#Discussion

#Discussion


Border pandering, not Harris-Biden drama, will decide 2020

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 07:31 AM PDT

Are you still looking for the one searing illuminated truth from the Democratic presidential debates?

That moment telling America what voting Democratic will really mean in 2020?

I’ve got it. But it wasn’t Kamala Harris (rhetorically) whipping Joe Biden. That’s what Democrats would rather focus on, because it’s easier than the inadvertently revealed truth that could doom their political chances.

They would rather cling to Harris’ dissection of Biden, and hope you do too.

It did offer great drama: a tired old white guy reduced to babbling and a younger, smarter black woman putting him in his place and finishing off his political career.

He’s toast. Even if Biden squeezes into one of her now famous “That Little Girl Was Me” T-shirts, and cries and begs mercy, he’s done.

Now that I mentioned it, I wouldn’t mind seeing him in a “That Little Girl Was Me” T-shirt.

Harris pulled him apart for cozy comments that he’d worked well in the Senate with Democratic white segregationists to “get things done.”

Harris said she really didn’t think he was a racist, then she dropped it on him, how much it hurt her that he sucked up to Southern Democratic segregationists to stop federally imposed school busing.

Then she told a story of a little black girl bused to an all-white school.

“That little girl was me,” she said.

His jaws worked up and down, his eyes got flat, his choppers seemed to enter rictus. Then it was over.

Biden was just another political fatality on the Democratic Party’s Intersectionality Highway to Hell.

The next day he ran to the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition convention in Chicago, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson let him try and clean himself up.

“We all know that 30 to 60 seconds in a campaign debate exchange can’t do justice to a lifetime committed to civil rights,” Biden blurted.

He praised himself and former President Barack Obama, and he talked the way politicians talk, his voice going up and down saying little if anything but offering a vague, impassioned vision.

He did say that he never opposed “voluntary busing.”

“Folks,” he said, “the discussion in this race shouldn’t be about the past.”

When Biden was finished, he meekly walked off the stage and tried to hug Jackson.

Just then I bet you the entire room was worried Biden might rub the reverend’s shoulders or sniff his hair the way Joe does when he tries to give comfort to strangers.

But Jackson didn’t need Biden’s comfort. And when Biden put his arms around Jackson and whispered into Jackson’s ear, Jackson didn’t return the hug.

It’ll take a few more days or so before what Harris did to Biden will take effect. But he’s not coming back from it. He can’t.

Democrats want to find someone who can take on Trump. Now they know Biden can’t.

Next up for Harris is Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who’s been repackaged to appeal to the hard-left voters who have drifted away from Bernie Sanders.

Sanders was set up in the 2016 Democratic Party primaries that were rigged by party leaders with plenty of collusion by the media on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

Sanders might have defeated Trump if he’d been the nominee. But the DNC and Obama wanted Clinton. And the media wanted Clinton. So, it was Clinton and the party base was betrayed.

Harris is a former prosecutor, a trial lawyer, and showed she can handle pressure. She calmly embraced all that heat on the debate stage, brought it to her for dramatic effect, drew it in, then released it right at Biden.

The way she played Biden and race, just think what she’ll do to Warren, who vaulted herself onto the faculty of Harvard Law School as a Cherokee and came up with those ridiculous recipes involving cold crab meat that were offered up as true Native American fare.

Warren’s career is a creation myth born in identity politics. She insisted she was a Cherokee, and Harvard praised her for it as if ethnicity was a virtue, perhaps because Harvard was desperate to promote minorities on its law school faculty.

Then Warren’s embarrassing DNA test came out. No further questions, your honor. But Harris will have questions. Bet on it.

All such drama is about ambition and skill and tactics. But that’s too small to define a political party.

During the Thursday debate on left-leaning MSNBC, the Democratic presidential candidates raised their hands in agreement with the idea that illegal immigration should no longer be considered a crime.

Later came another question.

“This is a show-of-hands question and hold them up so people can see,” said co-moderator Savannah Guthrie. “Raise your hand if your government plan would provide (health care) coverage for undocumented immigrants.”

Biden raised his, as did Sanders, Harris, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet, the magical Marianne Williamson, John Hickenlooper and Eric Swalwell.

Did any of them think how a declaration of open borders policy and free health care for undocumented immigrants who break into the U.S. would play out in a general election?

Did any of them pause before engaging in self-destructive pandering?

What defines an election isn’t take-down dramas.

What defines elections, and political parties, are ideas with sweep, ideas that announce “This is who we are” to the voters.

Like the Democrats’ new open borders policy. And their agreement to provide “free” health care to immigrants here illegally.

As Joe Biden learned, rhetoric has consequences.

But ideas have consequences too.

(John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. His Twitter handle is @john_kass.)

Qué lamentable que los debates demócratas ignoraron a Venezuela

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 07:03 AM PDT

El corresponsal extranjero y columnista de The Miami Herald y El Nuevo Herald

En los tan esperados debates presidenciales del Partido Demócrata, ninguno de los cinco moderadores ni de los 20 candidatos participantes mencionaron la mayor crisis humanitaria del continente: Venezuela. ¡Qué triste!

No la mencionaron ni siquiera tangencialmente, a pesar del hecho de que los debates se celebraban en Miami. Decenas de miles de exiliados venezolanos se han radicado en Miami en los últimos años, huyendo de la dictadura de Venezuela. Es difícil tomar un Uber en esta ciudad sin que el conductor sea un venezolano recién llegado.

Y, sin embargo, ninguno de los cinco moderadores de NBC en el debate –todos excelentes periodistas– hizo una pregunta sobre Venezuela o insertó el tema en una pregunta más amplia. Y ninguno de los aspirantes presidenciales se refirió a la crisis venezolana cuando tuvieron bastante tiempo para hablar sobre inmigración y política exterior.

Todos ellos, periodistas y aspirantes presidenciales por igual, cayeron en la trampa de centrarse en la agenda política de Trump.

Hablaron extensamente sobre la mentira de Trump de que hay una “invasión” de indocumentados. Como buen demagogo populista, Trump está apelando a los instintos racistas de la gente. Sabe que la inmigración es un tema que moviliza a su base y que lo ayudó a ganar en 2016. Ahora lo está usando para ganar en 2020.

Y la prensa está cayendo en su juego. Por más repetitivo que sea, los periodistas deberíamos recordar constantemente que la supuesta “crisis de inmigración” de Trump es una falacia, porque el número de indocumentados ha caído. A pesar de las fotos de caravanas de migrantes centroamericanos de las que Trump habla constantemente, el número total de indocumentados disminuyó de 12.2 millones en 2007 a 10.5 millones en 2017, según el Centro de Investigación Pew.

Los aspirantes demócratas deberían haber señalado esto último y deberían haber girado la conversación, aunque fuera por unos pocos segundos, a Venezuela.

Unos cuatro millones de venezolanos han huido de la debacle económica y la represión política de su país en los últimos cinco años, según las Naciones Unidas. El éxodo venezolano ya está afectando a las economías de América Latina y los diplomáticos advierten en privado que podría desestabilizar a varios países vecinos.

Ya hay unos 1.3 millones de migrantes y refugiados venezolanos en Colombia, 70,000 en Perú, 288,000 en Chile, 263,000 en Ecuador, 130,000 en Argentina, 168,000 en Brasil y 94,000 en Panamá, según las Naciones Unidas.

Y también hay unos 82,000 solicitantes de asilo venezolanos en Estados Unidos, a los que Trump se ha negado hasta ahora a dar un estatus de protección temporal (TPS).

Y todas estas cifras pueden ser solo el comienzo de un éxodo que, si sigue a su ritmo actual, muy pronto será aún mayor que la crisis de refugiados sirios, según la Organización de los Estados Americanos (OEA). El secretario general de la OEA, Luis Almagro, me dijo recientemente que el éxodo venezolano podría llegar a 10 millones de personas en los próximos cuatro años.

La mayoría de los exiliados venezolanos huyen por el hambre y la escasez de medicinas. La mayoría de los venezolanos no puede tener una comida completa al día. Un informe reciente de Human Rights Watch y la Universidad Johns Hopkins muestra que la tasa de mortalidad materna e infantil aumentaron 65 por ciento y 30 por ciento, respectivamente, en solo un año.

Los demócratas deberían prestarle más atención a la crisis venezolana, denunciar a uno de sus propios aspirantes presidenciales –Bernie Sanders– por su escandalosa negativa a calificar de dictador a Maduro, y subrayar que el próximo presidente estadounidense debería reparar el daño que Trump ha hecho al destruir las alianzas tradicionales de Estados Unidos con países de Europa y Latinoamérica.

Solo un presidente de Estados Unidos que sea respetado mundialmente y logre recomponer las alianzas con los países de Europa y América Latina –en lugar de criticar a países amigos como Alemania, México y Colombia, como lo hizo Trump– podrá crear un frente unido capaz de derrocar a Maduro. Los candidatos demócratas deberían enfatizar eso, y comenzar a hablar de Venezuela.

Tina Turner dismisses marriage to Ike Turner

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 07:00 AM PDT

Tina Turner considers her marriage to Erwin Bach to be her only union because she was forced to tie the knot with her abusive first husband Ike Turner.

The 79-year-old music legend was married to Ike from 1962 to 1978 and they had numerous hits together as the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, tracks such as ‘River Deep – Mountain High’ and ‘Proud Mary’.

Behind closed doors though Ike was controlling and violent towards Tina and even their marriage was something she went through with to avoid another fight with the musician, so Tina considers her 2013 wedding to German music executive Erwin to be the only vows she has ever truly made.

In an interview with CBS News anchor Gayle King, she said: “It was the first time that I got married, as far as I was concerned. When Ike asked me to marry him, I knew it was for a reason. But I had to say yes … or it was gonna be a fight. And so then, when we drove to marry, that wasn’t my idea of my wedding.

“I get emotional with certain conversations. I get emotional because in the beginning, Ike was very good to me.”

Tina believes Ike – who passed away in 2007 at the age of 76 – “was cruel because he depended” on her and he hated that he relied on her for his own success.

She added: “He didn’t like that he had had to depend on me. And I didn’t want to start a fight because it was always a black eye, a broken nose, a busted lip, a rib.”

In July 1976, Tina eventually found the courage to leave Ike following a fight on their way to the Dallas Statler Hilton in Dallas and she walked out on her husband and bandmate with just 36 cents in her pocket and a credit card.

Recalling the moment, she said: “I felt that I’ve had enough, just enough, enough. Now it’s time to go out the door. I had nothing. I had absolutely nothing. 36 cents, that was all.

“I didn’t think about the singing at all. First of all, I was thinking about where I was gonna lay my head, so to speak. And then I was just enjoying the freedom of not being in that environment.”

The abuse that Tina suffered at the hands of Ike were documented in the 1993 movie of her life ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It’.

Tina knew that Erwin was the man for her the first time she ever met him in 1986, when she was 46 and he was 30.

The ‘Simply The Best’ singer was so instantly attracted to her future spouse that she uttered the words “when you get to California, I want you to make love to me” to Erwin.

Explaining why she made such a bold statement, she said: “Well, you say it if you feel it! Now, you’re not gonna get it otherwise. But that’s what I wanted!”

Toonz Media Group Names Carlos Biern President of Animation Production

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 06:38 AM PDT

Celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year, India’s Toonz Media Group announced on Monday a change in leadership at its Spanish subsidiary Imira Entertainment, one of Spain’s leading producers and distributors of kids and family content.

The doble move sees seasoned animation producer Carlos Biern joins Toonz as its new president of animation productions & co-productions for the group as a whole, as well as its subsidiary companies. At Imira, he will manage new projects as well as build up those started under Robinson.

Appointed as interim CEO in December 2017, Paul Robinson has stepped down from the position but will continue to provide strategic advice to the group and also head up Imira’s core strategic alliances, such as on Canal Clan International, a joint venture with Spanish broadcaster RTVE, and on Malish TV Russia.

Before joining Imira, Robinson has held executive positions in kids and family at the BBC, The Walt Disney Company and NBC Universal. Biern is currently president of the Spanish Federation of Animation and Visual Effects Producers (DIBOOS).

Both executives will report to Toonz Media Group CEO, P. Jayakumar, while working collaboratively for the group.

“We thank Paul for his service over these past 18 months and are delighted to continue to benefit from his expertise and extensive experience as we expand across all our entertainment divisions and welcome Carlos who brings with him a valuable knowledge and years of experience in the international as well as the Spanish arena.” Jayakumar said in a press release.

“It has been a pleasure to lead a wonderful team of people and to contribute to help make a Spanish distribution company a little more global and worldwide in its reach and aspirations,” added Robinson. “The global market is changing rapidly, and there is an imperative for us to continue to develop new routes to market and strategically serve our customers better whilst developing new business opportunities.”

Biern expressed his excitement about the new role: “I am delighted to be joining such a vibrant entertainment group and working with both Imira and Toonz experienced teams. I am extremely happy to take this role to build even more our presence by incorporating the best creative talent in kids and family entertainment from all over the world.”

In a milestone move last July, Imira linked with Catalan public broadcaster Televisió de Catalunya (TVC), Toonz Media Group and Irish animation studio Telegael on the co-production and global distribution of “Mondo Yan,” an 3D CGI animated series for kids 5-8 set for delivery Q4 of this year.

The Trump-Kim DMZ ‘Handshake Summit’: What It Changes and What It Doesn’t Change

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 06:36 AM PDT

U.S. President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have met for a third time. It all happened rather quickly, but the indicators of a possible last-minute summit encounter at the inter-Korean Demilitarized Zone were there, as I told my colleague Prashanth Parameswaran on the most recent Asia Geopolitics podcast episode.

Enough transpired at the meeting that it merits a “summit” descriptor. So, we can say now that there have been three U.S.-North Korea summits: Singapore, Hanoi, and Panmunjom (the site of the Joint Security Area at the DMZ where the summit took place). Trump jetted over after his time at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Osaka, Japan, for an official visit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and, through Twitter, made the appearance of extending an impromptu invitation to Kim to meet him at the DMZ for what he said would be a quick two-minute “handshake.” Shortly thereafter, with an intervening working-level meeting between U.S. chief negotiator Steve Biegun and North Korean First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui at the DMZ, a hasty summit was arranged.

Trump went to pains to suggest that inception for the idea came while he was in Japan. He told the press that he had thought of meeting Kim the morning he sent out the Twitter invite. Of course, the reality was different: The Hill, an American publication that interviewed Trump days before his trip to Japan and South Korea, said that the president had asked them to withhold confirmation that the White House had plans to invite the North Korean leader to a summit. Events like these don’t materialize as quickly as they appeared to have. Separately, the exchange of letters earlier in June between Kim and Trump served to lay the groundwork for such a meeting.

Early impressions of the DMZ summit are as polarizing as ever. Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to cross into North Korea, which, for better or worse, leaves the event as a “historic” one. The crossing came 69 years to the day that the United States began aerial bombardment of North Korean territory during the Cold War, adding to the symbolism of the day. The crossing was prominently featured in North Korea’s state paper Rodong Sinmun, which also emphasized that Kim had traveled to Panmunjom at the U.S. president’s invitation. Between the crossing and its presentation in North Korea, observers have—correctly—underscored a propaganda victory for Kim Jong Un.

But that propaganda victory merits further complication. Yes, this summit further burnishes Kim’s appearance as a statesman on the international stage, and yes, it also continues the process of North Korea’s legitimation as a nuclear weapons possessor—a process that frankly was completed with the mere fact of the original Singapore summit last year. But, on the internal side, North Korea’s presentation of this summit suggests that the country’s carefully managed internal propaganda apparatus is content to convey a continuing narrative of shifting U.S.-North Korea relations under Trump. This may have the longer term effect of making negotiations with the United States more normalized as John Delury has argued, with possible beneficial effects beyond Trump.

Where the DMZ summit contributes little is on the denuclearization front. The fundamental negotiating positions between the United States and North Korea remain as divergent as they were after the collapse of the Hanoi summit. North Korea remains unwilling to unilaterally disarm and the United States remains committed to its maximum pressure campaign, unwilling to agree to support the easing of United Nations Security Council resolutions sanctioning Pyongyang. A curious New York Times report published after the DMZ encounter suggests that Washington might be changing its position, but that very story quotes Biegun rebuffing its central thesis as “speculation.” If there’s a pending shift, it doesn’t have the support of senior decision-makers or certainly Trump, who appears to remain interested only the positive optics of that summitry with North Korea yields.

Ultimately, critics who have described the DMZ summit as a simple photo-op are correct. Trump, while seated with Kim for brief talk, used the opportunity of the on-record press photo spray to remark that Kim had made them both “look good” by attending the summit. During his tour of the DMZ, before the meeting with Kim, Trump commented that the day’s events were historic, adding the following: “I say that for the press, they have no appreciation for what is being done, none.” Some observers underscored that the summit followed the first round of the Democratic Party’s primary debates as election season for 2020 in the United States get underway. Separately, summitry with Kim firmly supplanted June’s Persian Gulf doldrums from the top of the foreign policy news cycle in the United States. For a president keenly attuned to his media presence, the DMZ summit had its desired effect a few short moments after Trump’s initial Twitter invitation to Kim went out.

The summit did have an outcome—the reintroduction of working-level envoys and their presumptive continuation of talks—but it did little to shift the fundamentals on both sides. It’s unclear if the U.S. side has fully contended with Kim’s very public messaging after Hanoi that the clock is running out for North Korea as far as sanctions relief is concerned. In public remarks to the Supreme People’s Assembly, North Korea’s analog to a parliament, Kim said that the United States would need to reassess its negotiating position and make a “bold decision” to reach another serious summit. Kim added that he would wait “with patience till the end of this year.”

The year is now half over and the two sides have little to show for their three rounds of summitry. The agenda laid out in Singapore saw brief fulfillment last year, but everything from North Korea’s unilateral so-called “denuclearization steps” to the return of Korean War POW/MIA remains remain stalled. As Biegun acknowledged on June 19, the two sides don’t share a common definition of denuclearization just yet. Finally, with the U.S. seizure of the Wise Honest, the second-largest vessel in North Korea’s commercial fleet, for sanctions-evasion, the maximum pressure campaign continues apace. Trump and Kim’s personal chemistry has defibrillated a process that appeared to be dying a slow death after the Hanoi summit. Without a change in the fundamental negotiating position of the United States, the process will push ahead on borrowed time.

‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ Drops First Trailer

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 06:14 AM PDT

Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black are heading back to the jungle. Sony debuted the first look at “Jumanji: The Next Level,” a sequel to the 2017 surprise hit “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.”

In the upcoming adventure the gang returns to Jumanji only to find the video game world looks a little different. The twist this time around is that the grandfathers (played by Danny DeVito and Danny Glover) of two original players get transported into the game as Johnson and Hart’s avatars. The new players will have to brave the elements to escape the dangers that lurk and save Jumanji.

“This next adventure is even more challenging, and remember the future of Jumanji is in your hands,” Rhys Darby, who portrays the players’ in-game guide, warns the crew.

“I have one important question,” Johnson’s character asserts. “Who is Jumanji?”

Hart offers up, “Is that Barbara’s boy?”

Jake Kasdan returned to direct the movie, which was written by Jeff Pinker and Scott Rosenberg. This go-around, Awkwafina, Danny DeVito and Danny Glover joined the cast.

“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” based on the 1995 film with Robin Williams, became a huge box office smash, grossing over $962 million worldwide. The follow-up hits theaters on Dec. 13.

MobiTV Raises $50 Million in Funding to Expand Managed TV-Streaming Service

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 06:00 AM PDT

MobiTV, a provider of internet-video delivery services, announced that it closed over $50 million in new funding from existing investors Oak Investment Partners and Ally Financial and new investor Cedar Grove Partners.

The company said it will use the investment to accelerate its international footprint and continue to build out its MobiTV Connect platform, which provides a white-label hosting streaming solution for small and midsize pay-TV operators.

MobiTV has raised over $200 million over the course of the its 20-year life span, per Crunchbase. That includes a $21 million round in February 2017 from Ally Bank and Oak Investment Partners.

MobiTV first launched the MobiTV Connect platform in 2016 and says it now counts 90 cable and telco operators as customers, including Citizens Fiber, Windstream, and EPB. The company also has a partnership with the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) as an app-based pay-TV video solution to NCTC members.

The MobiTV Connect platform has been granted hosted-streaming delivery rights for more than 350 networks from programmers including Disney and ESPN Media Networks, Showtime, Viacom, A+E Networks, AMC Networks, Crown Media Family Networks, and C-SPAN. (MobiTV’s operator customers must separately negotiate carriage deals with the programmers.) The solution doesn’t include local TV stations, but the company says it can work with operator customers to integrate local stations into a MobiTV Connect-powered offering.

“We believe in MobiTV’s superior consumer experience and know that being the only true [TV as a service] commercially deployed solution in North America has differentiated their positioning in the marketplace,” Bandel Carano, managing partner, Oak Investment Partners, said in a statement.

Based in Emeryville, Calif., MobiTV was founded in 1999 originally as a direct-to-consumer brand delivering video to mobile devices, initially through partnerships including with Sprint.

Magnolia Nabs ‘Mister America,’ Political Comedy From ‘On Cinema’ Creators (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:53 AM PDT

Magnolia Pictures has nabbed North American rights to “Mister America,” a feature-length comedy that’s being billed as an extension of the world of “On Cinema,” the cult Adult Swim show.

The film stars “On Cinema” hosts Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington and follows Heidecker’s attempt to enter the world of politics. Eric Notarnicola, who previously oversaw several episodes of the show along with its 2018 Oscar special, directs. Magnolia is eyeing a fall theatrical release.

In the movie, Heidecker beats a murder charge for selling faulty e-cigarettes at an EDM festival, and mounts a campaign to unseat the San Bernardino District Attorney. His effort to win voters tries to overcome a lack of experience and funding by leaning into the candidate’s personal likability. It does not go well.

“We unleashed Tim into the real world to run the worst campaign in modern history, and document the process,” said Notarnicola in a statement. “I’m thrilled that Magnolia is bringing Tim Heidecker’s message to the masses.

Since launching in 2011 as an independently released podcast,”On Cinema” has undergone several iterations. It later became a web video show, a television series, and a touring production, one that has also inspired spinoffs such as the action series spoof “Decker.” “On Cinema” ostensibly began as a review show, but later focused more on its central podcasters.

“‘Mister America is a wonderful tribute to our political process at work,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles in a statement. “It makes me proud to be an American.”

Heidecker’s credits also include roles in “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Us,” as well as work as one half of the comedy duo Tim & Eric. Turkington appeared in “Ant-Man” and the indie drama “Entertainment.”

“Mister America’ was written by Heidecker, Notarnicola and Turkington. The film is produced by Andrew Porter. Executive producers are Dave Kneebone, Tim Heidecker, and Eric Wareheim.

The deal was negotiated by Magnolia executive VP Dori Begley and Magnolia senior VP of acquisitions John Von Thaden with Mark Wetzstein of Sloane, Offer, Weber and Dern LLP representing the filmmakers.

The Best Bank for You, 2019

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:47 AM PDT

Think your bank could be a better fit? Just as styles change over time, so do bank accounts and services–and the features you use most. To settle on the kind of bank that suits you now, ask yourself a few questions: Do you prefer to interact with tellers and advisers at a branch, or are you fine handling transactions with a computer or smartphone? Do you chase the best yields on deposit accounts, or do you prioritize features such as an extensive ATM network and access to wealth-management services? Do you keep enough money deposited that you don’t worry about meeting balance minimums, or are free, no-minimum accounts a must?

SEE ALSO: 7 Best Ways to Earn More on Your Savings

Once you’ve taken stock of your preferences, look over our list of banks that shine. With the help of Informa Financial Intelligence, we’ve crunched the data on interest rates, fees, minimum-balance requirements, free perks and other features for a variety of deposit accounts to see which banks rise to the top.

Although big brick-and-mortar banks aren’t known for offering high yields and low fees to lure customers, they are starting to reveal an appetite for competing with online institutions. Two of our top banks, Citibank and PNC, are now peddling high-rate savings accounts–recently yielding 2.36% and 2.35%, respectively–to customers outside their standard markets. In recent years, Chase and U.S. Bank have dropped fees to have money transferred to checking from a linked deposit account in case of an overdraft. TD Bank–our winner among national banks and for retirees–no longer charges a fee for transferring funds to another bank (even next-day delivery is free).

Although branches are becoming less numerous and physically smaller, banks are striving to push the ones they have left into the 21st century. Fifth Third Bank, for example–one of our regional bank winners–is redesigning branches with a more modern and friendly feel, featuring entryways with open spaces where clients meet with bankers. Capital One is making its banks inviting places to hang out with its cafés, where customers can buy a latte and connect to the bank’s Wi-Fi.

Here, we’ve named the top institutions in four general categories–national banks, internet banks, credit unions and regional banks–as well as the ones that are best for five customer profiles: high-net-worth families, retirees, frequent travelers, families with students, and those who want no fees or fuss. Pick one bank that checks all the boxes, or cobble together accounts from a few institutions for a tailor-made package.

Best National Banks

Large nationwide banks offer customers extensive networks of branches, a range of advisory and wealth-management services, and digital tools for account management. These two banks offer patrons plenty of perks at a variety of locations.

Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Families

Banks court customers who can keep big balances by dangling lots of free and discounted benefits, preferred rates on loans and deposit accounts, and financial guidance, such as investment and wealth-management services. Here’s a look at our top picks.

Best Internet Banks

Our picks have low fees, solid savings accounts and slick digital tools that make online-only banking easy. See which online banks made the cut.

Best Banks for Families With Students

These two banks include accounts tailored to kids and teens that give them the freedom to manage their own money. Take a look.

Best Banks for No-Fee, No-Fuss

These banks suit tech-savvy customers in their twenties, thirties and beyond who want a bank that’s simple to navigate and is easy on fees. Take a look at our top bank picks that offer customers a hassle-free experience.

Best Credit Unions

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions owned by their members, so they can reward account holders with higher rates and lower fees. Our top credit unions are open to anyone in the U.S.

Best Banks for Frequent Travelers

The ideal bank for travelers eliminates sneaky ATM and foreign-transaction fees. Here are two of our favorites.

Best Regional Banks

Many regional banks (by our definition, those with branches in fewer than 15 states) offer accounts and services that are just as robust as those of nationwide institutions–and they may be more involved in their communities. These three banks are all contenders for top regional bank but operate in different regions.

How We Chose the Top Financial Institutions

With data from Informa Financial Intelligence, as well as information from financial institutions and other sources, we studied 44 national and regional banks, 14 credit unions, and 15 online banks (including online accounts from brokerage firms) to choose winners and runners-up. We included standard and interest-bearing checking accounts, savings and money market deposit accounts, and certificates of deposit. Among the criteria we considered were interest rates; minimum-balance requirements; monthly maintenance fees and ease of waiving the fees; ATM benefits (such as waived or refunded out-of-network surcharges); availability of free or discounted perks, such as personal and cashier’s checks, money orders, identity-theft protection, overdraft protection and wire transfers; and certain miscellaneous fees, such as for external transfers.

Informa Financial Intelligence compiled the data as reported by the financial institutions that it tracks; the information is subject to change.

SEE ALSO: The Best Rewards Credit Cards, 2019

Copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors

All contents copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Best National Banks, 2019

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:46 AM PDT

Large nationwide banks offer customers extensive networks of branches, a range of advisory and wealth-management services, and digital tools for account management.

Here’s a look at our top picks for national banks.

SEE ALSO: The Best Banks for You, 2019

BEST: TD Bank

Why it won: It offers low-minimum accounts that should make almost any customer happy.

Standout account: The Beyond Checking account serves up perks with wide appeal, and travelers may be especially pleased.

Where it is: More than 1,200 branches in 15 eastern and southern states (and Washington, D.C.), extending from Maine to Florida.

For the third year running, TD Bank tops our national ranking. Calling itself “America’s Most Convenient Bank,” TD opens most of its branches on Saturdays and Sundays, and it often keeps them open until 6:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. on weekdays. To make branch visits a little more pleasant, the bank provides customers with freebies such as pens, lollipops and biscuits for their dogs, which are allowed to tag along.

Beyond Checking waives the $25 monthly fee if you hold a reasonable $2,500 daily balance (or meet certain other requirements), and perks include free standard checks, money orders, cashier’s checks and overdraft transfers. Plus, all ATM surcharges are reimbursed for both domestic and international transactions if you keep $2,500 in the account, one domestic or international outgoing wire transfer is free per statement cycle, and the bank charges no foreign-transaction fee when you use your debit card abroad. And if you let TD cover the transaction in the event you overdraw your Beyond account, the bank will reimburse you for two overdraft fees per year. (TD recently lowered its overdraft transfer fee from $10 to $3. But the bank is reportedly settling a lawsuit involving excessive overdraft fees, paying $43 million to customers and canceling $27 million in account fees.)

TD’s basic Convenience Checking requires a low $100 minimum daily balance to waive a $15 monthly fee–and the account is free for customers ages 17 through 23. (TD also has a strong checking account for those 60 and older; for more on it as well as TD’s other savings and wealth-management options.) Preferred Savings (a $20,000 balance is needed to avoid the $15 fee) offers 1.25% on $50,000 up to $100,000 if you have a linked loan or active checking account (the rate is for customers in Orlando, Fla.).

SEE ALSO: 7 Habits of People With Excellent Credit Scores

RUNNER-UP: PNC

Why it won: PNC has accounts that help you stick to the basics or integrate budgeting into banking.

Standout accounts: Standard Checking offers free ATM usage, up to certain limits, and it’s easy to avoid minimum-balance fees. Promotional CD rates (you must have a linked checking account) recently included 2.25% on a 13-month term with a $25,000 minimum deposit.

Where it is: About 2,400 branches in 21 states in the Midwest, South and Mid Atlantic, plus Washington, D.C.

Standard Checking (which requires a minimum $500 average monthly balance or a $500 monthly direct deposit to avoid a $7 monthly fee; it’s free if you’re 62 or older) provides up to $5 monthly in refunds for out-of-network surcharges from ATM owners, plus reimbursement of two non-PNC ATM fees monthly. Performance and Performance Select checking require larger minimums to waive the monthly fee but come with higher ATM reimbursements and other perks, such as a free money market or savings account, free cashier’s checks, and a safe-deposit box discount. The Virtual Wallet system combines a primary “Spend” checking account with an interest-bearing, secondary “Reserve” checking account–designed to set aside funds for near-term expenses–and a “Growth” savings account for longer-term goals. The program also includes digital tools, such as one that categorizes your spending.

You can earn a decent yield on your money with the Premiere Money Market account if you have Performance Select checking and meet certain activity requirements–for example, the rate was recently 1.65% on a balance of $50,000 to $100,000. (Interest rates listed are for customers in Pittsburgh.)

PNC offers wealth-management services including retirement, tax and estate planning and investment management. Its Private Client program comes with a relationship management team offering financial guidance, and you get priority customer service.

SEE ALSO: 9 Things You’ll Regret Keeping in a Safe Deposit Box

The Best Banks and Credit Unions for You, 2019

These stellar banks and credit unions are making all the right moves to win satisfied customers:

Best National Banks
Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Families
Best Internet Banks
Best Banks for Families With Students
Best Banks for No-Fee, No-Fuss
Best Credit Unions
Best Banks for Frequent Travelers
Best Regional Banks
Best Banks for Retirees

Copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors

All contents copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Best Banks for Retirees, 2019

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:44 AM PDT

Retirees can find a lot to like about these accounts and institutions–low or no minimums, free checks and paper statements, and ample access to financial advice and investment options, to name a few.

Here’s a look at our top picks for senior-friendly banks.

SEE ALSO: The Best Banks for You, 2019

BEST: TD Bank

Why it won: TD’s checking option for customers 60 and older is an attractive choice compared with other big banks’ accounts for this age group.

Standout account: 60 Plus Checking comes with complimentary services well-aimed at retirees. The six-month Choice Promotional CD recently offered a 2% rate on a deposit of at least $100,000 or 1.65% on $50,000 (you must have an active personal checking account).

Where it is: More than 1,200 branches in 15 eastern and southern states (and Washington, D.C.).

With 60 Plus Checking–keep a $250 minimum daily balance to waive the $10 monthly fee–you get free standard checks, money orders, cashier’s checks and paper statements. Plus, anyone with a personal checking account is eligible for a 0.25 percentage point discount on a TD home-equity line of credit or personal loan. The 60 Plus Checking account pays a 0.05% interest rate, and TD charges $3 each time you use an out-of-network ATM. The Simple Savings account yields just 0.05%, but it’s free for those who are 62 or older or who are younger than 18 (otherwise, keep a $300 balance to skip a $5 monthly fee). Rates are for customers in Orlando, Fla.

TD offers private banking for those with at least $750,000 to invest. As a private client, you’ll get a dedicated relationship manager and investment adviser, as well as access to advice on retirement, philanthropic and estate planning. IRAs, brokerage accounts and other investment options are available through TD Ameritrade.

SEE ALSO: 7 Habits of People With Excellent Credit Scores

RUNNER-UP: Fidelity Investments

Why it won: Retirees who don’t mind banking online can combine a compelling checking option with a breadth of investment and advisory services from Fidelity.

Standout account: The no-fee Cash Management account holds a lot of appeal for retirees looking to earn respectable interest on big balances. Fidelity also offers brokered CDs with a $1,000 minimum deposit.

The Cash Management account comes with a debit card and free checks, and it yields 0.79% on the entire balance of $100,000 or more, or 0.37% on smaller balances. It provides up to $1.25 million in Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. coverage against bank failure–five times the standard $250,000 limit–thanks to a program that “sweeps” your cash into one or more partner banks’ accounts. Out-of-network surcharges are refunded for most ATMs worldwide, and paper statements are free. You don’t need to have other Fidelity accounts to use Cash Management, but you can connect it to a Fidelity brokerage account for free overdraft transfers.

You can also park some savings in one of Fidelity’s money market mutual funds, which invest in low-risk securities but don’t provide FDIC coverage. Recently, Fidelity Money Market Fund (symbol SPRXX) yielded 2.2%. On brokered CDs, which are FDIC-insured and issued by banks for Fidelity, yields recently ranged from as much as 2.2% on a newly issued one-year CD to as much as 2.55% on a new five-year CD (you can also buy and sell brokered CDs in the secondary market). Fidelity offers wealth-management services (minimum $250,000 in managed assets), as well as a robo adviser, Fidelity Go.

SEE ALSO: 9 Things You’ll Regret Keeping in a Safe Deposit Box

The Best Banks and Credit Unions for You, 2019

These stellar banks and credit unions are making all the right moves to win satisfied customers:

Best National Banks
Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Families
Best Internet Banks
Best Banks for Families With Students
Best Banks for No-Fee, No-Fuss
Best Credit Unions
Best Banks for Frequent Travelers
Best Regional Banks
Best Banks for Retirees

Copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors

All contents copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

How to Win Friends and Wage Jihad

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:43 AM PDT

In its 2018 National Defense Strategy, the Trump administration announced that “inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism,” is the United States’ main national security challenge. The world’s oldest global jihadist group, al Qaeda, seems to have similar priorities. Although the group has not produced a strategic document on the matter, the activities of its affiliates suggest that it sees state-to-state conflict as critical to its near-term success.

Al Qaeda’s focus is partly the product of circumstance. Interstate competition is increasing across the Middle East. The U.S.-Iranian conflict has heated up under U.S. President Donald Trump, as has the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, with both countries courting client states, engaging in proxy wars, and routinely threatening escalation. The competition between Iran and Israel perpetually risks blowing up, both figuratively and literally.

And Iran is not the only focus of regional interstate conflict. In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, along with Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), severed relations with Qatar and placed it under a land, sea, and air blockade. The spat appears to be a product of long-simmering tensions between Qatar and the Saudi-led bloc over Doha’s sponsorship of Islamist political parties and rebel groups during and after the Arab Spring.

These rivalries have roiled politics throughout the Middle East, fueling proxy wars from Libya to Syria to Yemen that al Qaeda has been able to exploit. But the group’s renewed focus on interstate conflict reflects more than opportunism. For years, al Qaeda has cultivated strategic alliances with a range of state actors, some of them ideologically hostile to it. For a time, it looked as though this strategy might backfire, with the rise of the more ideologically strident Islamic State (ISIS). Yet al Qaeda has defied predictions that ISIS would break up its transnational network or steal away its major affiliates. Now, with its wealth of experience and web of historical relationships with regional powers, al Qaeda looks poised to capitalize on the chaos engulfing the Middle East.

FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES

From its inception, al Qaeda has been keenly aware of its ability to exploit interstate conflict. Founded in the dying days of the Afghan-Soviet war, the group never received direct state backing. Indirectly, however, al Qaeda benefited from U.S., Saudi, and Pakistani support for the anti-Soviet mujahideen: it was able to grow, recruit, and find sponsors by identifying with the heroic anti-Soviet cause. Since the 1990s, al Qaeda has also cultivated a relationship with Iran. This relationship has often been tense, involving not only state support and sanctuary but occasional arrests and kidnappings, some of which have been resolved through prisoner exchanges. Despite the significant differences between the region’s only Shiite theocracy and an international Sunni jihadist group, Iran has maintained on-again, off-again support for al Qaeda.

In an early example of such support, Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group, helped train the al Qaeda operatives who carried out the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which together killed 223 people. Since 9/11, dozens of major al Qaeda operatives, including Osama bin Laden’s sons Hamza and Saad, have found themselves in the Islamic Republic, where they have alternatively been offered safe haven and placed under house arrest. Saif al-Adl, an Egyptian explosives expert who has long been considered a potential future leader of al Qaeda, has also spent considerable time in Iran as both a refugee and a prisoner, producing major strategic writings while in the country.

Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Iranian regime supported a variety of Iraqi militant groups in order to sabotage Washington’s war effort. Tehran’s most natural allies were Shiite militants, but it also aided al Qaeda’s local affiliate, al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). This relationship backfired in important ways: in 2004, AQI’s leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, declared “total war” on Iraqi Shiites, and the group and its successor, ISIS, perpetrated gruesome anti-Shiite atrocities.

But despite these provocations, Tehran continued to support al Qaeda over the years. The U.S. State Department noted late last year that Iran has let al Qaeda “operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran since at least 2009.” And according to the U.S. Treasury Department, Iran and al Qaeda have a “secret deal” allowing the group to use Iranian territory to “funnel funds and operatives” back and forth between the Middle East and South Asia. One jihadist reportedly involved in that pipeline, known as Yasin al-Suri, has operated from Iran since 2005. In preserving its relationship with Iran, al Qaeda has demonstrated both a willingness and an ability to work with states with which it has serious ideological, theological, and strategic differences.

Al Qaeda’s history with Syria is also instructive. At the height of the Iraq war, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government sought to support militant groups that would tie U.S. troops down in Iraq and prevent Washington from training its sights on Damascus. Although Syria preferred aligning itself with ex-Baathist insurgents, it was willing to provide assistance to jihadist groups such as AQI as well. As early as March 2003, for instance, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld noted that Syria was allowing military supplies to cross its border into Iraq. Syria was also an important transit point for foreign fighters and a safe haven for key AQI operatives. As The Washington Post reported in 2005, from the outset of the war insurgents had been entering Iraq through Syria via buses that “Syrian border guards waved through open gates.” And in 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department designated an AQI leader known as Abu al-Ghadiyah for sanctions under an executive order targeting terrorists and their financial or material backers. According to the Treasury, Ghadiyah, along with a small circle of AQI operatives, ran a facilitation network controlling “the flow of money, weapons, terrorists, and other resources through Syria into Iraq.”

Like Tehran, Damascus propped up insurgents in order to undermine the U.S. war effort-in 2003, Syria’s then Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa declared that his country had a “national interest in the expulsion of the invaders from Iraq.” Yet Syria’s support for these insurgents would ultimately come back to harm it after 2011, when these groups began fighting the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war. As the U.S. State Department’s 2017 Country Reports on Terrorism would later note, “The Syrian government had an important role in the growth of terrorist networks in Syria through the permissive attitude the Assad regime took towards [al Qaeda’s] foreign fighter facilitation efforts during the Iraq conflict.”

THE PRAGMATIC JIHAD

Al Qaeda’s willingness to collaborate with states stands in marked contrast to the confrontational approach pursued by ISIS since the two groups split in 2014. Unlike al Qaeda, ISIS has tended to attack any state it comes into contact with. In Afghanistan, for example, ISIS’ Wilayat Khorasan affiliate tried to distinguish itself from the Taliban by beheading a Pakistani soldier in January 2015, a grisly way of demonstrating that it was not beholden to Pakistan. ISIS subsequently boasted about the execution in its English-language magazine, Dabiq. But although ISIS was able to achieve rapid growth in 2014 and 2015-and is far from dead today-the advantages of al Qaeda’s more pragmatic strategy are becoming increasingly apparent.

Take the case of Yemen. Al Qaeda established its Yemeni affiliate, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in 2009, and the group has made considerable gains over the past half decade, as Yemen has descended into civil war. In March 2015, Saudi Arabia and its allies (principally the UAE) launched a military campaign in Yemen to oust the Houthis, an Iranian-backed rebel group, from the country. The war has since turned into a quagmire, with al Qaeda as a chief beneficiary. Last August, an AP investigation revealed that the Saudi-and-UAE-led coalition had cut deals with jihadists from AQAP, offering them weapons and cash in exchange for vacating territory. The AP also found that coalition-backed militias had recruited hundreds of AQAP fighters. If the coalition wins in the end (an increasingly unlikely prospect), recent history suggests that these fighters are unlikely to simply put their arms down-or abandon their old cause.

The benefits of al Qaeda’s strategy can also be seen in Syria. Whereas ISIS fought nearly every actor in the Syrian civil war-the Arab states, the Assad regime, Iran, Russia, and the United States-al Qaeda’s local affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), sought to exploit the interstate rivalries behind the conflict. Al Qaeda-linked Syrian groups have received support from Qatar, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, all of which have backed Sunni rebel groups against the Assad regime and its international patrons. In recent years, a rift has developed between HTS and al Qaeda’s senior leadership, calling into question the latter’s ability to exploit the Syria war in the future. Even so, the war exemplifies some of the critical benefits of al Qaeda’s pragmatic strategy.

AL QAEDA’S BRIGHT FUTURE

The drums of war seem to be sounding once more across the Middle East. Although the Syrian civil war is winding down, the war in Yemen is now entering its fifth year, and tensions between the United States and Iran are now at their highest point in years, with Iran taking aggressive steps to reshape the regional order. We should expect jihadist militants to attempt to co-opt this worsening rivalry, as well as other growing regional tensions, for their benefit.

Recent history suggests that this renewal of interstate conflict will play to al Qaeda’s strengths. ISIS’ uncompromising ideological stance, by contrast, may limit its ability to cultivate and benefit from state support. But even the most hardened militant groups evolve over time. ISIS may double down on its current strategy, casting itself as the only jihadist group willing to reject help from what it sees as compromised and illegitimate states. Or it may seek to emulate the success of its erstwhile parent, softening its stance in order to rebuild its strength.

This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com.

Hong Kong’s Muzzled Generation Cries Out

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:43 AM PDT

As cars idled bumper to bumper on one of Hong Kong’s busiest highways, a gaggle of young people clad in black darted into traffic. Cars swerved. Buses braked. Hundreds, then thousands, of teens and 20-somethings flooded the streets, their yellow construction helmets bobbing past red Toyota taxis. Like nimble spiders, a few dozen men used plastic ties to knit metal stanchions into road barriers. On nearby roads, other crews did the same. In roughly 20 minutes, demonstrators had choked off Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, the city’s quasi-parliament, and ignited one of the largest protests since Britain returned this former colony to China in 1997.

On June 12, lawmakers were poised to debate a bill that would have allowed Hong Kong to extradite suspected criminals to mainland China. The city’s Beijing-backed chief executive, Carrie Lam, said the law would prevent fugitives from taking refuge in the territory. Her critics feared it would erode Hong Kong’s autonomy, enabling greater interference from Beijing. Under the draft version of the bill, virtually anyone in Hong Kong-business owners, religious figures, members of the political opposition-could be transferred to the People’s Republic, where they would face an opaque and politicized legal system notoriously heedless of due process. Chinese prosecutors, many Hong Kongers feared, could easily dredge up past infractions or craft new charges to ensnare businesspeople or dissidents.

For months, opposition to the bill had mounted. Its potential sweep galvanized lawyers, students, civil rights groups, and even businesses and some foreign governments. In April, an estimated 130,000 people marched against the draft law. By early June, when a vote seemed imminent, protest organizers claimed that more than a million people had mobilized. But June 12 was a turning point. In an afternoon that shocked the city, thousands of police officers in black riot helmets fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and bean bag rounds into the crowd. More than 80 people reported injuries; many of those who sought medical care were arrested at hospitals.

The brutal display hardened public opinion against Lam, eventually pushing her to offer a vaguely worded apology and indefinitely suspend the law. The following day, on June 16, an estimated two million protesters poured into the streets to demand that Lam permanently withdraw the bill. It was a stunning rebuke of Beijing and its acolytes in Hong Kong, but Lam and her backers stood firm. Although she promised not to reintroduce the bill until certain conflicts and concerns are addressed, she refused to kill it permanently.

Protests have continued since then, most recently on July 1, when thousands of demonstrators breached the legislature, smashing windows and destroying part of the building’s façade. At the forefront are angry and frightened young people, who in recent years have weathered an assault on their civil and political rights. For them, the extradition bill has become a symbol, not just of Beijing’s creeping authoritarianism but of a sustained, years-long campaign to silence their generation. “We know if the bill passed, that means our generation and the next generation will be affected,” said Simon, a 22-year-old undergraduate who joined hundreds of sweaty protesters outside the Legislative Council on June 12. His friend Alex, a recent graduate of Polytechnic University, added later by text: “I think the extradition bill is a war against the whole young generation.”

A WAR ON THE YOUTH

Hong Kong dangles off the southern coast of the world’s largest and mightiest one-party state. Through an arrangement known as “one country, two systems,” brokered between the United Kingdom and China as part of the territory’s transfer in 1997, Hong Kong is supposed to manage most of its internal affairs until 2047. The city has never been a democracy, but its mini-constitution enshrines expansive civil liberties-to congregate and publish, to seek office and speak out-that residents celebrate with zeal. In 2003, massive protests thwarted a national security law that would have introduced heavy penalties for subversion, treason, and sedition. Then in 2012, students boycotted classes to protest a so-called “patriotic and moral curriculum,” which critics said whitewashed the history of the Chinese Communist Party. The plan was eventually shelved. Every year on July 1, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China, residents celebrate their right to complain and seek change by marching for all manner of causes and concerns-political, social, and environmental. The day is a cacophonous carnival of objections and pleas, a din heard rarely in Asia and nowhere else in China. 

Still, Beijing enjoys outsized influence in Hong Kong. The majority of Legislative Council members side with the authoritarian state, and while the city’s chief executive is formally selected through a complex electoral college, informally, he or she is handpicked by Beijing. Over the years, China has repeatedly rebuffed Hong Kongers’ requests for universal suffrage and for an end to mainland meddling, most recently in 2014. That September, what started as a brief sit-in to demand full suffrage blossomed into a vast street occupation led by university students. By some estimates, the Umbrella Movement, so named for the protesters’ preferred defense against police pepper spray, drew hundreds of thousands of people. But the Hong Kong and Beijing governments conceded nothing.

Since then, Beijing and its allies in Hong Kong have waged an effective campaign to intimidate young protest leaders. Young people have been denied their rights to operate political parties and seek elective office. They have been targeted in political prosecutions, hounded by pro-Beijing media, and subjected to online hacks and other harassment. As a result, the number of young people who participated in politics, or even civic causes, dwindled in 2017 and 2018.

Many of those who remained engaged in politics grew more radicalized as a result. Out of the failed 2014 protests a new pro-democracy movement was born. Some of its followers called for complete independence from China and greater pride in Hong Kong’s culture and history. Many also denigrated mainland Chinese visitors and recent Hong Kong transplants who spoke Mandarin, giving the movement a populist tinge. Mainland officials and newspapers denounced the movement’s leaders as secessionists and accused them of committing treason.

Hong Kong’s government has worked hard to keep the independence idea out of the Legislative Council, where the public chooses half of the members. In 2016, the election bureau barred several young candidates from seeking office because of their pro-independence views. One was Edward Leung, a 25-year-old rising star who had won more than 66,000 votes in a previous by-election, making him the favorite in the general election. Like all prospective candidates that year, Leung was required to sign an official form-never before required-that called Hong Kong an “inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China.” The election officer doubted Leung’s sincerity, citing his posts on Facebook promoting self-rule, and disqualified him. Two other candidates from another pro-independence party, Baggio Leung and Yau Wei-ching, were permitted to run. But after they insulted China during the swearing-in ceremony, a judge barred them from taking their seats.

As the independence movement grew, and more young people identified themselves as Hong Kongers rather than Chinese, according to polls taken by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Program, Beijing took note. On a visit to Hong Kong on July 1, 2017, marking the 20th anniversary of the handover, President Xi Jinping ordered the city to hew to the nation’s interests. “Any attempt to endanger China’s sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the central government … or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses the red line, and is absolutely impermissible,” he said. 

Not long after, a Hong Kong judge expelled four more pro-democracy lawmakers from office on the pretense that the oaths they had sworn were insincere. In almost every case, the disqualified candidates were under 40. All had been harsh critics of Beijing. The following year, the government for the first time banned a political group, the Hong Kong National Party, whose central tenet was to work toward Hong Kong’s independence.

The campaign against young political activists continued in the courts. Since 2016, judges have convicted dozens of young people for protesting, rioting, and causing disorder. Justices on the Court of Final Appeals, Hong Kong’s highest court, ruled that any protest that results in injuries would not be considered an act of civil disobedience but, rather, a violent gathering whose organizers could be subject to prosecution. Edward Leung, the thwarted legislative nominee, was convicted in 2018 of rioting and hitting a police officer. He was sentenced to six years in a maximum-security prison. What seemed like a routine prosecution to discourage street brawls had morphed into a war on the next generation of leaders.

BACK TO THE STREETS

The pall of those depressing summers of 2017 and 2018 lasted well into this year. Most young people stopped attending large civic events. The student unions at several universities, long catalysts for local and anti-Beijing-related activism, couldn’t form cabinets because so few people were willing to lead. Many activists involved in previous campaigns worried that they might be arrested; some chose to enroll in graduate school overseas. Two of Leung’s party colleagues were granted refugee status in Germany, likely the first time that Hong Kong residents had ever been granted protection from their own government.

In this fragile, feeble moment for the pro-democracy movement Lam pushed the rendition bill. A quick, clean vote of approval would signal to Xi that she had Hong Kong under control. When the business sector objected to the bill’s lack of human rights guarantees and long list of offenses, Lam tweaked the language and promised that only people accused of serious crimes would be extradited. Passage looked all but certain.

Then something unexpected happened. After a group of lawyers launched a campaign to delay the bill, the Internet suddenly blossomed with hundreds of online petitions. Everyone from alumni associations to mothers’ groups demanded that the bill be stopped. All at once, it seemed, young people were engaged again. Political parties led by 20-somethings posted graphics explaining why the extradition law could be dangerous. Activists shared details about marches, tips on protective gear, and even hand gestures for communicating during standoffs with police. Leung’s former party, Hong Kong Indigenous, published an online booklet with tips in case of arrest.

Once the protests began in April, Hong Kong police seemed to focus primarily on stopping the city’s youngest strikers. After a mass march on June 9, officers singled out young people to search them for masks, goggles, and knives. The night before the June 12 protest at the legislature, police charged the administrator of a Telegram chat group with 20,000 members with conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. “I never thought that just speaking on the internet, just sharing information, could be regarded as a speech crime,” the channel’s 22-year-old administrator, Ivan Ip, told The New York Times.

Democracy advocates in Hong Kong have long despised the Beijing government. But Lam and her administration have ensured that many residents now hate the city government as well. Since her halfhearted apology, young people have coalesced around four key demands: formally withdraw the extradition bill; retract the “riot” designation of the June 12 protest, which opened the door to more serious criminal prosecutions; release and drop all charges against those who were arrested, and establish an independent inquiry to probe the excessive force by police on June 12. A fifth demand-cited by some, but not all groups-is that Lam step down.

So far, all five demands remain unmet. While protesters have done their best to keep the pressure on the government, many quietly admit that they are grasping for ways to sustain the momentum. Without a clear leader, and with crowds destined to shrink, many worry that this protest movement could fizzle like many previous ones. The young people who continue to stage sudden, short-term occupations of government buildings are taking a significant risk. The fewer the protesters are in number, the more vulnerable they are to criminal prosecution. And yet the most energized among them don’t plan to back down. “Many of us are thinking that continuing the protest in Hong Kong will create a certain level of pressure on the Chinese government,” said Simon, the undergraduate. “If you’re not going to respond to us, we’ll try to stop the government from working.”

This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com.

Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Families, 2019

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:42 AM PDT

Banks court customers who can keep big balances by dangling lots of free and discounted benefits, preferred rates on loans and deposit accounts, and financial guidance, such as investment and wealth-management services.

Here’s a look at our top bank picks for high-net-worth families.

SEE ALSO: The Best Banks for You, 2019

BEST: Citibank

Why it won: Customers who hold considerable cash with Citi enjoy unique and abundant perks.

Standout account: The Citigold package, for those who keep at least $200,000 in deposit, retirement and investment accounts, is worth a look. And with a $25,000 minimum deposit, you could recently nab a 2.5% rate on a one-year CD./p>

Where it is: Almost 700 U.S. branches in 10 states–with core markets of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.–and more than 1,800 overseas branches.

Citigold customers get plenty of account freebies, including standard checks, stop payments, money orders, incoming wire transfers and overdraft-protection transfers; waived monthly fees on checking and other accounts in the Citigold package; and reimbursement of out-of-network ATM surcharges in the U.S. and abroad. Travelers will also appreciate waived foreign-transaction fees on debit card transactions; concierge services for travel, dining and other bookings; access to more than 100 Citigold lounges (attached to bank properties) worldwide; and delivery of foreign currency to their home, office or a nearby bank branch. Citigold clients work with a relationship manager and a financial adviser.

Citigold’s most interesting perks involve special experiences and insights. Last spring, for example, Citigold clients got premium seating and other benefits at the New York Mets home opener baseball game. Citigold’s Culture Pass provides free or discounted admission to institutions such as the New York Philharmonic and Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art. And Citi regularly hosts market-outlook seminars for clients.

SEE ALSO: 7 Habits of People With Excellent Credit Scores

RUNNER-UP: BBVA

Why it won: BBVA’s services for wealthy clients run the gamut, from an attractive relationship program to a well-regarded private bank.

Standout accounts: The Premier Personal Banking program, for those who have a BBVA personal checking account and maintain at least $100,000 in deposits and investments, provides a well-rounded package of perks. The BBVA Money Market Account–free for Premier customers–recently yielded a healthy 2% on a balance of at least $10,000 (rates are for customers in Birmingham, Ala.).

Where it is: 649 branches scattered across seven states, mostly in the Sunbelt.

BBVA recently rebranded from its former name, BBVA Compass. The Premier Personal Banking program includes rebates of fees for out-of-network ATM withdrawals domestically and inter­nationally and, upon request, refunds of fees for domestic and international wire transfers; free personal checks, cashier’s checks, paper statements and a small safe-deposit box; increased limits for debit card purchases and ATM withdrawals; a waived $125 annual fee on the bank’s Visa Select credit card; discounts on a home-equity line of credit or personal loan; and free usage of the Premium checking account. You also get access to a financial adviser.

BBVA offers a range of wealth-management services, including brokerage options, estate and insurance planning, and private banking (which requires a minimum $1 million in assets in most states).

SEE ALSO: 9 Things You’ll Regret Keeping in a Safe Deposit Box

The Best Banks and Credit Unions for You, 2019

These stellar banks and credit unions are making all the right moves to win satisfied customers:

Best National Banks
Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Families
Best Internet Banks
Best Banks for Families With Students
Best Banks for No-Fee, No-Fuss
Best Credit Unions
Best Banks for Frequent Travelers
Best Regional Banks
Best Banks for Retirees

Copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors

All contents copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Best Regional Banks, 2019

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:40 AM PDT

Many regional banks (by our definition, those with branches in fewer than 15 states) offer accounts and services that are just as robust as those of nationwide institutions–and they may be more involved in their communities. These banks are all contenders for top regional bank but operate in different regions.

Take a look at our top picks for regional banks.

SEE ALSO: The Best Banks for You, 2019

BEST: Fifth Third Bank

Why it won: It offers numerous ways to avoid a monthly fee for its basic checking account, and it has an excellent account for customers who keep big balances.

Standout accounts: Preferred Checking is free if your deposit and investment balance reaches $100,000 at least once in a month, and it’s packed with perks. Promotional CD rates are attractive–2% on CDs with a nine- or 15-month term ($5,000 minimum deposit).

Where it is: More than 1,200 branches in 10 midwestern and southern states.

Cincinnati-based

Copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors

All contents copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Best Credit Unions, 2019

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:38 AM PDT

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions owned by their members, so they can reward account holders with higher rates and lower fees.

Our top credit union picks are open to anyone in the U.S. Take a look.

SEE ALSO: The Best Banks for You, 2019

BEST: Hanscom Federal Credit Union

Why it won: It offers an array of free or low-cost accounts with strong rewards.

Standout accounts: Free Kasasa Cash Checking yields 2.5% on balances up to $15,000 (0.4% thereafter). The CU Thrive share certificate (the credit union version of a CD) returns a fixed rate of 5% for its 12-month term with automatic transfers of $5 to $500 each month from your checking account.

Where it is: 22 branches as of this summer, mostly in or near Boston. You can also access an additional 5,600 branches via the CO-OP Shared Branch network.

Hanscom welcomes active-duty and retired military, employees of the federal government in Massachusetts and other eligible employers, as well as relatives of members. You can also join one of three partner organizations to qualify for membership, such as volunteer theater group Burlington Players ($12).

You can open one of Hanscom’s four checking accounts with as little as $1. The basic account and two options from rewards-account provider Kasasa don’t charge monthly fees. To waive the $9.95 fee attached to the Premier Checking account (0.4% yield), you’ll need to maintain an average daily balance of at least $2,000. For the Kasasa accounts, you’ll have to make 12 or more debit or credit card purchases, have one direct deposit and accept e-statements each month to receive your rewards and up to $20 in ATM refunds (the account is free even if you fall short).

You can choose from a variety of savings options, a money market deposit account that yields up to 1.15%, and share certificates that earn 3% on five-year terms. Members have also been granted an annual “loyalty dividend” for the past 22 years, most recently 2% of most consumer loan finance charges as well as 2% of dividends earned on savings at the end of 2018.

SEE ALSO: 7 Habits of People With Excellent Credit Scores

RUNNER-UP: Connexus Credit Union

Why it won: Three free checking accounts come with out-of-network ATM perks.

Standout accounts: Xtraordinary Checking pays 1.75% on all balances up to $25,000 (0.25% thereafter) and refunds up to $25 in ATM fees each month. The five-year share certificate recently yielded a hefty 3.35%.

Where it is: 12 branches across Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin. Connexus also participates in the CO-OP Shared Branch network.

You can’t go wrong with any of the three checking accounts offered by Connexus Credit Union, two of which offer high rates and $25 in ATM reimbursements as long as you meet a few conditions, such as receiving direct deposits and making frequent debit card transactions. Savings accounts require $100 to open and yield 0.25%. But if you’re willing to lock up a chunk of cash for the long haul, look into Connexus’s share certificates, which require $5,000 to open and pay spectacular rates.

Connexus is open to employees of qualifying organizations, residents of eligible communities in the states where it has a physical presence, and relatives of members. Or you can join by donating $5 to the Connexus Association.

SEE ALSO: 9 Things You’ll Regret Keeping in a Safe Deposit Box

The Best Banks and Credit Unions for You, 2019

These stellar banks and credit unions are making all the right moves to win satisfied customers:

Best National Banks
Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Families
Best Internet Banks
Best Banks for Families With Students
Best Banks for No-Fee, No-Fuss
Best Credit Unions
Best Banks for Frequent Travelers
Best Regional Banks
Best Banks for Retirees

Copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors

All contents copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Best Internet Banks, 2019

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:36 AM PDT

According to the 2019 Direct Banking Satisfaction Study by J.D. Power, direct (or branchless) banks continue to beat traditional banks in overall customer satisfaction.

Our picks have low fees, solid savings accounts and slick digital tools that make online-only banking easy. Take a look.

SEE ALSO: The Best Banks for You, 2019

BEST: Ally Bank

Why it won: Customers earn interest on their accounts without maintaining a particular balance or paying monthly fees.

Standout accounts: Interest Checking is fee-free and pays 0.1% on sums below $15,000, or 0.6% on balances of $15,000 or more. Online Savings pays a flat 2.2% on everything.

Our online winner recently celebrated its 10th anniversary as Ally Bank, but its history stretches back to 1919 as the auto financing arm of General Motors. The J.D. Power study ranked Ally second in overall satisfaction, pointing to its competitive interest rates as one standout feature. Besides its free checking, savings and money market deposit accounts, you can open a high yield CD with any amount and rake in 2.55% for a one-year term or 2.85% for a five-year term. Alternatively, Ally offers an 11-month No Penalty CD, which pays up to 2.3%, depending on the size of your deposit, as well as a Raise Your Rate CD in two- and four-year terms.

You won’t pay a fee to withdraw cash at any Allpoint ATM in the U.S., and Ally will reimburse you up to $10 per month for fees triggered by other ATMs. Ally offers a multitude of ways to move your money into and out of your accounts at no cost, including expedited transfers, remote check deposits and the peer-to-peer payment system Zelle. Your debit card will fit into the digital wallets from Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung.

Live customer service is available 24-7 by phone (check wait times on the website or app) and online chat. Or you can seek answers via the bank’s @AllyCare Twitter account on weekdays.

SEE ALSO: 7 Habits of People With Excellent Credit Scores

RUNNER-UP: Capital One 360

Why it won: You get the benefits of an online bank but can still get customer service at a branch or in a hip Capital One Café.

Standout accounts: 360 Checking returns 0.2% on amounts below $50,000, 0.75% on balances up to $100,000, and 1% on larger tallies. 360 Money Market pays 2% on balances of $10,000 and more (amounts less than $10,000 earn 0.85%).

Where it is: About 500 branches in eight eastern and southern states and Washington, D.C.

If you walk into a Capital One branch to open an account, the teller may hand you an iPad and steer you toward the online Capital One 360 products. Adults are limited to one choice per checking, savings and money market deposit account, but all are free to open and none charges monthly fees. You will earn different rates depending on the balance in your checking or money market deposit account, or a flat 1% on anything you stash in 360 Savings. Or you can open a CD for any amount and earn 2.9% for a five-year term.

Cash withdrawals from Capital One and Allpoint ATMs are free. But Capital One won’t charge 360 users to use ATMs in any network (you won’t be reimbursed for surcharges that originate from the ATM operator). And Capital One doesn’t levy a foreign-transaction fee on debit card purchases abroad.

You can seek help by phone, via the @AskCapitalOne Twitter account or at a branch. Or drop by one of 37 Capital One Cafés scattered around the country to lounge or work remotely and have a Peet’s coffee. The cafés also feature Capital One ATMs and “DIY Banking” terminals.

SEE ALSO: 9 Things You’ll Regret Keeping in a Safe Deposit Box

The Best Banks and Credit Unions for You, 2019

These stellar banks and credit unions are making all the right moves to win satisfied customers:

Best National Banks
Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Families
Best Internet Banks
Best Banks for Families With Students
Best Banks for No-Fee, No-Fuss
Best Credit Unions
Best Banks for Frequent Travelers
Best Regional Banks
Best Banks for Retirees

Copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors

All contents copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Best Banks for Frequent Travelers, 2019

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:34 AM PDT

The ideal bank for travelers eliminates sneaky ATM and foreign-transaction fees. Take a look at our top bank picks for travelers.

SEE ALSO: The Best Banks for You, 2019

BEST: Charles Schwab Bank

Why it won: Unlike other banks, there are no strings attached to Schwab’s traveler-friendly perks. But you’ll have to do your banking online.

Standout accounts: High Yield Investor Checking yields 0.4% with no minimum balances or monthly fees. High Yield Investor Savings returns 0.5% and is also free.

Charles Schwab Bank reimburses customers for any surcharges added to ATM withdrawals, anywhere in the world, and nixes foreign-transaction fees on its debit card. The High Yield Investor Checking account comes with a Schwab One brokerage account, but there are no penalties for keeping a zero balance. You can also leave your card at home and load it into one of four compatible digital wallets instead. Schwab’s mobile app will let you view transactions, pay bills and deposit checks on the go.

SEE ALSO: 7 Habits of People With Excellent Credit Scores

RUNNER UP: Radius Bank

Why it won: A trio of checking accounts offer unlimited ATM rebates worldwide.

Standout accounts: Hybrid Checking yields 1% on balances of $2,500 or more. High-Yield Savings returns a rate of 1.5% on holdings of $2,500 or more (2.05% once your balance hits $25,000).

Where it is: One branch in Boston; otherwise online only.

You’ll need $100 to open one of Radius Bank’s three main checking accounts, but no monthly maintenance fees apply. Besides Hybrid Checking, Radius offers a cash-back account and a charity-oriented account that makes donations based on your earnings. Although Radius reimburses you for all ATM fees worldwide, international travelers will incur a modest 1.1% foreign-transaction fee.

Radius offers two mobile apps with handy features. The Radius Card app lets you temporarily deactivate your debit card and dictate where and how it can be used. The Radius Mobile banking app includes a budgeting tool that analyzes spending.

SEE ALSO: 9 Things You’ll Regret Keeping in a Safe Deposit Box

The Best Banks and Credit Unions for You, 2019

These stellar banks and credit unions are making all the right moves to win satisfied customers:

Best National Banks
Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Families
Best Internet Banks
Best Banks for Families With Students
Best Banks for No-Fee, No-Fuss
Best Credit Unions
Best Banks for Frequent Travelers
Best Regional Banks
Best Banks for Retirees

Copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors

All contents copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

How Do You Fit into Your Financial Adviser’s Plan?

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:33 AM PDT

If you’re like most potential financial advisory clients, you’ve heard advisers explain how they fit into your financial life. Advisers play the part too, giving you as the client the best audition, demonstrating their success, their prowess in the industry and their ability to be as effective as possible in creating the returns you need.

SEE ALSO: The Elephant in the Room: Your Adviser Is Getting Paid

As a longtime financial adviser, I’ve come to believe that clients need to spend more time considering not just how an adviser fits them, but how your finances, goals and situation fit into a specific adviser’s business model.

In fact, I think this could be one of the most important questions to consider. The answer is just assumed: The adviser is working for the client, and they want to keep the client forever. However, this may not always be the case.

What Are Your Adviser’s Motivations?

Understanding the profit motive of your adviser can help you decode the rationalizations of the recommendations they are making. A careful review of the three most prevalent business models may lead you to question the underlying motives of your adviser:

  1. A commission-based business model. In this business model an adviser is paid a majority, if not all, of their revenue from the initial sale of the financial product. In this relationship the adviser is front-end loading their compensation. In order for more revenue to drip in for an adviser in this business model they must continue to place new financial products in your portfolio.
  2. In a fee-only business model, an adviser is not paid an upfront commission, rather they are paid periodically based off the amount of assets that are held with their firm. In this type of model, the responsibility is on the adviser to create a perpetual revenue stream. Since no upfront revenue is generated, an adviser needs to keep the client for a much longer period if they want to make the same revenue as a commission-based firm.
  3. In a hybrid model, an adviser receives some benefits of both of the above-mentioned business models. In a hybrid model an adviser charges an advisory fee, but still could receive commissions on the sale of certain products. If a commission is generated, this type of adviser must disclose that conflict of interest to the clients they are dealing with. This combination of revenue models can allow an adviser to build a practice in a short period of time, but still be able to plan for long-term client retention and growth.

As a financial advisory client, you must view every recommendation through the lens of whether that suggestion furthers your investment goals or not. The nature of the financial services industry has been very transactional, partly due to the underlying conflicts of interest for an adviser and also a client base that switches advisers or investments periodically, often tempted by the glimmer of the next best thing.

ABCs of Adviser Business Models

A potentially better system for the client-financial adviser relationship is one in which the adviser and client win OR lose together. There is no adviser winning and client losing. This type of system is based on long-term relationships where an adviser allocates your assets based off the relative strength of certain asset classes, sectors, money managers, mutual funds — whatever is needed to build a money management experience that is suited for their client.

The best advisers love what they do. They are passionate about investing, advising and financial planning. What can often be overlooked is the passion to serve their clients. By identifying where you as the client fit into the business model of the adviser, you can take control of your financial future. By not front-loading all of your adviser’s revenue, an investor can create the necessity of service in their portfolio. A happy client is a long-term client.

As the market changes, investors need to be able to adjust to the conditions of that market. If you take a short-term view to selecting an adviser who is giving you a short-term solution, you are not going to get a long-term result. The markets and changes in the market are built off a long-term strategy, so it makes sense that your retirement plan — the largest component of your financial plan — should also follow this strategy.

It’s important to determine both the adviser’s business model and their personal approach to working with clients to gauge whether they are the right fit for your long-term needs. Here’s an overview of the basic financial adviser business models:

  1. Investment management: Focus on generating revenue from asset management and does not provide financial planning services. If you feel like you have a solid financial plan in place, but you want some help with building a strong portfolio, this might be the right model for your needs.
  2. Hybrid: Combines investment management with financial planning, but the financial planning services are on an as-needed, informal basis. A hybrid model might be what you’re looking for if you feel that occasionally you might need some guidance on financial planning — perhaps when considering starting a new business or making another major life transition — but otherwise your needs are focused on investment management.
  3. Wealth management: Fastest growing type of financial advising in the past 10 years. Provides comprehensive services to meet the needs of a broad range of typically more wealthy clients. If you have a large portfolio and more complex investment needs, you may want to consider a wealth management service.
  4. Financial planning firms: Focus on the financial planning process to help clients reach financial goals. Investment strategies are usually passive and low-cost, such as ETFs or funds. A financial planning firm can be a great fit for those who are just getting started with investing, who don’t have complex investment needs or for those who feel comfortable managing their own portfolio and just need some guidance on reaching financial goals.
  5. Financial consulting firms: More of a DIY approach with low monthly fees relying on phone or internet interaction with clients. Adviser overhead is low, and their preference is usually for high cash flow with less of an emphasis on long-term business value. This type of model is well-suited to those who are comfortable managing their own portfolio and require little financial planning guidance.

Consider your needs and how they fit into these models. Do you just need someone to manage your investments? Do you have a significant amount of wealth with more complex investment needs? Are you looking for financial planning assistance? For example, someone to help you figure out your retirement goals and what you need to do to reach them. Or, perhaps you need help with planning for a major purchase such as a home. Maybe you’re comfortable handling your own investing and financial planning and don’t feel the need for much financial planning assistance.

All of these factors will impact the type of adviser who is the best fit for your financial needs.

See Also: How to Budget

How to Find the Right Adviser

The questions below can serve as a guide for what to ask a potential financial adviser.

  1. What stage of your career are you in? Background: Understanding where your adviser is in their career can help you figure out how their career goals intersect with your needs.
  2. What types of retirement planning are you experienced with? An adviser’s experience should dovetail with your needs. Background: Many advisers are great in terms of helping you save for retirement but have little expertise in helping you determine a spending plan for those savings during retirement.
  3. Is your emphasis on cash flow, income or asset growth? Background: Advisers have different philosophies about investments and retirement planning, and those philosophies should align with your needs. If you prioritize income in retirement and your adviser wants to grow your assets, that’s a potential disconnect.
  4. What are the criteria you use to make an investment recommendation? Background: Advisers should have a strong sense of who their clients are and what their goals are. An adviser who is a good fit shouldn’t try to push you beyond your risk tolerance level. If they do, that should be a red flag that perhaps they don’t have your best interests in mind.
  5. How open are you to pursing strategies that might reduce your compensation? Background: If you want to make a change in your portfolio that has the potential to reduce the adviser’s income and they are not willing to agree to changes, or doesn’t recommend certain moves, because they won’t be incentivized, that should also be a red flag.
  6. How do you get to know your clients better? Background: Advisers should work not only to maximize your portfolio, they should also be invested in you as a person. Many personal details have an important bearing on your financial situation. Your adviser should keep these in mind when making investment or financial planning recommendations.

Once you understand your adviser’s business model, career goals and advising style, you’ll have a better idea if your needs are in alignment and you will be able to make an informed decision.

See Also: 7 Secrets Financial Advisers Won’t Tell You

Licensed Insurance Professional. We are an independent financial services firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of investment and insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice.

Investing involves risk, including the loss of principal. No Investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in a period of declining values. Any references to protection benefits or lifetime income generally refer to fixed insurance products, never securities or investment products. Insurance and annuity products are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

18718 – 2019/4/1

Comments are suppressed in compliance with industry guidelines. Click here to learn more and read more articles from the author.

This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

Copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors

All contents copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Best Banks for Families With Students, 2019

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:30 AM PDT

These banks include accounts tailored to kids and teens that give them the freedom to manage their own money.

Here’s a look at our top bank picks for families with children.

SEE ALSO: The Best Banks for You, 2019

BEST: Capital One 360

Why it won: Family members of all ages will find easy-to-manage, no-fee accounts.

Standout accounts: Money Teen Checking yields 0.25% on all balances. Kids savings yields 1% on all balances.

Where it is: About 500 branches in eight eastern and southern states and Washington, D.C.

Teenagers between ages 13 and 17 can get a handle on their finances with a dedicated checking account that allows them to submit checks, make direct deposits and more. As joint owner, a parent can keep tabs on the account. Once a child turns 18, he or she can roll his or her balance into a regular 360 checking account. Kids under age 18 can tuck birthday checks and other earnings into a special savings account that returns the same rate as the adult version.

Both parent and teen holders of the Money account are privy to additional features on the mobile app. Both can track activity, automatically transfer allowance money, and set up a simple budget.

SEE ALSO: 7 Habits of People With Excellent Credit Scores

RUNNER-UP: Alliant Credit Union

Why it won: Kids and teens earn the same high rates as adults with accounts created specifically for them.

Standout accounts: Teen Checking pays 0.65% on any balance. Kids Savings yields 2.1% on $100 or more.

Where it is: One branch in Chicago; otherwise online only.

Teens between the ages of 13 and 17 can get free checking and earn interest with two simple conditions: opt into e-statements and collect at least one electronic deposit per month (a parent transferring funds from an external bank qualifies). Parent joint owners get to view the account, authorize any outgoing transfers and set up alerts. At age 18, a teen can transition into the free High-Rate Checking account. Members can access more than 80,000 ATMs nationwide and get back up to $20 in out-of-network ATM costs each month with either checking account. The savings account for children younger than 13 pays the same high rate as the adult savings account, and Alliant will cover the $5 needed to open either one. (To join Alliant, the credit union will make a $5 donation to its partner charity Foster Care to Success on your behalf.)

SEE ALSO: 9 Things You’ll Regret Keeping in a Safe Deposit Box

The Best Banks and Credit Unions for You, 2019

These stellar banks and credit unions are making all the right moves to win satisfied customers:

Best National Banks
Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Families
Best Internet Banks
Best Banks for Families With Students
Best Banks for No-Fee, No-Fuss
Best Credit Unions
Best Banks for Frequent Travelers
Best Regional Banks
Best Banks for Retirees

Copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors

All contents copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

5 Things You Need to Know Before You Retire

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:29 AM PDT

As a professor at The American College of Financial Services and the co-creator of the Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP®) program, I’m often making lists of what I think everyone needs to know about planning for retirement. And, on a personal level, as someone who is approaching retirement myself, those lessons are really hitting home.

SEE ALSO: Is 4% Withdrawal Rate Still a Good Retirement Rule of Thumb?

So, here is my current list of what I’d like to shout from the mountaintops — the five things you must know before you retire.

1. Knowledge Is Gold

Making smarter retirement decisions means more retirement security. Research from Morningstar found that informed (versus naïve) decisions in just six different areas of retirement planning can increase retirement income by 31% — and there are a lot more than six planning areas. Think about what that means: If you invest time to learn your options, you can improve retirement security. That’s powerful. You don’t have to win the lottery or hope that Aunt Sally remembers you in her will — just learn about Social Security claiming, choosing the right Medicare option, or the role of guaranteed lifetime income.

If you want something to get you started, watch these Retirement Income 101 videos, or take the Retirement Income Literacy Quiz. If you’re inclined to seek advice, find an adviser who really understands the issues faced at this time of life, like an adviser who has earned the Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP®) designation.

2. Look Before You Leap

Warning: Haste makes waste. So, don’t give up a long-term job before you know what’s next and that you can afford it. This may sound obvious, but a 2018 Bankrate study indicated that 58% of baby boomers claimed ignorance of how much money they needed for retirement. There are many reasons to look before you leap, but here are two. First, giving up a career often means giving up valuable additional retirement benefits, especially health insurance.

Second, if you decide that you miss work or miscalculated how much money you needed to retire (or never calculated it in the first place) finding a comparable job with the same wages at an older age is hard.

See Also: Retirees: Go Ahead and Spend More in the Go-Go Years

3. Levers of success

Pre-retirees looking to improve their retirement plans should understand that there are three main levers that have the most impact on retirement security: retirement age, Social Security claiming age and spending levels in retirement.

  1. Retirement age. A study from the Stanford Longevity Center found that three months of additional work generates the same increase in retirement income as saving an additional one percentage point of earnings for 30 years. That fact screams “keep working!” Avoid burnout by taking vacations, change your attitude, avoid your boss or choose a role with less income and less stress — but keep working if you can.
  2. Social Security claiming age. If you’re not living under a rock, you’ve heard the advice that deferring Social Security will improve your retirement security. Believe it. About two-thirds of retirees get more than half their retirement income from Social Security. If you’re in this group, your Social Security claiming decision is the most important retirement decision that you will make. For example, an individual with a full retirement age of 66 will receive 76% more by claiming at age 70 instead of age 62.
  3. Spending levels matter. Reduce retirement spending and your resources will last longer. If you do this right you may not have to destroy the lifestyle that you’ve become accustomed to. Some options to consider: Stop buying the stuff that doesn’t really mean much to you; become a thriftier shopper (read all those lists of ways to save money in retirement); and/or move somewhere where the cost of living is lower. (See 27 Cheapest Places Where You’ll Really Want to Retire.)

4. Living on your own dime is nerve-racking

Living primarily on withdrawals from your retirement portfolio is not for the fainthearted. Today, many individuals go into retirement with Social Security benefits, a significant account balance in their 401(k) plan, and a few bucks in the bank. It’s unlikely that Social Security will cover living expenses (especially for those who claim Social Security at 62) so this means figuring out how to generate additional income from 401(k) plan withdrawals. How much you can afford to take out each year depends upon a lot of moving parts, including how the portfolio is invested, how volatile investment returns are, how long retirement will last, and whether you are willing to cut back on withdrawals if the market is down.

Given what I know, I’m not willing to have most of my retirement income coming from withdrawals from a volatile portfolio — because I want to sleep at night. Pre-retirees should think about ways that they can increase the types of regular income that will last a lifetime, regardless of how long they live. The first place to look to accomplish this is to defer Social Security to age 70 to increase the stream of monthly income. Another is to choose an annuity form of payment from a company retirement plan, or purchase a commercial annuity.

5. Answer the ‘what ifs’

So far we’ve been talking about the easy stuff, but the hardest part of planning for retirement is preparing for the “what ifs,” like what if you live much longer than expected? What if you or your spouse has a serious health care issue? And what if the stock market tanks in the first five years of retirement? Here’s a helpful chart that we use in the RICP® program that addresses solutions to the 18 risks that need to be addressed while retirement planning. Your plan isn’t complete until you’ve addressed these issues.

There are many twists and turns in the retirement road map, and I’m looking forward to sharing the knowledge I’ve learned over my career teaching financial advisers how to help their clients better prepare for their retirement years.

See Also: How Dividend-Paying Stocks May Help Boost Retirement Income

Comments are suppressed in compliance with industry guidelines. Click here to learn more and read more articles from the author.

This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

Copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors

All contents copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Best Banks for No-Fee, No-Fuss, 2019

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:28 AM PDT

These banks suit tech-savvy customers in their twenties, thirties and beyond who want a bank that’s simple to navigate and is easy on fees.

Take a look at our top picks for banks that offer patrons a hassle-free experience.

SEE ALSO: The Best Banks for You, 2019

BEST: Ally Bank

Why it won: Limited choice is a good thing when each account is highly attractive.

Standout accounts: Interest Checking is fee-free and pays 0.1% on sums below $15,000, or 0.6% on balances of $15,000 or more. Online Savings pays a flat 2.2% on everything.

Ally offers one checking, one savings and one money market deposit account to customers, but each stands out for its simplicity. For example, the money market deposit account–which comes with a free debit card and checks for easy access to your cash–yields 0.9% if your daily balance hovers under $25,000 and rises to 1% for amounts above that. You can link a backup account to your checking so Ally can automatically transfer funds to make up shortfalls at no cost to you.

The banking app is packed with features, including remote check deposit, bill pay and an ATM locator. The separate Card Controls app lets you temporarily deactivate your card, restrict activity to a certain area, or specify spending caps for categories such as restaurants or department stores.

SEE ALSO: 7 Habits of People With Excellent Credit Scores

RUNNER-UP: Discover Bank

Why it won: The simple array of accounts became even more appealing after Discover eliminated a slew of fees.

Standout accounts: Cashback Debit pays 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in purchases each month Online Savings yields 2.1% on all balances.

Discover Bank’s free checking account has a simple rewards structure, with no minimum balance required. You can redeem cash back as a credit, pool it with earnings from your Discover credit card or automatically send your bonus to a Discover online savings account. The savings account is free as well. You’ll need to fork over $2,500 to open a money market deposit account or CD, but certificate rates are im­pressive (for example, five-year CDs bring in 2.85%), and the money market account pays 1.95% on totals below $100,000 (2% for anything above that) and comes with a debit card and checks for quick access to your cash.

Discover now waives penalties for falling below a $2,500 balance in your money market deposit account, stop payments and more. And you will no longer incur a $30 insufficient-funds fee. (You can still set up free overdraft protection, which automatically transfers money from a designated account to cover certain transactions that would otherwise deplete your account.) To access your cash without paying extra fees, look for ATMs within the Allpoint or MoneyPass networks. Discover won’t charge you to use another bank’s ATM, but the operator might.

SEE ALSO: 9 Things You’ll Regret Keeping in a Safe Deposit Box

The Best Banks and Credit Unions for You, 2019

These stellar banks and credit unions are making all the right moves to win satisfied customers:

Best National Banks
Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Families
Best Internet Banks
Best Banks for Families With Students
Best Banks for No-Fee, No-Fuss
Best Credit Unions
Best Banks for Frequent Travelers
Best Regional Banks
Best Banks for Retirees

Copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors

All contents copyright 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Pluto TV Latino: Viacom’s Free-Streaming Platform Launches 2,000 Hours of Spanish and Portuguese TV Content

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:00 AM PDT

Pluto TV is targeting Hispanic audiences — long underserved in the streaming space — with Pluto TV Latino: a suite of 11 free linear channels stocked with 2,000-plus hours of TV programming in Spanish and Portuguese.

The entretenimiento gratuito lineup includes content from Pluto TV parent Viacom, with dedicated channels for MTV Latino and Comedy Central Latino and movies from Paramount Pictures, as well as material licensed from partners including NBCUniversal’s Telemundo, Combate World and Lucha Libre. It’s touted as the biggest collection of Hispanic programming ever offered on a free, ad-supported internet streaming service.

Pluto TV Latino is an obvious next foray for Pluto, the latest move to expand the AVOD service since Viacom bought the startup for $340 million earlier this year. Pluto TV said it’s planning to launch additional targeted channels in the fall of 2019 in areas like food, travel, reality competition, and kids.

Available in the U.S., Pluto TV Latino’s 11 channels include three movie-themed channels and curated channels featuring music specials, comedies, crime series, and telenovelas. The programming comprises both native in-language and dubbed versions of TV shows.

Here’s a rundown of the first slate of channels in Pluto TV Latino, launching this week:

  • Pluto TV Cine Estelar: A collection of movies from Paramount, with upcoming titles set to include “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Top Gun,” “Clueless,” “Failure to Launch,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Forrest Gump,” “Ghost,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Old School,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Star Trek Beyond,” “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” “Top Gun,” and “Zoolander.”
  • Pluto TV Películas: Action movies dubbed in Spanish including “48 Hours,” “Down to Earth,” “Hugo,” “I Love You, Man,” “Jackass: The Movie,” “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” “Nacho Libre,” “Patriot Games,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Shaft,” “Team America: World Police,” “Terms of Endearment,” “Top Five,” and Zodiac.”
  • Pluto TV Cine Latino: Spanish-language movies including upcoming titles like “Aventurera,” “El Cielo En Tu Mirada,” “En la Punta de Mi Cañon,” “Morgana,” “Abre Los Ojos,” “Sin Memoria,” and “The Baby’s Room.”
  • Pluto TV Investiga: True-crime shows like “The FBI Files” and “The New Detectives.”
  • Pluto TV Novelas: Shows from Argentina and Colombia like “Los Hombres También Lloran,” “Amar Después de Amar,” “Fanny La Fan,” “Los Hombres También Lloran,” “Amar Despues De Amar,” “Aliados,” “Niñas Mal” and “Último Año.”
  • Telemundo Telenovelas Clásicas: Telenovelas from the Hispanic broadcaster including “Flor Salvaje” and “Relaciones Peligrosas.”
  • MTV Latino: Spanish-language shows including reality series “Acapulco Shore,” “Quiero Mis Quinces,” “Catfish,” “Are You The One?” and “Ex On The Beach,” plus Latin Unplugged concerts.
  • Comedy Central Latino: Stand-up specials from comedians like El Diablito, Isaac Salame and Alejandra Ley along with series like “La Culpa es de Cortés,” “Bar Central,” “La Familia Del Barrio.”
  • Pluto TV Brasil: Original series in Brazilian Portuguese from MTV Brasil, Comedy Central Brasil and Porta dos Fundos, with upcoming programming to include “A Culpa Do Cabral,” “Adotada,” “Papito in Love,” “Grande Gonzalez,” “Catfish Brasil,” and “De Férias com o Ex Brasil.”
  • Combate World: Mixed martial arts (MMA) content featuring championship events, reality television and lifestyle programming.
  • Lucha Libre: Mexican wrestling channel featuring the trademark masks and high-flying moves.

Lionsgate Sets Date for China Theme Park Opening

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 04:28 AM PDT

Lionsgate’s first theme park in China, Lionsgate Entertainment World will open at the end of this month. It is being touted as Asia’s first movie-themed vertical theme park.

Lionsgate Entertainment World will open on July 31, and include 25 attractions from six global film franchises and Chinese box office hits: “The Hunger Games,” “The Twilight Saga,” “Divergent” “Now You See Me,” “Gods of Egypt,” and “Escape Plan.”

The 22,000 m2 indoor space is a key attraction within the first phase of Novotown, an integrated tourism and entertainment project in Hengqin backed by Hong Kong Lai Sun Group, a siter company to films group Media Asia. Henquin is attached to Zhuhai in mainland China, but is adjacent to Macau, and only an hour away from Hong Kong, all part of the so-called greater Bay Area, which is one of the largest manufacturing and population hubs in Asia.

The park is to be managed by Village Roadshow Theme Parks. Part of the Village Roadshow Group, the company currently manages eight theme parks in Australia including Warner Bros. Movie World, Sea World Australia, and Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast. VRTP is the majority owner and operator of Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas in Nevada, and previously opened China’s first International water park with Wet’n’Wild Haikou.

Key attractions include: “The Twilight Saga – Midnight Ride,” a multiplayer interactive VR motorbike simulator experience in which participants race with Jacob and the Wolf Pack on a dirt-bike adventure through moonlit woods; and “The Twilight Saga – Bella’s Journey,” a multi-media dark ride in which participants step into Bella’s shoes and journey from first kiss to the threat of the Volturi.

“Divergent” also provides two attractions: “Fear Simulator,” a VR walk-through which tests experience bravery and willpower as participants navigate precarious passageways and traps; and “The Chasm Climbing Course,” in which players climb walls, suspended bridges and vertical drops in a zig-zag path.

“Hunger Games – Mockingjay Flight Rebel Escape” is a multiple motion-based cabin 3D simulator in which players suit up and take flight alongside the rebellion.

“The Escape Plan – Prison Break” is a multiplayer interactive escape room experience which replicates the most secure prison in the world. “Now You See Me – Long’s Magic Shop” replicates a piece of Macau with live magicians standing illusions and collectable souvenirs.

In addition to high-tech attractions and rides, the park has dining options that include “Hunger Games”-inspired Capitol Club, the homey Peeta’s Bakery, and the modern Lionsgate Cafe. Retail outlets include Capitol Couture and Dauntless Ink, for edgy tattoo designs.

“From escaping the Capitol, to braving the mental and physical challenges of Dauntless, to taking on a newborn vampire army with Jacob and the Wolf Pack, we can’t wait for fans to step into the worlds of their favorite films to create their own authentic adventures,” said Jenefer Brown, Lionsgate’s SVP, global live and location based entertainment.

“We expect guests in China and all around the world to enjoy sensational experiences here that they won’t soon forget,” said Selena Magill, GM of Lionsgate Entertainment World.

 

Korea Box Office: ‘Aladdin’ Reclaims Top Spot, as ‘Toy Story 4’ Slips to Second

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 04:00 AM PDT

Aladdin” reclaimed its top spot, at the Korean box office over the weekend, beating “Toy Story 4“. “Aladdin” earned $7 million from 910,000 admissions between Friday and Sunday for a cumulative total of $61.1 million after six weekends on release.

Toy Story 4” declined only modestly, down 29%, as it slipped to second place. The animated feature earned $5.3 million for a two-weekend total of $16.7 million. The Disney pair accounted for 58% of the country’s total weekend box office revenue.

Opening on Wednesday, “John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum” officially debuted in third place. It ranked fifth the previous weekend from previews alone. The American crime thriller earned $3.1 million between Friday and Sunday for a total of $5 million.

Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” earned an additional $1.74 million between Friday and Sunday for a total of $70.8 million after five weekends on release.

Two other Wednesday openers, Warner Bros.’ “Annabelle Comes Home” and Next Entertainment World’s “The Beast” landed in fifth and seventh, respectively. American horror thriller “Annabelle” earned $2.11 million over five days. Korean crime thriller “Beast” earned $1.21 million in five days. Directed by Lee Jeong-ho (“Broken”), “Beast” is the story of two detectives who clash as they solve a murder case.

Korean action drama “Long Live the King” slipped to sixth from the previous weekend’s third, representing a week-on-week drop of 70%. The Megabox release earned $1.05 million between Friday and Sunday, for a total of $7.52 million after two weekends.

Penelope Cruz felt post-baby pressure

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 04:00 AM PDT

Penelope Cruz felt she wasn’t “respecting” herself by giving into society’s pressures after she gave birth.

The ‘Everybody Knows’ star welcomed son Leo into the world eight years ago and she admits she felt the pressure to look perfect only hours after she’d given birth and “forgot” to take care of herself.

She said: “I realised what a lot of fairytales and movies and messages from society have put in my head because the way I left the hospital the first time and the way I left the second were two different women. The first [time], I pushed myself to be superwoman like, ‘I’ll do it natural birth and then twelve hours later I’m out of the hospital in high heels.’ Now I look back and say, ‘who asked you to do this? And who asked you to not delegate, to feel like you have to do everything yourself 24 hours a day and forget to take care about yourself?’ That has nothing to do with feminism. I was not respecting myself by doing that.”

However, when it came to the birth of her second child – daughter Luna, now five – she realised she didn’t have to succumb to that pressure.

Speaking to Gwyneth Paltrow at her first UK Goop summit over the weekend, she added: “[For the second birth], I said I’m going to stay in this hospital for three days. I laid down in this bed with my baby and my other baby was coming over and my husband was great and really really helpful, but you need to realise you need to eat, sleep, basically take a shower.”

Lily Allen is ‘surprised she’s not dead’

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 04:00 AM PDT

Lily Allen is “surprised she’s not dead” after partying hard in the 2000s.

The ‘Smile’ hitmaker says the music industry was a “hedonistic place” when she was in the height of her musical success but credits her children – Marnie, six, and Ethel, seven – for “triggering” her responsibilities.

She said: “I’m surprised I’m not dead. The music industry was a hedonistic place in the noughties. It was all about having fun and getting f***ed up. People who indulge don’t generally come out the other side. Having children triggered responsibilities.”

Lily also opened up about sex addiction, confessing she used it as a way of coping.

She added to The Guardian newspaper: “Sex can still be an addiction. I chose sex over heroin. I didn’t realise at the time. Addiction can manifest itself in all manners of ways. You use substances or sex to put a plaster over something else, like pain or fear. There are all manner of destructive things you can get up to.”

The 34-year-old singer previously opened up about her sex addiction and hoe she didn’t see her lesbian sex sessions as “cheating” on her then-husband Sam Cooper because the prostitutes were women.

She said: “I was in hotel rooms and was feeling quite lonely and had been drinking a lot. Usually drugs and alcohol seem to sustain something in me and it didn’t feel like anything was working any more. I’d just been reading a book about addiction and shame and it introduced me to the idea of sex addiction, so I thought, ‘Why not give this a go?’ It was a low point and this part of the book I’m really not glamorising it in any way, shape or form… It is sad. It is really sad.”

Asked if she made the decision to pay for sex because she was looking for “companionship, sexual gratification or just not to be alone”, she replied: “A bit of all of the above. And curiosity. And because it was a woman I felt like it wasn’t cheating. I was bonkers.”

Anthony LaPaglia Joins Australian Crime Drama ‘Halifax: Retribution’

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 03:42 AM PDT

Anthony LaPaglia and Jessica Marais will star alongside Rebecca Gibney in Australian drama series “Halifax: Retribution.”

The crime thriller follows forensic psychiatrist Jane Halifax and was on Australian free-TV network Nine in the 1990s and early 2000s. It has resurrected the Melbourne-set show, with production getting underway this month, on location.

Other cast for the new miniseries include Jacqueline McKenzie (“Romper Stomper”), Rick Donald (“Wentworth”), Hannah Monson (“Glitch”), Craig Hall (“The Doctor Blake Mysteries”), Mavournee Hazel (“Neighbours”), and Louisa Mignone (“Rake”).

After years on the police frontline, Halifax has carved out a new career as a university professor in the new series. She has to return to the field when a serial sniper starts terrorizing Melbourne, and Halifax finds herself in his sights.

“‘Halifax’ has a rich and revered heritage and I am very much looking forward to working opposite the legend that is Rebecca Gibney in this latest iteration,” said “Without a Trace” star LaPaglia.

“I am beyond excited to be breathing new life into Jane Halifax as she was and still is one of my favorite characters, and I always believed there was so much more we could explore with her,” Gibney said. “Having grown as a woman and hopefully as an actor over the last 20 years I’m really looking forward to exploring Jane’s world from a new perspective.”

Series creator Roger Simpson returns as writer and producer, alongside executive producer Mikael Borglund and writers Mac Gudgeon, Peter Gawler and Oscar-nominated Jan Sardi.

“Halifax: Retribution” will be made by Beyond Lonehand, a joint venture between Simpson and production and distribution group Beyond. Beyond Distribution is handling sales of the series. It will launch it internationally at Mipcom in Cannes in Oct.

Halsey ‘standing’ with Taylor Swift

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 03:00 AM PDT

Halsey is “standing” with Taylor Swift, after she lamented over her master records being sold to Scooter Braun.

The ‘Closer’ hitmaker has posted a message of support for the ‘Shake It Off’ singer after Taylor says she felt “grossed out” knowing that Scooter now owns her master records after his takeover and she claims she never got a chance to buy them herself.

She wrote: “Taylor Swift is a huge reason why I always insisted to write my own music. I believed if she did it (in a way that made my teeth ache like cold water and my heart swell and my eyes leak) than I should too. Cause that’s how to make someone feel. To drag it from the pits of your heart. To offer it on a platter and say ‘take some but take kindly.’ She deserves to own the painstaking labor of her heart. She has surpassed all expectations of what any artist is even capable of. She catapulted her stardom into the Milky Way. And it turns my guts that no matter how much power or success a woman has in this life, you are still susceptible to someone coming along and making you feel powerless out of spite. It speaks volumes to how far we have to come in the music industry. The way writers are treated. How as an entertainer you are respected but as a writer you’re walked all over. Even when you are both in one single body. I am standing with her.”

Taylor was “sad and grossed out” by the whole thing but she hopes by speaking out, she will help others “learn about how to better protect themselves in a negotiation”.

She concluded: “Thankfully, I am now signed to a label that believes I should own anything I create. Thankfully, I left my past in Scott’s hands and not my future. And hopefully, young artists or kids with musical dreams will read this and learn about how to better protect themselves in a negotiation. You deserve to own the art you make. I will always be proud of my past work. But for a healthier option, Lover will be out August 23. Sad and grossed out, Taylor (sic)”

Taylor Swift fires back at ex record label boss

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 03:00 AM PDT

Taylor Swift insists she had no knowledge of the sale of her master records.

The ‘ME!’ hitmaker took to Tumblr on Sunday (30.06.19) to express her disappointment at finding out Scooter Braun – who she claims has bullied her for years – now owns her songs after his acquisition of Big Machine Records.

In her lengthy post, Taylor claims she did not know about the new owner until the news was publicly released and that she wasn’t given the opportunity to purchase her own songs.

However, in a statement, Scott Borchetta, who owned Big Machine Records, claimed that was not the case and that he had sent a message to Taylor to let her know and her father Scott Swift was fully aware of what had happened.

He shared: “Out of courtesy, I personally texted Taylor at 9:06pm, Saturday, June 29th to inform her prior to the story breaking on the morning of Sunday, June 30th so she could hear it directly from me. I guess it might somehow be possible that her dad Scott, 13 Management lawyer Jay Schaudies (who represented Scott Swift on the shareholder calls) or 13 Management executive and Big Machine LLC shareholder Frank Bell (who was on the shareholder calls) didn’t say anything to Taylor over the prior 5 days. I guess it’s possible that she might not have seen my text. But, I truly doubt that she ‘woke up to the news when everyone else did.'”

But now, Taylor’s representatives have denied this is the case.

Her representative said in a statement: “Scott Swift is not on the board of directors and has never been. On June 25, there was a shareholder phone call that Scott Swift did not participate in due to a very strict NDA that bound all shareholders and prohibited any discussion at all without risk of severe penalty. Her dad did not join that call because he did not want to be required to withhold any information from his own daughter.”

MC Harvey is a father again

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 03:00 AM PDT

MC Harvey has become a father for the third time.

The So Solid Crew star – who already has Angel, 11, with Javine Hylton and Persia, three, with Ghamzeh Mahdizadeh – welcomed his son Koa into the world on June 19.

Sharing the happy news on Instagram, he wrote: “Koa Ray Harvey … 19.6.2019 Koa meaning [Warrior in Hawaiian] Welcome son #blessed #newbornboy (sic)”

Harvey shared a sweet video of the tot sucking his thumb as he laid on his mother’s chest, captioning it with the hashtag: “#BabyKoa”

Harvey also posted an adorable picture of Persia kissing her little brother, captioning it: “Brother & sister bonding #familyiseverything (sic)”

Harvey’s friends reached out to congratulate him on his happy news.

Actor Richard Blackwood wrote: “Yes my friend he’s beautiful I’m truly happy for you! Blessings (sic)”

Whilst Kerry Katona shared: “Omg congrats my darling stay blessed all of you (sic)”

Katie Price offered her congratulations, with reality star Vicky Pattison adding: “Congrats you guys!!! Absolutely beautiful (sic)”

Soap star Charles Venn shared: “God is Great, congratulations on the birth of your beautiful Prince, my bro (sic)”

Katie Price’s ex Kieran Hayler shared: “Congratulations mate.”

And it was back to usual fatherhood duties for Harvey as he posted a video on his Instagram story where he admitted he was no longer cool in the eyes of his eldest daughter.

Explaining what happened, he told his followers: “So I’m officially not cool no more. I just dropped my 11-year-old daughter to school. I said, ‘Princess would you like me to walk you into school.’ She said, ‘No dad, I can’t be seen with you walking me into school.’ Well it’s that time.”

Gwyneth Paltrow’s enlightening London move

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 03:00 AM PDT

Gwyneth Paltrow felt “so awake” after moving to London.

The ‘Goop’ founder moved to the British capital in 2003 after marrying Coldplay’s Chris Martin and she has revealed how the big move put her in a constant “observational state”.

Speaking at her first UK Goop festival over the weekend, she said: “One of the most important parts of living here was the experience of living in a foreign place for a very long time and establishing a life here but it made me really see [things] which other people might think are mundane in such a new way and I felt so awake because of it. I found myself constantly being in that observational state and asking a lot of questions, and I think that’s a big part of the reason why Goop was born here in London – out of that kind of consciousness of being so curious … and displaced.”

Meanwhile, Gwyneth previously confessed she “loves” being in her 40s and she no longer worries what other people think of her.

She said: “I am no longer in my 20s and 30s, I am 46 and I love being in my 40s. I think there is this incredible freedom that comes with a woman in her 40s and understanding that this is who I am and I’ve stopped worrying so much about what people think of me … I have two incredible children who give me a full run for my money every day. I have this incredible company, I love my role and I love my team. I love the challenges that come with it. I wake up every day [and] my days are very challenging but I feel like I have a lot of agency and I feel so thrilled by all of the challenges and so excited.”

The Story of India’s Many Scripts

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 02:50 AM PDT

Only a few years ago, things did not seem to be going well for India’s various alphabets, often known as the Indic or Brahmic scripts after the historical Iron Age script that is the ancestor of modern South and Southeast Asian writing systems. Digitalization and the widespread proliferation of Roman-alphabet keyboards in India meant that Indian users would often transcribe Indian languages using ad hoc Romanizations on the internet and via text.

Yet today, one can’t follow the Indian Twittersphere or Indian content on social media and the rest of the internet without noticing the recent proliferation of Indic script material, particularly Devanagari (the script used for Hindi, Marathi, and Nepali). Technology and innovation helped this process along, and instead of shrinking the sphere of Indic script usage, they allow Indic scripts to be used more broadly, especially at the popular level. The use of Unicode, and the spread of Indic script transliteration and typing interfaces on Google, and on phones—which is how most Indians access the Internet—have all made it much easier to publish online in Indic scripts. Many phones and computers in India are not specifically designed with Indic script keyboards and instead use the Roman alphabet keyboards common in the West. Transliteration software renders this moot. The increased use of Indic-language scripts has also lead to newer and more artistic fonts for Indian languages.

In short, this is a golden age for Indic language script usage, due to technology and increased literacy. This is despite both the proliferation of English-language education in India, and the shoddy quality of public schools in that country. The very nature of modernity, with its mass communication, advertisements, social platforms, and the spread of information and entertainment to everyone with a smartphone, means that everyone will eventually gain and utilize basic literacy, even if by osmosis and not formal education. And most of this literacy in India will be in local languages. This will be the first time in India’s recorded history that its scripts are being used so widely.

India has a long history of writing. While India has been a literate culture for millennia, it has also greatly valued oral knowledge. The ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, the oldest of which dated to around 1500 BCE were memorized verbatim for at least a thousand years, if not more, before being committed to writing. The oldest writing found in the subcontinent is the as yet undeciphered script of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC), which seems to have been somewhat logo-syllabic in nature. The script fell out of use by 1500 BCE.

The Indus Valley Script. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The linguistic landscape of the subcontinent changed dramatically during the 2nd millennium BCE, so that is is impossible to determine if there is a connection between the IVC script and the next clearly attested script in India, the Brahmi script found in the inscriptions of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (ruled 268-232 BCE), especially since they probably represented vastly different, unrelated languages.

The sudden appearance of the Brahmi writing system is one of the great mysteries of writing in India, as there is no evidence of inscriptions beforehand. Another script, the (extinct, childless)  Kharosthi of northwest Pakistan and Afghanistan seems to be clearly derived from the imperial Aramaic script used by the Persians who ruled over parts of the Indus Valley for two centuries until the arrival of Alexander the Great. It is unclear if the fully developed Brahmi script was invented by the Mauryan Empire as a result of exposure to Aramaic, but this seems unlikely, particularly since there were advanced states in the Ganges valley and a corpus of Vedic literature dating from before the Mauryan period.

It is more likely that pre-Mauryan inscriptions may still be discovered, and in fact, some Brahmi inscriptions have been found in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka dating to the 6th century BCE. Is it possible then, that writing spread from the south to the north, countervening the traditional notion that the Indic scripts originate in the Ganges valley? This may quite possibly be the case, especially since the coasts of southern India were more exposed to foreign trade from the Middle East than northern India, and scripts from traders could have been brought to India this way (the same way the Phoenicians brought their script to Greece). This long gestation period and overland route from southern to northern India may explain why the Brahmi script, even if it is vaguely derived from Middle Eastern alphabets, is so different and nativized, especially relative to the more obviously Middle Eastern-inspired Kharosthi.

The Possible Evolution of Brahmi from Middle Eastern Scripts. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Once the Brahmi script was spread throughout India by the subcontinent-wide Mauryan Empire, it was used by the subcontinent’s elites.However, unlike imperial China with its unified central government and bureaucratic exam system, and Christian and Muslim societies that were united by a written scripture, oral culture and regional differences in India led to the Brahmi script differentiating and evolving into different scripts in various regions of India, a phenomenon that was already occurring by the end of the Maruyan period in the 2nd century BCE. This phenomenon—each literary language having a particular and unique script—is not actually that unique to India, as the various languages of the ancient Near East and Mediterranean also evolved their own scripts from a common source.

The increased need for quicker, daily writing, versus use for monumental inscriptions may have led to the predominance of cursive styles that evolved into India’s modern scripts. Various other factors may have been at play, such as the material used for writing: in South India, scripts became more rounded, as a result of writing on palm leaves, while in North India, cloth and birch bark allowed for more angular lines, and indeed the major division amongst Brahmic scripts is between the southern Indian/Southeast Asian scripts and the northern Indian and Tibetan scripts.

The Differentiation of Brahmi Letter Shapes. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Regional linguistic differences also helped Indic writing proliferate into many scripts in both South and Southeast Asia. It became prestigious for every major language to have its own script, though what evolved into today’s Devanagari (which began to emerge by the 7th century CE) script retained a special prestige due to its close association with Sanskrit. It is unclear if the evolution of Indic scripts into new forms would have ever stopped had it not been for the standardization process that is necessary for a print-oriented mass modern society. Relatively recently, for example, Devanagari spawned new, regional variations such as the Gujarati script, indicating that there was no real “final form” in the evolution of letter shapes in Indic writing. This seems to have remained the case, even when Indic-script users were exposed to the more unchanging Roman and Arabic alphabets.

The Evolution of Letter Shapes. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The change in letter forms leading to new scripts was probably so slow, generation by generation, that the process did not necessarily involve conscious change from one script to another, but a slow evolution of differences in letter formation as texts were copied throughout the ages. A similar development occurred in medieval Europe with the Latin script, but the development of the printing press, and Renaissance ideas about how the Latin script ought to look like led to a typographical convergence.

Brahmi and Devanagari found together on a pillar. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The evolution of Brahmi into so many scripts over time in India does however raise the question of what individuals and scribes thought about the changes upon becoming aware—and they were aware, as inscriptions in multiple different Indian scripts have been found together, like Kannada with Devanagari—of the fact that their contemporary writing systems were divergent in separate regions, and were also vastly different from the forms found in inscriptions and ancient documents. While 19th century scribes of Indian scripts were unable to tell the British what was written on ancient pillars from the Mauryan Era (the British deciphered Brahmi in 1837), this inability to read ancient forms of writing does not always seem to be the case. In fact, there have been examples of Mauryan, Gupta, and early Nagari inscriptions found together, with each subsequent script alluding to the content of what was written before it in a predecessor script.

But that fact that this knowledge was lost over time and that Indian scripts differentiated into so many forms does seem to indicate that literacy was not widespread and was limited to pockets of individuals, a trend which probably accelerated due to the eclipse of a pan-Indian literary culture after the 12th century. Before the emergence of a modern, mass culture throughout India, writing styles and scripts were particular to regions, and even castes, with scribes and merchants often utilizing their own scripts, which were usually simpler forms of the more formal monumental alphabets used for official or religious purposes.

However, modern trends such as the emergence of a politically unified, subcontinent-wide state in India, new scholarship, and technology seem to be reversed the differentiation that has characterized Indian scripts for past 2,000 years. The literacy of hundred of millions of people in native scripts makes it unlikely that the shapes of letters used by millions of people everyday for communication will change anytime soon, as that would lead to confusion and a lack of communication. The standardization and use of some scripts for mass print and online have also led to the decline of caste and trade based scripts, as well as many local variations. Many hitherto unwritten modern languages are now written in established scripts, usually the script most prevalent in that particular state of India’s, instead of evolving a new script for the language.

While India’s scripts are ancient, technology and modernity are changing their usage patterns, and are in fact allowing them to thrive as never before in standardized and widely used forms, as more people gain literacy and access to the internet.

How Many Xi-Trump Personal Truces Will It Take to End the Trade War?

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 02:38 AM PDT

How many times can Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump agree to a personal truce before things turn sour again? At their meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, the two men agreed to a resumption of the stalled trade negotiations but failed to come to any kind of grand bargain or deal.

To create a better environment for the talks, Trump agreed not to go ahead with his threat to impose new tariffs on about $300 billion worth of Chinese imports, but details of what else was agreed in Japan remain elusive. The meeting did, however, represent a watershed moment in the progression of the trade war.

The outcome won’t delight global markets but it should prevent a major reversal of the slowly improving sentiment since May. Though after their 80-minute meeting – held exactly seven days before the 12-month anniversary of the start of the trade war on July 6 – Trump and Xi are no closer to settling it.

One of the most important outcomes of the G20 encounter concerns the fate of Chinese tech giant Huawei. Trump has taken a conciliatory approach, allowing the sale of U.S. components to continue while reviewing the export control measures that had been announced some weeks earlier.

For Xi, as was the case with ZTE in 2017, the Huawei outcome is an important one. The United States’ national security concerns over the company haven’t evaporated and the company’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou’s extradition is still pending, but broader concerns that American export restrictions would stamp out Huawei’s ability to survive in the hardware space in the short-term will be eased.

Insofar as the United States is interested in bringing about a change in Chinese behaviour, the action against Huawei was a major source of leverage. Trump’s commitment to Xi to back off on Huawei – at least on export controls – will allow for a certain level of confidence to return to the talks, but it also weakens the American position.

In the rest of Asia, the United States’ sanctions against Huawei were taken as an indicator of the seriousness with which Washington treats the underlying national security threat from the company. Backing off now may confirm the suspicions of sceptics in many of these countries: that American concerns were exaggerated all along and motivated by political concerns about China.

The move on Huawei wasn’t the only miss in Osaka for American interests. If Trump and Xi discussed the full gamut of issues underlying the U.S.-China relationship, that wasn’t made clear in the American president’s public remarks.

For instance, while the G20 convened, Chinese coastal authorities announced, for the first time, a maritime exclusion zone in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea to conduct a week-long set of military exercises. While freedom of navigation remains a core U.S. interest, Trump showed no interest in this development.

The major risk ahead is that the cycle we’ve seen play out over the past year will repeat itself: a high-level Trump-Xi encounter will give way to frictions at the working-level as the U.S. president’s deputies insist on major Chinese concessions. While Trump himself has taken a strong line on trade, like on other issues, he reveals a conciliatory face in one-on-one settings.

Beyond their latest meeting, it’s unclear if the fundamentals will improve for a U.S.-China trade deal. The United States will continue to emphasise major Chinese concessions while Beijing will continue to feel unilaterally besieged. Meanwhile, the effects of the trade war on the U.S. economy increase and the country enters a critical election year.

The G20 experience, however, will largely confirm a view in Beijing and among the global investor class that whenever the trade war heats up next and should the next round of working-level talks fall apart like those in May, a Trump-Xi personal encounter might be the prescription to return a modicum of normalcy to the world’s most important bilateral relationship.

This article first appeared in the South China Morning Post. It is republished here with kind permission.

Wild Bunch Sets Up Standalone Sales Banner Under Vincent Maraval

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 02:36 AM PDT

Wild Bunch is spinning off its international sales operation as a standalone company, Wild Bunch International (WBI), under French film industry veteran Vincent Maraval, who co-founded the original firm with Brahim Chioua and Vincent Grimond 17 years ago.

The new outfit, which is being set up as a subsidiary of Wild Bunch, will handle world distribution on French and foreign films. Its aim is to handle 20 to 30 films per year, according to documents filed at the Paris commercial court. WBI will pick up all of Wild Bunch’s sales business, including on library titles, even though the library will still be owned by Wild Bunch, a company rep told Variety.

In a statement, Wild Bunch said that the new setup would enable Wild Bunch to “expand its portfolio of film financing and sales activities, including working with third-party partners.”

“For our international sales department, this streamlined structure offers exciting growth prospects that will benefit the entire Wild Bunch family from both a creative and financial perspective,” said Grimond, Wild Bunch’s CEO. “These limited changes create an opportunity for the Wild Bunch Group to spread its international sales costs on a broader portfolio of films, generating a positive impact on its overhead costs.”

As WBI’s chief, Maraval will continue working alongside Eva Diederix, the head of international sales at Wild Bunch. WBI will be based at Wild Bunch’s headquarters in Paris. Wild Bunch will also handle WBI’s back office.

“This reorganization will have nothing but a positive impact but positive on our willingness and ability to attract new talents and to support and promote creative ambition” Maraval said. He added that the launch of WBI “also comes from the desire of the international sales team to focus more on market changes and to diversify the services we want to offer talents and producers abroad.”

Wild Bunch does not currently have a capital stake in WBI, according to the Paris commercial court registry, but the Wild Bunch rep told Variety that the company intends to take a stake in WBI in the future. Maraval and Chioua set up the new company together and are currently the only two shareholders, with Maraval owning 85%. Like Maraval, Chioua remains a co-managing director of Wild Bunch.

Wild Bunch AG, the Frankfurt-listed parent company of Wild Bunch, recently completed its restructuring plan with SWB Finance B.V., a vehicle owned by Wild Bunch AG’s biggest German shareholder, Lars Windhorst. Keeping Maraval on board at Wild Bunch was one of the prerequisites for the deal with SWB Finance because Maraval was identified as a key asset to the company because of his relationship with filmmakers. As such, Maraval remains a shareholder and co-managing director of Wild Bunch.

CAA Media Finance, the independent financing arm of CAA, will continue to collaborate with Wild Bunch via WBI. CAA has long represented the U.S. rights to Wild Bunch titles and has also been working with Wild Bunch to source attractive local projects and producers as part of its international push. CAA has also been involved with IMR, the L.A.-based sales company that Maraval is running with Marc Butan and Kim Fox.

Recent Wild Bunch films include Ladj Ly’s Cannes Jury Prize-winner “Les Miserables“; Rebecca Zlotowski’s “An Easy Girl,” which received the Directors’ Fortnight SDAC Prize at Cannes; and Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s “Young Ahmed,” which received the best director award at Cannes.

Wild Bunch’s biggest shareholder as of today is ADS Securities, an Abu Dhabi-based financial services company linked to Windhorst, with an 8.91% stake. Grimond has an 8.59% stake. Maraval and Chioua have 3.18% and 6.76% stakes, respectively, and Windhorst has a 3.41% stake.

Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval Sets Up Stand-Alone Banner

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 02:36 AM PDT

French film industry veteran Vincent Maraval has launched Wild Bunch International (WBI), a stand-alone company which is being set up as a subsidiary of Wild Bunch SA, the company which Maraval co-founded with Brahim Chioua and Vincent Grimond 17 years ago.

WBI is an international sales outfit which will handle world distribution on French and foreign films. WBI’s aim is to handle 20 to 30 films per year, according to the registry of the Paris commercial court.

Wild Bunch AG, the Frankurt-listed parent company of Wild Bunch SA, recently completed its restructuring plan with SWB Finance B.V., a vehicle owned by Wild Bunch AG’s biggest German shareholder, Lars Windhorst. Keeping Maraval on board at Wild Bunch was one of the prerequisites to get rescued financially because Maraval was identified as a key asset to the company, notably due to his relationship with filmmakers. As such, Maraval remains a shareholder and co-managing director of Wild Bunch.

Wild Bunch, meanwhile, does not have a stake in WBI, according to the register of the Paris commercial court. Maraval and Chioua set up the new company together and are currently the only two shareholders with Maraval and owning 80%. Along with Maraval, Chioua is still co-managing director of Wild Bunch.

Wild Bunch said in a statement that “the newly-formed entity (will aim) to expand (the company’s) portfolio of film financing and sales activities, including working with third-party partners.”

“For our international sales department, this streamlined structure offers exciting growth prospects that will benefit the entire Wild Bunch family from both a creative and financial perspective,” said Vincent Grimond, the CEO of Wild Bunch. “These limited changes create an opportunity for the Wild Bunch Group to spread its international sales costs on a broader portfolio of films, generating a positive impact on its overhead costs,” added Grimond.

Maraval, who presides WBI, will continue working alongside Eva Diederix, the head of international sales at Wild Bunch, and will be working from Wild Bunch’s headquarters in Paris. Wild Bunch will also handle WBI’s back office.

“This reorganization will have nothing but a positive impact but positive on our willingness and ability to attract new talents and to support and promote creative ambition” said Maraval.

He said the launch of WBI “also comes from the desire of the international sales team to focus more on market changes and to diversify the services we want to offer talents and producers abroad.”

CAA Media Finance, the independent financing arm of CAA, will be collaborating with WBI. CAA has long represented the U.S. rights to Wild Bunch titles and has also been working with Wild Bunch to source attractive local projects and producers as part of its international push. CAA has also been involved with IMR, the L.A.-based sales company which Maraval is running with Marc Butan and Kim Fox.

Recent Wild Bunch films include Ladj Ly’s Cannes Jury Prize-winner “Les Miserables;” Rebecca Zlotowski’s “An Easy Girl” which received the Directors’ Fortnight SDAC Prize at Cannes; and Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s “Young Ahmed” which received best director award at Cannes.

Wild Bunch’s biggest shareholder as of today is ADS Securities, an Abu Dhabi-based financial services company linked to Windhorst, with an 8,91% stake. Grimond has an 8,59% stake. Maraval and Chioua have a 3,18% and 6.76% stakes, respectively, and Windhorst has a 3.41% stake.

Anubhav Sinha’s ‘Article 15’ Wins at London Indian Film Festival (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 02:33 AM PDT

Article 15” has scooped the audience award at the London Indian Film Festival. Anubhav Sinha‘s movie stars Ayushmann Khurrana and also opened the tenth edition of LIFF, which is Europe’s largest South Asian film festival.

Khurrana stars as a police officer from a privileged background in “Article 15,” which Zee Studios International is distributing. He is posted to rural north India and tasked with investigating the disappearance of three girls. The movie takes its name from the part of the Indian constitution prohibiting discrimination and draws inspiration from several real-life assault and murder cases that highlighted social injustice.

“I am so happy that the film actually connected with Indians abroad and with non-Indians alike, who are not facing this version of inequality on a daily basis,” Sinha said.

LIFF ran across five cities in the U.K. and, in addition to the screenings, the latest edition saw stars talking about the movies and their lives and the industry. Diversity and equality were in the spotlight. “Blinded by the Light” filmmaker Gurinder Chadha was given an Icon award and said that “working as a British Asian woman in the entertainment industry has many struggles, so it feels good to be recognized.”

Mental health was another focus at the festival, which is supported by the Bagri Foundation and the British Film Institute. Anurag Kashyap, who won an Icon award, was interviewed by “Girl With a Pearl Earring” director Peter Webber and talked about dealing with depression. Radhika Apte took home an outstanding achievement accolade, and spoke about her battle with anxiety.

“On our tenth Birthday year I’m delighted that we have not only expanded to five cities with 100 screenings, but also showcased our strongest film selection ever, helmed by the world premiere of politically daring film ‘Article 15′,” said LIFF director Cary Rajinder Sawhney.

He added: “Continuing to push the boundaries of diversity, I’m very pleased that our women protagonist led and LGBTQ+ themed films have seen audiences flocking to them, redefining images of Indian and South Asian culture in the media.”

Other LIFF winners included Buddhadeb Dasgupta who scooped an Icon award, Richie Mehta who landed an outstanding achievement accolade, and Harshvardhan Kapoor who won the rising star honor.

China Box Office: ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Nets $97 Million Debut

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 02:03 AM PDT

Spider-Man: Far From Home” swung into the China box office with a $97.2 million opening weekend, according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway — the fourth best debut of all time for a superhero film in the territory, behind April’s “Avengers: Endgame,” last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Venom.” The June 28 China release came days before its scheduled July 2 North American opening.

The haul makes the new Jon Watts-directed take on the web-slinging schoolboy Sony‘s second highest-ever grossing title in China, and the seventh best all time opening for a studio film in the Middle Kingdom. The sequel to 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” it has earned 46% more in its debut than its predecessor, and 17% more than “Captain Marvel.” Of the weekend total, $10.8 million came from its appearance on 620 Imax screens.

“Endgame” exited theaters in China about a month ago with a massive $614 million haul — a sign of how deep the Marvel fandom runs in the region — but Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan is currently predicting that “Far From Home” will take in a much more modest $181 million (RMB1.24 billion).

Japanese animated classic “Spirited Away” continued to soar pass “Toy Story 4” in both films’ second theatrical weekend. The nearly 20-year-old Studio Ghibli film came in second at the box office by once again earning more than double the Disney/Pixar title. It earned $11.7 million to the latter’s $5.2 million and brought its cumulative take to $54.5 million. “Toy Story 4” stands on $24.2 million after ten days in Chinese theaters. It is the first time this Hayao Miyazaki-directed film has had the chance to hit the Chinese big screen.

Chinese romantic comedy “My Best Summer” tied for fourth with local horror film “Mortal Ouija,” with both taking in $1.4 million over the weekend. Local Chinese fare has been particularly sparse and weak in recent weeks, and censors have made matters worse by cracking down on top titles that could have made a splash. Hong Kong director Derek Tsang’s youth drama “Better Days” was scheduled to open this past weekend, but had its debut abruptly cancelled just days before — leaving the playing field wide open for the charms of “Spider-Man.”

Another interesting entry at the box office this month has been the Russian sports drama “Going Vertical,” also known in English as “Three Seconds,” a 2017 feature that tells the story of the Soviet national basketball team’s controversial win over the U.S. at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Directed by Anton Megerdichev, it is Russia’s top grossing film of all time.

In China, it has been met with rave reviews online, receiving a 9.6 and 9.4 out of 10 from users on the country’s top ticketing platforms Maoyan and Tao Piaopiao, respectively, with a number writing of how audiences broke out into spontaneous applause. Coming seventh at the box office Monday afternoon, despite 19 days already in theaters, it has grossed $12 million (RMB82.9 million) so far — making it one of Russia’s most successful films ever in the Middle Kingdom, a country that has so far seen few breakout sports genre hits.

Rebecca Gibney Reprieves Role in ‘Halifax’ Iconic Australian Mini-Series

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 01:59 AM PDT

Rebecca Gibney, Anthony LaPaglia and Jessica Marais head the cast of crime thriller mini-series “Halifax: Retribution.” The show is the revival of an iconic Australian series that ran on the Nine Network for six seasons from 1994 to 2002, starring Gibney.

In the new show, produced for Nine, Gibney’s forensic psychiatrist character is called back from academia to the police front line when a serial sniper begins attacking Melbourne.

Original creator and writer Roger Simpson (“Stingers,” “Satisfaction,” “Good Guys, Bad Guys”) returns as writer and producer, alongside executive producer Mikael Borglund and writers Mac Gudgeon (“Killing Time”), Peter Gawler (“Underbelly”) and the Oscar-nominated Jan Sardi (“Shine”).

Production starts next month in Melbourne with Jacqueline McKenzie (“Safe Harbour,” “Romper Stomper,”), Rick Donald (“800 Words,” “A Place to Call Home,”), Hannah Monson (“Glitch”), Craig Hall (“A Place to Call Home,” “The Doctor Blake Mysteries”), Mavournee Hazel (“Neighbours,” “My Life Is Murder”) and Louisa Mignone (“Secret City: Under the Eagle,” “Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries”) among the supporting cast.

“Halifax: Retribution” is a Beyond Lonehand Production with major production investment from Screen Australia, in association with Film Victoria. Beyond Distribution is handling international sales of the series and will launch it at MIPCOM 2019.

Beyond Lone Hand continues a long association between executive producers Borglund and Simpson which began with Beyond Simpson Le Mesurier in the 1980s. “Halifax Retribution” is the inaugural production of their new joint venture.

Billie Eilish Mesmerizes Glastonbury Crowd With Life-Affirming Performance

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 01:14 AM PDT

The masses assembled for Billie Eilish‘s Glastonbury debut defied categorization. There were teens as well as kids as young as eight years-old. You saw babies strapped into Ergo carriers and Grandparents well into their seventies. One thing they did have in common? All looked collectively enraptured by Eilish’s inaugural performance at the massive U.K. festival.

What’s the draw to this prodigious 17 year-old? Eilish’s world is one of wariness and precociousness. She takes on issues of loneliness and adolescent suicide in her songs (“Bury a Friend”), the sort of morose subject matter that attracts a particularly soulful mix of fans — in the case of her Sunday early evening set, a crowd that went bonkers (to filch an English phrase) with rapt enthusiasm. NME described Eilish as a “once-in-a-generation star” following her Glasto performance. We’d simply call that hour of music on the Other Stage life-affirming.

Glastonbury draws some 200,000 attendees each year, and about 40,000 of them were at Eilish’s historic performance on June 30. About that same number were at Miley Cyrus‘ show, which was playing concurrently over at the Pyramid Stage. Meaning: Eilish was just as big a draw as Cyrus, who, odd as it might sound given Cyrus is only in her 20s, is already an iconic veteran of the music biz.

Joined throughout her set by her co-writer brother, Finneas O’Connell, on keyboards, Eilish opened with “Bad Guy.” The crowd responded with wanton zeal, breaking into euphoric hysterics, jumping and filming video footage with their iPhones and screeching with sheer joy. Despite technical issues, which Eilish noted resulted in her looking “angry as f-k,” she danced her ass off with wild abandon and she endlessness engaged the crowd. At one point, she had the entire audience crouch down low and then pop up toward the sky in a sea of orgasmic fervor.

Toward the end of her set she recalled the first time she played London, for a capacity-sized crowd of some 200 people. The highlight of her career, she said. She then looked out at the sea of faces and commented that it was as if “the entire world was staring” at her, and she wanted them to stare at her “straight in the eye.”

Eilish next asked everyone to put away their phones, because she wanted to be “present,” remarking, “There’s no other time in the history of the world where all of us will have this experience, at this time, at this moment, at this age. We’ll never get this moment back.” Moments later, she launched into her “Ocean Eyes,” a a lugubrious yet softer sounding ballad that showcased her impressive vocal range.

“If you absolutely despise yourself, this song is for you,” Eilish followed, introducing “idontwannabeyouanymore”.

It’s this artistic duality of Eilish — fresh-faced California teen; gloomy depressive — that was so mesmerizing to observe, culminating in set closer, and bonafide pop hit “Bury Your Friend.” Another example of Eilish’s unique duality, it’s a morbid dirge about teenage suicide, but all around, kids as young as nine and ten were singing along gleefully. And you wonder: Do these kids know that Eilish is singing about death? Is this collective expression of impassioned awareness and youthful ruin over the demise of human life the most beautiful thing you’ve ever witnessed or is it deeply disturbing?

With Billie Eilish, it’s a complexing and enrapturing combination of both.

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