January 17, 2019

YouTube Bans Risky Prank Videos Amid Spate of ‘Bird Box’ Challenge Stunts

When the Tide pod challenge went viral last year, Procter Gamble, the detergent’s maker, urged parents to keep their children from taking part. “The possible life-altering consequences of this act, seeking internet fame, can derail young people’s hopes and dreams and ultimately their health,” David Taylor, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement at the time.

Another of the challenges cited in YouTube’s revised guidelines, the so-called fire challenge, has resulted in children who attempted it being hospitalized.

Other popular pranks and challenges have been innocuous, humorous and even virtuous. The talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel has gotten laughs by challenging parents to give their children unimpressive presents and then record their reactions. Other examples have involved people dancing to Drake or flipping a bottle of water. The “Ice Bucket Challenge” raised awareness of, and money to fight, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

YouTube said it would continue to welcome such videos.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/16/business/youtube-bans-pranks.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Veterans of the News Business Are Now Fighting Fakes

He acknowledged that, for now, NewsGuard’s analysis lacked the distribution to have a major effect, but a Gallup survey funded by the Knight Foundation suggested that independent ratings can change how people consume news. Readers who participated in the poll were less likely to share headlines that were flagged as potentially misleading. (The Knight Foundation is also an investor in NewsGuard.)

NewsGuard has raised about $6 million at a valuation of around $20 million. Its biggest corporate backer is Publicis, an advertising holding company.

Both founders said they were surprised, at first, by the advertising industry’s interest in their project. “For them, it’s the whole problem of fake news being an issue for ‘brand safety,’” Mr. Brill said. “I hadn’t even heard that term until we looked out for investors.”

Last year, some advertisers fled YouTube after they noticed their messages were appearing alongside videos promoting terrorists. And while they haven’t abandoned Facebook, marketers are requesting more data to make sure their brands aren’t being associated with questionable content.

Facebook has become a flash point for the spread of false reports. To combat media pollution, the company has worked with fact checkers and has enlisted third-party groups, including The Associated Press, Snopes and PolitiFact, to make evaluations. Still, it can take up to three days for Facebook to verify content — which has little or no effect, in most cases, since articles go viral in minutes.

Facebook and other social networks have not signed on with NewsGuard, but Mr. Brill and Mr. Crovitz anticipate that some kind of ratings service will eventually be adopted across the web. And despite their positioning as a nutrition label for news, they said no one should interpret their work as an endorsement for some kind of media equivalent to the Food and Drug Administration.

“We’d be very uncomfortable if the government were mandating anything with regard to news,” Mr. Crovitz said. “That would violate free speech values. You have the First Amendment.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/16/business/media/media-steve-brill-fake-news.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Oil markets could see deficit in 2019

The oil supply surplus is “starting to reverse,” according to a new report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The investment bank noted that oil prices had collapsed in late 2018 not only because of an oversupply problem, but also because of other “non-fundamental factors,” including the selloff of long positions by hedge funds and other market managers, as well as by fear and uncertainty in broader financial markets. Still, the bottom line was that the oil market saw a glut once again emerge in the fourth quarter.

However, “now the 1.3mn b/d surplus in 4Q18 is starting to reverse,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote in a January 10 note. In fact, the bank says that the OPEC+ cuts could translate into a “slight deficit” for 2019. “With investor positioning reflecting a bearish set-up, Brent prices have already bounced back above $60/bbl, and we retain our $70/bbl average forecast for 2019,” BofAML wrote.

Also on rt.com Wall Street sees oil price recovery in 2019

Oil price forecasts vary quite a bit, but a dozen or so investment banks largely agree that the selloff in late December, which pushed Brent down to $50 per barrel, had gone too far. BofAML is betting that Brent rises back to $70 per barrel.

However, the investment bank issued a rather significant caveat. This assessment is based on the assumption that the global economy does not take a turn for the worse. BofAML analysts said that Brent could plunge as low as $35 per barrel if global GDP growth slows from 3.5 percent to 2 percent.

At this point, it is anybody’s guess if the global economy slows by that much, but there is a growing number of indicators that at least suggests such a deceleration is possible. The recent data from China showing a shocking slowdown in both imports and exports is discouraging. Exports fell 4.4 percent in December from a year earlier, while imports crashed by 7.6 percent, suggesting that the world’s second largest economy is starting to weaken a bit.

Also on rt.com World may face ‘low price scenario’ for oil this year if OPEC plan fails, JP Morgan warns

Nevertheless, the oil market fundamentals, as they stand, do not look overly bearish. Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates that supply from OPEC+ will fall by a whopping 2.6 million barrels per day (mb/d) in the fourth quarter of this year compared to the fourth quarter of 2018. That figure includes the 1.2 mb/d of agreed upon cuts, plus substantial losses from Iran and Venezuela. Those significant declines, combined with slower US shale growth and a steady increase in demand, should be enough to tip the oil supply balance into deficit territory, BofAML concludes.

“On a net basis, we see aggregate [year-on-year] global oil supply growth of just 400 thousand b/d in 2019 and a deficit building into the summer months,” the bank said.

READ MORE: What’s behind the crash in crude?

Moreover, the supply surplus that did emerge in late 2018 was much smaller than the one that occurred between 2014 and 2016. The most recent surplus totaled perhaps 200 million barrels, compared to around 1-billion-barrel surplus in the 2014-2016 period, according to Scotiabank. In that context, erasing the glut should be easier to achieve.

As such, top OPEC+ officials do not seem overly concerned. “Market sentiment today is being shaped by undue concerns about demand, underestimation of the impact of agreed supply cuts, and a misreading of the supply-demand trends which causes counterfactual actions by financial players,” Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih said at the Atlantic Council’s 2019 Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi.

Also on rt.com OPEC-Russia alliance to extend oil production cuts if necessary

“In other words, if we look beyond the noise of weekly data and vibrations in the market, and the speculators’ herd-like behavior, I remain convinced that we are on the right track and that the oil market will quickly return to balance,” he said.

One of the key variables to watch is Iran’s oil exports levels. Waivers granted to countries importing oil from Iran expire in May. The top US official dealing with Iran sanctions, Brian Hook, hinted at the same conference in Abu Dhabi that the American government wouldn’t be as lenient this time around. “All I can say is that certainly when we have a better supplied oil market, then that will put us in a better path to [reducing Iranian crude exports] to zero,” Hook said.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/448955-oil-markets-deficit-2019/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Russian economy minister to lead country’s delegation to Davos

Novak is also planning to take part in the annual business event. Last week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russian President Vladimir Putin hadn’t decided whether he’d attend the WEF.

Oreshkin is expected to take part in the session called “Russia’s Economy – A Step Forward,” as part of Russia House, which is organized by the Roscongress Foundation.

US President Donald Trump canceled his planned trip to the forum, citing the ongoing impasse with congressional Democrats that’s keeping parts of the US government closed for a third week. French President Emmanuel Macron said he was not planning to attend amid the ongoing Yellow Vest protests across France.

Also on rt.com Davos U-turn: World Economic Forum welcomes all Russian businessmen after boycott threat

In November, reports emerged claiming that Viktor Vekselberg, the owner of Renova group, aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska, and the head of VTB Bank Andrey Kostin would not be allowed to attend the 2019 Davos meeting due to being included on the list of US sanctions. Back then, Moscow lambasted the possible ban and threatened to boycott the forum at state level. However, the WEF backtracked on the decision.

One of the world’s largest business events, scheduled for January 22–25, the WEF in Davos plans to welcome participants from some 50 countries. This year’s forum is dubbed “Globalization 4.0: Shaping a New Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

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

Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/448949-russian-economy-minister-davos/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Ain’t ‘lovin’ it’: McDonald’s loses ‘Big Mac’ trade mark battle in EU

The case was brought before the regulator two years ago by an Irish restaurant chain called Supermac’s. It accused McDonald’s of “trademark bullying” and wanted to prevent the giant of trademarking the terms “Big Mac” and “Mc” in some instances in Europe. Both fast food restaurants sell burgers and fries.

Also on rt.com McMaggots: Woman finds wriggling larva in McDonald’s ketchup dispenser (VIDEO)

McDonald’s said that it intends to appeal the decision and is confident it will be overturned.

“We are disappointed in the EUIPO’s [European Union Intellectual Property Office – Ed.] decision and believe this decision did not take into account the substantial evidence submitted by McDonald’s proving use of our BIG MAC mark throughout Europe,” a McDonald’s spokesperson said in a statement.

READ MORE: Welcome back: Russia reclaims rights to Stolichnaya vodka brand after bitter legal fight

Pat McDonagh, the managing director and founder of Galway-based Supermac’s, said: “Never mind David versus Goliath, this unique landmark decision is akin to the Connacht team winning against the All Blacks.”

“This is the end of the McBully…Just because McDonald’s has deep pockets and we are relatively small in context doesn’t mean we weren’t going to fight our corner,” he added.

Also on rt.com McDonald’s in Kim’s land? Pyongyang seeks US investment as relations with S. Korea thaw

Founded in 1978, Supermac’s has about 100 restaurants in Ireland. It has been locked in a legal battle with McDonald’s since 2015 when it planned to expand into the UK and rest of the EU.

The trademark dispute is not the first time that McDonald’s has gone to the courts over prefixes. In 2009, a Malaysian chain won the right to call itself McCurry after an eight-year battle with the fast food chain.

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

Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/448940-mcdonalds-loses-trademark-eu/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Russia’s gold & foreign currency reserves surge for third consecutive year

Reserves reportedly grew to over $468 billion from $432 billion at the beginning of last January. According to the regulator, reserves grew for the third consecutive year. In 2017, growth totaled $55 billion, while 2016 saw an increase of $9.3 billion.

Russia shifts $100bn of its reserves into yuan, yen euro in a great dollar dump

The value of gold in the reserves increased by nearly five percent to $86.9 billion in December, with the share of the precious metal surging to 18.5 percent. Last year, saw the value of gold in Russia’s reserves grow by over $10 billion, marking an increase of 13 percent.

The aggregate value of the national reserves grew by 0.6 percent to $381 billion in December, and showed an increase of 7.2 percent last year.

Russia’s growing reserves in the last three years seem to point to an adjustment to economic sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union in 2014. Western penalties had a significant initial impact on Russia’s reserves, which saw a decrease of $124 billion in 2014 and a $17 billion contraction the following year.

Russia’s international reserves are highly liquid foreign assets comprising stocks of monetary gold, foreign currencies and Special Drawing Right (SDR) assets, which are at the disposal of the Central Bank of Russia and the government.

Earlier this month, Russia’s central bank reported that it cut the share of the US dollar in the country’s foreign reserves to a historic low, transferring nearly $100 billion into the euro, the Japanese yen and the Chinese yuan. The step came as a part of a broader state policy on eliminating a reliance on the greenback.

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

Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/448930-russia-foreign-reserves-growth/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

‘He’s the Best, He’s the Best, He’s the Best’

“He had published that terrific little sheet called 7 Days. It was terrific. It had a great sense of both service and a feel for the city. And that was exactly the sensibility we wanted. We brought him in to help advise us on various projects, we got to know him, and we hired him.”

“One of the things people don’t say enough about him is what a great teacher he is. He would suggest something completely impossible, and I would say, ‘Sure, Adam, I will do that completely impossible thing you have in mind, because I want you to be happy.’ He has a gift for setting the bar very, very high and making you work over the level you thought you were capable of. He invests so much time in the process that you feel you have to live up to that investment.”

“I’m happy for my friend, but I’m very sad for journalism, and I’m very sad especially for magazines, because I feel like it’s very much the end of something. He’s the best, he’s the best, he’s the best.”

“More than anything else, what Adam’s taught me — and I’m not sure he knows he taught me this — is how simple it should be to tell a story. It should be simple even if the story seems complicated. A few months ago, I was reporting on some palace intrigue in the West Wing, and Trump pulled me into the Oval Office to try to dissuade me from writing about it. Over the course of 20 minutes, we were joined by the vice president, the secretary of state and the president’s chief of staff. I was agonizing about how to explain in writing what had happened; I didn’t know where to even start. But Adam had the obvious answer: You just start where the story starts, and you tell it honestly, just as it happened and as you experienced it. Once I understood that, saw what he meant, it was easy.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/business/media/adam-moss-new-york-magazine-tributes.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

M. Night Shyamalan’s Biggest Twist? Coming Full Circle

Conventional wisdom then held that an original superhero story wouldn’t sell, and Shyamalan has said that Disney, which produced “Unbreakable,” encouraged him not to market it as a comic-book movie — an unthinkable strategy today. (A harbinger of the culture to come, “X-Men,” released that same year, grossed nearly 300 million.) “Unbreakable” made money, but it fell way short of “The Sixth Sense” and failed to resonate the way Shyamalan had hoped.

Still, his instincts were ultimately validated: Spandex went mainstream, and “Unbreakable,” always a critics’ favorite, amassed a loyal fan base over the years, not least with the Comic Con set. Then Shyamalan surprised fans with “Split”: a horror-thriller sequel starring James McAvoy that took in over $278 million on a $9 million budget. After a string of critical failures including “The Last Airbender,” “The Happening” and “After Earth,” there was talk of a comeback.

That momentum also put pressure on “Glass” — which with its $20 million budget and long script, Shyamalan said, was the toughest film he ever made. Calling from Europe, he talked about the film and offered insights on the “Unbreakable” universe, and on whether he would ever direct a “Star Wars” film. Following are edited excerpts from that conversation.

When you made “Unbreakable,” the market for superhero movies was nothing like it is today. What do you make of Hollywood’s being so welcoming of them now?

It makes sense. I was happy to be in front of that and say, “Hey, let’s make a comic book movie, a movie about comic books.” And everyone going: “That’s a very fringe market. That’s not a mainstream notion, and regular people don’t go to see those kinds of movies.” And now, it’s ubiquitous.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/movies/glass-m-night-shyamalan.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

No Regrets: A Boozy Wake for Bygone Magazine Editors

(Apparently there was a filming conflict, although according to her Instagram Story feed Ms. Alba did find time to throw a 40th birthday party for her husband over the weekend.)

By Sunday night, however, the foundation had managed to recruit a ragtag band of celebrities including Nicky Hilton Rothschild, a socialite and handbag designer; Kenan Thompson, a “Saturday Night Live” cast member; and Matthew Morrison, a former star of “Glee.”

At the pre-dinner reception, where waiters served bacon-wrapped scallops, the mood was like a birthday party in a hospital ward. “Retail died, and I like malls,” Mr. Thompson said of his reason for being there.

“Retail is not bad,” Ms. Rothschild said. “Far from it.”

Mr. Morrison recalled working at the Gap in 1997, while he was a student at New York University. “I was in charge of the denim wall,” he said. “I still fold my denim really well. Marie Kondo has nothing on me.”

Among the two dozen retail executives honored that night was Jennifer Rubio, a founder of the luggage brand Away. “I was fired from retail,” Ms. Rubio said of her brief stint at the Hollister store in the Bridgewater Commons mall in New Jersey. “I just wasn’t very good at folding T-shirts and didn’t show up on time — the two things that were essential to the job.”

She said her advice to her own young employees is: “Don’t do anything I did.”

Snoop Dogg, arguably the biggest celebrity of the night, presented an award to Chip Bergh, the chief executive of Levi Strauss Co.

Turns out, Snoop Dogg once toiled in retail, too. “At a Lucky’s in North Long Beach,” he said, referring to a supermarket in his California hometown. “I loved it. I could steal food and steal groceries every night.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/style/eve-babitz-book-party-graydon-carter.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

US investment fund triples stake in Russia’s internet giant Yandex

The company that identifies itself as one of the world’s most reputable investment firms reportedly boosted its stake from 1.8 percent to 6.41 percent, which represents about 18.365 million shares, as of December 31, 2018.

Russian ‘city of the future’ becomes first in Europe to offer self-driving taxi service

Yandex closed trading in the US at $29.55 per share on Monday so the entire OppenheimerFunds stake in the Russian company is currently worth $542.7 million.

In 2015, the New York-based investment company entirely eliminated its stake in Yandex. Prior to that OppenheimerFunds had been the largest portfolio investors in the Russian corporation holding 36.4 million class A shares (11.48 percent of equity, 4.2 percent of votes) in Yandex.

The fund resumed investment in the Russian firm in the fourth quarter of 2017, having bought 5.1 million shares.

Based in Moscow, Yandex operates an Internet website and a search engine in Russia. The company offers news, shopping information, blogging, photography, music and video services. It also provides online taxi and food delivery services. The company reportedly gets most of its revenues from online advertising.

In August, Yandex announced the test launch of a new autonomous ride-hailing service in the special economic zone of Innopolis. In December, the internet giant released its first smartphone, called Yandex.Phone, and launched its own home assistant smart speaker.

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

Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/448877-us-fund-triples-yandex-share/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS