet of office space in our South Lake Union campus in Seattle," Amazon said in its statement. "We have more than 9,000 open roles in Seattle and will continue to evaluate future growth."

Amazon`s public feud with Seattle`s city council foreshadowed the even more contentious fight it had with the New York City Council, which eventually ended with Amazon pulling its HQ2 project out of New York altogether.

SEE ALSO: Opposition to Amazon HQ2 in Virginia is growing louder in the wake of its New York City defeat

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NOW WATCH: Wasabi is so expensive that the paste you eat with your sushi probably has less than 5% of the real thing

Tim Cook

  • The worst of Apple`s iPhone weakness — a theme that`s dominated investors` concerns and weighed heavily on its stock — is now behind investors, according to a new report from UBS.
  • The firm`s examination of Asia`s hardware supply chain shows inventory has begun clearing in China, analyst Timothy Arcuri said. 
  • Apple warned investors earlier this year that its quarterly revenue would come in lower than previously expected to due to soft iPhone sales in China.
  • Watch Apple trade live.

Apple investors should find some comfort in UBS analyst Timothy Arcuri`s latest assessment of the company`s woes.

The Apple bull told clients Wednesday that the worst of the slowdown experienced from its flagship product was in the rear-view mirror. The problem has weighed on Apple`s stock price and has for months dominated Wall Street dialogue on the company.

Arcuri drew on the firm`s updated analysis of its hardware supply chain in Asia, which showed signs of iPhone inventory beginning to clear in China. The region has been a major pain point for Apple, particularly since China`s iPhone weakness led CEO Tim Cook to issue a rare quarterly sales warning earlier this year. 

"While March mix is still bad, the tone in the supply chain is starting to improve and price reductions in China may be starting to clear channel inventory," Arcuri wrote. "Procurement estimates for XR are actually now up Q/Q in June – atypical for this late in a `new` model cycle (good near-term for QRVO), but reflective of inventory burn."

The build in iPhone inventory for the first-quarter appeared unchanged from the firm`s prior estimates, at around 40 million units — with a rise in iPhone 8+ models and older entirely offsetting a drop in newer models, Arcuri wrote.

That trend has led to a lower average selling price, causing UBS to drop its March sales and earnings estimates from 57.5 billion and 2.40 a share to 56.5 billion and 2.33 a share, respectively. 

The assessment stands in contrast to the outlook from analysts at HSBC, who have repeatedly warned investors about slowing Apple sales in the region. The firm found wealthy consumers in China have shifted away from iPhones and toward other brands of smartphones, like Huawei and Samsung.

Read more: HSBC keeps pounding the table on Apple`s slowdown in China

As far as the stock`s valuation goes, Arcuri noted that Apple shares have become historically cheap relative to the broader market.

Apple is now trading at an 18% discount on a relative basis to the broader market`s forward price-to-earnings ratio — well below Apple`s 10-year average of an 8% discount. However, on an absolute basis, Apple is trading roughly in-line with its historical average, at 14 times its forward earnings.

Meanwhile, Arcuri said potential risks to his optimistic view lie in macroeconomic weakness dampening product demand in China, along with a decline in "innovative offerings."

Apple shares were trading 26% below their record high set last October. Thy`re up 20% this year.

Now read more Apple coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

Apple shares.

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NOW WATCH: Amazon will pay 0 in federal taxes this year — here`s how the 793 billion company gets away with it

Although Mohammad Javad Zarif rejoined the government, analysts doubted that his return signaled any change in his diminished status since the American withdrawal from the nuclear deal he brokered.
The meeting was Jared Kushner’s first face-to-face encounter with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman since Saudi agents killed the dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
There`s a new cartoon up on the wall in John Bolton`s West Wing office, one that depicts U.S. President Donald Trump`s national security adviser shaking maracas and dreaming of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro behind bars in an orange jumpsuit.
At least 20 people were killed and dozens injured when a locomotive smashed through the buffers and burst into flames at Cairo`s main train station on Wednesday.

CAIRO – 27 February 2019: The public prosecution office said in a press statement Wednesday that an altercation between two train drivers caused the deadly blaze at Cairo’s Ramses Railway Station that killed 20 at least and injured more than 40 passengers.

The investigation revealed that the locomotive no.2310 (the locomotive that caused the tragic incident) was on its way to the storage unit when it met locomotive no.2305 on the opposite direction.

Driver of the train that caused the accident left the locomotive running without brakes to start an altercation with the other driver over the right of way. The train arrived rabidly at platform six to crash into the buffers causing a huge explosion.

This morning a train locomotive rammed into the buffer stop at the end of the rail tracks at Ramses Railway Station, the main railway station of Cairo, causing a huge fire which left 20 people killed and 42 injured.

Overwatch League Grand Finals

  • Esports will bring in more than 1 billion in revenue worldwide during 2019, according to a recent report from the Newzoo analyst group.
  • That would be a 26.4% boost from 2018, with the growth largely driven by media rights deals, sponsorships, and advertising sales.
  • NewZoo also expects esports viewership to increase by 15% in 2019, bring the total audience to about 453 million worldwide.

The industry surrounding competitive video gaming — the scene commonly known as esports — is expected to generate 1 billion in annual revenue for the first time in 2019. A recent report from analyst group Newzoo predicts a 26.7% increase in esports revenue from 2018, bringing the projected annual revenue to 1.1 billion.

The big boost in income is largely credited to media rights deals, which are expected to grow by 41.8% to 251.3 million. The largest portion of esports revenue still comes from sponsorships; investments in advertising and other marketing deals are expected to provide a revenue stream of 456.7 million.

The revenue generated by esports is just a fraction of what the overall video game industry generates each year. SuperData reported that video games generated 87 billion in revenue worldwide during 2018. Esports reflect a smaller, more focused audience that is invested in competition and content based on specific games, like "Overwatch," "League of Legends," "Street Fighter," or "Super Smash Bros."

Read more: `Fortnite` and other free games raked in more than 87 billion last year, and the rest of the gaming industry is starting to take note

Sponsors expect esports organizations to capitalize on their young, predominately male audiences. North America is expected to remain the largest source of esports revenue in 2019, generating a projected 409.1 million. Newzoo reports there are 23.9 million esports fans in North America, defined as someone who will watch an esports event at least once a month.

Esports are even more popular in Asia and the Pacific Islands, where more than 110 million esports fans are expected to tune in each month. According to Newzoo, Asian fans make up the majority of the 454 million people expected to watch esports events during the year. 

China is expected to generate 210.3 million in esports revenue during 2019, despite the Chinese government`s strict regulations on new games and monetization. China remains the largest market for overall video game revenue and cities like Chongqing and Hangzhou are now embracing local esports organizations.

Because of the international reach of video games, esports organizations can build communities across continents and organize events online. The global success of esports reflect a basic interest in competition and the unifying effect of a shared experience. But as new styles of competition take root, esports organizations will also need to find new ways to turn their audiences` goodwill into sustainable revenue.

SEE ALSO: `Fortnite` and other free games raked in more than 87 billion last year, and the rest of the gaming industry is starting to take note

SEE ALSO: Logitech CEO: Esports are more watched than CNN, Netflix, ESPN, HBO

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NOW WATCH: Why Apple`s dongle problem isn`t getting any better

Elon Musk

  • Elon Musk`s tweets are great fun for journalists and probably provide the multi-company CEO with a therapeutic outlet in a stressful life.
  • But the habit has gotten out of control.
  • Musk`s attitude of treating tweets like a game belies the seriousness of the mission he says he`s fighting for. 
  • If he really cares about the cause he wants us to care about, Musk needs to delete his Twitter account. Right now.

Oh, Elon.

Heavy sigh.

You`ve really got to quit Twitter.

Your tweets have already gotten you and your company in trouble. If you don`t watch it, they could end your tenure at Tesla, which could be damaging, maybe even disastrous for everyone involved.

Surely even you can see that whatever the benefits, your continued tweeting just isn`t worth the risks.

Look, I get it. As someone who`s fired off his fair share of intemperate or ill-considered tweets and Facebook posts, I understand. I know how hard it can be to stop yourself.

It`s so seductive. There`s the thrill you get from firing off just what you`re thinking or feeling right in the moment, unfiltered. There`s the excitement that comes from the instant reactions you get. There`s the adrenaline rush of engaging in heated debate with critics, back and forth.

And look, as a journalist, I love it. There`s nothing more boring than a CEO statement that`s been distilled through a public relations department, removed of anything halfway interesting or edgy. It`s great fun to hear and write about the uncensored Elon Musk, or Elon Tusk, as your latest Twitter pleasantry would have it. 

Elon, your tweets have gotten out of hand

But you`ve got to stop. For your own good, for that of your shareholders, for the sake of your company, you`ve got to step away. Your tweets — not to mention your other unvarnished communications — have gotten out of hand.

In the last year, on Twitter and elsewhere, you`ve raved at journalists, whistleblowers, and financial analysts. You`ve accused a cave diver of being a pedophile without any evidence. You`ve falsely claimed to have "funding secured" for taking Tesla private. You`ve tilted at the Securities and Exchange Commission, dubbing it the "Shortseller Enrichment Commission."

Just last week, you told your Twitter following that Tesla expects to make 500,000 cars this year before acknowledging four hour later that it really only expects to make around 400,000. Oops. And even after those tweets raised eyebrows at the SEC, you went after the agency again on Twitter.

Just what have you gotten for venting your spleen? Well, it`s true that a lot of your fans have liked your tweets. And you`ve gotten lots of publicity for them. So, I guess that`s something.

On the other hand, you and your company face multiple lawsuits as a result of your Twitter compulsion. Thanks to your "funding secured" tweets, the SEC forced you to step down as Tesla`s chairman, add new independent directors to the company`s board, and required you and the company to each pay a 20 million fine. And now, as a result of your tweets on Tesla`s production numbers — and failure to get them preapproved by company attorneys — a federal judge is seriously considering holding you in contempt of court, a move that could result in an another big fine and in you being removed as Tesla`s CEO.

Read this: SEC says Elon Musk violated his settlement with the agency and asks a judge to hold him in contempt of court

Maybe it`s just me, but all the likes you`ve gotten don`t seem as important in comparison.

Our warming planet needs you to quit being an ass

Look, as much pleasure as tweeting may give you, you`ve got bigger considerations. As you know, Tesla isn`t in the most stable of positions. It`s still trying to ramp up production of the Model 3 and produce a version that`s truly priced for mainstream consumers — not to mention one that`s a bit more bug-free. It`s got a factory to build and open in China and production to ramp there. It`s got a nearly 1 billion debt repayment to make next month. It`s got a growing number of challengers in the electric-car market.

And with all the executives who have left recently, Tesla needs your full attention — or at least as much as you can give it when you`re not running SpaceX or the Boring Company. Your employees are counting on you, as are your shareholders.

Heck, the rest of us are counting on you too. If the world is going to stave off global warming, we`re going to need electric vehicles to replace gas-powered ones and soon. And Tesla has been at the forefront of establishing a real mass market for electric cars and pushing the traditional car makers to step up their electric vehicle development efforts.

I know you hate the SEC right now, but the agency really seems like it was trying to protect you from yourself. By requiring Tesla to put in place a policy for communications with shareholders and getting it to put someone in charge of pre-approving your tweets, the agency was, in a way, trying to help you guard against your worst impulses.

You`ve shown that you`re going to ignore such safeguards, that when it comes to Twitter, nothing`s going to hold you back. And your closest friends, i.e. Tesla`s board of directors, has made it clear that they`re not going to have an "intervention" to break you of the habit. 

So I think it`s time for you to voluntarily and preemptively take a more dramatic step.

Step away from Twitter. Just delete it off your phone. Sign out of the social network in your web browser and close the tab.

I promise, you`ll feel a lot better. And so will the rest of us.

Well, maybe not us journalists, but you don`t like us much anyway.

SEE ALSO: Tesla`s board is terrible at its job — it`s shown it has no interest in controlling Elon Musk or sticking up for investors

Join the conversation about this story »

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A centuries-old propulsion technology is making a comeback—in space

marijuana, weed

  • Scientists at UC Berkeley have for the first time created cannabis compounds in a lab, instead of by harvesting them from a plant.
  • They detailed their work, which uses synthetic biology, in a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
  • If the technique can be scaled, it would likely transform the marijuana industry by allowing scientists to explore little-known cannabis compounds and also manufacture those like THC and CBD for less money.
  • Several other startups have announced similar efforts, but none has yet demonstrated publicly that they have a technique that works.

Lab-made marijuana is coming.

In a move that`s expected to transform the marijuana and pharmaceutical industries, scientists at the University of California at Berkeley have for the first time created cannabis compounds in a lab, instead of by harvesting them from a plant. If the technique can scale, the method will pave the way toward making marijuana`s therapeutic components more quickly and efficiently, and for a fraction of the cost of traditional methods.

Using an increasingly popular approach known as synthetic biology, the researchers genetically engineered yeast to churn out a key component of marijuana that`s a precursor to two of the most well-known compounds in the plant: THC and CBD. Using those precursors, they then made the compounds themselves — no farm or field required.

While THC is known for causing a high, CBD has an emerging reputation as a therapeutic and is the active ingredient in the first federally-approved marijuana-based medication. Thanks to its likely health and wellness uses, the market for CBD could reach 16 billion by 2025, up from perhaps 1 billion or so currently. 

And, in addition to THC and CBD, marijuana plants naturally contain a host of other little-known compounds that scientists suspect carry their own therapeutic properties. But it`s been too difficult to produce them in large enough quantities to study.

That could now be set to change.

In a paper published this week in the journal Nature, the Berkeley researchers outline how both types of marijuana compounds — the well-known ones like THC and the lesser-known ones like THCV — could be made in a lab. That will likely have big implications for startups and pharmaceutical companies who aim to make new marijuana-based drugs for everything from epilepsy to pain and arthritis.

Several companies are working on similar efforts. Wall Street has taken notice as well, noting that lab-made marijuana is one of a growing list of factors helping to speed cannabis` entry into the pharmaceutical and consumer wellness industries.

"There could be whole host of new products that could come from this," Jay Keasling, a UC Berkeley bioengineer who led the study, told Business Insider. 

`A critical step in the pathway that no one’s had until this point`

weed grinder

Before they could make marijuana compounds without a field or greenhouse, Keasling and his team had to go hunting for the ingredients required to make it work in a laboratory — something of a holy grail for the cannabis industry.

Lab-made marijuana has multiple potential advantages over traditionally-grown marijuana, from lower cost to a smaller environmental footprint.

Several companies are interested in becoming the first to prove the method, also known as biosynthesis, works. Boston-based synthetic biology startup Ginkgo Bioworks, Maryland-based biotech Intrexon, and Canadian startup Hyasynth Bio have all referenced aims to produce cannabis in a lab.

Wall Street is keen to see it happen too.

"Compared to chemical methods, biosynthesis methods are more cost-effective, scalable, and environmentally friendly," analysts at investment firm Cowen wrote in a note circulated this week.

For Keasling`s part, he and his team spent years figuring out how to do it.

They uncovered a clue in the patent literature about a way to tweak the genes of yeast using marijuana DNA that would result in it churning out a key precursor to the cannabis compounds CBD and THC.

The process of modifying the DNA of a basic organism like yeast or E. Coli to coax it into producing another product is known as synthetic biology. In recent years, investors have been pouring money into companies in the area. Put simply, synthetic biology involves harnessing the power of cells to make everything from less-toxic sweeteners for food to drugs and biodegradable building materials.

Read more: A Silicon Valley startup with 26 patents under its belt just raised 400 million from SoftBank and Goldman Sachs to make materials from living things

So Keasling and his team took all the basic ingredients identified by previous researchers — a combination of specific components of yeast DNA and specific components of cannabis DNA — and tried to make the marijuana compounds in a lab. Several attempts failed.

"We tried all the tricks we had," Keasling said. "We just could not get it to work."

So they took another stab. After several years of work exploring hundreds of marijuana genes, they were able to home in on their target. It was an enzyme called CsPT4, and it allowed them to make the ingredients they needed. Using those ingredients, they were then able to make compounds like CBD and THC.

"This is a critical step in the pathway that no one’s had until this point," said Keasling.

A startup that aims to make new drugs and ink deals with pharma

marijuana cannabis pot weed bud nug medicalThe next step for Keasling is scaling up. To do that, he must prove his technique can work in larger experiments and at a lower cost than traditional manufacturing.

That could be of major interest to pharmaceutical companies like GW Pharma, who recently became the first company with a US-approved marijuana-based drug. (Called Epidiolex, the drug is designed to treat rare forms of epilepsy using high concentrations of CBD.)

It might also interest any one of a number of startups that in recent years have pledged to turn marijuana compounds like CBD into federally-approved drugs for diseases like Crohn`s and multiple sclerosis.

Read more: A pair of high-profile Stanford scientists wants to use marijuana to treat an entire class of diseases where big pharma has fallen short

Keasling has already licensed the technology he describes in the study to a startup he founded in 2015 called Demetrix. He said it would be open to working with a range of established companies in the pharmaceutical or food industry. 

Jeff Ubersax, Demetrix`s CEO, told Business Insider that the startup has raised 11 million in venture capital led by Horizon Ventures, a Hong Kong-based VC firm. Horizon has also backed the plant-based burger company Impossible Foods and Siri, the developer of Apple`s virtual assistant.

No stranger to startups, Keasling has previously founded several companies and currently serves as an advisor to four. In 2003, he helped found the biofuels-turned-skincare company Amyris and in 2010 he founded Lygos, a startup that aims to use microbes for renewable energy purposes. He`s no longer involved with Amyris but remains an advisor to Lygos.

Read more: After a kick-start from Bill Gates, a Silicon Valley company aims to be the `Intel Inside` of the 200 billion sweetener and skincare market

With Demetrix, Keasling and Ubersax are focused on two main goals, they told Business Insider.

First, they aim to churn out lab-made versions of cannabis`s already well-known compounds, such as CBD and THC. They also want to make a handful of under-studied marijuana compounds, ingredients Keasling said likely carry therapeutic properties. These could include ingredients like THCV, for example, which may have appetite-staunching potential.

Other startups have similar aims. Ginkgo Bioworks, a Boston-based synthetic biology company, recently inked a 122-million deal with Canadian marijuana producer Cronos to make cannabis compounds like THC and CBD as well as lesser-known ingredients using the same synthetic biology principles.

Keasling thinks he can make marijuana compounds for a fraction of the cost of traditional cannabis production, citing the fact that his method won`t require greenhouse building materials, large amounts of land or water, or manual labor.

"From a scientific perspective with all the rare cannabinoids we’re going to be able to produce, I think it’s going to be really cool," Keasling said.

SEE ALSO: A startup with ties to Bayer has inked a 122 million deal to make lab-grown marijuana — and it`s eyeing the pharma industry

SEE ALSO: A Silicon Valley startup with 26 patents under its belt just raised 400 million from SoftBank and Goldman Sachs to make materials from living things

Join the conversation about this story »

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Dropbox CEO and cofounder Drew Houston

Joshua Reeves is the CEO of a startup that raised a 6.1 million seed round from big Silicon Valley names.

His list of early investors  reads as a who`s who of Silicon Valley:

Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, Yammer CEO David Sacks, Box CEO Aaron Levie, YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, SurgarCRM CEO Larry Augustin, Zuora CEO and former Salesforce CMO Tien Tzou, Facebook VP of Partnerships Dan Rose, Gmail creator Paul Buchheit, and more ...

Reeves is also an angel investor himself.

Reeves` company Gusto, which was formerly called ZenPayroll, began as a cloud-based payments tool that makes it easier for small businesses to pay employees. We asked him how he got such a rock star lineup to invest.

Reeves says it took him two weeks to raise the 6.1 million round. Each day was packed with eight or nine meetings. He started the process by reaching out to people he knew. It helped that he was going through Y Combinator, a notable startup accelerator program that has a strong alumni network. Reeves also had connections from Stanford, where he got his electrical engineering degree, and from Zazzle, a startup he joined as an early employee that now has hundreds of people.

Aaron Levie, for example, was a prior contact. Box`s office used to be right next door to Zazzle`s. Levie invested in a company called Karma; now Karma`s CEO is one of Reeves` investors. Reeves also met Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman through Levie.

Once Reeves found potential investors, he still had to sell them. Reeves and his co-founders have attractive backgrounds; they`ve each started companies before and Reeves` last company was bought. Reeves also used a compelling pitch deck to help share his mission with investors.

Click here to jump straight to pitch deck that helped Reeves raise the money >

"I`m a big fan of having a deck," says Reeves. "Especially at the seed stage. It`s how you present your story. You want to have a logical connection between different pieces of information."

Reeves also asked investors a lot of questions during the meetings. He says he interviewed them as much as they interviewed him to make sure they`d be a good fit for his company. 

Finally, it`s important to have a product that solves a pain point investors can relate to. ZenPayroll was a cloud-based payroll solution that was cheap for small businesses to use and easier to navigate than ADP or Paychex.

"The people we raised money from invested because they want to vicariously fix this industry," says Reeves. "You could tell which of them had experienced the payroll pain themselves. That`s the heart of why angels invest even when they are still doing their own startups."

So, how can other startups have the similar success nabbing star angel investors?

Reeves offers the following pitch deck to other entrepreneurs when they`re raising their first round of financing. It`s the template ZenPayroll used to raise 6.1 million.

"Each meeting is an opportunity to describe your vision, paint a picture of the future, share your progress so far and the quality of your team," he says.

Before you create your startup`s pitch deck, here`s a general formatting tip:



Reeves recommends having a 2-5 word tagline for your company and a strong quote on the opening slide.



The vision should stand out on a slide of its own. It`s the most important message a young startup can convey.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Former Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila`s anti-corruption czar withdrew his candidacy from next month`s senate election due to what he said was widespread vote-buying.
Britain`s opposition Labour Party said on Wednesday it had suspended one of its lawmakers and would investigate his conduct after remarks he made over the party`s handling of anti-Semitism accusations.

Jes Staley

  • Barclays is in the process of revamping its electronic stock trading business.
  • The bank is hoping to handle client orders more efficiently with a smarter algorithm that was recently developed.
  • The move is one piece of Barclays` update on its electronic equities business, in addition to improved order execution and data analytics. 

A new era of electronic stock trading has arrived. 

Equities have always been considered on the cutting edge of trading technology, as Wall Street firms have pushed to trade faster and smarter over rivals. Traders have grown increasingly comfortable with algorithmic trading — the use of a computer program with a set of instructions – over the years. 

The potential around using artificial intelligence and machine learning have only bolstered this trend. As a result, Daniel Nehren, Barclays` head of statistical modeling and development for equities, said the level of innovation that can be expected coming out of Wall Street`s stock trading desks in the coming years will be unparalleled.

"The next five years are really going to be the golden age for electronic trading," Nehren said in an interview with Business Insider.

The British bank is tackling the opportunity head on. Barclays is currently in the process using a single algorithm, as opposed to several, to handle clients` stock orders more efficiently, Nehren said.

Read more: Barclays is pushing its equities traders to learn how to code in Python, and it shows where stock trading is heading

Historically, if a client wanted to change its strategy during the trading day it would need to use multiple algos, cancelling and resubmitting orders along the way. Barclays` new algo will be able to adapt on the fly to a new client request or a changing market environment. 

"Because now I have one algo, I don`t actually have to cancel and replace anything. I just have to change a parameter in that algo," Nehren said. "So it gives me a level of flexibility on how I do it in an efficient way"

Nehren, who joined Barclays in January 2018 after stops at Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, and, most recently, Citadel, has helped the bank become one of the fastest growing stock trading teams in the industry. Barclays` equities business generated 2.7 billion in income in 2018, a 25% uptick from 2017. That`s more than double the average increase across the industry, which saw a 10% rise in equities revenue over the same time period, according to Coalition`s 2018 investment bank index.

Sign up here for our weekly newsletter "Wall Street Insider," a behind-the-scenes look at the stories dominating banking, business, and big deals.

Efficiency in handling client orders isn`t the only benefit. Condensing the number of algos the banks uses for stock trading down to one will allow it to innovate more. Instead of devoting resources to maintaining multiple algos, which can be costly, Nehren said the bank can put money towards improving the single algo. 

Barclays began using the algo for internal trading back in October, and brought on its first client at the end of 2018. The bank is now in the process of slowly rolling out the algorithm to the rest of its clients. 

"Most of the sophisticated clients don’t care what algorithm you use," Nehren said. "The actual right way to do it is to build just one algorithm that is highly parameterized. That means you can still replicate the behavior that the client would want if the client is more used to a certain type of trading approach, but then allows me to be more generic."

See more: Barclays has the fastest growing stock trading team around — and it`s posing a threat to some of the biggest players

Barclays new super algo is one piece of the banks` next generation platform it is in the process of rolling out for its stock trading business.

Nehren said nearly all clients have been onboarded to a revamped smart order router, software that helps brokers optimize trade execution. A real-time data analytics platform that will send trading signals into the smart order router and algo is currently being developed and will be rolled out over the course of the year.

Barclays has also continued to build out its team with experts in the low-latency field. Eric Anderson, who previously served as the global head of equities and prime technology at Nomura, and Eugen Sarbu, who also came from Nomura, were both brought on over the past year to help the bank with the next generation platform. 

Nehren said while all three components — algo, smart order router, and real-time data analytics platform — are impressive on their own, the true benefit comes from maintaining them on single, interconnected platform. Doing so allows them to work together more seamlessly and complement each other. 

In an age where new technology develops rapidly, Nehren said the next generation platform has been built for the long term. Nehren took special care to design the platform so new tech can be easily implemented when it`s ready.

"Let’s focus on the core and building real performance first and then we can add the customization features as we build them," Nehren said. "Trying to build pure functionality once you have everything is a lot harder to do."

Join the conversation about this story »

Marc Benioff hawaii

  • Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff paid more than 7 million to buy a carving of the Hawaiian god Ku at auction.
  • The Benioffs, who own land in Hawaii, donated the carving to Bishop Museum in Honolulu, where they felt it belongs.
  • Now some experts have called into question whether the statue was carved as far back as previously thought, according to the New York Times.
  • One expert told the Times that the statue could be worth as little as 5,000, depending on when it was created.

2017_PAR_15341_0153_000(importante_statue_hawaienne_de_style_kona_circa_1780 1820_representant)

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff`s love for the Hawaiian islands knows no bounds.

The San Francisco billionaire and island enthusiast purchased a rare carving of the Hawaiian war god Ku at a Christie`s auction in November 2017. Benioff got in a bidding war and ultimately paid more than 7 million for the idol, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

Benioff and his wife Lynne gave the statue to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, in an donation announced by the museum in May.

Now some experts have called the legitimacy of the piece into question and say it could be worth less than 5,000, according to the New York Times.

“It’s the sort of thing you see in a tiki bar,” Daniel Blau, Munich-based Pacific Island art expert, told the Times.

At the heart of issue is when the sculpture was actually carved. Initially, the 20-inch-tall carving was believed to be created between 1780 and 1819.

One expert told the Times he believed the piece was made later than was previously reported, and that if it was much later, it would be valued at a four-figure sum. Though other experts told the Time they remain convinced of its origin story.

Before the Benioffs won it at auction, the piece lived in a private collection in Paris since the 1940s. It`s unclear how it got to Paris, though the museum said back in May that it resembles another idol which was brought back to Europe by British missionaries who visited Kona in 1822.

Melanie Ide, president and CEO of the Bishop Museum, told the Times that the museum is aware of “a question about its history and provenance,” and said that curators are doing more research, including possible DNA testing.

Questions about the carving`s authenticity go back to the time of the auction, with a report on a local Hawaiian television stations` website citing an expert who said he believed the piece was not genuine.

For now, the piece remains open to viewers at the Bishop Museum, though the placard doesn`t say when it was carved, according to the Times. The statue was returned back to Hawaii right before then, just one week before the Kilauea volcano erupted. 

“We felt strongly that this ki‘i belonged in Hawai‘i, for the education and benefit of its people,” Benioff said in a statement back in May.

The timing was not lost on Benioff, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report at the time. 

“It’s a spiritual item,” Benioff told the Chronicle. “It’s not really something that should be held to help the power of one person.”

Benioff, who owns a five-acre estate in Hawaii, has found ways to integrate Hawaiian culture into the day-to-day at Salesforce. "Ohana," Hawaiian for family, is a core tenant of the company`s culture. The company also regularly invites Hawaiian singers and dancers to perform at conferences and events.

Whatever the value of the sculpture turns out to be, it represents only a small portion of a broader pattern of philanthropy by the Benioffs, who have donated 200 million to San Francisco children`s hospitals, and 11.5 million to fight family homelessness, among other things. 

SEE ALSO: Marc Benioff has taken to wearing an American flag pin — what could it mean?

Join the conversation about this story »

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Walmart art.com

  • Walmart has been on an online brands binge for several years now.
  • Bonobos, ModCloth, and Art.com are just a few of the brands the retail giant has snapped up since 2010.
  • Walmart`s pivot toward digital-native companies likely indicates its outlook on the future of retail.

Walmart has been devouring online retailer after online retailer for the past few years.

So what`s behind this banquet of brands? The fact that many of the acquired companies belong to the realm of e-commerce indicates that this is all part of Walmart`s ongoing battle with Amazon.

But it`s also about appealing to the younger, more affluent generation of consumers that flocks to brands like Bonobos and ModCloth.

Read more: Walmart wants to win over millennials, but it might have to acquire `40 to 50` brands to do so

A Walmart spokesperson previously told Business Insider that "one of the drivers for customers to continue coming back to your brand is going to be finding products and experiences that they just can`t get anywhere else."

So the future isn`t just about being online — it`s also about having products that exude exclusivity and set you apart from the competition.

Business Insider previously reported on a note from financial services firm Cowen and Company that said Walmart`s e-commerce president and CEO Marc Lore believes the retail giant needs to acquire 40 to 50 "successful digitally native retailers" in order to "resonate with millennials."

So despite the spate of acquisitions, Walmart still has a long way to go, at least by Cowen and Company`s estimate.

Here`s a look at the slew of digitally oriented brands that Walmart has scooped up in recent years:

SEE ALSO: Walmart greeters with disabilities could lose their jobs because of a policy change — and people are furious

Vudu

Walmart acquired streaming and media company Vudu back in 2010, most likely in a move to compete with Amazon.

This fall, Walmart entered into a partnership with MGM Holdings and interactive video startup Eko, in the hopes of creating more original content for the site.



Kosmix

Kosmix — the original name of what has since become Walmart Labs — is another one of Walmart`s early digital acquisitions.

The retailer scooped up the social media startup for a cool 300 million in 2011.



Jet.com

The 3.3 billion acquisition of Jet.com in August 2016 further propelled Walmart to a larger claim within the realm of online commerce. The purchase was largely seen as Walmart`s bid to compete with Amazon in the e-commerce space.

As an added bonus, Walmart acquired Omaha-based online retailer Hayneedle through its purchase of Jet.com. The Omaha World-Herald speculated that Hayneedle would help Walmart play "online catch-up" with Amazon.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

True Detective 5 Warrick Page HBO

  • Stephen Dorff played detective Roland West on season 3 of "True Detective," which had its finale on Sunday.
  • Business Insider spoke with Dorff about the show, why he thinks it`s the best role he`s ever had, and how he finally feels respected after being in the business for over 30 years.

Warning: Spoilers below if you haven`t seen the season-three finale of "True Detective."

It’s hard not to root for Stephen Dorff.

The Hollywood lifer has been everything from a child star to a Hollywood heartthrob to a struggling actor looking for a paycheck.

But through it all he’s battled on, thanks to his raw acting ability. This ability shines in a career-making performance like 1998’s “Blade,” a small part in a big movie like 2009’s “Public Enemies” opposite Johnny Depp, or a big part in a small movie like Sofia Coppola’s 2010 movie “Somewhere.”

And now, at 45, it looks like Dorff is finally getting the respect within the industry he deserves, as his role as detective Roland West in season three of “True Detective” has drawn universal acclaim.

The latest season of HBO`s police procedural saga from creator Nic Pizzolatto explores the thirty-year obsession detective Wayne "Purple" Hays (Mahershala Ali) has for an old case as he sinks deeper into dementia. And Dorff’s West is Hays` prefect companion with his tough-guy Cowboy persona and wicked humor.

Days after the season finale aired on HBO, Business Insider spoke to Dorff about the experience of creating what he called “the best role I’ve ever played,” why it’s been hard to kick the Roland character, and what it’s been like to finally have his acting talents recognized in Hollywood.

Jason Guerrasio: Is it true that Nic didn`t give you guys the script for the finale until midway through production?

Stephen Dorff: Yeah, me and Mahershala and Carmen [Ejogo, who plays Amelia] had all seven scripts, and I can`t remember the actual date, but it was well into shooting we got episode 8. It was Nic`s process, but also I think he was holding it. He had it in his head but hadn`t put it to paper. So we were knee-deep into the shooting without really knowing where it was heading. We were guessing just like the audience was. I didn`t know if I was going to die, I had no idea what was going to happen. It was really cool when we got it. We were all really touched by it. This was all totally new for me.

Guerrasio: Having done movies most of your career, outside of the TV guest spots you did as a kid early in your career, you`ve had a roadmap of the characters you played. For this you were flying blind.

Dorff: You know where you go until the end. I knew seven hours of an eight-hour piece.

Guerrasio: So when you get the script and you see what happens, is it completely different than how you felt Roland would end up?

Dorff: It took me for a big turn. Nic would give me little things here and there. He told me he wrote the bar scene and the dog scene. It was an extra gift for me in a way because it was such a cool sequence. I had this feeling that the one-eyed guy, Junius (Steven Williams), was going to probably come back. But really for the most part I was in the dark and I loved it. When we got the script I was blown away. I love the scene where Mahershala is with Julie and doesn`t know where he is. It`s so hard to watch but that little note with the address that Ray [Risher, who plays Henry Hays] puts in his pocket, that`s so good. Nic went to a deeper level and didn`t want to do a bunch of tricks. I remember my Dad said to me, "I really wanted more closure I wanted to see Roland and Wayne with Julie." And I was like, "Dad, that`s the Disney version." [Laughs]

True Detective 4 HBO final

Guerrasio: That`s not how life is.

Dorff: That`s not how life is and it`s also not how Nic writes. This is leaving it to the imagination. Will Ray look into that piece of paper? Maybe call Roland and ask, "Why was my Dad there?" And we would probably go over there and find out, but that`s for everyone to think about after, not to see. I just think Nic is a f---ing genius and it`s the best role I ever played.

Guerrasio: You get some great lines to say, especially in the finale. When you guys confront Junius and you call him a cyclops. And when he wants you guys to kill him and you turn to his gun rack and tell him to do it himself. So good!

Dorff: How Nic wrote Roland it was a dream role because every line hit. Roland had a humor. Oftentimes a character has one note, but this here had so many layers and colors. I really think Nic hit this season out of the park.

And it was crazy to see what people wrote about. The theories they came up with were really funny. Some people thought the killer was Amelia, I was like what the f---? My dad thought it was the DA, and I`m like, "Dad, c`mon man." [Laughs] And I`m sworn the secrecy, I can`t say anything, but it was fun to see people were so into it.

Guerrasio: How much of the chemistry between you and Mahershala was just two guys with talent making it work in the scene, and how much of it was you guys building chemistry before shooting started?

Dorff: I emailed him when I was cast but we met when we were on the plane to Arkansas. We actually were shooting around this time last year. He had just finished "Green Book" 10 days before the shoot. We were both in Arkansas, neither of us had been there before, and we were like, "Where do we begin?" We found each other in the car doing the scenes. The chemistry just started. And it`s where I found Roland. Nic realized I was funny and wrote more humor into the character. You can`t compare it to doing a movie with somebody because he and I had a relationship. It is two guys who are completely different but love each other.

Guerrasio: You two literally grow old together.

Dorff: Yeah. I mean I have never done a scene ever like in episode 5 where we`re on the porch. Five hours in make up, and that was a ten-page scene. We were out there just pouring our hearts out. Me and Mahershala hit a magical moment that day. It was exciting. I haven`t been really into watching myself but I love watching me and him in this.

True Detective 3 HBO

Guerrasio: So would you watch every Sunday night?

Dorff: I first saw them all kind of rough with green screen still around the car and it still needing to be mixed. So I would like to watch it on broadcast. And because it was weekly, it`s not like Netflix where all the episodes are up at once, the calls would come in every night from people.

Guerrasio: What was the casting like? You had never been through something like this before, was there fear if you could play a part like this?

Dorff: There was no fear. I knew when I read it this was special. When I was cast I only got a couple of scenes to read with Nic for the job. I had a feel for Roland but I had no clue. I had no idea I aged to my 70s. But once he gave me the role he sent me an email and said, "You have no idea what Roland gets to do." And I was like, "I`m ready." I read the scripts and I just started going ape s--- in my house. You just don`t get roles like this anymore. Movies are all comic books now. Maybe you get a good character part in a small movie. I never got a chance to take a character like this on a journey. I had it.

Guerrasio: Did anything with Roland get left on the cutting room floor?

Dorff: Roland had a little bit more. There was more with Lori (Jodi Balfour) and the demise of our relationship. Maybe I had three scenes cut and they weren`t huge. There was a scene in the `80s where Roland`s smoking a joint with this young hippie chick and she`s reading his Tarot cards and he just wants to go to bed. It was a really funny scene. But for the most part everything we shot is in show.

Guerrasio: Has it been hard to kick Roland, because it sounds like you really loved playing this character.

Dorff: Yeah, I had a hard time. I had a month before I started this movie I did and when I went and did it it was hard to get into my character because I didn`t want to leave Roland. I`ve never really been bummed after a part. I`ve been bummed when I`m done with a movie and go back home and don`t know what the f--- to do with myself until my next movie. But I had this movie after "True Detective" so I wasn`t worried about work, just how do I do it?

True Detective Warrick Page HBO

I was kind of stuck because I really connected to Roland in a way that I never had in my career. At 45 this was the perfect part for me in my life. I really don`t know how all this happened, I came in the last minute and Nic gave it to me. After some bad things that have happened in my life I wasn`t in a great place and the thing that I needed most was to be around a great group of people and have a great part to act in. That`s what Nic gave me and I will always be thankful to him for doing that.

Guerrasio: And because of that you didn`t want to let go of the character?

Dorff: I didn`t want to let go, and it`s funny because he`s kind of following me around. Everything I`m reading is kind of a Western influence. In fact, Nic didn`t want Roland to have an accent in the beginning but I said, "I think there`s an accent there and I`m reading this and I hear it." I started doing what I thought was Roland`s voice and everyone was into it.

Guerrasio: You have been in this business your whole life, so you know how it works, but how are things now for you? Have the offers changed? Are the calls you get now from people higher in the food chain? Are you suddenly seen differently than say a year ago?

Dorff: Yeah, how do I begin that question. [Pause] My career has always been a little different, but I`m still here. That`s the interesting thing. Many of my contemporaries, when we started out there were five of us who went out for everything. This one would go to me, this one would go to Leo [DiCaprio], this one went to Matt Damon. And I have watched a lot of them become incredibly successful whereas I chose smaller, weirder movies. I just followed my own path and also it was what was available at the time. I can`t make things happen. I can`t make an amazing script come to me tomorrow. So for a lot of my career I have been blessed with having what I call spurts. Out of nowhere there will be a Sophia Coppola movie ("Somewhere") that everybody wants to do, the guys way ahead of me in bankability or whatever the f--- it is, and she gives it to me out of nowhere. Mike Figgis gave me a movie, "Cold Creek Manor," which was during one of the worst times in my career, but Mike just said, "Do you want to do a movie with me at Disney?" And bang, they paid me a s--- load of money. And I found out a lot of guys way bigger than me wanted that part. So I had this weird career that has been led by directors kind of standing up and saying they want me. I mean, yeah I did "Blade" and "Immortals," I`ve done big studio movies, but that doesn`t do anything for you unless you follow it up and do ten more of them, and I never did that. I went the other way and would do a tiny movie that would fight for distribution. What happened here is TV is now king and I got to do something with Roland that I never got to do before. If I only had 90 minutes I wouldn`t have been able to do with Roland what I did, it was because of the format and Nic`s incredible writing.

Somewhere Focus Features

So I have had a lot of these hit moments. When "Somewhere" premiered at the Venice Film Festival everyone thought it was going to win Oscars, but it was ignored in the US. What`s different with "True Detective" is everyone is seeing it. I don`t have to fight for people to see it. I mean, I`m recognized because of "Blade" or "Somewhere," I`ve gotten that my whole career. But I`ve never gotten the recognition I`m getting from doing Roland, ever. I`m going through customs at the airport and the guy doesn`t even look at my passport, he`s just like, "Man, episode 5 was sick, get out of here, welcome back." Even major people. Joel Silver cornered me the other night. Joel Silver! He`s never hired me my whole life and he`s like, "It`s the most brilliant thing I`ve ever seen. I first met you at a nightclub and now you`re doing this performance." He`s losing his mind and I`m in my head thinking, Man, Joel Sliver. I`ve auditioned for him a bunch of times and he`s never given me a goddamn thing but he`s really a fan! So it feels like there`s a real change that I`ve never had in a my life. I`m really flattered. Now the question is do I quit and start a fish-and-chips shop because am I ever going to find anything as good as Roland ever again? [Laughs]

SEE ALSO: The most anticipated new TV shows premiering in March

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The line-ups for the 2019 Global Champions League (GCL) have been announced -- with a number of high-profile stars making a switch to different teams.

Amazon Crystal City National Landing 00087.JPG

  • Earlier in February, Amazon announced it would no longer pursue its HQ2 project in New York City, citing pushback from local politicians.
  • Politicians in Virginia, where the other half of HQ2 is set to be developed, have also made some noise and said that they would like to reexamine the deal struck between Arlington County, the state of Virginia, and Amazon.
  • Virginia may have more leverage with Amazon, as the company has no easy recourse if it decides to pull out — aside from reopening a nationwide search for a site for its second headquarters. 

In the wake of Amazon pulling its second headquarters project — or HQ2 — out of New York City, some activists and local leaders in Virginia are also voicing concerns. 

Earlier in February, Amazon announced it would no longer pursue its HQ2 project in New York, citing pushback from local politicians. The decision shocked onlookers, and reaction was mixed among both the project`s supporters and detractors.

Attention then naturally shifted to Virginia, where Amazon had set its sights on developing the other half of its HQ2 project. Amazon had planned to build in an area newly dubbed "National Landing," which comprises Crystal City, the eastern portion of Pentagon City, and the northern portion of Potomac Yard in Alexandria and Arlington. Reaction from the local community had previously been more muted there than it had been in New York.

But now, Virginian local leaders are making some noise of their own. They, too, would like to reexamine the deal that was struck between Arlington County, the state of Virginia, and Amazon, which is set to offer up to 550 million in state tax incentives in exchange for hiring 25,000 people in the area. The county also offered the company 23 million over 15 years from a rising tax on hotel rooms, for a grand total of 573 million.

A coalition called "For us, not Amazon" is voicing many of the same concerns that were raised in New York, namely that rising housing costs and gentrification could displace working-class residents.

At the county level, a debate is taking place around the 23 million in grants being offered to the company. The Arlington County Board will vote to approve those grants on March 13.

At least two members of the board — Erik Gutshall and Matt de Ferranti — have said to local news site ARLnow.com that Amazon hasn`t engaged enough with the local community and its board ahead of the vote. 

"I don`t really understand why they`re not out here … they need to have their coming out party, if you will," Gutshall told ARLnow. "Without some really clear rationale or justification from them, I would be very, very hesitant to vote on the incentive agreement without them having had some meaningful engagement in the community. In fact, I couldn`t see us voting on this without that happening first."

Amazon did not immediately respond to Business Insider`s request for comment on this story.

A company spokesperson told ARLnow.com in a statement that it "has met with stakeholders in the community to discuss plans for our second headquarters in National Landing and we will continue to do so into the future."

amazon hq2

A few local activists are sure of which action they think the board should take. 

"The county should vote down the deal," Roshan Abraham, an organizer with Our Revolution Arlington, said Monday during a meeting of FUNA, according to the Washington Business Journal. "If Amazon chooses not to come to Arlington over 23 million, good riddance."

Abraham has publicly criticized the deal since it was announced, largely on the same grounds as Amazon`s critics in New York.

"There has been no outreach to the low-income, working class, and black and brown communities of Arlington who will be most negatively impacted by Amazon`s arrival," Abraham added. "A lot of people are really concerned about rising housing costs, Amazon`s anti-union stance and workplace practices."

Read more: `I`d choose mass transit over helipads any day`: Key Amazon opponent on New York`s city council speaks out on HQ2 cancellation

The real-estate market in Virginia is reportedly already feeling the effects of Amazon`s focus on the region. Representatives from Redfin and Realtor.com both told USA Today that real-estate speculation has increased in Arlington following Amazon`s pulling out of the New York project. 

The median home sale price in the county rose from 545,000 to 605,000 from October to January — an 11% jump, they told the newspaper. The number of homes sold increased even in the winter months, when homes sales are usually down.

At the state level, there is at least one delegate in Virginia`s house of delegates that reportedly opposes the deal: Lee Carter. It`s unclear how much support he has in the chamber or outside it in Richmond.  

Outspoken critics of Amazon in Virginia may be emboldened by the company`s pullout of New York. It does not have a third HQ2 city to fall back on, meaning it may be more committed to working things out in Virginia than it was in New York.

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NOW WATCH: McDonald`s just added `Donut Sticks` to its breakfast menu — here`s our verdict

Super Mario

  • Nintendo is hitting its stride with the Nintendo Switch, and 2019 is full of huge new games for the popular game console.
  • Starting in March with "Yoshi`s Crafted World" and culminating in the launch of a huge new Pokémon game in "late 2019," it`s a great year to be a Switch owner.
  • But even if you don`t have a Switch, Nintendo`s got two major smartphone games in the works — including, for the first time ever, a "Mario Kart" smartphone game.

After two years of momentous sales and dozens of major game launches, the Nintendo Switch is comfortably hitting its stride.

And, in 2019, Nintendo`s hottest console in years is getting some of its biggest games yet: a brand-new Pokémon, a major Mario sequel, and an adorable new Yoshi project. Even if you don`t own a Nintendo Switch just yet, Nintendo`s got major games for you too on smartphones!

Here`s a rundown of Nintendo`s big plans for 2019:

SEE ALSO: Everything we know about the next Nintendo Switch, which may arrive as soon as this year

1. "Yoshi`s Crafted World"

Like "Yoshi`s Island" for the Super Nintendo, "Yoshi" for the Switch is a platformer starring Yoshi. He can pause to aim and throw eggs at enemies, or he can consume them, or he can leap into the air and butt stomp down. Yoshi is versatile!

In the new "Yoshi" game, you`ll be able to walk into the background, and occasionally switch up the entire orientation of levels. In so many words, it`s a new spin on the classic 2D formula.

Release date: March 29, 2019

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch



2. "Super Mario Maker 2"

One of the best 2D "Super Mario" games ever made isn`t just a game, but a creation tool: "Super Mario Maker" on Wii U enabled millions of players to create their own "Super Mario" levels, test them, and then share them all over the world.

In June, Nintendo plans to release the second game in that series with "Super Mario Maker 2."

Like in the first "Super Mario Maker," you`re able to create your own 2D "Super Mario" levels using objects from a variety of "Super Mario" games — goombas and koopas and chain chomps from across decades of "Super Mario" history.

While the first "Super Mario Maker" offered objects from "Super Mario Bros.," "Super Mario Bros. 3," "Super Mario World," and "New Super Mario Bros. U," it looks like "Super Mario Maker 2" will also allow the use of objects from "Super Mario 3D World" — including the various "suits" from that game.

Release date: June 2019

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch



3. "Dr. Mario World"

"Dr. Mario World" is a free-to-play puzzle game based on the long line of "Dr. Mario" puzzle games from Nintendo.

Like previous Nintendo games on smartphones, "Dr. Mario World" is being developed in collaboration with third-party partners — in this case, it`s the Japanese social media company Line and the Korean game development studio NHN Entertainment.

So, uh, what is it? We don`t know too much just yet, but it sounds like a traditional color-matching puzzle game along the lines of previous "Dr. Mario" games. One twist: it`ll be free-to-play. Nintendo describes it as "free to download with optional in-app purchases."

Release date: Early summer 2019

Platform(s): Apple and Android devices



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
A French sporting goods chain pulled a hijab for women joggers from its shelves after it came under fire from politicians and on social media.
A downed Indian fighter pilot who was attacked by a mob and then paraded on video by Pakistan`s army has become a social media sensation and a hero in his homeland amid a spiraling crisis between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
Twenty-four teams will compete at next year`s tournament in France, which will be held from 7 June to 7 July. Across nine host cities, 52 matches will be played to determine the winner.
A train packed with war trophies from Syria including a tank and carriages of weapons arrived to loud fanfare at a southern Russian city on Wednesday, part of a nationwide tour organized by the military to whip up patriotic sentiment.
Aged 26, Julie Ertz already knows what it is like to win a World Cup. The defensive midfielder, the second-youngest member of the US squad in 2015, can talk about the joy of winning the biggest prize in women`s soccer, of how onerous a month-long tournament can be and how becoming a world champion "makes you hungry for more."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejected his foreign minister`s resignation as "against national interests" on Wednesday, bolstering a moderate ally who has long been targeted by hardliners in factional struggles over the 2015 nuclear deal with the West.

Bohemian Rhapsody Fox

  • Queen biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" will be released in China next month.
  • But the news has already raised concerns among fans that the movie will be censored for its LGBT content.
  • Actor Rami Malek`s best-actor Oscars acceptance speech was censored in China.

On the heels of four Oscar wins on Sunday, including best actor for Rami Malek`s portrayal of Freddie Mercury, the Queen biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" will finally be released in China.

The movie is scheduled for release in China on March 22, according to the Chinese entertainment social network Douban (via Variety). But the news has already raised concerns in the country that the movie`s LGBT content could be censored.

READ MORE: `Green Book` is the worst Oscar best picture winner since `Crash,` according to movie critics

Fans immediately took to China`s most popular social-media platform, Weibo, to express their worries, pleading for Chinese censors to release the film as it was intended, according to Variety. 

Malek`s Oscars acceptance speech was censored on Mango TV, one of the websites that live-streamed the telecast in China. 

"We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life unapologetically himself," Malek said. But "special group" replaced "gay man" in Mango`s subtitles, Variety reported.

Hollywood movies boost the Chinese box office

Chinese media regulators began limiting actors` salaries last year, capping their pay at 40% of production costs. Lead actors can`t be paid more than 70% of total cast pay. The country`s biggest movie star, Fan Bingbing, also disappeared from the public eye for three months in 2018 after she was accused of tax evasion as part of a crackdown on secret contracts. She publicly apologized to the Chinese government in October.

In the midst of this crackdown, China approved more Hollywood movies for release in December in an effort to reach its box-office goal of 8.7 billion by the end of 2018. While box-office growth slowed to 9% compared to 13.5% growth in 2017, it still passed its goal and reached 8.87 billion.

This media climate could be a factor in why China has approved "Bohemian Rhapsody," a global box-office hit, for release. China is projected to pass the US as the world`s box-office leader within the next five years.

"Bohemian Rhapsody" fought off behind-the-scenes turmoil to gross 850 million worldwide and win four Oscars, including actor, film editing, sound editing, and sound mixing. The movie`s credited director, Bryan Singer, was fired late into production by the studio Fox for repeatedly being absent from the set. Singer is also facing allegations of sexual misconduct with underage boys, which he has denied.

SEE ALSO: This year proved the Oscars have started to embrace Marvel and Netflix, even though `Black Panther` and `Roma` lost best picture

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jane the virgin gina rodriguez

  • Every month, Business Insider looks at the most anticipated returning shows thanks to data from television tracking app, TV Time.
  • Netflix`s "Santa Clarita Diet," Starz`s "American Gods," and The CW`s "Jane the Virgin" all return in March.

March sees the return of some fan-favorite TV shows, including Netflix`s "Santa Clarita Diet," starring Drew Barrymore, and The CW`s final season of "Jane the Virgin."

Every month, Business Insider looks at the most anticipated returning shows thanks to data from television-tracking app TV Time, based on its 13 million global users.

Here are the top five:

SEE ALSO: Stephen Dorff says his `True Detective` role is his favorite in a 34-year career, and explains how it`s changed his life

5. "Happy!" (Season 2) — Syfy, March 27

Description: "HAPPY! is based on New York Times best-selling author Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s graphic novel of the same name. The series follows Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni, Law & Order: SVU) – an intoxicated, corrupt ex-cop turned hit man – who is adrift in a world of casual murder, soulless sex and betrayal. After a hit gone wrong, his inebriated life is forever changed by a tiny, relentlessly positive, imaginary blue winged horse named Happy (Patton Oswalt)."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score (Season 1): 79%

What critics said: "At times, it`s almost desperate in its desire to shock, and mistaking insanity for wit. At other times, it`s clever and twisted in ways that could become addictive for the right audience, preferably one at least partially intoxicated." — Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com



4. "Santa Clarita Diet" (Season 3) — Netflix, March 29

Description: "They`re ordinary husband and wife realtors until she undergoes a dramatic change that sends them down a road of death and destruction. In a good way."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score (Season 2): 85%

What critics said: "If Santa Clarita Diet is going to succeed with self-awareness, it needs to give Joel and Sheila as many honest, joke-breaking scenes as their daughter (Abby still feels like the only real character on the show), and it needs to amp up the insanity." — Ben Travers, Indiewire



3. "American Gods" (Season 2) — Starz, March 10

Description: "In Season 2, the battle moves towards crisis point. While Mr. World plots revenge, Shadow throws in his lot with Wednesday`s attempt to convince the Old Gods of the case for full-out war, with Laura and Mad Sweeney in tow."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score (Season 1): 92%

What critics said: "American Gods is a psychedelic spree that looks like it was designed to beat down any attempt to describe it coherently." — Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
White House adviser Jared Kushner made a whirlwind visit this week to rally U.S.-allied Gulf Arab allies to support his still- unannounced Middle East peace plan, the leaked contours of which suggest little has been done to address Arab demands.
White House adviser Jared Kushner and Saudi Arabia`s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held talks on Tuesday that covered "increasing cooperation" between the United States and Saudi Arabia and Middle East peace efforts, the White House said.

hound labs breathalyzer 2

  • California startup Hound Labs is getting ready to roll out the world`s first marijuana breathalyzer.
  • The device will be tested in pilot programs with law enforcement and a labor union, and will work similarly to an alcohol breathalyzer.
  • Based in Oakland, Hound Labs has raised 35 million in funding and has notable investors like Dick Wolf, the creator of hit TV series `Law & Order.`
  • While there`s currently no well-defined legal way to determine if someone is too high to drive, regulators have outlined some possibilities. Today, police rely on subjective measures like field sobriety tests.

Emergency room physician and deputy sheriff Mike Lynn wasn’t at work when the idea for a marijuana breathalyzer came to him.

Instead, the 52-year-old father of four had been cycling with a friend in the leafy hills of Oakland, California when the pair were passed by a speeding car. Plumes of skunk-scented smoke trailed the vehicle from the driver`s side window.

The friend — a professional race car driver — told Lynn he`d never dream of driving under the influence of marijuana. And in that moment, Lynn decided there had to be a way to stop others from doing so.

So in 2014, Mike and his wife Jenny created Hound Labs, a startup headquartered in downtown Oakland. Their first product would be the world`s first device capable of detecting recent cannabis use on a person`s breath. It`s set to roll out this fall, when it will undergo pilot testing with an undisclosed division of law enforcement and with a nonprofit trade union that represents more than half a million construction workers in Northern California.

Hound Labs has raised 35 million so far, helped in part by notable individual investors including Dick Wolf, the creator and executive producer of the hit television series "Law & Order." Benchmark Capital, the Silicon Valley venture firm that made early bets on Uber, Snap, Dropbox, and WeWork, has also backed the company, along with Icon Ventures, the firm behind virtual healthcare company Teladoc.

Still, the company is up against some challenges.

There is currently no clearly-defined legal limit for driving after using marijuana and the science on cannabis use and driving remains in its early stages. In addition, the company has not published any of its clinical trials, although it said one is currently awaiting publication. Finally, it remains to be seen how Hound Labs` device will impact marijuana policing, which research suggests has been influenced by racism.

`There`s got to be a way to solve this`

hound labs Mike LynnIf anyone were to create a marijuana breathalyzer, it would probably be Mike Lynn. An active SWAT team member and reserve deputy sheriff as well as a professor of emergency medicine and former biotech venture capitalist, Lynn has worked in nearly every field touched by the burgeoning industry of legalized cannabis.

It was while working as a partner at 36 billion private equity firm Adams Street Partners, where he specialized in medical devices and biotech, that Lynn decided to dedicate his time to the breathalyzer. Over and over during his free time while cycling, he`d get passed by speeding drivers whom he suspected of smoking weed.

"That just got me thinking, there`s got to be a way to solve this. Just like there is for alcohol," Lynn told Business Insider.

Dozens of drug tests exist that can tell you if someone has used marijuana in the last several days to weeks by looking for THC (marijuana`s main psychoactive ingredient) in blood and urine. But none of these tests show whether someone has used recently — that is, whether someone is currently high. 

Read more: Here`s how long various drugs stay in your body

Pot reaches its peak levels in the brain and body between two and three hours after smoking. That is also the time at which federal regulators like those at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say someone is likely to be the most impaired by cannabis.

For Lynn`s breathalyzer to be useful, it needed to identify recent marijuana use and thus meet regulator`s standards for determining whether or not someone was high. 

That turned out to be a difficult problem to solve. THC is present in extremely low concentrations in breath. So he and his team of four scientists — which includes a Stanford lung specialist as well as a bioengineer and a chemist from UC Berkeley — got to work. Since 2014, they`ve prototyped nearly 80 versions of their device, which works somewhat similarly to a standard alcohol breathalyzer with a couple of key differences.

"It came down to finding the needle in 10,000 haystacks," Lynn said.

Lynn said they`ve tested the technology in two clinical trials with scientists at the University of California, San Francisco. One, presented as a poster session at laboratory science conference Pittcon, used an early version of Hound Labs` device and came away with mixed results. The next used the current version of the device and came away with better results, Lynn said. The work has not yet been published, but Hound Labs shared a summary with Business Insider.

"The ability to capture breath and measure such low concentrations of molecules represents a significant breakthrough," Kara Lynch, the lead author on the latest study and an associate professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF, said in a statement.

"We hope to continue to collaborate with Hound Labs on clinical studies to advance the field of breath diagnostics," she added.

How Hound Labs` marijuana breathalyzer works

hound labs breathalyzer 1Driving high is currently against the law nationwide and can be treated the same as driving drunk. But unlike with alcohol, where there`s a clearly-defined legal limit for how much you can drink and drive, no such limit for pot exists.

As legalization efforts spread across the country, that`s likely to be a hot issue.

To use Hound Labs` device, someone blows into it for roughly a minute. Then, using a special type of biochemical test to measure the recent presence of THC, the device returns a positive or a negative result. 

"If somebody has it on their breath, that means they absolutely used pot within the last couple of hours," Lynn said.

Still, experts have yet to nail down precisely what it means to be too high to drive.

The science on how cannabis affects driving remains somewhat unclear, in large part because few studies on weed and driving have been conducted. The studies we do have suggest that marijuana blunts several skills involved in being behind the wheel.

Read more: Two studies on the effects of marijuana on drivers have completely different results

People who are high exhibit slower reaction time, worse motor coordination, and issues with attention and decision-making. Yet research also suggests that regular weed users are more likely to be aware of these effects and act accordingly, something that could make it tricky to set a universal standard for being too high to drive. Plus, unlike alcohol, cannabis has not been linked with aggressive or violent behavior.

Instead when it comes to cannabis, police rely on subjective measures of sobriety.

They do what are called field sobriety tests, for example, exercises where someone is directed to do something like follow an officer`s finger with their gaze or balance on one leg. An officer could also bring someone into a station to run a blood-based drug test, but those are slow to process and can`t necessarily show that a person was driving under the influence.

"Right now we don’t have a legitimate test for people going on the road under the influence of marijuana," William B. Evans, the former Commissioner of the Boston Police Department and currently the chief of police for Boston College, told Business Insider. Evans got a demo of the device after Lynn reached out to him, he said.

The subjectivity involved in marijuana policing could also play a role in a bigger problem that Lynn and Evans think Hound`s device may help curb: racial discrimination.

`Something that nobody else can do right now`

marijuana, weedStatistics on marijuana and police arrests suggest that racism plays a strong role in the policing of cannabis, and it remains to be seen whether Hound Labs` device will impact that.

While government surveys suggest that black people and white people use marijuana at similar rates, a recent New York Times investigation concluded that black residents of New York City were arrested at eight times the rate as white residents. Latino people were arrested at five times the rate of white people, the report found.

The disparity exists in other cities as well. Across the country, marijuana use appears to be roughly equal among black people and white people, yet black people are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as whites, according to a recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Lynn thinks his device could help both officers and drivers by giving them an objective way to measure impaired driving.

"If you do get pulled over and you`re a member of a minority community, you now have something objective that you can point to," he said.

Evans agreed. 

"People get killed by people driving under the influence no matter what nationality or race they are," Evans said, adding, "tools like this are going to be how we stop that."

Now that Hound Labs has suggested it has the science to make their breathalyzer useful, there appears to be significant interest in the device. Hound Labs is currently courting two major buyers of the tool, Lynn said.

The first is an undisclosed division of law enforcement that`s interested in using the devices to stop stoned drivers. The second is the Carpenters 46 Northern California Counties Conference Board, a trade union that represents more than half a million construction workers. Its goal is to ensure that employees are allowed to use marijuana off-duty while also making sure they`re not high on the job.

Read more: The number of people testing positive for marijuana in workplace drug tests is exploding, particularly in public safety and national security roles

Bill Feyling, the executive director of Carpenters 46, told Business Insider it planned to use the devices in a pilot project with a limited number of employers, where it will be able to test the devices in the field.

"We anticipate it’s going to be a successful test period," Feyling said.

SEE ALSO: After you spit into a tube for a DNA test like 23andMe, experts say you shouldn`t assume your data will stay private forever

DON`T MISS: A pair of high-profile Stanford scientists wants to use marijuana to treat an entire class of diseases where big pharma has fallen short

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Bohemian Rhapsody Fox

  • Queen biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" will be released in China next month.
  • But the news has already raised concerns among fans that the movie will be censored for its LGBT content.
  • Actor Rami Malek`s best-actor Oscars acceptance speech was censored in China.

On the heels of four Oscar wins on Sunday, including best actor for Rami Malek`s portrayal of Freddie Mercury, the Queen biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" will finally be released in China.

The movie is scheduled for release in China on March 22, according to the Chinese entertainment social network Douban (via Variety). But the news has already raised concerns in the country that the movie`s LGBT content could be censored.

READ MORE: `Green Book` is the worst Oscar best picture winner since `Crash,` according to movie critics

Fans immediately took to China`s most popular social-media platform, Weibo, to express their worries, pleading for Chinese censors to release the film as it was intended, according to Variety. 

Malek`s Oscars acceptance speech was censored on Mango TV, one of the websites that live-streamed the telecast in China. 

"We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life unapologetically himself," Malek said. But "special group" replaced "gay man" in Mango`s subtitles, Variety reported.

Hollywood movies boost the Chinese box office

Chinese media regulators began limiting actors` salaries last year, capping their pay at 40% of production costs. Lead actors can`t be paid more than 70% of total cast pay. The country`s biggest movie star, Fan Bingbing, also disappeared from the public eye for three months in 2018 after she was accused of tax evasion as part of a crackdown on secret contracts. She publicly apologized to the Chinese government in October.

In the midst of this crackdown, China approved more Hollywood movies for release in December in an effort to reach its box-office goal of 8.7 billion by the end of 2018. While box-office growth slowed to 9% compared to 13.5% growth in 2017, it still passed its goal and reached 8.87 billion.

This media climate could be a factor in why China has approved "Bohemian Rhapsody," a global box-office hit, for release. China is projected to pass the US as the world`s box-office leader within the next five years.

"Bohemian Rhapsody" fought off behind-the-scenes turmoil to gross 850 million worldwide and win four Oscars, including actor, film editing, sound editing, and sound mixing. The movie`s credited director, Bryan Singer, was fired late into production by the studio Fox for repeatedly being absent from the set. Singer is also facing allegations of sexual misconduct with underage boys, which he has denied.

SEE ALSO: This year proved the Oscars have started to embrace Marvel and Netflix, even though `Black Panther` and `Roma` lost best picture

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