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Netflix's 12 biggest TV shows of all time, including 'The Witcher' and 'Squid Game'

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 21:15
"Squid Game."
  • Netflix's Korean-language series "Squid Game" is its biggest TV show ever by a wide margin.
  • "The Witcher" season two is one of Netflix's biggest seasons ever after debuting in December.
  • Netflix ranks its shows by total viewing hours globally in their first 28 days of availability.
12. "Stranger Things" season two — 427.44 million hours

Description: "When a young boy vanishes, a small town uncovers a mystery involving secret experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one strange little girl."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 94%

What critics said: "How many other shows about alternate dimensions and Dungeons & Dragons monsters operate with such emotional subtlety? Haters to the left." — AV Club

11. "You" season two — 457.37 million hours

Description: "A dangerously charming, intensely obsessive young man goes to extreme measures to insert himself into the lives of those he is transfixed by."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 87%

What critics said: "A self-aware work of melodrama, You combines the best elements of murder-mystery series, Millennial sitcoms, and revenge fantasies." — The Atlantic

10. "You" season three — 467.83 million hours

Description: "A dangerously charming, intensely obsessive young man goes to extreme measures to insert himself into the lives of those he is transfixed by."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 94%

What critics said: "Season 3 Is the best installment yet — and a brilliant send-up of suburbia." — Time Magazine

9. "Maid" (limited series) — 469.09 million hours

Description: "After fleeing an abusive relationship, a young mother finds a job cleaning houses as she fights to provide for her child and build them a better future."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 94%

What critics said: "The drama offers a blistering portrayal of the realities of poverty as seen through the eyes of Alex." — USA Today

8. "13 Reasons Why" season one — 475.57 million hours"13 Reasons Why."

Description: "High school student Clay Jensen lands in the center of a series of heartbreaking mysteries set in motion by a friend's tragic suicide."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 77%

What critics said: "It too often feels artificial, like a very long public service announcement." — New York Times

7. "The Witcher" season two — 484.3 million hours

Description: "Geralt of Rivia, a mutated monster-hunter for hire, journeys toward his destiny in a turbulent world where people often prove more wicked than beasts."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 94%

What critics said: "In the most pleasant surprise of all, the series feels more emotionally effective than it ever has before." — Hollywood Reporter

6. "13 Reasons Why" season two — 496.12 million hours

Description: "High school student Clay Jensen lands in the center of a series of heartbreaking mysteries set in motion by a friend's tragic suicide."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 28%

What critics said: "13 Reasons Why is not fundamentally interested in starting a conversation. It's interested in shocking, and it does not care how cheaply it might go about creating that shock." — Vox

5. "The Witcher" season one — 541.01 million hours

Description: "Geralt of Rivia, a mutated monster-hunter for hire, journeys toward his destiny in a turbulent world where people often prove more wicked than beasts."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 68%

What critics said: "In contrast to its halfhearted approach to exposition, the series finds its footing in the graphic depiction of violence." — Slant Magazine

4. "Stranger Things" season three — 582.1 million hours"Stranger Things."

Description: "When a young boy vanishes, a small town uncovers a mystery involving secret experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one strange little girl."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 89%

What critics said: "Even while some things go a bit too predictably, the last two episodes tie everything and everyone together in spectacular, emotional fashion." — Dallas Morning News

3. "Money Heist" season four — 619.01 million hours

Description: "Eight thieves take hostages and lock themselves in the Royal Mint of Spain as a criminal mastermind manipulates the police to carry out his plan."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 80%

What critics said: "We love to see talented people overcome the odds and perform the impossible, even if in this case, they're ripping off the mint and printing stolen money. With Money Heist, we're offered a pleasure-driven, rollicking, charming mix of all of the above." — Globe and Mail


2. "Bridgerton" season one — 625.49 millionDaphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset on "Bridgerton."

Description: "The eight close-knit siblings of the Bridgerton family look for love and happiness in London high society. Inspired by Julia Quinn's bestselling novels."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 87%

What critics said: "Bridgerton gives us everything we're craving right now: extravagant parties, elaborate outfits, salacious gossip, human touch." — Chicago Reader 

1. "Squid Game" season one — 1.65 billion hours

Description: "Hundreds of cash-strapped players accept a strange invitation to compete in children's games. Inside, a tempting prize awaits — with deadly high stakes."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 94%

What critics said: "Its messages hit like a sledgehammer to the head, yet this vibrant, vicious series holds a surprisingly big heart at its core. A winning blend of spectacle and sentiment." — Empire Magazine

Read the original article on Business Insider

Mobile firms agree another 5G delay at US airports

BBC News - World - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 21:15
Airlines have pushed for postponement, saying risks from 5G will force them to cancel flights.

White House warns Russia ready to launch an attack on Ukraine 'at any point'

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 21:02
A Russian service member walks near a T-72B3 main battle tank during military drills at the Kadamovsky range in the Rostov region of Russia on December 20, 2021.
  • The White House warned that Russia could launch an attack on Ukraine "at any point."
  • The US has warned of severe consequences if Russia invades the former Soviet republic.
  • "No option is off the table, in our view," Psaki said.

The White House on Tuesday warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could be imminent as top US and European diplomats scramble to prevent a new conflict in Europe. 

"We believe we're now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack on Ukraine. I would say that's more stark than we have been," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, describing the circumstances on the Ukrainian border as an "extremely dangerous situation."

Russia, which invaded and annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, has gathered tens of thousands of troops along its next-door neighbor's border in recent weeks. The Kremlin has claimed it has no plans to invade, but Western powers are highly skeptical. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling to Ukraine and Germany this week as the crisis escalates and the White House continues to warn Russia of massive economic consequences if it invades. 

"What Secretary Blinken is going to do is highlight very clearly that there's a diplomatic path forward," Psaki said, underscoring that it is Russian President Vladimir Putin's choice "to make whether they are going to suffer severe economic consequences or not."

"No option is off the table, in our view," Psaki said. "We continue to consult closely with European counterparts on severe consequences for Russia if it further invades Ukraine."

After visiting Kyiv and Berlin, Blinken is set to travel to Geneva to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday. Blinken spoke to his Russian counterpart via phone on Tuesday, stressing "the importance of continuing a diplomatic path to de-escalate tensions surrounding the deeply troubling Russian military build-up in and near Ukraine," the State Department said in a statement.

There have been no major breakthroughs in diplomatic talks between Russia and the US and its allies and partners in Europe this month. Russia has continued to make demands for binding security guarantees that the US and NATO have made clear are non-starters. This includes insisting that Ukraine and Georgia, another former Soviet republic that Russia invaded in 2008, never be permitted to join NATO.

Top US officials and Russia watchers have expressed concerns that Russia is looking for a "pretext" to invade amid reports of intelligence pointing to Russian operatives planning a "false-flag" operation within Ukraine to create the justification for an invasion. 

Putin has blamed the US and NATO for the heightened tensions, despite his history of aggressive actions toward Ukraine and even as his troops stage provocative exercises in the region. In addition to the recent military buildup along the Ukrainian border, Russia also sent troops into Belarus this week for war games near Ukraine

Read the original article on Business Insider

Nigeria shoot-to-kill order issued over jail breaks

BBC News - World - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:58
It follows a wave of prison breaks over the past year in which more than 5,000 inmates have escaped.

Israeli police under fire for alleged use of Pegasus spyware

Al Jazeera - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:56
Israeli lawmaker says she will question the police about their reported use of the NSO Group hacking tool on Israelis.

Verizon and AT&T agree to delay launch of 5G service near airports after airlines warned of massive flight disruptions

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:52
United Airlines planes are seen at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, United States on September 29, 2021. United Airlines is firing employees over its vaccine mandate.
  • Verizon and AT&T said they'll delay rolling out 5G near airports but go ahead with deployment plans elsewhere.
  • The news comes after major airlines warned 5G deployment would cause massive flight disruptions.
  • The aviation industry has long raised concerns that 5G frequencies could interfere with plane safety systems.

Cell carriers are delaying their rollout of 5G service near airports after airlines warned the deployment would spell "catastrophic disruption" for the aviation industry.

Verizon and AT&T said Tuesday they will temporarily hold off on deploying C-band 5G technology near airports but will otherwise roll out as planned on Wednesday.

"As the nation's leading wireless provider, we have voluntarily decided to limit our 5G network around airports," Verizon said in a statement Tuesday. "The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and our nation's airlines have not been able to fully resolve navigating 5G around airports, despite it being safe and fully operational in more than 40 other countries."

"At our sole discretion we have voluntarily agreed to temporarily defer turning on a limited number of towers around certain airport runways as we continue to work with the aviation industry and the FAA to provide further information about our 5G deployment, since they have not utilized the two years they've had to responsibly plan for this deployment," an AT&T spokesperson told Insider in a statement.

"We are frustrated by the FAA's inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it do so in a timely manner," the AT&T statement continued. "We are launching our advanced 5G services everywhere else as planned with the temporary exception of this limited number of towers."

President Biden thanked Verizon and AT&T for their decision to delay.

"This agreement will avoid potentially devastating disruptions to passenger travel, cargo operations, and our economic recovery, while allowing more than 90 percent of wireless tower deployment to occur as scheduled," Biden said in a statement released Tuesday. "This agreement protects flight safety and allows aviation operations to continue without significant disruption and will bring more high-speed internet options to millions of Americans."

Biden added that his team is working with cell carriers, airlines, and aviation equipment manufacturers to "close the remaining gap and reach a permanent, workable solution around these key airports."

In a letter sent Monday by trade organization Airlines for America, the leaders of 10 major US carriers warned that rolling out 5G too close to airport runways would harm "the aviation industry, traveling public, supply chain, vaccine distribution, our workforce and broader economy."

"Every one of the passenger and cargo carriers will be struggling to get people, shipments, planes and crews where they need to be," the letter reads. "To be blunt, the nation's commerce will grind to a halt."

The airlines requested that 5G not be deployed within two miles of key airport runways.

The letter's signatories included carriers like American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, FedEx Express, and UPS Airlines. The letter was addressed to White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, and Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

Earlier this month, Verizon and AT&T agreed to delay the rollout by two weeks at Buttigieg's request after the Transportation Secretary cited concerns that the new 5G frequencies could interfere with planes' safety systems. The companies had initially rejected the request.

The FAA and Airlines for America did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Read the email Microsoft Gaming's CEO sent staff about its $68 billion purchase of Activision

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:49
Microsoft Xbox head Phil Spencer
  • Phil Spencer, Microsoft Gaming's new CEO, wrote an email to staff about the company's $68 billion Activision deal.
  • The exec, who was previously head of Xbox, called the deal "incredibly exciting."
  • Spencer also said the deal will likely close later this year "pending regulatory approval."

Microsoft announced plans to buy Activision, the gaming giant behind the popular "Call of Duty" franchise, for a whopping $68 billion on Tuesday.

And Phil Spencer, the former Xbox head and the new CEO of Microsoft's new Gaming division, sent an email to staff regarding the blockbuster deal, which the company posted on its website.

The new executive said the "incredibly exciting" acquisition is a "milestone for our company, our business, and our industry." It's both Microsoft's and the video game industry's largest ever acquisition, as Insider's Ben Gilbert noted.

Spencer also said the company expects the deal to close later this year "pending regulatory approval."

He used the email to announce that he was assuming the role of CEO of Microsoft Gaming, a new division that the company created as part of its Activision acquisition. Spencer previously served as the former head of Xbox, a role he took on in 2014, before becoming the executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick will reportedly leave the company once the Microsoft deal closes.

Read Spencer's full email below:

Welcome back from the holidays. To start, I'd like to thank everyone for all of the hard work and dedication that have built this business and this community. Obviously, today's agreement to acquire Activision Blizzard is incredibly exciting. In fact it's a milestone for our company, our business and our industry. I and the entire Gaming Leadership Team are deeply enthusiastic about this opportunity. We also announced this morning that we have surpassed 25 million Game Pass subscribers across console, cloud and PC, a great achievement for all of Team Xbox.

As players and partners, we all know how talented and dedicated the teams and studios are across Activision Blizzard. The legendary games and franchises across that company have delighted millions of people for decades. Coming together, we can accelerate our mission to extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone. We have the capability and opportunity to build simply the best, most engaging, most fun entertainment ecosystem anywhere.

Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players. We deeply value individual studio cultures. We also believe that creative success and autonomy go hand-in-hand with treating every person with dignity and respect. We hold all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment. We're looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard.

We expect this acquisition to close in FY23, pending regulatory approvals. Once the acquisition is completed, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me. In the meantime, we know you will have a lot of questions. The Gaming Leadership Team and I look forward to answering as many as we can at our next Monthly Gaming Update on Jan. 26. You can submit your questions now anonymously, or post them on our Team Xbox Yammer. Please also refresh on our corporate social media guidelines.

As Satya mentioned, I am now CEO, Microsoft Gaming. This change is a reflection of the incredible work each of you are doing to create the best entertainment ecosystem anywhere. As a leadership team, we know how much exciting but difficult work we have ahead of us, so it's crucial that we operate as a single, unified team. To that end, I'm excited to announce effective today that Jerret West, CMO of Gaming, and his marketing team will move from Chris Capossela's organization to report directly to me. Jerret will continue to be a member of Chris' leadership team and leverage critical parts of Microsoft's marketing muscle including Communications, Media, and Consumer Sales.

We will have a webcast for investors and media at 6 a.m. PT to discuss the Activision Blizzard transaction and our plans as Microsoft Gaming. Please join if you can.


Read the original article on Business Insider

‘Citizens are not protected’: What does 2022 hold for Haiti?

Al Jazeera - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:48
The situation in Haiti has reached a crisis point amid stalled elections, rising poverty and the growing power of gangs.

New York Post's former digital editor in chief accuses former boss of propositioning her for sex in a new lawsuit

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:43
New York Post
  • A former New York Post digital editor-in-chief accused a former editor-in-chief of sexual harassment.
  • Michelle Gotthelf said in a lawsuit Col Allan propositioned her for sex after "years of sex-based harassment."
  • Gotthelf said the Post fired her after demoting her. The Post said she "departed" the publication.

New York Post's former digital editor-in-chief Michelle Gotthelf accused her ex-boss, former editor-in-chief Col Allan, of propositioning her for sex in a new lawsuit.

Gotthelf accused Allan of "years of sex-based harassment," and said he became "more abusive" as she declined his advances, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday.

In her lawsuit — filed against Allan, current New York Post editor in chief Keith Poole, parent company News Corp, and holding company NYP Holdings — Gotthelf said she faced retaliation and discrimination after reporting her harassment accusations until she was ultimately fired. She's now seeking monetary damages for emotional distress and the loss of past and future income.

Allan and Poole did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.

According to the lawsuit, Gotthelf first told colleagues Allan had sexually harassed her in 2015, when she said he asked her about her sex life and said, "We should sleep together," while they were grabbing drinks after work.

In April 2016, the Post announced that Allan was retiring. Gotthelf alleged in her lawsuit that he was forced to resign.

Gotthelf alleged in her lawsuit that the Post and News Corp Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch "did all they could to protect Mr. Allan's reputation."

And following Allan's exit, Gotthelf was given the new position of managing editor, the lawsuit said.

"While Mr. Allan 'retired' and was given a rousing send off, Ms. Gotthelf's responsibilities and authority were steadily eroded, often in favor of substantially less qualified men," Gotthelf's lawsuit said. "Ms. Gotthelf's complaints about retaliation and discrimination were largely met with indifference and, in one instance, she was told to 'stop complaining.'"

Gotthelf said the harassment continued despite Allan no longer being employed. After Allan left the company, Gotthelf said he called and told her that he loved her, according to the lawsuit. Gotthelf said she told the Post about this incident, but according to the lawsuit, the company shrugged it off as "just Col being Col. He hasn't changed."

Allan returned to the Post in 2019, NBC News reported at the time. Gotthelf said in her lawsuit that they ended up working closely together despite management promising that they wouldn't.

In her lawsuit, Gotthelf said Allan had the power to make decisions on stories she published, including one instance in 2019 when she said he told her to "get rid of" a story detailing E. Jean Carroll accusing then-President Donald Trump of sexual assault in the 1990s.

Poole joined the Post in 2021 as the editor-in-chief for the New York Post Group. Gotthelf said in the lawsuit that she was demoted at this time and started reporting to Poole.

According to the lawsuit, Gotthelf told Poole about the sexual harassment accusations in November 2021 after he asked what happened between her and Allan.

The Post announced Gotthelf "departed" the paper on January 12, and officially announced her exit to employees via email on Tuesday morning, according to the staff email seen by Insider.

Sources told Insider that Post staffers got wind of Gotthelf's exit last week, though no official announcement had been made at the time.

"Any suggestion of wrongdoing related to the management changes announced today is meritless," a New York Post and News Corp spokesperson said in a statement to Insider. The company didn't comment on Gotthelf's lawsuit.

Gotthelf said in a statement about her lawsuit: "For more than two decades, I took great pride in my work shaping coverage at one of the most widely read news organizations in the country. While I never intended to become the news, the truth of what happened to me deserves to be heard. I will miss my colleagues dearly and hope that by speaking out there can be positive change for other women at the Post."

Gotthelf's lawyer, Douglas H. Wigdor, said in a statement: "The New York Post's unlawful treatment of its top female editor after twenty-plus years of service is nothing short of appalling.  Moreover, the Post's decision to rehire Col Allan after he sexually propositioned Ms. Gotthelf speaks volumes about exactly the type of newsroom News Corp is running.  We intend to aggressively move forward with holding the Post accountable and protecting Ms. Gotthelf's rights."

Read the original article on Business Insider

30,000 union workers call on Biden to cancel all student debt: 'We are wanting to let him know that unions have demands on him'

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:39
President Joe Biden.
  • The Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation urged President Biden to cancel all student debt.
  • The federation also called on lawmakers like Sen. Elizabeth Warren to keep pressure on the issue.
  • Biden recently extended the pause on student-loan payments, but has yet to act on broad forgiveness.

One way President Joe Biden can show he is truly "union-friendly" is by canceling all student debt, according to a group of labor unions.

Last week, the Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation, within the AFL-CIO — the largest federation of unions in the US — unanimously passed a resolution that called on Biden to cancel all student debt by executive order.

The federation, which represents 30,000 workers, wrote in its press release that 55% of the state's residents have student debt, with the average load standing at $33,256. Along with calling on Biden to act on the issue, the federation also called on Massachusetts Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, along with other elected officials, to continue keeping the pressure on the president to cancel student debt.

"He has framed himself as a union-friendly president, and we are wanting to let him know that unions have demands on him, such as canceling student debt," Spokesperson Ian Rhodewalt told WAMC public radio. "An executive order to cancel student debt would benefit working class people, union workers across the country," he added.

—Western Mass Area Labor Federation - WMALF (@WWmalf) January 12, 2022

Since Biden took office, many advocacy groups, unions, and progressive lawmakers have been calling on Biden to act on the $1.7 trillion student debt crisis and cancel at least $50,000 in student debt per borrower. While the president has extended the pandemic pause on student-loan payments, he has yet to cancel student debt broadly, prompting pressure for him to deliver on his $10,000 forgiveness campaign promise. 

Biden has been largely silent on his campaign promise to cancel $10,000 in student debt per borrower

Warren and Markey have both been prominent leaders in the student-loan forgiveness fight, although Warren's proposal is centered on $50,000 in debt cancellation, while the federation does not want there to be a limit on the forgiveness.

This is not the first time unions have voiced their support for broad student-loan relief. In June, 128 organizations — including the AFL-CIO and SEIU — urged Biden to extend the pause on student-loan payments until he follows through on his campaign promises to fix broken loan forgiveness programs and cancel federal student debt.

As Insider has previously reported, the president has begun reforming programs, like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which forgives student debt for public servants after ten years of qualifying payments but ran up a 98% denial rate. When it comes to his promise of approving $10,000 in student debt cancellation per borrower, though, Biden has been largely silent, with his administration saying it's up to Congress to pass legislation that would carry out that measure.

Still, lawmakers and advocates are not easing up. After Biden extended the pause on student-loan payments a third time, through May 1, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote on Twitter: "Yesterday President Biden announced he was extending the pause of student loan payments for 90 days. Today would be a great day for a follow-up announcement that he's going to #CancelStudentDebt!"

And Lydia Wood, executive director of the federation, agreed.

"For decades we have touted higher education as a path to the middle-class, but that path is increasingly becoming a debt trap, impacting everything from working families' ability to buy a home, start a family, to pursuing particular careers," Wood wrote in a statement. "We need President Biden to act now to forgive student loans jumpstart our economy, and free millions of Americans from a lifelong burden of debt." 


Read the original article on Business Insider

AT&T, Verizon delay some 5G rollout after airlines warn of chaos

Al Jazeera - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:38
Airlines raised the stakes in a showdown with AT&T and Verizon over plans to launch new 5G wireless services this week.

The Brooklyn Nets stake claim in metaverse with a virtual realm dubbed the 'Netaverse'

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:35
Kyrie Irving #11 and Patty Mills #8 of the Brooklyn Nets.

The Brooklyn Nets have created their own virtual world dubbed the "Netaverse."

The name is a riff on the futuristic concept of the metaverse, a virtual world where people interact as avatars of themselves.

For the Nets' take on it, more than 100 cameras around the court will feed into a video system that "quickly generates incredible lifelike 3D renderings in a matter of seconds," YES Network said in a video on Twitter.

The worldwide premiere of the new technology on January 15 when the Nets faced the New Orleans Pelicans on Brooklyn's home court, the Barclays Center.

"The Netaverse will bring viewers to places on the court never seen before," the YES Network's video said. In the clip, Nets players can be seen running up and down the court, just like in a regular basketball game, but in this view, they're digital.

The Nets are the first pro sports team to have the technology, YES Network said. A representative from the team did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. The Nets official Twitter account, however, retweeted YES Network's original post on the new technology. 

The metaverse only recently came into mainstream conversation after the company formerly known as Facebook rebranded to Meta as a sign of its push into immersive virtual realities. Goldman Sachs analysts recently predicted the metaverse represents an eventual $8 trillion market, as sectors like video games dive into the growing trend. 

Metaverse video games like Axie Infinity, Sandbox and Decentraland have grown in popularity, and each of their native tokens have soared in value compared to other cryptocurrencies amid growing hype around the concept.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Som 15-årig nærstuderede Emil Jakobsen idolerne på YouTube - og så begyndte han at filme sig selv

DR Sporten - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:34
Danmarks venstrefløj Emil Jakobsen rider på en bølge af selvtillid og har scoret på sine seneste 31 afslutninger for landsholdet.
Categories: Sport

US sanctions 3 Lebanese businessmen for alleged Hezbollah ties

Al Jazeera - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:33
US Treasury accuses Lebanese group of using the financial sector to amass 'wealth that the Lebanese people never see'.

Turkey and Serbia agree to broker Bosnia crisis talks

Al Jazeera - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:30
Turkey's President Erdogan pledges support for Bosnia's territorial integrity amid fears about Bosnian Serb secession.

Disney and Sony topped the US box office in 2021, thanks to Marvel. Here's how Hollywood's studios stacked up.

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:25
"Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."
  • Disney topped the domestic box office in 2021, thanks to Marvel.
  • Sony followed close behind — also thanks to Marvel.
  • Here's how seven Hollywood studios ranked in box-office market share last year.

Marvel movies gave the domestic box office a lifeline last year, as theaters in the US struggled through the pandemic.

Five of the top six movies at the domestic box office in 2021 were Marvel movies from Disney or Sony, including "Spider-Man: No Way Home" and "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."

Disney topped the domestic box office in terms of market share with 25.5% of business, according to data firm Comscore, despite releasing some movies simultaneously to theaters and Disney+ for an additional fee.

The total domestic box office in 2021 was $4.58 billion, according to Comscore. It doubled 2020's total but was down nearly 60% from 2019.

Sony followed closely behind Disney with 23%, thanks to "No Way Home" and another Marvel release, "Venom: Let There Be Carnage."

The studio owns the film rights to the Spider-Man franchise, which includes 600 Marvel characters ("No Way Home" was a joint production between Sony and Disney's Marvel Studios, but Sony retained distribution rights).

The bottom line: The Marvel brand still dominates the box office, even after Disney experimented with the simultaneous release of "Black Widow" and as the Marvel Cinematic Universe expands into TV on Disney+. The MCU is the biggest movie franchise of all time with $25 billion across 27 movies, and that likely won't change any time soon.

Warner Bros., meanwhile, trailed Disney, Sony, and Universal, showing the limitations of its hybrid release strategy at the box office. The studio released in 2021 all of its movies simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. This year, it committed to a 45-day window on its theatrical releases.

But the strategy did seemingly help boost subscribers for Max. The streaming service and its cable counterpart HBO finished 2021 with nearly 74 million global subscribers, ahead of forecasts.

Below are seven Hollywood studios ranked by how much they grossed in 2021 at the domestic box office:

7. LionsgateSalma Hayek and Samuel L. Jackson in "Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard."

Total domestic gross: $102.6 million

Market share: 2.24%

Biggest movie: "Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard" — $38 million 

6. Paramount

Total domestic gross: $278.1 million

Market share: 6.07%

Biggest movie: "A Quiet Place Part II" — $160 million

5. United Artists/MGM

Total domestic gross: $323.3 million

Market share: 7.05%

Biggest movie: "No Time to Die" — $160.8 million

4. Warner Bros."Dune."

Total domestic gross: $666.8 million

Market share: 14.5%

Biggest movie: "Dune" — $107.3 (released simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max)

3. Universal

Total domestic gross: $714.2 million

Market share: 15.6%

Biggest movie: "F9: The Fast Saga" — $173 million

2. SonyTom Holland in "Spider-Man: No Way Home."

Total domestic gross: $1.06 billion

Market share: 23.1%

Biggest movie: "Spider-Man: No Way Home" — $702.9 million

1. DisneySimu Liu plays Shang-Chi.

Total domestic gross: $1.17 billion

Market share: 25.5%

Biggest movie: "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" — $224.5 million

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Jen Psaki says Biden 'believes that everyone should be held to the highest standard,' but Congress should decide its own stock-trading rules

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:21
White House press secretary Jen Psaki talks to reporters at the White House on Tuesday.
  • The White House says it's up to Congress to decide stock-trading rules for its members.
  • Psaki said Biden "believes that everyone should be held to the highest standard."
  • Her remarks come after Biden's aide Brian Deese praised the idea on Friday, saying it "makes a lot of sense."

The White House said on Tuesday that it's up to Congress to decide stock-trading rules for its members amid a push by some lawmakers to impose a ban on the practice for lawmakers and their spouses. 

President Joe Biden "believes that everyone should be held to the highest standard" for stock trading, but he'll let congressional leaders and members "determine what the rules should be," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said when asked about the topic during a press briefing.

—ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 18, 2022

Psaki also noted that during Biden's decadeslong tenure in the Senate, he didn't trade individual stocks. Biden was widely known as one of the least wealthy members of Congress.

"That is how he approached things," Psaki said. 

Last week, the White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese told CNBC's "Squawk Box" that a ban on stock trading, which already applies to executive-branch employees, is "sensible" and called more broadly for restoring "faith in our institutions."

"There's a lot of distrust and mistrust around how politics works, around the political process," he said. "One of the things that we need to do across the board is restore faith in our institutions, whether that be Congress and the legislative branch, whether that be the Fed and otherwise and so anything we can do to try to restore that faith, I think makes a lot of sense."

White House officials later told Insider that they're not endorsing a specific proposal for ethics in Congress.

"As Brian said this morning, President Biden believes that all government agencies and officials, including independent agencies, should be held to the highest ethical standards, including the avoidance of any suggestion of conflicts of interest," White House assistant press secretary Emilie Simons said. "At this early point in the legislative process, the White House has not endorsed any bill text."

Insider's "Conflicted Congress" investigation found that 54 members of Congress failed to properly report their financial trades as mandated by the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012, also known as the STOCK Act.

Insider then reached out to the White House for comment, alerting officials about the investigation's findings. Officials were asked to comment on the findings given that Biden was vice president when President Barack Obama signed the STOCK Act into law.

At the time, Obama said the law was crucial to restoring faith in government.

Yet the White House did not reply to requests to comment on what it wanted Congress to do in light of Insider's findings. During Biden's 2020 presidential campaign, he pledged to work with Congress to pass legislation to prevent self-enrichment via personal financial holdings.

Polling shows that the idea of a ban is popular with the American public, and a crush of lawmakers have introduced bills to curtail the practice in recent weeks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while continuing to resist the idea of a ban, has asked the Committee on House Administration to review compliance with the STOCK Act and weigh imposing heftier fines on violators.

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Activision's market value is still 14% below what Microsoft plans to pay for it — and that suggests investors don't think the deal will get done

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:20
  • Activision Blizzard is trading 14% below the price Microsoft agreed to acquire it for on Tuesday.
  • The wide spread suggests investors don't have confidence the deal will be completed smoothly.
  • Microsoft's proposed $69 billion acquisition would make it the largest tech deal ever amid a period of heightened regulatory scrutiny. 
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Investors may be having some doubts about Microsoft's proposed $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard based on Tuesday's trade.

Activision Blizzard shares hovered around $82 on Tuesday, about 14% below the proposed takeover at $95 per share. The 14% spread between Activision's current price and Microsoft's offer is wider than typical proposed mergers, which usually have a single-digit difference in price until the deal is completed.

Contributing to the large deal spread is likely a combination of both Tuesday's sell-off in the stock market, in which the Nasdaq 100 Index fell as much as 2.5%, and heightened regulatory scrutiny towards the merger activity of mega-cap technology companies.

Also on Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department's antitrust unit began rewriting merger guidelines in a sign of more skepticism on M&A.

But according to Wedbush analyst Dan Ives, Microsoft doesn't face as much scrutiny as Alphabet, Apple, and Meta Platforms, since the software giant also faced anti-trust scrutiny in 2001.

"From a regulatory perspective, Microsoft is not under the same level of scrutiny as other tech stalwarts and ultimately Nadella saw a window to make a major bet on [the] consumer while others are caught in the regulatory spotlight and could not go after an asset like this," Ives said in a note. 

If the deal is not approved by regulators, Microsoft will owe Activision a hefty $3 billion breakup fee. "While we expect this deal to ultimately clear regulators, however there will be some inherent speed bumps navigating both the beltway and Brussels on a tech deal of this size," Ives said.

One company that is likely to make a fuss about the proposed merger is Sony, which fell 7% on Tuesday. At risk for Sony, if the deal closes, is Microsoft's ability to make blockbuster game franchises like "Call of Duty" exclusive to its Xbox video game console, blocking out Sony's Playstation. 

That wouldn't be a new strategy for Microsoft. After the company acquired video game developer Bethesda for $7.5 billion in 2021, Microsoft said it would make its upcoming games like Starfield exclusive to Xbox and PC.

Regulators could try to take aim at this business practice and point to Microsoft's latest actions with Bethesda as supporting evidence, leading to either a botched merger or concessions around the deal. 

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