September 18, 2018

Emmys Briefing: 2018 Emmy Awards: What to Watch For

While both are favorites, they have their vulnerabilities. The most recent episode of “Thrones” aired 13 months ago, which may have left Emmy voters trying to recall what happened in its long-ago seventh season. And many supporters of “Handmaid’s” — who have propelled the series into a red-cloaked cultural landmark — had mixed feelings about its second-season finale.

Elisabeth Moss of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Peter Dinklage of “Game of Thrones.” Credit From left: George Kraychyk/Hulu, via Associated Press; HBO, via Associated Press

The plausible challengers for the best drama statuette are “The Americans,” the FX show about Russian spies, and Netflix’s decade-spanning study of Queen Elizabeth, “The Crown.”

The FX drama, which completed its six-season run in May, has won only two Emmys, but it has long been a critical favorite. And Emmy voters have been known to shower love on a show on its way out, as they did for “The Sopranos” and “Breaking Bad.”

“The Crown,” meanwhile, won best cast in a drama at the Creative Arts Emmys a week ago, an occasional bellwether; four of the past eight best drama winners also won for best cast. Because the series will bring aboard new cast members every few years, this is also a last chance for Emmy voters to recognize the iteration of the show starring Claire Foy, who will cede the role of the queen to Olivia Colman as the show moves into the mid-1960s.

Lorne Michaels and the ‘S.N.L.’ Emmys

At the Creative Arts Emmys on Sept. 8, Tiffany Haddish won best guest actress in a comedy for her turn as a host of “Saturday Night Live.” Credit Will Heath/NBC, via Associated Press

You may be asking: Why on earth are the Emmys on a Monday night? Thank NBC for that.

Because of “Sunday Night Football” rights, NBC kicked the ceremony to Monday, just as it did four years ago. (The four broadcast networks take turns broadcasting the Emmys.)

NBC hopes that its hosts, Colin Jost and Michael Che, who are co-head writers of “Saturday Night Live” as well as the anchors of its Weekend Update desk, can help reverse a trend of plummeting awards show ratings.

Lorne Michaels, the 73-year-old impresario behind “Saturday Night Live” and NBC’s late-night lineup, is producing the show for the second time, having last overseen the proceedings in 1988, when the “Dynasty” star John Forsythe was the host. Plenty of current and former “S.N.L.” cast members are expected to take the Microsoft Theater stage to inject some life into a show that has seen ratings lows in recent years.


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In a way, it’s surprising to see “S.N.L.” front and center at the Emmys. Emmy voters have looked askance at the New York-based show for most of its 43-year run.

But that has changed, with “S.N.L.” having won nearly half of its 61 Emmys in the last five years. Last year, it won the best variety sketch Emmy, the first time it had claimed a top show award since 1993. And even though many critics felt that “S.N.L.” had an off year this past season, it is nevertheless still scoring: After last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmys, it is tied for first with “Game of Thrones” among all TV shows, with seven wins. Those include Tiffany Haddish for best guest actress in a comedy and Don Roy King for directing.

We’ll see new winners in comedy

Donald Glover in “Atlanta,” a contender for best comedy. Credit Curtis Baker/FX

Over the last 11 years, only three shows have won Emmys for best comedy: “30 Rock,” “Modern Family” and “Veep.”

There will be a new winner this year.

The favorites are FX’s avant-garde “Atlanta,” starring Donald Glover, and Amazon’s 1950s-set comedy, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Mr. Glover took the prize for best actor in a comedy last year, along with an Emmy for directing, signs that “Atlanta” is poised to become the heir to “Veep.” But “Mrs. Maisel” is the show that won the Golden Globe for best comedy earlier this year.

Slide Show

Emmys Red Carpet 2018

CreditJordan Strauss/Invision, via Associated Press

For the first time in seven years, there will also be a new best actress in a comedy. (With “Veep” sidelined this year, Julia Louis-Dreyfus will hit the pause button on her record-breaking Emmy run.) Rachel Brosnahan, who plays a stand-up comic in late 1950s New York in “Mrs. Maisel,” is the likely winner. Also competing for the award is the seven-time Emmy winner Allison Janney, in the CBS sitcom “Mom,” and Tracee Ellis Ross, a star of ABC’s “black-ish.”

In the late-night battle, John Oliver’s weekly HBO show, “Last Week Tonight,” seems poised to take the best variety talk category for a third year in a row. But last year’s Emmys host, Stephen Colbert, the host of “The Late Show” on CBS, is still surging in the ratings, giving him the potential to topple his former Comedy Central colleague.

Expect #MeToo to have a big role

In the last year, many TV stars, including Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Louis C.K. and Mark Halperin have been forced out after facing allegations of sexual misconduct. Earlier this month, the #MeToo movement reached into the corporate side of the business, when multiple accusations of sexual misconduct led to the ouster of the CBS president and chief executive Leslie Moonves.

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How will Mr. Jost and Mr. Che address #MeToo? Will the winners make reference to it in their acceptance speeches? Tonight’s Emmys show is the first one to be broadcast since the first investigative article on accusations against Harvey Weinstein was published in The New York Times last October, meaning that it presents the first opportunity for the television industry at this ceremony.

And how will President Trump figure into the evening?

Invocations of Mr. Trump were never far from the lips of Emmy hosts and winners during the last two broadcasts. While hosting the 2016 edition of the show, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel called out Mark Burnett, the prolific reality show producer who produced Mr. Trump in “The Apprentice,” saying he would be the man to blame if Mr. Trump won. And at last year’s Emmys, at virtually every turn, Mr. Colbert and a number of the winners got in on the act of criticizing the president.


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Will a general sense of Trump fatigue mean less airtime devoted to politics on the show? Will Mr. Michaels, who has led numerous episodes of “Saturday Night Live” with Trump-skewering sketches in the last two television seasons, see to it that Mr. Che and Mr. Jost keep their comments on the subject to a minimum?

It’s Netflix versus HBO

It’s the battle of bragging rights.

During last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmys, HBO put 17 Emmys on the scoreboard. Netflix was right behind, with 16. Executives from both companies will be fidgeting in their seats as they watch for the outcome of a contest that may mean more to the television industry than it does to viewers.

HBO has won the most Emmys of any network each year since 2002. But in a sign that the jewel of cable may not dominate the ceremony for much longer, Netflix snapped HBO’s 17-year streak of leading all competitors in Emmy nominations earlier this summer.

The telecast was moved to Monday because NBC, the host network this year, aired an N.F.L. game on Sunday night. Credit Mike Nelson/EPA, via Shutterstock

There will be 26 awards handed out during Monday’s ceremony, a total that is slightly greater than the number of categories on the Oscar and Golden Globe broadcasts. Last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmys gave golden statuettes to winners over nearly 100 categories.

But the supersize nature of the Emmys is a reflection of where television is these days, now that streaming companies like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are taking up more of viewers’ time and challenging the industry’s old economic model. There will be more than 500 scripted shows by year’s end, which will set yet another record.

As a result, Emmy campaigning has grown more intense. So-called For Your Consideration events — panel discussions where voters have access to stars, canapés and booze — have filled the schedules of the more than 23,000 members of the Television Academy in the run-up to the 70th edition of the show. Last year, there were 61 academy-sanctioned events in Los Angeles and New York during Emmy campaigning season. This year, that number ballooned to 116, according to a spokesman for the academy.

Follow John Koblin on Twitter: @koblin

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Alan Abel, Hoaxer Extraordinaire, Is (on Good Authority) Dead at 94

“A few hundred years ago, I would have been a court jester,” he told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland in 2007. His primary intent, Mr. Abel often said, was “to give people a kick in the intellect.”

His best-known kicks included Yetta Bronstein, the phantom Jewish grandmother from the Bronx who ran for president in 1964 and at least once afterward on a platform that included fluoridation, national Bingo tournaments and the installation of truth serum in congressional drinking fountains. (“Vote for Yetta and things will get betta,” read a slogan for the campaign, which attracted a small coterie of actual supporters.)

Never seen in person, Yetta was voiced by Mr. Abel’s wife, Jeanne, in a spate of telephone and radio interviews.

Then there was Omar’s School for Beggars, a New York City institution founded amid the recession of the 1970s, which claimed to teach the nouveau poor the gentle art of panhandling. Omar (a black-hooded Mr. Abel) and his “pupils” (friends of Mr. Abel) were the subject of credulous coverage by many news outlets, including The Miami Herald and New York magazine.

There was the putative winner of the New York State Lotto jackpot in 1990, who was billed as a cosmetologist from Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., but who in reality was an actress; she poured champagne by the gallon in a hired Manhattan hotel suite and threw dollar bills from the window as the news media salivated. “$35 MILLION AND SHE’S SINGLE,” the front page of The New York Post crowed the next day.

There were also the Topless String Quartet, with which, Mr. Abel said, an unsuspecting Frank Sinatra wanted to book a recording session; the Ku Klux Klan Symphony Orchestra, which, he said, the failed presidential candidate and former Klan grand wizard David Duke briefly accepted an invitation to conduct; Females for Felons, a group of Junior Leaguers who selflessly donated sex to the incarcerated; the mass “fainting” of audience members during a live broadcast of “The Phil Donahue Show”; his “discovery” (he posed as a former White House employee) of the missing 18½ minutes from the Watergate tapes; Euthanasia Cruises (“For people who wanted to expire in luxury,” Mr. Abel’s website recounted); Citizens Against Breastfeeding, which argued that exposure to the “naughty nipple” in infancy caused a plethora of problems later on; and a great many others.

To some observers, Mr. Abel’s antics were a Rabelaisian delight. To others, especially members of the news media who had been taken in, they were an unalloyed menace. But as Mr. Abel well knew, his relationship with the media in general, and the broadcast media in particular, was utterly synergistic, for they needed him as much as he did them.

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Marc Benioff Explains Why He Is Buying Time Magazine

If Meredith didn’t buy Time Inc. this never would have happened. Meredith is the key player.

You’re going to be 54 soon. Do you have any dreams left to fulfill?

I live with a beginner’s mind. I didn’t realize two weeks ago I was going to buy Time.

(Mr. Benioff texts a screenshot of a quote from the Zen master Suzuki: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”)

My power was that I didn’t really want to do anything but I was open to all possibilities.

Will you move Time magazine to San Francisco?

No, it will stay in New York. I’m not going to get involved operationally. We don’t get operationally involved in our investments. I’m busy enough with my job. They have a great team. It’s a very strong business. Very profitable.

Meredith will continue to be a key partner going forward.

Will you be involved spiritually?

I feel our values are aligned. Trust is my highest value and it is Time’s as well.

I thought journalism was Time’s highest value. Did you read Time as a kid? Or an adult?

Yes, always loved it.

Would you hope interviews in Time magazine are more probing than this?

“I’ve decided I can only be myself. Everyone else is taken.” — Oscar Wilde.

Thanks for your time. How is the massage?

Paulene is amazing. Let me know if you want her number.

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Choo-choo without CO2: World’s first hydrogen-powered train enters service in Germany

It is equipped with fuel cells which convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, thus eliminating pollutant emissions related to propulsion. Two such trains will enter commercial service according to a fixed timetable in Lower Saxony.

“This is a revolution for Alstom and for the future of mobility. The world’s first hydrogen fuel cell train is entering passenger service and is ready for serial production,” said Henri Poupart-Lafarge, Chairman and CEO of Alstom. “The Coradia iLint heralds a new era in emission-free rail transport. It is an innovation that results from French-German teamwork and exemplifies successful cross-border cooperation.”

The hydrail operates on electricity obtained from lithium ion batteries, powered by a fuel cell using a hydrogen tank stored on the train’s roof. The energy storage device is the pride of the developers, as it is controlled by an intelligent energy management system.

The low-noise, zero-emissions trains can reach up to 140 kilometers per hour. They will run on around 100 kilometers of the Buxtehude-Bremervorde-Bremerhaven-Cuxhaven regional line in Lower Saxony.

They will be refuelled by a mobile hydrogen filling station. The gaseous hydrogen will be pumped from a 40-foot-high steel container next to the tracks at Bremervorde station. One tank can run throughout the network for a whole day. A stationary filling station is scheduled to go into operation in 2021.

Last year, Alstom agreed with the local transport authority of Lower Saxony to deliver 14 hydrogen fuel cell trains and provide 30 years of maintenance and energy supply.

“The emission-free drive technology of the Coradia iLint provides a climate-friendly alternative to conventional diesel trains, particularly on non-electrified lines,” said Bernd Althusmann, Lower Saxony’s Minister of Economy and Transport.

“In successfully proving the operability of the fuel cell technology in daily service, we will set the course for rail transport to be largely operated climate-friendly and emission-free in the future,” he added.

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Credit Suisse lambasted by financial watchdog over FIFA money laundering

According to the regulator, the banking multinational showed serious “deficiencies” in its attempts to counter illegal financial activities when dealing with soccer’s ruling body FIFA, Brazilian oil corporation Petrobras, and Venezuela’s state energy company PDVSA.

Rothschild Bank caught up in money-laundering scandal

“To combat money laundering effectively, every relevant department within the bank must be able to see all the client’s relationships with the bank instantly and automatically,” FINMA said, adding that some progress had been made so far.

The financial regulator said Credit Swiss rewarded a star private banker who breached compliance regulations with high payments and positive reviews instead of disciplining him. A banking source identified the manager as Patrice Lescaudron, who was jailed for five years in February, according to Reuters.

“The identified shortcomings occurred repeatedly over a number of years, mainly before 2014,” the watchdog said. “An above-average number of faults were discovered in business relationships opened by the former group subsidiary Clariden Leu AG.

“FINMA identified deficiencies in the anti-money laundering process, as well as shortcomings in the bank’s control mechanisms and risk management,” the statement reads.

The Swiss watchdog will reportedly appoint an independent auditor to monitor the banking giant’s control and risk-management procedures and anti-money laundering measures. The current regulation doesn’t let FINMA fine the banks that it supervises or force them to disgorge profits.

In response, the Zurich-based multinational said the probe had discovered “legacy weaknesses,” stressing that it had already acted to improve compliance.

“Implementing a culture of compliant growth at Credit Suisse is our highest priority and it is an individual and collective responsibility that we take extremely seriously,” the bank said. “We will continue to work closely with FINMA to complete the changes that are underway and implement additional measures.”

Switzerland’s second-biggest bank behind UBS also fell short in terms of its obligations to tackle alleged corruption while managing “a significant business relationship” with a politically exposed person, according FINMA.

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Time Magazine Is Bought by Marc Benioff, Salesforce Billionaire

Edward Felsenthal, the top editor at Time, led the search for a buyer of the 95-year-old newsmagazine. Since taking over a year ago, Mr. Felsenthal, a veteran Wall Street Journal editor who helped start The Daily Beast in 2008, has overseen an aggressive expansion into video, live events and web initiatives. That push is expected to continue under its new owners, who plan to keep Mr. Felsenthal at the helm. “I think that combination is what drew them to us,” Mr. Felsenthal said of the Benioffs.

Time will continue to be based in New York, Mr. Felsenthal said. And, despite speculation that the print edition could cease to exist, he said Time will continue to be centered on the print magazine, which now has over two million paid subscribers.

“The print product is the foundation that we’re building everything else on,” he said.

As an owner, Mr. Benioff stands in stark contrast to the humble, Midwest-based Meredith Corp., which started in 1902 with Successful Farming magazine.

An impassioned and eccentric billionaire, even by Silicon Valley standards, Mr. Benioff was drawn to computers at an early age. He interned at Apple as a college student, and became a top salesman at Oracle, the enterprise software company. After burning out at Oracle, he traveled to India, decided to leave the company, and co-founded Salesforce in 1999. Today, Salesforce, a pioneer in the business model of offering software as a service, is worth some $120 billion. The San Francisco company occupies the new Salesforce Tower, the tallest office building west of Mississippi.

Mr. Benioff said his decision to buy Time was motivated by a desire to preserve the title. He said he did not expect the magazine to reflect his own social or political views, which he is not shy about sharing. In 2015, for example, he threatened to reduce Salesforce’s business in Indiana in protest of a state law that critics said discriminated against gay and transgender communities.

He has since taken a stand on the gender pay gap and recently spoken out on the problematic aspects of social media. Mr. Benioff has an affinity for Buddhism, attending meditation retreats and installing meditation rooms throughout the Salesforce Tower.

“We don’t plan to be operational or involved in editorial,” he wrote in a text message. “We are only stewards of a historic and iconic brand.”

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Priority market: China Railway to build infrastructure for Russia’s Far East

The region requires a developing net of railroads and motorways, as well as new bridges and other transport infrastructure, according to the company’s CEO Zhang Zongyan, who says that China is ready to participate in the projects to give a boost to its global shipping routes strategy.

China planning to develop tourist routes across Russia’s Arctic region

“China Railway is looking at the Far East as one of most important destination markets for extending its principal activity,” he told Xinhua news agency, according to TASS.

“Chinese enterprises are ready to deploy their own advanced technology, equipment, and engineering to take part in the construction of infrastructure in the Far East,” the CEO said. “This will contribute to the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiate and the development of cooperation between northeastern China and Russia’s Far East.”

According to the Zhang Zongyan, China Railway negotiated the issue with the Russian Ministry of Transport and the Ministry for the Development of the Far East on the sidelines of the fourth Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.
China Railway is reportedly planning to participate in the reconstruction of the region’s international transport corridors Primorye-1 and Primorye-2, which connect the Chinese provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin with the Far Eastern region of Primorye.

China Railway Group, founded in 1950, is in charge of railway passenger and cargo transportation services in China. The Beijing-based corporation has reportedly built 90,000km of roads so far with over 10,000km of these comprising a high-speed network.

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Russia’s energy minister slams Washington’s sanctions on Iran as ‘unproductive’ & ‘wrong’

“Our position remains that this is unproductive, this is wrong,” he told CNBC when talking about the sanctions’ possible impact on Iran’s oil industry.

According to Novak, “It is better to continue working in the market, Iran being just another exporter that provides stable supplies to the market.”

The Russian minister explained that Iran is one of the richest countries in terms of resources and has a “solid standing in terms of its energy capability both in the OPEC, and in the energy markets as a whole. So, I think there will be consequences, I am sure, but we could only comment once they are in place.”

Novak added: “We do not know how companies will react, how countries that engage with Iran will react. We will have to see the actual adopted documents/sanctions.”

In May, US President Donald Trump announced withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and he is expected to ratchet up the pressure on Tehran by blocking Iranian oil exports in November, potentially halting some two million barrels a day, or 50 percent of Iran’s output.

Washington said any countries or companies that conduct transactions with Iran were liable to face secondary sanctions. That has caused major Western firms to pull out of the country. The EU asked Washington to grant exemptions to European companies but Washington has rejected the appeal, saying exemptions would be made only if they benefited US national security.

Moscow has reaffirmed its commitment to JCPOA, and said Washington’s decision to re-impose sanctions was “disappointing.” It has boosted economic cooperation with the Islamic Republic while announcing multi-billion dollar investments in Iran’s energy sector. Russian energy giants Rosneft and Gazprom are also in talks with the oil ministry of Iran to potentially sign deals worth up to $10 billion.

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No deals ‘at gunpoint’: China mulls dropping trade talks, slapping US firms with sanctions – report

China is apparently reluctant to hold any trade negotiations with the US under the current circumstances as it said it would not talk under pressure, even though it did not completely forgo the negotiations, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing Chinese officials. It also said that the latest moves of the Trump administration might jeopardize the potential trade talks with Beijing, which the US officials themselves had sought.

Is there point in talking to US until midterms? China seems to think it’s a ‘no’

“China never said it doesn’t want to negotiate with the US,” Yang Weimin, a former senior economic and foreign policy adviser to President Xi Jinping, said Sunday, as cited by the WSJ. He added, however, that Washington should first “show sincerity” in its desire to resolve the trading dispute. “China is not going to negotiate with a gun pointed to its head,” the official noted.

The fate of the talks, which could potentially take place later in September, is still unclear, another official said. “There is a lot of uncertainty right now,” the unnamed official told the media, adding that “if more tariffs come out, the Chinese side could very well choose not to go.”

Beijing has already vowed to respond in kind if Washington slaps it with any more import taxes. However, now it is also reported that China could limit the sales of materials, equipment and spare parts to US companies as part of retaliatory measures. China can adopt “export restraints” in addition to tariffs, a former Chinese Finance Minister, Lou Jiwei, said at a meeting of the US and Chinese academics and business executives. The restrictions could particularly hit Apple Inc., which has its iPhones being assembled in China.

Trump greenlights tariffs on about $200 billion more in Chinese products – reports

On Friday, Trump reportedly greenlighted additional tariffs on Chinese goods worth about $200 billion. The US president has repeatedly threatened to do so and said that the restrictions, which cover almost all Chinese export to the US, would be imposed soon, but didn’t offer a timetable. He also made no official announcements on Friday. China, meanwhile, vowed to impose commensurate tariffs on $60 billion in US goods and take some other unspecified measures in response.

The US has already slapped China with 25 percent tariffs on goods worth $50 billion, prompting Beijing to respond in kind. The trade war has been provoked by what Trump sees as a trade imbalance, with him saying that trade deficit hurts America.

The US and Chinese officials already held contentious trade talks in late August in an attempt to resolve the existing differences. A Chinese delegation headed by Vice Minister for Commerce Wang Shouwen, travelled to Washington for two-day negotiations. Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs David Malpass represented the US. However, the talks did not bring any practical results.

The US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sent an invitation to China’s Vice Prime Minister Liu He in an attempt to revive the talks early last week but the fate of the potential negotiations has been now left in a limbo due to Washington’s moves.

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They Left Public Radio to Try Their Fortunes on the Blockchain

“Rebecca Traister wrote this beautiful line in her New York magazine article at the time, which was like, you look down and suddenly we can see all the scaffolding that we’re standing on,” Ms. Zomorodi said. “And it really felt like that for me.”

Civil, a New York start-up that now aims to help start 100 new journalism outlets by the end of the year, gave Ms. Zomorodi and Ms. Poyant grant money that came partly in the form of dollars and partly in the company’s own cryptocurrency, CVL tokens, which will go on sale on Tuesday.

Ms. Zomorodi and Ms. Poyant, who worked together for almost three years before starting the new venture, described themselves as creative soul mates.

“We can kind of read each other’s minds,” Ms. Poyant said.

Ms. Poyant is a single mother with a 7-year-old son; Ms. Zomorodi has two children, 11 and 8, and is married to Josh Robin, a political reporter for NY1. The podcast doesn’t shy away from going into how hard it is to be a working parent.

“All of our kids are struggling a little bit right now, with the amount of work time that we are taking for ourselves, often in front of them,” Ms. Poyant said in Episode 3. “There’s a level of guilt that you feel when you’re sitting on a computer and the kids are like, ‘Mom, Mom, Mom,’ and you’re like, ‘I told you I had to work. Go away.’ There’s definitely a sense of like, ‘Is this kid going to, like, remember this as neglect one day?’”

Ms. Zomorodi often records segments for the podcast on the fly. During a trip to upstate New York, she sat with a blanket over her head to record herself while her children were jumping on a trampoline.

“It’s a juggle, and it’s exhausting,” she said.

Ms. Zomorodi got serious about explaining blockchain in the second episode of “ZigZag,” and she did it with the help of a “Schoolhouse Rock”-style jingle sung by the musician and podcaster Martin Zaltz Austwick.

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