February 19, 2018

Bitcoin surging higher after mystery trader buys $344mn in cryptocurrency

Ethereum founder warns cryptocurrencies ‘could drop to near-zero at any time’

On Sunday, its price rose to $11,328 following news that an unknown investor had bought $344 million worth of bitcoin between February 9 and February 12. The purchase was preceded by a huge sell-off that had erased more than 50 percent of the cryptocurrency market value amid speculation of growing regulation and security fears.

Bitcoin fell from $20,000 in December to below $6,000 on February 4. However, after the news of the huge buy, other investors poured money into crypto-assets.

“Not sure who that big buyer was but many have bought this dip and have added since the rebound and additional regulatory clarity in the US and Asia,” Alex Sunnarborg, founding partner of Tetras Capital said, as quoted by Marketwatch.

More than 80 percent of cryptocurrencies from Coinmarketcap’s 100 list were trading higher on Monday. Vitalik Buterin, founder of ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency and the largest platform for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), has warned that digital money remains a very risky asset.

“Reminder: cryptocurrencies are still a new and hyper-volatile asset class, and could drop to near-zero at any time. If you’re trying to figure out where to store your life savings, traditional assets are still your safest bet,” Buterin wrote on Twitter.

Historical data suggests that total search volumes of “buy bitcoin” is three times more popular than “buy gold” was during the financial crisis of 2008, when people rushed to buy gold in an attempt to save their cash.

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Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/419204-bitcoin-growth-mystery-investor/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Ethereum founder warns cryptocurrencies ‘could drop to near-zero at any time’

“Reminder: cryptocurrencies are still a new and hyper-volatile asset class, and could drop to near-zero at any time,” the entrepreneur tweeted. “Don’t put in more money than you can afford to lose.”

According to the programmer, people shouldn’t invest into assets which are so highly volatile.

“If you’re trying to figure out where to store your life savings, traditional assets are still your safest bet,” Buterin added.

Digital currencies managed to recover slightly after a massive sell-off earlier this year that washed nearly $100 billion out of the market in a single day. Bitcoin, the world’s number one cryptocurrency, recovered to $11,000 this week after falling below $6,000 earlier in the month.

Other digital currencies also rose after posting steep losses last month. Ethereum, the second-largest crypto by market value, was trading at $946, while third-ranked ripple climbed to $1.15.

In December, the ethereum creator compared the enormous investment in the crypto market to the record sum paid for the world’s most-expensive painting, Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’.

Buterin, one of the best-known figures in crypto investing, has been impersonated on Twitter by scammers promoting dubious cryptocurrency offers. The accounts commonly offer users to send an amount of cryptocurrency in exchange for a larger amount.

The programmer had to issue a warning for users, urging them not to trust people offering cryptocurrency on Twitter.

For more stories on economy finance visit RT’s business section

Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/419195-cryptocurrencies-near-zero-ethereum-buterin/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

We Have Streaming Revenue, Too, Says NBC. And We Can Prove It.

Nielsen ratings, which measure the number of viewers who tune in for shows at the time of their broadcasts, are down for the networks yet again — at a 10 percent clip this season. NBC has responded by learning to make money from viewers who stream its programs — and now it is learning how to put a number on it. The key is gathering statistics from services like NBC.com, the NBC app, video on demand and Hulu to determine how much money its shows are pulling in from streamers.

Take “This Is Us,” for example. According to the network’s data crunchers, NBC has earned around 47 percent of the revenue generated by its 2016 pilot episode from advertising through digital views. Over all, 44 percent of the revenue NBC has earned from “This Is Us” has come through digital viewership, the network said.

Similarly, the critically acclaimed sitcom, “The Good Place,” starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, has earned roughly 36 percent of its revenue from digital advertising, NBC said.

The new source of revenue is NBC’s attempt to make up for a larger decline in advertising dollars. Television ad sales fell 8 percent in 2017, one of the biggest drops in years, Bloomberg reported. That’s why executives like Mr. Greenblatt need to make the digital business work sooner rather than later.

“It’s not insignificant now,” he said, “and I think over time it grows into becoming really significant.”

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About 36 percent of the revenue NBC has received from “The Good Place,” starring Krisetn Bell and Ted Danson, has come from streaming. The network pulls data from services like NBC.com, the NBC app, video on demand and Hulu to makes its calculation. Credit Justin Lubin/NBC, via Associated Press

Not every show is making big money from digital views. About three-quarters of the revenue NBC made from the 2015 pilot of “Blindspot,” for instance, has been earned the old fashioned way, the network said.

But NBC was less savvy back then in extracting money from viewers who preferred streaming. By the time of the first “This Is Us” season, NBC had wised up, striking a deal that allowed it to earn money from Hulu ads shown during episodes of the hit tear-jerker.

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Generating revenue from streaming is relatively new for the networks, said Jeff Bader, NBC’s president of program planning, strategy and research.

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“When I came to NBC five years ago, we were in this place with: How are we going to manage this business that’s been in decline?” he said. “We were doing everything we could not to be the record industry and have our stuff pirated and not monetized.”

Particularly depressing was the number of younger viewers who seemed to be changing their viewing habits.

“For years, we were seeing our average age go up, up up,” Mr. Bader said. “Younger viewers were drifting. They weren’t watching broadcast television in the same numbers they used to.”

Once the network examined the data, however, it began to see that younger viewers hadn’t exactly abandoned NBC. They were just watching shows on their own schedules — sometimes months after the broadcast date.

NBC has intensified its efforts to measure the nontraditional audience with the Winter Olympics. Its latest ratings reports have combined the number of viewers it reaches through broadcast, cable and streaming platforms under a single figure it calls total audience delivery. This is the network’s attempt to counter the Nielsen measure, which shows a shrinking Olympics audience.

NBC understands the reason for the advertising community’s skepticism concerning the number of people who watch shows via streaming, however.

“That is the frustrating part of the whole ecosystem,” Mr. Greenblatt said, “because we don’t have a third-party objective measuring system that everyone has adopted that we all buy into.”

Until that third-party system emerges, Mr. Greenblatt said that his sales department has gone all-in on selling advertisers on a statistical portrait that is prettier than the one painted by Nielsen.

“This started for me purely on looking at viewership numbers, because I wanted to be able to make the argument, ‘People aren’t just bailing on network TV,’” he said. “Then it occurred to us, it’s not just a viewership number we’re defending. It’s part of the business model now and it’s going to be move that way more and more.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/18/business/media/nbc-streaming-viewers.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Tools of Trump’s Fixer: Payouts, Intimidation and the Tabloids

In August of that year, Mr. Cohen learned details of a deal that American Media had struck with a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, that prevented her from going public about an alleged affair with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen was not representing anyone in the confidential agreement, but he was apprised of it by Ms. McDougal’s lawyer, and earlier had been made aware of her attempt to tell her story by the media company, according to interviews and an email reviewed by The New York Times.

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Donald J. Trump speaking at a Miss Universe book party in 2006. Credit Gabriela Maj/Patrick McMullan, via Getty Images

Two months later, Mr. Cohen played a direct role in a similar deal involving an adult film star, Stormy Daniels, who once said she had had an affair with Mr. Trump. Last week, Mr. Cohen said he used his own money for the $130,000 payment to her, which has prompted a complaint alleging that Mr. Cohen violated campaign finance regulations. Legal experts also have noted that the payment on behalf of his client may have violated New York’s ethics rules.

Mr. Cohen, who is still described as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer although he is no longer on the Trump Organization payroll, has denied any wrongdoing and insists the arrangement was legal. In an interview, he disputed details of some of his other activities that were described to The Times. But he has never shied away from his role as Mr. Trump’s loyal defender. “It is not like I just work for Mr. Trump,” Mr. Cohen said in an interview in 2016. “I am his friend, and I would do just about anything for him and also his family.”

An examination of the efforts to shield Mr. Trump from aspects of his own past shows how Mr. Cohen maneuvered in the pay-to-play gossip world — populated by porn stars and centerfold models, tabloid editors and lawyers with B- and C-list entertainment clients — that came to unusual prominence in an American presidential election.

Mr. Cohen exploited mutual-self interest. By heading off trouble involving Mr. Trump’s history with women, he accrued loyalty points, the ultimate currency with Mr. Trump. He dealt with lawyers who could win fat cuts of any settlements women might reach with American Media or with Mr. Trump.

At least two women got money and, in Ms. McDougal’s case, a promise of favorable attention in American Media publications, which include The National Enquirer, Star, Us Weekly and Radar. Mr. Trump, of course, benefited the most: avoiding more scrutiny as he struggled to dismiss multiple allegations of groping and unwanted advances that arose during the campaign.

One American Media executive, in a 2016 interview, said that the priority was that nothing embarrassing come out. But in the gossip economy, secrets last only as long as the incentives to keep them do.

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David J. Pecker, chairman of American Media Inc., a tabloid news company that has bought and buried unflattering material about his high-profile friends and allies. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Risqué Photos

It was July 2015 when Mr. Cohen received a phone call from Jeremy Frommer, a hedge-fund manager turned digital entrepreneur, who had obtained photos of Mr. Trump appearing to autograph the breasts of a topless woman from the estate of Bob Guccione, the founder of Penthouse magazine. Mr. Cohen was not pleased.

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“He was in a rage,” Mr. Frommer said in an interview. “He’s like, ‘If you show those photos, I’m gonna take you down.’”

It was the rough talk of a Long Island native who started his career juggling work as a personal injury lawyer and taxi fleet manager and met Mr. Trump after acquiring units in Trump buildings.

After Mr. Cohen joined the Trump Organization in 2006, the role that Mr. Trump wanted him to play was clear: a combination of aggressive spokesman and lieutenant who would take on the real estate mogul’s antagonists. It was a job Roy Cohn, a New York lawyer best known for advising Senator Joseph McCarthy, had done decades earlier for Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen’s work for his boss was often a mystery even to others in his office, but his devotion was clear.

In talking with Mr. Cohen, Mr. Frommer mentioned Mr. Pecker. Years earlier, Mr. Frommer had sold American Media the exclusive rights to a suggestive photograph of Arnold Schwarzenegger — which it did not publish — and he knew the company’s chief executive.

Mr. Frommer recalled Mr. Cohen’s saying, “Yeah, I know Pecker.” Mr. Frommer added, “That’s where the conversation calmed down.”

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Mr. Trump with Jill Harth, a former business partner who accused him of groping and other sexual misconduct. Credit George Houraney

Mr. Pecker and Mr. Trump, a staple of the American gossip media since the 1980s, have a friendship that goes back decades. The relationship benefited Mr. Trump throughout the campaign as The Enquirer lionized him and hammered rivals like Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and, finally, Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Cohen formed his own bond with Mr. Pecker, keeping in touch with him and Dylan Howard, a top executive, throughout the campaign.

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American Media acknowledged those ties, saying in a statement, “Michael Cohen and President Trump have been personal friends of Mr. Pecker’s for decades.” But, it said, neither of them “nor any other individual has attempted to, or ever, influenced (or will ever influence) coverage at A.M.I.’s publications. Period.”

After the initial blowup, Mr. Frommer said, he and Mr. Cohen quickly agreed that Mr. Frommer would take the Trump photos to Mr. Pecker. The men soon began discussing potential business deals, including an interview with Mr. Trump as part of a joint project between American Media and Mr. Frommer’s company, Jerrick Media, according to text messages and emails reviewed by The Times.

“Spoke to Cohen we are set. Well done!” Mr. Pecker told Mr. Frommer in a July 2015 text exchange.

Two months later, when Mr. Frommer expressed doubt that the Trump interview would take place, Mr. Cohen responded in an Oct. 5 email: “No no … relax. I am on it and will make it happen.”

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Mr. Frommer said he had assured Mr. Cohen at the time that he wouldn’t make the photos public — “I said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to publish them’” — but that the decision had nothing to do with the business talks.

In the end, American Media concluded that the photos were of little value. The interview and the deals never materialized for Mr. Frommer, who went on to publish one of the Trump photos on his own website.

American Media said in a statement that it had no interest in suppressing the photographs. But in early 2016, an American Media executive, speaking only on condition of anonymity in discussing internal company thinking, said that when the negotiations between A.M.I. and Mr. Frommer began, they were intended to suppress the photos, part of broader efforts by American Media to “catch and kill” information that would damage Mr. Trump.

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In an interview Friday, Mr. Cohen acknowledged directing Mr. Frommer to A.M.I., but said he did so not because of photographs of Mr. Trump but for other photos of “another notable individual that I had no interest in seeing or wanting.”

Back then, however, Mr. Cohen acknowledged that he had been eager to keep the photos hidden. “Mr. Trump has a family,” he said. “I felt like I had to protect his family.”

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A Playmate’s Story

For Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump, American Media was more than a company they could rely on for friendly coverage. It was also where people looking to sell potentially damaging information about Mr. Trump were likely to turn.

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Karen McDougal, a former Playboy Playmate, claimed to have had a consensual affair with Mr. Trump while he was married. Credit Bennett Raglin/Getty Images

In the summer of 2016, American Media came to Mr. Cohen with a story involving Ms. McDougal, the former Playboy Playmate. She claimed to have had a consensual affair with Mr. Trump in the mid-2000s, early in his marriage to Melania Trump. Mr. Trump denies an affair.

Ms. McDougal had retained Keith Davidson, a Hollywood lawyer, who reached out to contacts at American Media. After negotiating on and off for a couple of months, A.M.I. agreed to give Ms. McDougal $150,000 for the exclusive rights to her story, along with promises of publicity and marketing opportunities through its fitness magazines. The contract did not identify Mr. Trump, but required her to keep quiet about any relationship with a married man.

A.M.I. had shared her allegations with Mr. Cohen, though it said it did so only as it worked to corroborate her claims, which it said it ultimately could not do. But that was not the only heads-up Mr. Cohen received.

Soon after Ms. McDougal signed the confidential agreement on Aug. 5, 2016, Mr. Davidson emailed Mr. Cohen, “Michael, please give me a call at your convenience.” Mr. Davidson followed up by explaining to Mr. Cohen over the phone that the McDougal transaction had been completed, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Mr. Cohen said, “I don’t recall those communications.”

Mr. Davidson acknowledged the public’s interest in Ms. Clifford’s and Ms. McDougal’s stories, but said that he was “not at liberty to discuss private client information.”

In the months after Ms. McDougal’s agreement with A.M.I., Mr. Trump’s relationships with women drew more scrutiny on the campaign trail. The release of an audio recording that captured the candidate bragging about grabbing women’s genitals inspired numerous women to step forward with allegations that he had groped or kissed them against their will.

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Keith Davidson, a Hollywood lawyer retained by Ms. McDougal, reached out to contacts at American Media to offer to sell her story.

According to people in contact with her at the time, Ms. McDougal expressed frustration with what she viewed as foot-dragging by A.M.I. in fulfilling commitments made in her contract and with Mr. Davidson’s lackluster response to her. She reached out to a prominent First Amendment lawyer, Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., who had made a public pledge in October 2016 to defend anyone threatened with legal action by Mr. Trump for making allegations against him. Mr. Boutrous briefly represented Ms. McDougal, focusing primarily on her restrictive contract with A.M.I., which in late November 2016 agreed she could respond to “legitimate” press inquiries about the alleged affair.

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Ms. McDougal’s story eventually became public, in a Wall Street Journal article published days before the election. The New Yorker published new details, including an interview with her, last week.

Quelling a Storm

Over the years Mr. Cohen had come to know Ms. McDougal’s lawyer, Mr. Davidson, well enough that when New York magazine profiled Mr. Davidson last week, Mr. Cohen offered an enthusiastic endorsement: “He has always been professional, ethical and a true gentleman.” (The California State Bar suspended Mr. Davidson’s law license for 90 days in 2010, for four counts of misconduct.)

Mr. Davidson’s client list had included the professional athletes Jalen Rose and Manny Pacquiao, as well as gossip-page regulars who placed him in the middle of the sex-tape cases of the “Austin Powers” actor Verne Troyer, the wrestler Hulk Hogan and the onetime Playboy model and MTV host Tila Tequila. He was a natural choice for Stormy Daniels when she sought to sell her own Trump story.

She was alleging that she had had a consensual sexual relationship with Mr. Trump after they met at a celebrity golf tournament about 10 years earlier (Mr. Trump denies her claims).

Just two months after Ms. McDougal’s story was effectively muted by her contract with American Media, Mr. Davidson set about brokering the silence of the adult film actress. This time, the negotiator on the other end of the transaction was Mr. Cohen.

The actress, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, agreed to a $130,000 settlement in mid-October 2016 in exchange for keeping quiet, according to contracts seen by The Times and people familiar with the matter. To make the payment, Mr. Cohen created a Delaware limited liability company called Essential Consultants, news of which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal last month, and he claimed in a statement first released to The Times last week that the money came from his own pocket.

Ms. Clifford has suggested in recent days that she believes Mr. Cohen has breached that agreement and that she is preparing to speak out. In 2011, she had told her story about Mr. Trump to two gossip publications. One of them, In Touch magazine, did not publish the story after Mr. Cohen warned that he would pursue aggressive legal action, The Associated Press reported last month.

The other outlet, The Dirty, took down a brief story after Mr. Davidson threatened legal action just a day after his client had provided information to the website, according to Nik Richie, The Dirty’s founder, and a letter seen by The Times.

After the deal between Ms. McDougal and A.M.I. was completed, Mr. Davidson regularly exchanged emails, text messages and calls with Mr. Cohen, according to people familiar with the contacts, including last week, when Mr. Davidson publicly bolstered Mr. Cohen’s statement that he had paid Ms. Clifford himself.

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Mr. Cohen went on to steer a new client to Mr. Davidson, Chuck LaBella, a former NBC executive who worked closely with Mr. Trump on “The Apprentice” and the “Miss USA” pageant. Mr. LaBella had become the object of an intense Twitter campaign — led by the comedian and ardent Trump critic Tom Arnold — calling upon him to share anything he might know about misbehavior by Mr. Trump. He became a client of Mr. Davidson last fall, according to people familiar the arrangement.

Murray Waas contributed reporting, and Jaclyn Peiser contributed research.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/18/us/politics/michael-cohen-trump.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

‘Black Panther’ Smashes Box Office Records and Hollywood Myths

There was never any doubt that “Black Panther” would rock the North American box office. Kevin Feige, the prodigy who runs Marvel, and Alan F. Horn, Disney’s movie chairman, have delivered one juggernaut after another. Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, took a personal interest in “Black Panther,” approving its $200 million production budget (at least 30 percent more than budgets for other Marvel nonsequels like “Doctor Strange” and “Ant-Man”) despite concern by some at Disney about sales of “Black Panther” toys.

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Letitia Wright plays the technology whiz Princess Shuri in “Black Panther.” Credit Marvel/Disney

“The concept of an African story, with actors of African descent at the forefront, combined with the scale of modern franchise filmmaking, is something that hasn’t really been seen before,” Mr. Coogler, the director, told The Hollywood Reporter. “You feel like you’re getting the opportunity of seeing something fresh, being a part of something new, which I think all audiences want to experience regardless of whether they are of African descent or not.”

[ALSO READ: Wakanda is a Fake Country, But The African Language in Black Panther is Real]

But no one quite knew how “Black Panther” would perform overseas.

Big-budget films that focus on black characters have long been held back by the Hollywood argument — a ridiculous one, in the eyes of many critics — that foreign audiences have little interest in films with largely black casts. It has been a self-fulfilling attitude; studios, ever fixated on what kinds of movies have succeeded in the past, never challenged the assumption with a big-budget fantasy because they were always too afraid to take the risk.

“Black Panther” arrived to very strong results in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Ukraine, South Korea, Mexico and Brazil, in many cases beating initial ticket sales for Marvel nonsequels based on lesser-known characters, including “Guardians of the Galaxy” in 2014.

“Black Panther” was softer in Germany, an important market, where the sadomasochistic “Fifty Shades Freed” outsold it.

“We’re extremely pleased with the reaction around the world, even more so because we face nothing competitively for a month,” said Dave Hollis, Disney’s president of distribution.

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Students from the Capital Preparatory Harlem School watched “Black Panther” on its opening night in Manhattan. Credit Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Disney will release “Black Panther” in Russia, China and Japan in the weeks ahead. Success in China, the world’s fastest-growing movie market, would be particularly sweet. If audiences there do not respond, however, it could have little to do with race. Hollywood imports are losing their luster in China as local studios become more skilled at making blockbuster-style movies. (Over the weekend in China, the locally produced “Monster Hunt 2” arrived to more than $130 million in ticket sales. Lionsgate gave it a 69-screen release in the United States, collecting $390,000.)

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[ALSO READ: Black Panther Cosplayers: ‘We’re Helping People See Us as Heroes’]

The frenzy surrounding “Black Panther” has been puzzling to some.

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“It’s an important chipping away at this Hollywood notion that somehow studios are taking a bigger risk if they cast nonwhite actors, but I don’t see it as a profound change,” said Todd Boyd, a cinema and media studies professor at the University of Southern California who focuses on popular culture and race. “I ultimately see it as exploiting a profitable niche.”

“To me, there is real change afoot when diverse actors are cast in roles that are not inherently diverse,” Mr. Boyd added.

But many people stood in line to praise Disney for pushing toward more diverse filmmaking. Richard Gelfond, chief executive of Imax, the large-format movie exhibitor, which played “Black Panther” in more than 60 countries, championed Disney for delivering “content that is compelling on its face but also bridges the gap between different cultures, and ultimately is a reflection of the shared values of moviegoers all over the world.”

Phil Contrino, director of media and research for the National Association of Theater Owners, noted the power of seeing “Black Panther” in a communal setting on a big screen. “Hopefully someday we’ll look back at the release of ‘Black Panther’ as the turning point when diversity and positive representation in blockbusters switched from being an anomaly to being normal,” Mr. Contrino said.

And Stacy L. Smith, an author of blistering studies about Hollywood’s lack of diversity, wrote on Twitter in a message to Mr. Iger, who has made inclusion a priority across Disney: “We have been watching; lead supporting roles have been changing as well as behind the camera. There is more to be done but this weekend is a giant leap forward.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/18/movies/black-panther-box-office-records.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

For Taiwanese, Tests of Loyalty to China Bring Trouble in Workplace

But along with Chinese money has come Chinese migration. Hundreds of thousands of mainland Chinese have immigrated to Australia in the past decade. Many of them have brought ideas for businesses, but also an ideology that stresses the unity of China, viewing Taiwan as a rebellious territory that broke away in 1949.

And as China’s government has intensified a crackdown on those who fail to recognize its One China policy — from human rights advocates to corporations like the Marriott hotel chain — members of the Chinese diaspora have similarly taken up the cause on a more personal scale.

Their efforts have added to a sense of Chinese ubiquity: For anyone who identifies as Taiwanese, supports Taiwan’s independence — or even inadvertently refers to Taiwan as a country — Chinese nationalism has become a threatening and unrelenting presence, like a smog that never lifts.

In Australia, service workers, professionals and students from Taiwan have all described gatherings with mainland colleagues and acquaintances where the default setting is that Taiwan and China are one country.

Disagreement is not encouraged.

“Even people who are very pro-Taiwan often don’t want it to be known publicly,” said Roger Huang, 35, a Taiwanese academic who helped organize last year’s Sydney Taiwan Festival. “Self-censorship is very real.”

Australia’s China Challenge?

Some people from Taiwan explain that the most nationalistic Chinese often have a “glass heart,” meaning they are easily offended by disagreement.

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Others note that many people in Taiwan consider the island part of China and that, given the economic benefits, good relations are necessary.

“Discussing politics is bad for business,” said Antonio Guo, 65, the Taiwanese owner of a restaurant in a north Sydney suburb. “People get agitated.”

But for many, silence is the spawn of fear. There are widening concerns in the Australian government and in immigrant communities that the Chinese government is watching and listening, ready to apply pressure on those who do not toe the Communist Party line.

Paul Lin, president of the Australian Taiwanese Friendship Association, said several people believed to be Chinese agents were snapping photos of people at the Sydney Taiwan Festival in 2016.

Chinese students at Australian universities have also reported close monitoring by their peers, and say the pressure to conform on the issue of Taiwan has been intense in classrooms, at work and on social media.

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Children at the Sydney Taiwanese School. Weekend classes focus on language and culture. Credit David Maurice Smith for The New York Times

“The problem is they think Sydney is Beijing,” said Mr. Lin, a businessman who moved to Australia in 1990, referring to the Chinese government and its loyalists. “They’re doing more and more watching and interfering. And they’re getting better at it.”

Australia’s mainland-born population has grown rapidly — doubling since 2006 to about 510,000 people — and with the Taiwanese population hovering at less than a tenth of that, an imbalance has emerged. Chinese business owners can easily make Taiwanese workers feel marginalized and vulnerable.

Mr. Lin said that for Chinese immigrants who still have family and business interests in China, discriminating could be “an entry point,” a way to show loyalty to Beijing.

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Ms. Tuan’s experience provides a glimpse of how that power dynamic works.

Her story became public when Ms. Tuan, who goes by Winnie in Australia, published a Facebook post about her experience on Jan. 9, the day she was fired. That post, in which she named the restaurant, HuTong Hot Pot, and a supervisor she called Mr. Ha, quickly went viral on Chinese social media.

China’s Global Times — a state news media outlet — published an article the following day, asking readers: “What do you think about this incident, mainland netizens?”

The editors, leaving little to chance, added that The Global Times “would like to go to Sydney, and give ‘Mr. Ha’ a thumbs up!”

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The Sydney suburb of Chatswood is popular with Chinese immigrants. Australia’s mainland-born population has more than doubled since 2006 to about 510,000 people. Credit David Maurice Smith for The New York Times

More than a dozen Chinese news outlets republished the article.

Later that week, a post from the restaurant appeared on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter: “It is fate and a privilege,” the message said, “to have people who respect us coming to dine at our restaurant.”

The comments section was filled with praise and promises to visit.

During the lunch rush one day last week, the restaurant was packed.

Asked about Ms. Tuan’s departure, a young manager said, “The company told us we’re not commenting.”

Ms. Tuan, 29, said in an interview that other comments on social media were supportive of her cause.

“People could relate,” she said.

They included Daniel Chang, 28. A hairdresser working in Melbourne, Mr. Chang said he never received a callback from a salon that had seemed eager to hire him until he mentioned he was Taiwanese.

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Jade Liao, 26, ran afoul of a customer. She said that in 2016, at a shoe store where she worked, a Chinese student berated her after she answered a question about whether Taiwan was part of China.

“She started yelling, and pointed a finger at me,” Ms. Liao said. “I couldn’t hold back my tears after she left.”

Many other Taiwanese workers described similar experiences — mostly young women on working holiday visas.

More than 12,000 of these visa holders come to Australia each year from Taiwan, and they are known to be part of a vulnerable cohort that is regularly paid below the minimum wage — an issue that Australia’s Fair Work Ombudsman has made a priority, assessing penalties against employers of various backgrounds.

A spokesman for the agency, however, said it had not undertaken any enforcement actions for discrimination against Taiwanese workers, or any other group, based on their political opinions.

Mr. Li, of the Australian Taiwanese Friendship Association, and many others in the Taiwanese community said Australia must do more to address the issue.

Without more effort, Mr. Lin said, China will continue to erode Australia’s “fair go” culture of democracy and equality.

“They are helping China erase the values that Taiwan and Australia share: democracy, human rights and the rule of law,” Mr. Lin said in a Sydney shopping mall flush with signs in Mandarin. “This is invisible. But this is fundamental.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/18/world/australia/china-taiwan-discrimination.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

What Makes Public Radio ‘Very Personal’ Magnifies Its #MeToo Cases

These revelations may pose risks to the all-important bond that public media organizations form with their listeners, whom they also rely on for financial contributions. The stations already face the aging of their audiences, rising pressure from podcasts and streaming outlets, and a renewed proposal by the Trump administration to cut all federal funding for public broadcasting.

“The relationships that people have with the presenters and reporters on NPR feels very personal,” said Vivian Schiller, a former chief executive of NPR who has also held senior positions at Twitter, The New York Times and elsewhere.

“People make assumptions about who these people are based on their voice and what feels like an intimate, one-on-one relationship,” Ms. Schiller added, “so the potential for backlash is that much greater if you feel that you have been betrayed.”

Conservative media has taken notice as well. After accusations of harassment were made against Mr. Hockenberry, the host of “The Takeaway” on WNYC, in December — months after he quietly resigned — Breitbart crowed: “These are our elites. These are our left-wing arbiters of taste and truth. And we the taxpayers are subsidizing all of it.”

The list of men now gone from public broadcasting after being accused of harassment also includes Michael Oreskes, a former editor at The Times who was NPR’s top news executive; David Sweeney, NPR’s chief news editor; Daniel Zwerdling, an NPR investigative reporter; and Charlie Rose, who straddled commercial and noncommercial television as PBS’s marquee talk-show host and, on CBS, a host on “CBS This Morning” and a correspondent on “60 Minutes.”

In some cases, the behavior they are accused of has been recounted in detail, though rarely by the management of the institutions they worked for. Jon McTaggart, the president of Minnesota Public Radio, disclosed some details of its review of Mr. Keillor’s case at the same time that journalists there published their report.

In a statement to The Times last month, Mr. Keillor referred to a 12-page complaint about him as “a highly selective and imaginative piece of work,” and said he hadn’t been interviewed during an investigation.

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“If I am guilty of harassment,” Mr. Keillor said, “then every employee who stole a pencil is guilty of embezzlement.”

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Tom Ashbrook, the host of “On Point,” a call-in show heard on 290 stations, in 2014. He was fired by WBUR in Boston last week. Credit Gretchen Ertl/Associated Press

New York Public Radio, which owns WNYC, has said little about Mr. Lopate and Mr. Schwartz — both decades-long fixtures of New York radio — other than that they were accused of “inappropriate” behavior and remarks. But reporters at WNYC recounted accusations, based on interviews with identified and unidentified women at the station, of bullying and “sexually suggestive” comments by both men, with one woman saying Mr. Lopate had sexually harassed her.

Laura R. Walker, the chief executive of New York Public Radio, has said the station is committed to changing its culture, but a recent piece by New York magazine portrayed the staff as skeptical and disillusioned.

Most of the accusations of harassment and improper behavior have been made against men in their 60s and 70s. That perhaps exacerbates an already present generational divide in public radio, where a younger generation of practitioners is being increasingly drawn to the freedom offered by other audio formats like podcasting.

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“The public radio environment is bursting at the seams with younger media makers who have embraced formats like podcasting as their primary means of expression,” said Matthew Lasar, the author of “Radio 2.0: Uploading the First Broadcast Medium.” “A new public radio world is emerging, and, intentionally or not, these difficult and painful changes feel like part of that transition.”

The lack of specificity of the charges against Mr. Lopate, 77, and Mr. Schwartz, 79, has added fuel to a small movement in their support. A Facebook group and an online petition have called for Mr. Lopate’s reinstatement; Art Spiegelman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, signed the petition and called Mr. Lopate’s dismissal “the radio equivalent of demolishing Penn Station back in the early 1960s.”

In an email, Mr. Lopate declined to comment on the specifics of his situation, but said: “I will say that in my case I still haven’t been given a cause for dismissal and my alleged misdeeds are so negligible, I suspect the station saw the #MeToo environment as a convenient time to make a programming decision.”

A lawyer for Mr. Schwartz said he had no comment.

Whether such departures will affect fund-raising from listeners — usually a station’s largest source of income — may soon become clear. Mike Savage, a veteran of public radio and a former NPR board member who now works as a consultant, said he had heard largely positive reports from stations around the country about fund-raising and membership.

“I don’t think listeners view these acts as a problem with the quality of journalism or with these organizations themselves,” Mr. Savage said. “I think it’s a bump in the road.”

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WNYC held a one-day pledge drive in late December, after Mr. Lopate and Mr. Schwartz were fired, and the station had its hosts address the controversy and promise transparency. The station declined to disclose the full results of that drive, though it said last week that listener donations in December and January were up 11.5 percent from the same period a year before.

In December, 577 people canceled their memberships and cited the news about Mr. Lopate and Mr. Schwartz as the reason — out of a total of 247,000 members, according to the station.

The station will begin its full five-day pledge drive on Feb. 26. Anne O’Malley, the vice president of membership of New York Public Radio, said in a recent interview that it had not decided yet whether to address these issues as part of the drive, as the station had in December.

“It would be disingenuous to say that it’s not something we’re thinking about,” Ms. O’Malley said. “But so far, we haven’t changed the pledge drive goal, and we haven’t changed our plans.”

New York Public Radio had $93 million in revenue for the year that ended in June, with 39 percent of that coming from member contributions and 33 percent from corporate underwriting, according to publicly disclosed finances.

Of course, New York Public Radio is just one part of the wider public radio universe, which also reaches into rural pockets of the country far from the media hubs of New York and Washington. In those places, the local public station may serve as a vital news source, but the success of its pledge drives may depend on other factors, said Mark Vogelzang, the president of Maine Public, which presents radio and television.

“Up here in Maine,” Mr. Vogelzang said, “digging out from a big snowstorm probably has more of an effect on pledge drive participation than Garrison Keillor.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/18/business/media/public-radio-metoo-harassment.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Switzerland embraces bitcoin & cryptocurrencies amid global crackdown

According to the regulator, Switzerland has recently seen a sharp growth in the number of upcoming ICOs planned to be launched in the country, as well as numerous enquiries about cryptocurrency regulation. In an attempt to encourage the ICO market and blockchain technology, FINMA has clarified how standards around anti-money laundering and securities regulations could be applied to virtual currencies.

“The application of blockchain technology has innovative potential within and far beyond the financial markets. However, blockchain-based projects conducted analogously to regulated activities cannot simply circumvent the tried and tested regulatory framework,” FINMA chief executive Mark Branson said.

“Our balanced approach to handling ICO projects and enquiries allows legitimate innovators to navigate the regulatory landscape and so launch their projects in a way consistent with our laws protecting investors and the integrity of the financial system,” the CEO highlighted.

In assessing ICOs, the regulator will focus on the economic function and purpose of the tokens, or blockchain-based units, issued by the organizer. As the current regulatory base lacks generally recognized terminology for the classification of tokens both in Switzerland and internationally, FINMA has categorized tokens and ICOs of those tokens into three categories: payment tokens, utility tokens and asset tokens.

“ICOs can also exist in hybrid forms of the above categories. For example, anti-money laundering regulation would apply to utility tokens that can also be widely used as a means of payment or are intended to be used as such,”the press release said.

Earlier this year, South Korea banned the use of anonymous bank accounts in cryptocurrency trading amid deep concerns over potential money laundering and other crimes. At the same time, a senior official at the People’s Bank of China urged for a blanket ban on services related to cryptocurrency trading in the country.

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Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/419158-switzerland-embraces-bitcoin-cryptocurrencies-ico/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Polish central bank secretly funds Youtube videos attacking bitcoin

The central bank of Poland (Narodowy Bank Polski) spent 91,000 zloty ($27,100) on the campaign with the money going to Google, Facebook and a Polish Youtube partner network called Gamellon, Money.pl reports. The business site published a letter reportedly from the central bank, in which it admits it paid for the anti-crypto campaign.

One of the videos, titled ‘I LOST ALL THE MONEY?!’ stars popular Youtuber Marcin Dubiel, who has nearly 1 million subscribers. The hapless Dubiel falls out of favor with a romantic interest and resorts to collecting coins from the bottom of a fountain after losing all his money by investing in cryptocurrencies.

You can’t invest in cryptocurrencies without fear of cybertheft, experts tell RT

The Planeta Faktów (Planet of Facts) Youtube channel was also paid to produce a video titled “10 differences between money and cryptocurrency that you need to know”. The description accompanying Dubiel’s video contains the hashtag #uważajnakryptowaluty. The tag is associated with the ‘Watch out for cryptocurrencies’ website, which was set up by the central bank.

However, the description does not include any indication that the video was a paid advertisement. Polish technology site Spider’s Web notes that this is against the law in Poland, where sponsored content has to be marked as such.

The ‘watch out for cryptocurrencies’ website outlines a range of reasons why people should be wary of cryptocurrency. These include theft, fraud, price volatility, lack of guarantees and a lack of universal acceptability.

Poland’s central bank is one of many across the globe that has issued warnings against cryptocurrencies. The Monetary Authority of Singapore has urged citizens to “act with extreme caution” while South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) has also warned people against investing in the digital assets.

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Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/419155-polish-central-bank-cryptocurrency-bitcoin/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Germans slowly getting over their cash addiction – Bundesbank

© Diocèse de ParisDigital devotees: Catholic church installs card payments units (PHOTO)

The survey of about 2,000 people reveals that in 2017, cash only accounted for 47.6 percent of purchases by Germans. The number marks a significant decline against 53.2 percent three years earlier. 

Debit and credit cards grabbed a 39.4 percent market share in 2017 compared to 33.4 percent in 2014. Internet payments also increased, but still made up a modest 3.7 percent of total volume of transactions in the country.

“Cash remains the most popular, but card payments are increasing,” Bundesbank board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele said as he presented the survey results.

The wallet of the average German contains €107 ($132) in cash, the regulator reports. That is reportedly the highest amount in Europe. The figure is far more than the €30 commonly found in French and Belgian wallets.

Most of the Germans surveyed said that they see cash as a more private way to pay, which is faster. More than three quarters of Germans expressed concerns that some people would not be able to cope in a cashless society. Seventy-one percent called cash helpful in teaching children about money, and 64 percent use cash for better control over their spending.

The choice of payment method reportedly depends on how much money is being spent. Cash is used in 74 percent of individual transactions, but that share rises to 96 percent when €5 or less is spent. Only when it comes to paying €50 or more do Germans prefer to take out the card or make an electronic payment.

According to a recent study by the European Central Bank (ECB), Germans and Austrians are the biggest users of cash among countries in the euro zone’s richer “core.” The same research shows that a quarter of Europeans keep cash at home as a precautionary reserve.

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Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/419144-germans-beat-cash-addiction-bundesbank/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS