#Discussion

#Discussion


Amazon Exec Fires Back at John Oliver After HBO Segment on Warehouses: ‘He Is Wrong’

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 07:31 AM PDT

Amazon isn’t amused by HBO’s “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” most recent episode, which included a takedown of the ecommerce giant’s warehouses.

Oliver, in the show’s June 30 broadcast, broadly decried the low pay and grueling conditions of warehouse workers, and specifically called out “brutal” and “physically draining” working conditions at Amazon‘s fulfillment centers — including citing workers who were denied bathroom breaks. “The more you look at Amazon, the more you realize its convenience comes with a real cost,” Oliver said in the program.

The English comedian/commenter accused Amazon of “creating a system that squeezes the people lowest on the ladder hard, and all the while the man behind Amazon” — founder and CEO Jeff Bezos — “is now worth $118 billion, more than anyone else in the world.”

Oliver did give Amazon some credit even as he singled out the mega-company. “Look, Amazon is not the worst actor in this industry. They generally don’t subcontract out their warehouses, and they made headlines last year for raising workers’ base pay to $15 an hour,” he said. “But being not the worst is a low, low bar. And they have huge influence here.”

In response to Oliver’s report, Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior VP of operations, posted on Twitter that the “Last Week Tonight” host was wrong — and called Oliver’s characterization of the company’s business practices “insulting.”

“As a fan of the show, I enjoy watching John make an entertaining case for the failings of companies, governments and most recently – Mount Everest,” Clark wrote in a tweet Monday. “But he is wrong on Amazon.”

According to Clark, Oliver and “Last Week Tonight” producers declined Amazon’s invitation to tour one of its facilities. “If they had they would have met the amazing people who work in our operations,” Clark wrote. “I am proud of our team and to suggest they would work in an environment like the one portrayed is insulting.”

Abrams Artists Agency Offers to Stop Packaging Fees in Writers Guild Dispute

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 07:23 AM PDT

Abrams Artists Agency has offered to accept Writers Guild of America‘s key requirements in order to return to representing WGA members again, three months after the bitter dispute began.

According to an Abrams spokesperson, the agency will stop taking packaging fees and not to engage in affiliate production if it can represent WGA members. The offer is conditional, in that Abrams won’t sign the WGA Code of Conduct due to the code’s requirements about information sharing. The WGA has not yet responded.

The WGA directed its members on April 12 to fire their agents following the major agencies’ refusal to sign onto a new Code of Conduct, which bars the agencies from collecting packaging fees and from owning interests in production companies. Five days later, the WGA and eight members sued CAA, WME, UTA and ICM Partners, alleging the agencies have been acting illegally in collecting packaging fees.

The union argues that the fees create an unlawful conflict of interest and it’s persuaded about 70 smaller agencies to sign the code. Verve, which has about 30 agents, agreed to the Code on May 16 and is by far the most prominent agency to sign on. Abrams has about 65 agents.

The WGA has been hit by a trio of suits by CAA, WME and UTA alleging that the guild is abusing its collective bargaining authority. The WGA has brushed off the suits and sent a cease-and-desist letter on June 28 to the Association of Talent Agents and the top eight agencies, accusing them of having engaged in “collusive actions that constitute unlawful restraints of trade” under the Sherman Act including collusion and price-fixing.

Negotiations with the Association of Talent Agents have been futile, collapsing twice — first on April 12 and again on June 7. WGA West president David Goodman announced on June 20 that the guild would only negotiate with WME, CAA, UTA, ICM Partners, Paradigm, Gersh, APA, Rothman Brecher and Kaplan Stahler. None of the agencies have done so, insisting that they will only bargain through the ATA.

Abrams is a member of the ATA. The APA has not responded to a request for comment about the Abrams offer.

Summers, Dana – Color Editorial Cartoon – 20190702edsuc-a.tif

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 07:07 AM PDT

SUMMERS; HUMANITARIAN AID BILL; HOUSE; CONGRESS; AOC; VOTE; BORDER

IFC Films Buys Chris Morris’ ‘The Day Shall Come’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 07:00 AM PDT

IFC Films has acquired U.S. rights to Chris Morris‘ “The Day Shall Come,” an incisive satire about a misbegotten FBI sting operation. It marks the British filmmaker’s follow-up to “Four Lions,” a boundary-pushing comedy about a group of terrorist jihadis that hit theaters in 2010. “The Day Shall Come” premiered to positive reviews at this year’s SXSW.

The film follows Moses Al Shabaz (Marchánt Davis), a political activist who runs a mission in the Miami projects with his wife Venus (Danielle Brooks). Moses bans guns from his community, fights crime and harbors dreams of a government overthrow, but he also struggles financially. In order to save his family from eviction, he accepts $50,000 in return for taking possession of illegal guns for his “revolution.” Unbeknownst to Moses, his sponsor works for the FBI. In the opening title card, Morris writes that the film is “based on a hundred true stories.” IFC will release the film theatrically and on demand Sept. 27.

“The Day Shall Come” features a standout turn by newcomer Davis and boasts a cast that includes Anna Kendrick, stand-up comic Jim Gaffigan, and Denis O’Hare (“True Blood”). The film is produced by See-Saw Films’ Iain Canning and Emile Sherman, Archer Gray’s Anne Carey, Chris Morris and Derrin Schlesinger. It was made with support from Film4, Riverstone Pictures and the BFI (awarding funds from the National Lottery). It was produced in association with FilmNation Entertainment, Cross City Films, and Archer Gray.

The deal for the film was negotiated by Arianna Bocco, IFC’s EVP of acquisitions and production. FilmNation represented the filmmakers.

Kate Bosworth takes step away from acting to push change

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 07:00 AM PDT

Kate Bosworth has taken a step back from acting to “be the change”.

The 36-year-old star has opted to move behind the camera and focus on her and husband Michael Polish’s production company, Make Pictures, in order to “tell meaningful stories” and make a difference to the world.

She told Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper: “I no longer wanted to be involved in a limited capacity.

“I feel an intense need and I have an insatiable drive to tell meaningful stories, ones with impact.

“We understood that if you want to make change you have to step in and be the change.

“We urge one another to make the world a better place through our art.”

The ‘Blue Crush’ actress previously admitted she feels “hopeful” about the future of Hollywood after accusations about sexual misconduct allegedly carried out by several movie executives, including Harvey Weinstein, came to light, and she hoped that both men and women will get involved in helping to rid the industry of such behaviour in the future.

She said: “What I’m hopeful and positive about is this idea of coming together and inclusiveness. That means women and men.”

The ‘Homefront’ actress was particularly keen for men to come forward and show their support to women who claim to have been sexually harassed, and she admitted she felt “really optimistic” about the future.

She said: “We really need great men to step in and say, ‘I understand and identify with what the issue is, and I stand with you.’ So please know it’s an inclusive issue and something everyone needs to come together on. I feel really optimistic.”

‘Warrior’ Julianne Hough praised by husband

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 07:00 AM PDT

Julianne Hough’s husband Brooks Laich has praised her for being a “warrior” in their bid to start a family.

The ‘America’s Got Talent’ judge and her spouse recently revealed they are trying IVF treatment in order to start a family of their own after Julianne’s battle with endometriosis has made it difficult for her to conceive naturally and the 36-year-old hockey player is full of admiration for his wife because of the invasive processes she’s had to go through.

He told People magazine: “Knowing she has endometriosis, it could potentially make things challenging in the future to conceive naturally. That was just a looking at the big picture and what we want as a family.

“The commitment that she made to us having a family is something I’ll never forget.”

The 30-year-old dancer – who has also had her eggs frozen – was also called a “champion” by her husband after enduring three injections a day for two weeks and dealing with mood swings caused by the hormone treatments.

And Brooks just whats to do whatever he can to support his spouse.

He said: “As a husband, I just go into full support mode. Whatever my wife needs, whatever I can do, I’m fighting the smallest portion of the fight with her.

“There are certain things in my wife’s life that I know she appreciates that help her feel calm and help her feel relaxed, so I double those efforts during that time just to show that I’m there with her and I support her.”

The sportsman admitted going through IVF is usually a “private” process but he and Julianne want to fight the stigma around fertility issues.

He said: “The outpouring has been incredible.

“Text messages from friends that I didn’t even know were considering it, messages on Twitter and Facebook, Instagram, people thanking us for opening up about that. I just hope it helps people.”

Scooter Braun open to ‘private conversation’ with Taylor Swift

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 07:00 AM PDT

Scooter Braun is “open to having a private conversation” with Taylor Swift following his acquisition of Big Machine records.

The 38-year-old entertainment manager purchased the record label – which Taylor was signed to from 2005 to 2018 – from Scott Borchetta over the weekend for a reported $300 million, and with it acquired the ‘ME!’ hitmaker’s back catalogue of master recordings.

Following the news, 29-year-old Taylor – who has previously accused Scooter of “bullying” her – posted a lengthy statement in which she said she felt “grossed out” by the business deal, and insisted she never got a chance to buy her master recordings herself.

Since posting her statement – which detailed the deal as her “worst case scenario” – several stars have come to the defence of both Taylor and Scooter with public statements, but Scooter himself has remained silent, with sources now saying he’ll only discuss the matter in private with the ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ singer.

An insider told Us Weekly magazine: “Scooter is open to having a private conversation with Taylor to clear up everything that went down. He reposted some messages of support on his Instagram Stories, but he has no intention of releasing a formal statement and blowing up the situation even more than it already has been. This is between Scooter and Taylor, not the world.”

So far, the likes of Taylor’s ‘ME!’ collaborator Brendon Urie, Halsey, and Cara Delevingne have publicly shared messages of support for Taylor, whilst Nicki Minaj, Adele, Miley Cyrus, Gwen Stefani, Rihanna, Lana Del Rey, Selena Gomez and Camila Cabello have all reportedly stopped following Scooter on social media since the row broke out.

Ariana Grande originally posted a message of support for Scooter – who is her manager – on her Instagram Story, but later deleted the post, while another of Scooter’s artists, Justin Bieber, has publicly defended him.

Meanwhile, former Big Machine Records boss Scott Borchetta has disputed Taylor’s account and insisted she was offered a new record deal which would have given her back all her “assets”, including the master recordings and implied she knew about the deal before it was announced, something which the ‘Bad Blood’ hitmaker’s representative later insisted wasn’t the case.

WarnerMedia’s Upfront Driven By Digital Video, Not Traditional TV

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 06:33 AM PDT

Demand for digital advertising drove the bulk of demand for WarnerMedia‘s “upfront” sales efforts, according to a person familiar with the matter, suggesting Madison Avenue is turning more avidly to some of the industry’s most traditional providers for the newest forms of video marketing even as they ponder how much to spend on traditional TV.

The company, making outreach to advertisers for the first time since being purchased by AT&T, saw double-digit increases in spending on such venues as video-on-demand and broadband video, this person said. But advertisers spent approximately the same amount on traditional linear TV as they did last year.

WarnerMedia was selling ad commitments for such assets as CNN, TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network, along with some syndication ads for Warner Brothers productions. HBO’s programs do not include advertising. The company’s TV unit, formerly known as Turner, won $1.1 billion in advertising in the fourth quarter of 2018 and $1.3 billion in advertising in the first quarter of 2019.

Advertisers increased the amount of commitments placed on so-called “audience buying,” or schedules of commercials designed to reach more specific kinds of consumers, such as first-time car buyers or expectant mothers. The company saw double the amount of investment year-over-year, this person said.

The company expects its volume of advance ad commitments to be in line with the rest of the TV market, this person said. Executives on both sides of this year’s haggle suggest volume overall may be up around 5%.

 

Amazon Nets Starbucks-Produced ‘This Is Football’ Documentary Series

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 06:29 AM PDT

Amazon has ordered a documentary series to go from Starbucks. “This is Football” will span the globe and tell six stories about the global power of soccer. Veteran producer and film exec Joe Roth, an owner of the Seattle Sounders team, will exec produce the series. It will go out in the U.S. and internationally as an Amazon original.

U.K. indie October Films, known for its series for U.K. broadcasters including “Walking the Nile” and “Walking the Americas,” is making the show with its Spanish counterpart Brutal Media, and Starbucks.

The six one-hour episodes have titles including “Belief,” “Love,” and “Pride.” Episodes will look at football’s uplifting role in Rwanda after the genocide, the rise of the women’s game, and Barcelona and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi.

James Erskine (“One Night in Turin”) will serve as creative director. Emmy-nominated composer Lorne Balfe (“Mission Impossible: Fallout”) will score the series. Filming has taken place around the world, including in Argentina, China, Rwanda, and the U.S.

Amazon has pushed into sports and sports docs with shows including “All or Nothing: Manchester City” about the English Premier League soccer side. The streamer has also secured a package of rights to show live Premier League matches.

Hollywood North: The Canadian Film and Television Industry Marks Canada Day in Los Angeles

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 06:25 AM PDT

“You don’t mind a little Shania do you?”

From Shania Twain to Shawn Mendes, the hits were spinning Sunday as more than 300 people gathered at the Gallery Food Hall in Santa Monica, Calif., to celebrate Canada Day — the official national holiday of Canada, which marks the day the Canadian Constitution Act was passed in 1867, effectively uniting three, then-separate colonies into one country.

Canadian DJ Kristin Leeder (a.k.a. “DJ Filthy Gorgeous”) provided the tunes for the afternoon-long event, put on by Canadian expat organization, Canadians Abroad in conjunction with the Consulate General of Canada in Los Angeles. The party brought out people like Disney Channel actress Marieve Herington, TV host George Stroumboulopoulos, and “A Million Little Things” writer Julia Cohen at the buzzy new West Side food hall that’s home to fast-casual dining options from celebrity chefs like David Chang and “Top Chef” winner Michael Voltaggio.

Though Canada Day actually falls on July 1, the official celebrations in Los Angeles started Saturday, with an invite-only reception hosted by the Consul General of Canada in Los Angeles, Zaib Shaikh. Shaikh, a former actor best known for his starring role on the comedy series “Little Mosque” welcomed a small group of actors, directors and studio executives to his official residence located in Hancock Park, where he spoke of the continued need to champion homegrown talent.

From Ryan Reynoldsblockbuster sequel “Deadpool 2” to Sandra Oh‘s Emmy win for “Killing Eve,” it’s been a banner year for Canadian actors, and the country’s thriving film and television industry. A number of acclaimed productions are currently shooting in Canada, including Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and CBS All Access’ “Star Trek: Discovery,” which both film in Toronto. According to the Toronto Film and Television Office, 2018 marked the highest-ever number of projects shooting in Toronto, with 1,412 projects shooting more than 6,322 days of production.

In Vancouver, home to shows like “Riverdale” and “The Flash,” as well as films like “War For the Planet of The Apes” and “Deadpool,” the Vancouver Film Commission says almost $4 billion was spent on the industry in 2017, making Vancouver Canada’s top film hub, and the third-largest in North America. Filmmakers and showrunners in both cities benefit from the Canadian government’s Film or Video Production Tax Credit, which offers a credit of 25 per cent of qualified labor to Canadian-controlled production companies, with a credit of 16 per cent of qualified labor costs to Canadian­-controlled production companies and those with a permanent establishment in Canada.

For Shaikh (above right, at the Canadians Abroad party) who says he’s working to promote more Canadian-led productions both at home and in Hollywood, it’s a testament to the intrinsically Canadian values of cooperation and diversity that attracts people to the country.

“Canada offers a great combo of talent, both behind and in front of the camera, infrastructure in the form of top class studios and crews, and the economic stability of incentives that form the backbone of why billions of dollars worth of Hollywood production gets made in Canada,” he said.

Shaikh cites studios like Entertainment One and Lionsgate as companies that started out of Canada and now have major US and global production bases. “Then you have Warner Bros, CBS and Netflix, just to name a few, who have all made major investments in Canadian studios over the past few years,” he said.

For Trina Hendry, a PR director from Guelph, Ontario now based in Santa Monica, the secret to Canada’s success in Hollywood lies in its spirit of collaboration, and perhaps a little Canadian “aw shucks” charm.

“Film festivals, like the Toronto International Film Festival, are doing a great job of not only increasing visibility for Canadian-made films in Hollywood, but also bringing industry professionals around the world together to collaborate,” said Hendry, who has worked on projects for the festival, as well as events with people like Justin Timberlake, Jackie Chan and Eric McCormack. “But I also think Canadian actors have become so popular because being Canadian, by nature, we are somewhat self-deprecating and overly apologetic, and that lends itself to actors and directors not taking themselves too seriously and being willing to throw it all out there.”

Shaikh says the success of stars like Oh, Jim Carrey, Seth Rogen, and more recently, “Homecoming’s” Stephan James showcases the breadth of Canadian talent in TV and filmmaking that dates back to the early 1900s, when Mary Pickford moved from Toronto to Los Angeles, and became one of the first stars of the silver screen. “Canada and Canadians have always had a deep history of making the entertainment business what it is,” he said. The goal now is to continue the push for more Canadian-produced content to be seen.

Josh Isaak, a marketing executive from Vancouver who attended Sunday’s festivities, sums it up best: “Canadians have that perfect mix of grit and determination, but we’re also cultured, likeable and ready to put in the hard work to make things happen. Whether we’re working in entertainment, fashion, or tech, we’ve always been humble about our contributions,” he said, “but I think we’re finally ready to step into the spotlight.”

Kehlani Talks Nipsey Hussle, Cardi B and Shooting Videos While Pregnant

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 06:05 AM PDT

Kehlani has had a standout 2019, spawning both the critically acclaimed mixtape “While We Wait,” and a beautiful babygirl, Adeya. Both follow an almost-as-standout 2018, which saw the Bay Area singer-songwriter featured on Cardi B‘s “Ring,” a single from the rapper’s multiplatinum debut album “Invasion Of Privacy.” The song’s official music video has racked up more than 150 million views while the single has been certified double platinum.

Late last month, Variety caught up with Kehlani on the red carpet at the 32nd annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards in Los Angeles, where she discussed being honored alongside Cardi B for “Ring,” her friendship with the late Nipsey Hussle and more.

What does it mean to be honored at the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards?
I love it! Writing is one of my favorite parts of what I do. I started as a writer, then ventured into being an artist. It’s really important what you guys do for people and honoring them in a way they don’t normally get honored. A lot of the behind-the-scenes people get their money and they’re cool with it, but then they’re like, “Dang, it would be nice sometimes to get some love really for the art of what I do.”

What’s the hardest thing from transitioning from songwriter to artist?
Being taken seriously. [A lot of songwriters] are not just going to be cool with being behind-the-scenes, a lot of them are ready. They ready! [chuckles]

How does it feel to be honored alongside Cardi?
I love it, to be real. Shoutout to Nija [Charles], who wrote the hook on the record, she’s super important to the song. I love her and I love Cardi.

What was the best memory from the “Ring” video shoot?
Kind of having the idea that she [Cardi] was pregnant — but not knowing. [laughs] Then seeing this cute little tiny baby bump peeking through and taking a little woman note in my head like, “Congratulations girl!” That was cute.

Didn’t you have a similar experience on the set of your “Nunya” video with Dom Kennedy?
I did, but people knew. I think I had announced, but the hard part was I was just breathing heavy, walking through some snow [in the video]. That was hard. We had to get it done!

Does your daughter, Adeya, know that you’re famous?
She has no idea. She’s really a superstar because she was in all those videos we shot for the project. One day I’ll show her, “Look you were in my tummy, you’re the real star of the show.”

What can we expect next musically?
Everything! Albums, projects, singles, songs. I wanna get back into doing that, it feels good to be making music again.

Which artists are you currently listening to right now?
Kamaiyah definitely. [“Windows” featuring Tyga & Quavo]. I love Choker. I love TYuS. A lot of people, I’ll give you a playlist! [laughs]

Were you in Los Angeles when Nipsey Hussle passed?
I was in the Bay [Area], but I could feel everybody, I could feel all my friends, I could feel the family. He had just reached out to me for a record a month before, I was like, “Let me know, I’ll knock it out instantly!” I don’t really look up to people but his message, who he was as a human being, really captivates me. He’s one of my favorite rappers. I just know everybody is hurting.

Anything else you’d like to say?
Shout out to my daughter!

Power and Paranoia in Caracas

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 05:44 AM PDT

On April 30, leaders of the Venezuelan opposition, among them National Assembly Chair and self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaidó, gathered before dawn on a three-lane highway in Caracas to proclaim the start of “Operation Freedom,” an uprising to liberate Venezuela. Liberation, however, proved fleeting. A smattering of supposedly mutinous secret policemen had gathered for the uprising, yet within two hours of its proclamation, they had piled into their vehicles and sped off. As one opposition member present at the time later recalled, “It was over before it began.”

Operation Freedom was only the latest in a string of efforts, headed by Guaidó and abetted by the United States and various Latin American governments, to unseat Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, whom they decry as a dictator driving his country back to the economic Stone Age. But the failure of the April revolt has prompted supporters of both Maduro and Guaidó to do some soul-searching. The opposition and its advocates in Washington no longer expect that Maduro will be easily pushed from power. Brazil and Colombia no longer believe that a quick government turnover in Venezuela will halt the flow of migrants across their borders. And the Venezuelan government’s conviction that partisans of Chavismo-the mass movement created by Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chávez-would unite around Maduro is bruised, at the very least.

“A moderate position is now a rational one,” a former senior Chavista official told me. Twice in May, Norwegian diplomats invited high-level delegations from both sides to Oslo for discreet talks, which at present remain on hold. Invested foreign powers have dialed back their hostile rhetoric and begun to explore the possibility of a détente between Venezuela’s government and its opposition. In May and June, respectively, top U.S. and Colombian diplomats flew to Russia to discuss Venezuela with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Canada has courted Cuba in search of a peaceful settlement to the dispute. The EU-backed International Contact Group, which supports mediation, has sought to recruit Latin American states and China to its cause.

But even as foreign powers reach fitfully for a deal, powerful pro-Maduro and pro-Guaidó constituencies remain convinced that their cause will triumph in the end. One parliamentarian, an opposition moderate, told me that a common refrain on both sides is, “Why should we negotiate if we can still force them down onto their knees?” Pro-government and pro-opposition leaders absolutely mistrust one another’s motives and still believe that a total victory is possible even if it is not right around the corner. The case for a negotiated solution grows stronger by the day, but until the country’s political elites can overcome their fear of one another and resist the pressure from their most polarized constituents, such a solution will remain out of reach, and Venezuela will sink further into crisis.

AN ELUSIVE COMPROMISE

The Venezuelan government and opposition are deadlocked. The former is unable to shrug off U.S. sanctions and a regional diplomatic boycott, while the latter is chafing at its failure to win support from the military and disgruntled state officials. The country’s economy, which contracted 50 percent from 2013 to 2018, could lose up to another third of its value this year. Cash, food, and medicine shortages have been compounded by power cuts and fuel rationing. In the sweltering northwestern oil state of Zulia, restricted to a few hours of electricity a day, markets stink of rotten meat and cars can wait six days in line for gas. In the southern states of Bolívar and Amazonas, gold has replaced Venezuela’s worthless currency as the preferred medium of exchange. Four million Venezuelans have already fled the country.

Polls suggest that most Venezuelans are open to compromise. According to the respected pollster Datanálisis, more than 50 percent of the population supports a political agreement between the government and the opposition. Such pragmatism is evident even among supporters of Maduro. Although Chavistas have always rejected Guaidó’s contention that Maduro’s 2018 reelection was rigged, they disagree among themselves about how intransigent they should be in rebutting the opposition’s demands. Across Chavismo’s branches and capillaries in central and state government, the military, community councils, and the intelligentsia, a growing number of loyalists have begun to recognize that the government must make some basic concessions-early and presidential elections, institutional reform, and a dose of power sharing-in order to stave off collective disaster. “We as a government cannot accept this level of asphyxiation,” one former vice president told me.

Maduro, having survived this year’s onslaught of diplomatic, economic, and political pressure, should in principle be in a position to hammer out a satisfactory peace deal. Already he has allowed international humanitarian aid into the country, reopened Venezuela’s borders with Colombia and Brazil, and invited UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet for a visit. For his next step, he could attempt to strike a bargain with the opposition and the United States. He could, for instance, agree to hold a fresh, internationally monitored presidential election next year on the conditions that he remain in office until then (the opposition has demanded he exit immediately), that his movement’s political and economic dogmas be inscribed into a reformed constitution, and that he and his colleagues are assured immunity from future prosecution.

But although such an agreement is possible in principle, in practice it is unlikely to come to pass in the short term. The April revolt should have convinced Venezuela’s leadership of the virtues of pragmatism. Instead, it has done the opposite, increasing Maduro’s paranoia and strengthening the hand of hard-liners within his regime. Much of the background to the uprising remains a mystery, yet government and opposition agree on one telling detail. Stalwarts of the regime-including the long-standing head of the armed forces, Vladimir Padrino López, and the ultraloyalist Supreme Court Chief Justice Maikel Moreno-had signed up to a U.S.-blessed plot to overthrow Maduro and replace him with a transitional civil-military government, or junta. In the government’s version, the conspiracy was no more than a ploy designed to smoke out potential rebels. For the opposition, as well as various well-informed analysts, it was a genuine effort to unseat the president, establish a modicum of stability, and lift U.S. sanctions. Since the revolt, Padrino López has proclaimed his continued loyalty to Chavismo, but his public remarks have been cryptic and vaguely menacing toward his own government. At a military ceremony in May, he said, “All of us have to hold on tight, until the storm passes and at last we can see the faces of those of us who remain.”

While the April revolt reportedly shook Maduro’s faith in figures such as Padrino López, it extended the influence of the government’s most notorious hard-liner, Diosdado Cabello, head of the National Constituent Assembly and a former military officer with enormous sway within the armed forces. Cabello offered Maduro unswerving support during the uprising and soon after reinstalled his ally Gustavo González López as head of the National Intelligence Service (SEBIN), the country’s secret police. Close to 20 opposition deputies have since been imprisoned or forced into exile by black-shirted SEBIN agents, reinforcing the belief, among the government’s opponents, that Venezuela is becoming a police state. In the febrile political climate of Caracas, meanwhile, political insiders point to the dwindling trust among the most powerful figures in the country. One former senior Chavista told me that his advice to Maduro is simple: “Either you negotiate [with the opposition], or you yourself are negotiated.”

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

The weakness in Maduro’s ranks helps to explain the government’s reluctance, in the Oslo talks, to offer the opposition anything resembling a gesture of goodwill, such as a mass release of political prisoners (30 were freed in the run-up to Bachelet’s visit, but over 700 remain in jail) or an end to judicial persecution of the opposition. Whereas most Venezuelans and many Chavistas are ready to support talks, Maduro seems to fear offering concessions that could incur the displeasure of his hard-line allies, on whom his power increasingly depends.

As Maduro’s position has hardened, so, too, has Guaidó’s. Operation Freedom was the act of an opposition convinced that Maduro was about to be toppled. Even after the operation’s failure, that conviction has been hard to shake. To complicate matters for Guaidó, the uprising has elevated the more radical members of the opposition, among them Leopoldo López, the charismatic leader of Guaidó’s party. After five years in captivity, López was liberated by mutinous secret policemen on the morning of the uprising and has since taken refuge in the Spanish embassy. Although his return to public view was short-lived, López has repeatedly insisted in media interviews that the government’s days are numbered and that the military and the public will unite to free Venezuela. López has even entertained the possibility of foreign military intervention. When asked about it in an interview, he said, “We cannot discount any means of struggle.” 

The main effect of radicals such as López has been to raise expectations and limit the opposition’s room for maneuver. Pragmatic opposition figures admit to spending their working lives in fear of drawing the ire of their colleagues and especially of radicals on social media, where uncompromising members of the Venezuelan diaspora often seek to hold the opposition’s feet to the fire. Leaders who attempt to take a moderate stance run the risk of being publicly lynched by those who insist that Chavismo is an evil that must be extirpated. Such views, expressed daily and reinforced by senior U.S. officials such as National Security Adviser John Bolton, have served to buttress Chavista fears that any attempt to negotiate with the opposition would be suicidal.

Thus the tragedy of Venezuela today: economic misery and political crisis are persuading foreign powers and the Venezuelan public that a negotiated settlement is the only way forward, but the leaders of the government and opposition are in thrall to their most hard-line supporters, who not only fear and loathe one another but believe, against all evidence, that victory is not far off. International pressure from allies on both sides will play a role in getting them to the negotiating table. But until the bases of both political movements-and the silent majority of Venezuelans-can alter their leaders’ calculus, the country risks more of the same: protracted gridlock, civil strife, and the suffering of ordinary people.

This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com.

Did China Start Testing Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles Into the South China Sea?

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 05:32 AM PDT

China has conducted multiple tests of anti-ship ballistic missiles in the South China Sea, two U.S. officials told NBC News, according to a report published Monday. The tests would mark a significant new type of military activity by the Chinese military in the disputed waters.

According to the report, China has conducted a “series” of such tests. The first test occurred during the weekend and splashed down into unspecified waters in the South China Sea, where Chinese coastal authorities had declared an exclusion zone for live fire military exercises over the last days.

“The window for testing remains open until July 3, and the official expects the Chinese military to test again before it closes,” the report notes.

To date, U.S. officials have not publicized the deployment of any Chinese anti-ship ballistic missiles, like the DF-21D, to the South China Sea. All of these missiles are designed to be road-mobile and could be deployed to China’s islands in the Paracels or its seven artificial islands in the Spratly group.

The United States officially acknowledged starting last year that China has deployed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles to its outposts in the Spratlys.

It’s unclear if China may have launched a DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile from the mainland designed to splash down in the South China Sea exclusion zone.

Chinese authorities normally issue expansive Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) for major ballistic missile tests. Between June 30 and July 1, a NOTAM denoting a “temporary danger area” was in place between China’s Hainan Island and a separate maritime exclusion zone off the Spratly Islands.

The NOTAM area and the maritime exclusion zone would have allowed for a ballistic missile test to take place from Hainan or the Chinese mainland.

The deployment of anti-ship ballistic missiles to the Spratly Islands would represent a major shift in China’s posture in the South China Sea. To date, the DF-21D, long described as China’s “carrier-killer” missile, is not known to have been tested end-to-end against a surface-mobile target.

The United States and Japan both have large warships in the South China Sea. The USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Escort Flotilla 1, led by multi-purpose operation destroyer JS Izumo, are in the region.

Anti-ship cruise missiles like the YJ-62 are also known to have been deployed to the South China Sea. These missiles were spotted on Woody Island. Separately, YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missiles were reported to have been deployed to the Spratly Islands in 2018.

The DF-21D is thought to have a range of 1,500 kilometers and is assessed by the U.S. military to provide the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force the capability to strike at U.S. forces in the Western Pacific. The missile is known to the U.S. intelligence community also as the CSS-5 Mod 5.

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a major Asia security conference, in 2018, then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis addressed China’s new deployments to the Spratlys.

“China’s militarization of artificial features in the South China Sea includes the deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, electronic jammers, and more recently, the landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island,” he noted. Woody Island is in the Paracels.

Diana Ross lost footage from star studded birthday bash

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 05:00 AM PDT

Diana Ross lost all the footage from her star studded 75th birthday party.

The iconic soul singer was joined by the likes of Stevie Wonder and Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs when she celebrated the milestone in March, and while the hard drive containing recordings has gone missing, the star is sure everything will work out.

Speaking during a Q&A at the Borgata Hotel & Casino in New Jersey, she said: “What happened is I lost the drive. I can’t find the drive! You know how you film it on a hard drive?

“I didn’t find it! But it’s not lost, it’s gotta be found somewhere, and then you can see it. You’ll be able to see it. But it was a lovely night.”

Diana has explained she decided to have a huge celebration for her birthday because she wanted her fans to be able to share in the experience too.

She added: “I had a birthday party, but I didn’t just want to have a party for my close friends without having a party with my fans.

“So I did a show and we didn’t start until midnight, and I did a show especially for you guys, really. That’s what it was all about.”

The ‘Upside Down’ hitmaker revealed she duetted with a whole host of famous faces and family members at the party.

She said: “We invited a lot of my celebrity friends and so they would get up on the stage and sing with me. You should have seen Stevie Wonder! Was he amazing? He was amazing!

“And Puffy [Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs], and my son, my daughters, everybody performed with me. It was a lovely night.”

Before the big day, Diana also celebrated at the Grammy Awards in February where she was honored with a video package narrated by the evening’s host, Alicia Keys, documenting her lengthy career before her nine-year-old grandson, Raif-Henok Emmanuel Kendrick, took to the stage to pay tribute to his “amazing grand-mommy”.

She was greeted by loud applause at Los Angeles Staples’ Centre when she walked out to sing ‘The Best Years of My Life’.

Diana then said: “Thank you for being here to celebrate my 75th birthday.”

Serena Williams won’t give Duchess Meghan parenting advice for a while

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 05:00 AM PDT

Serena Williams won’t give the Duchess of Sussex parenting advice for the first a few months.

The 37-year-old tennis star has been friends with the former actress – who was known as Meghan Markle before marrying Prince Harry last year – for several years, and she admitted she’ll wait before she gives her pal any tips on motherhood after the duchess welcomed baby Archie into the world in May.

Serena – who has daughter Alexis Olympia, 19 months, with husband Alexis Ohanian – told the BBC: “I never pass on words of wisdom because I feel like for everyone – when they have a kid, especially when you just have a baby – it’s so difficult to just be.

“It’s just like, ‘Get through the first three [or] four months and then we can talk.’ “

Despite this, Serena has previously given tips on coping with parenthood for the first time, saying she had to learn to “go with the flow” and adapt to living day-to-day without too much planning to avoid causing unnecessary stress.

She said: “Accept mistakes and don’t expect to be perfect. We put so much pressure on ourselves.

“I had all those high expectations and what I was going to do and then I had what I was going to do.

“I was gonna recover and I was gonna be great, and this is a time that everything is not going to go as planned.

“My whole life is so planned and this is the one time where it wasn’t. You just gotta go with the flow.”

The athlete took on the task of planning Meghan’s baby shower back in February for the tot, and has since revealed the party was a lot more pressure than she’d first thought.

She admitted: “Planning something like that takes a lot of effort. I’m a perfectionist, so I’m like, ‘Let’s make it perfect.’ “

Tamara Ecclestone donated her breast milk to woman she met online

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 05:00 AM PDT

Tamara Ecclestone donated a “massive crate” of her breast milk to a woman she met online.

The 34-year-old heiress – who has five-year-old daughter Sophia with her husband Jay Rutland – revealed that once her girl had weaned off breast milk, she had so much left over that she gave her spare milk to another mother she met through a website, who was keen to go back to work but didn’t want to start giving her baby formula.

Speaking on Giovanna Fletcher’s ‘Happy Mum, Happy Baby’ podcast, she said: “I did have to pump, I had so much milk. I had such much milk; I had like freezer load full of milk.

“So when she started having porridge and stuff at six months old I would like make it with the breast milk and I still had so much milk and I went on like a sharing website for sharing milk.

“There was a lady that wanted to go back to work but still wanted to give her baby breast milk and so she came and like collected this like massive crate of my breast milk and took it away.”

The socialite went on to explain that although there had to be mutual trust between she and the other mother, she felt “really special” to be able to help another woman.

She added: “She had to take my word that I wasn’t smoking or drinking which I obviously wasn’t but it was really nice to be able to help someone else.

“Because she was really worried about going back to work and it was her choice she wanted her baby to have breast milk so to be able to help another mum was also really special.”

Panama’s Abner Benaim Readies ‘Plaza Catedral’ with Mexico’s Ilse Salas (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 04:54 AM PDT

Panama’s internationally best-known helmer, Abner Benaim (“Ruben Blades Is Not My Name”) has moved into pre-production on his second fiction feature film, “Plaza Catedral,” which is set to star Mexico’s Ilse Salas, who has just won Mexican Academy’s Ariel Award for best actress for her performance in Alejandra Marquez’s Toronto hit “The Good Girls.”

Salas has also starred in both movies to date from Alonso Ruizpalacios, with Marquéz Mexico’s fasting-rising new director, whose “Museum”proved a standout at the Berlin and Toronto Festivals last year.

“Plaza Catedral” is scheduled to begin its six-week shoot in Panama City in August. In it, Salas plays a 42 year old grief-stricken woman who has severed her ties with married life and society.

“This complex, melancholy character finds herself in the tropical paradise that Panamá pretends to be, with its primary colors and a society obsessed with economic success and having a good time,” explained Benaim.

He added: “The juxtaposition between a tormented soul and a carnival atmosphere is very compelling, and even more so when it is a woman experiencing grief and reacting to it in ‘unconventional’ ways, for example behaving like a stereotypical Latino macho would.”

A boy, “Chief,” who looks after people’s cars, one day comes bleeding into her house. As she cares for him, she begins to transform her outlook on life.

The feature is a Panama-Mexico co-production between Benaim’s Apertura Films and Matthias Ehrenberg’s Barracuda Films (“Before Night Falls”), with Ruben Sierra Salles (“La Familia”) executive producing.

It has tapped funding from Panama’s Dicine film fund and Ibermedia, was developed at EAVE and the Jerusalem Lab and won Best Pitch Award at the 2015 Berlinale Talent Market.

Salas will co-star with a 13 -year old boy in his debut role, who will be chosen after a large open casting call in the neighborhoods featured in the pic.

Crew includes DP Lorenzo Hagerman (“Heli”) art director Coca Oderigo (“Motorcycle Diaries”) and editor Soledad Solfate (“A Fantastic Woman”).

Described by Benaim as a “dark film in a colorful tropical setting,” the story takes place in Panama’s historic old quarter, where rich and poor still live side by side. It returns to one of Benaim’s favorite themes, the contrast between rich and poor, but represents a shift in cinematic style, as he explores a thriller-drama, with a neo-noir aesthetic.

Benaim has been progressively consolidating his career as a director. His first feature, “Chance,” clocked up 140,000 admissions in Panama and 150,000 admissions in Colombia. Docu-feature”Invasion” drew 50,000 spectators in Panama, won festival kudos abroad and was Panama’s first ever submission to the Academy Awards. His 2018 music doc, “Ruben Blades” world premiered in South by Southwest (SXSW) where it won the audience prize, in the 24 Beats Per Second section. It had a multi-territory release – in Panama, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, and is now on HBO in the U.S. and Latin America. It was also Panama’s submission for best foreign-language film at the 91st Academy Awards.

“Plaza Catedral” is scheduled for a 2020 release.

Pictured: (L-R): Ilse Salas, Alonso Ruizpalacios, Leonardo Ortizgris and Gael Garcia Bernal at the Oct. 15 Mexico City premiere of “Museum”

In Northeast India, Economic Liberalization and Mental Illness Collide

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 04:44 AM PDT

Recently I went to Shillong to see a friend and I met a very interesting woman there. Sonali Shinde Tesia is one of the leading psychiatrists in Shillong, capital city of the northeastern state of India, Meghalaya. The state is the fashion and cultural capital of the Indian northeast given that it is the most peaceful state in the region at present. What followed was a really interesting conversation on mental health issues in Shillong.

Tesia mostly deals with middle class and upper middle class clientele and runs a clinic with her husband Pakha Tesia, who deals more with addiction cases. Over the course of the conversation we delved into the effect of rapid liberalization in Shillong and the historical effect of British colonial rule on the mental health of locals, even now.

Tesia, based on her clientele and experience (about 16 years), found that due to newly acquired money and no guidance on how to spend it, family bonds for many locals have become really shallow. The traditional family structure in which people would give each other support has been replaced by money. That, in effect, has had a tremendous effect on the younger generation in the area, who feel they can’t bond with their families, but refuse to grow up and take on the responsibilities of life. There is a pathological dependence problem in many cases she has encountered.

Due to rapid change and the influx of money and gaudy shops, there has been pressure put on relationships between younger generations striving to acquire the markers of modernity and their parents, in many cases a tribal generation accustomed to a simpler life. The problem persists even with academics: They cannot help their children with much constructive guidance about what to do in life. The concept of a caregiving generation has been completely ruined by the capitalistic onslaught. This is creating an emotional rift between the generations. Younger Meghalaya citizens feel like no one understands them.

The case is quite similar with that of the Jantia tribe people, who belong to a different region of Meghalaya. Suddenly they found coal in the region and everyone was suddenly too rich for their own good – or understanding. They all wanted to move to Shillong, since it is the most exciting place in the region. These new moneyed people have also developed rifts with the locally dominant Khasi tribe people – to the point where there is clear discrimination or non-interaction. All this has taken a heavy toll on the younger generations and caused general animosity.

The other difficulty Tesia has found is in dealing with people who are stuck in between different identities and basically end up being confused and conflicted. Indians could never have the influence on the northeastern people like the British did because they came along with religion. The Christian missionaries changed many value systems of the indigenous people. In time, this has had risen to conflict within people in terms of personal value systems. Christianity comes with its own set of rigid rules and conventions. It is still a confusing state for people who follow Christianity, but also want to follow their ancient traditions as it is a part of their identity. A young 20-year-old boy I met recently said “my Church says that we shouldn’t follow anything else, but I follow my Church and my Khasi tradition both. Because if I don’t follow that, then who am I, what is my identity, where do I stand in this world?”

Juggling between older tribal traditions and modern Christian values, there are complex problems that have come up. The society is more or less free and young girls around 15 or 16 years of age getting pregnant is not unheard of, according to the doctor. She says that it is not even looked down upon. Life basically just keeps going on – unless it cannot.

Drug and alcohol misuse is quite obvious in the above mentioned circumstances, but that is another issue to be explored altogether.

In terms of seeking help, Tesia feels that indigenous people may initially feel hesitant but once they start the treatment, they usually stick with it. Some people who find it too shameful to get treated locally also go to Guwahati, capital of the neighbouring state of Assam. There is a floating population of clients between Shillong and Guwahati – many people come to Shillong to get treated so that locals don’t find out there.

There are about 15 private psychiatrists working in Shillong, along with the Sunrise hospital meant especially for mental health issues. Tesia doesn’t clearly know how many people might be suffering or are getting treated, but she daily receives about 30 to 40 patients at the OPD (Outpatient Department) in her clinic which she shares with her husband. All of this does not paint the picture of a good mental health for this buzzing city.

Parul Abrol is Roving Correspondent for Firstpost, mostly writing on the Northeast India.

China’s Migu Commissions BBC Studios for Factual Series ‘One Cup’

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 03:00 AM PDT

“One Cup, A Thousand Stories,” a major factual series about the history and influence of tea, has been commissioned from BBC Studios, by Migu, the digital content subsidiary of China Mobile. The series is BBC Studios‘ first fully-funded production commission in China.

BBC Studios has previously worked with other Chinese broadcasters to co-produce titles including “Dynasties” and “Blue Planet II.” The fully-funded commission of “One Cup” follows several months in which BBC Studios Factual production team has had a presence in China, and worked with Kelvin Yau, SVP and GM, Greater China, BBC Studios, to explore opportunities and partnerships.

“One Cup,” which will be delivered as a 6 x 50 minutes series, was developed and will be produced by BBC Studios in Scotland. It will be distributed internationally by BBC Studios.

The series will travel across the varied landscapes of China to explore its many teas, meet the people who have built a life around it, and the culture it has created – including its influence on Chinese lifestyles and rituals, medicine and health. The series will also examine the story of tea’s influence on other countries and China’s role in the global tea culture.

Given growing content restrictions in China, and the prospect of a year of patriotic feature films in Chinese movie theaters, it is notable that factual programming remains an avenue open to international co-operation.

“BBC Studios Productions makes some of the best factual programs in the world and we are thrilled that they are producing this landmark series for us. It is a great opportunity to draw on their production skills and knowledge, covering a subject that is so important to us,” said Wang Bin, CEO of Migu Video, in a prepared statement.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be sharing our story-telling and production craft with new audiences and with content that has been specifically developed for this market,” said Lisa Opie, MD for BBC Studios Productions.

Three Women Break Into Roster of BBC’s Top Earners, Pubcaster Hails ‘Rapid Change’

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 03:00 AM PDT

There are three women in the BBC‘s roster of top-earning talent for the first time. Radio presenter Zoe Ball tops the list, earning up to £374,999 ($473,000). The U.K. pubcaster said there was “rapid and real change” in the gender split of its top-earners since it was first required by government to publish figures in 2016/17.

Ball’s earnings still paled in comparison to overall top-earners such as sports presenter Gary Lineker who raked in £1.75 million ($2.2 million), and TV and radio presenter Chris Evans with £1.25 million ($1.6 million).

Ball featured in the top 10 alongside “Strictly Come Dancing” presenter Claudia Winkleman, on £374,999 (but ranked lower than Ball because the latter has not been in her current role for a full year). Winkleman was the highest female earner last year, but not previously in the top 10. Radio presenter Vanessa Feltz also made the list, with earnings of £359,999.

The women figure toward the bottom of the top 10, and behind the likes of Graham Norton on £614,999, newscaster Huw Edwards on £494,999, radio presenter Steve Wright on £469,999, sportscaster Alan Shearer on £444,999, and political journalist Andrew Marr on £394,999. Edwards is among the men to have taken pay cuts as the BBC sought to reduce the gender pay gap.

The figures shed light on how much the U.K.’s biggest broadcaster pays its talent, but are only part of the picture as it is not required to disclose the wages of talent paid through production companies, or the pubcaster’s own production and distribution arm BBC Studios.

Director general Tony Hall said the gender split among talent earning over £150,000 has shrunk from 75%-25% in favor of men in 2016/17 to 55%-45% in 2019/20. “Last year there were there were no women in the top 10, this year there are three,” he said. “This is rapid change.”

Shows in which the top talent appear account for 40% of viewing and listening across the BBC. The pubcaster said its total spend on in-house talent was £159 million and it is keeping a lid on what it pays its stars. “In a world of global media giants with deep pockets, which is driving super inflation in the market, we have bucked the inflation trend, by keeping spend on top talent and the highest paid senior managers to 0.5% each out of our total spend,” Hall said.

Jada Pinkett Smith explains why women find married men so attractive

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 03:00 AM PDT

Jada Pinkett Smith thinks women are “attracted to married men” because of “security”.

The 47-year-old star – who is married to ‘Aladdin’ actor Will Smith – insisted she isn’t condoning it, but tried to offer her views about why people might find the idea of a taken men so appealing.

Speaking to Extra, she said: “I tend to think that women who are attracted to married men – and specifically married men with power – it creates the sense of stability and security.

“And I’m not saying it’s right, but I do get understanding on why women are drawn in that way. It’s like, it creates security for my survival.

“He can build a house, back in the day he could build a beautiful log cabin, he could go out and kill a lion and bring it to the house so you can eat. Men from the other village would come in and he’d whoop some ass. That’s the feeling, it’s primal.”

Meanwhile, the ‘Girls Trip’ star recently admitted she felt pressured to tie the knot with her now-husband Will early on in their relationship but admits she wasn’t keen on the idea because she had “never seen a happy marriage”.

She said: “I never wanted to get married. But my mother was like, ‘You have to get married’ – she’s so old school – and Will wanted a family. So I said, ‘All right, maybe it’s something I should do.’ … I had never seen a happy marriage. I adored Will, I f***ing adored him, but I just didn’t want to be married.”

And Jada previously explained she and Will have a “stronger bond” now than they did at the start of their relationship.

She said: “It just felt like loss. There was too much concentration on what was happening externally, and the family unit itself wasn’t getting the attention and care that I felt we needed.

“Will’s like, ‘We just came from Oslo, going to the [2009] Nobel Peace Prize ceremony [for Barack Obama] as a family, you’ve got a big house with a lake – isn’t this amazing?!’ And I’m like, ‘No’. By the time my 40th [birthday] came, I was like, ‘I can’t do it anymore.’ I was so depleted.”

Ariana Grande thanks fans for showing she’s not alone

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 03:00 AM PDT

Ariana Grande says her fans have shown her she isn’t “alone”.

The 25-year-old singer’s album ‘Thank U, Next’ has become the only platinum selling album of the year so far, and she has opened up about how much the support of her fans means.

She wrote on Twitter: “Holy s**t. so incredibly grateful. thank you so much listening and for loving something that was quite hard (but also v fun at times) to make….

“Thank you for showing me that i’m not alone in the events that have caused me pain and that it’s okay to share and open up sometimes.

“I appreciate you all so much and am endlessly grateful for the consistent love and support you’ve shown me and this project. i love youuuuuuu. thank you. (sic)”

Her post comes after the ‘No Tears Left To Cry’ hitmaker deleted an Instagram Story post congratulating Scooter Braun on his acquisition of Big Machine records.

Ariana seemingly withdrew her public show of support for her manager after Taylor Swift complained she felt “grossed out” knowing the music mogul – who she accused of “bullying” her – now owns her master records after his takeover and claimed she never got a chance to buy them herself.

In her original post, Taylor was “sad and grossed out” by the takeover of her former label 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)”

Former Big Machine Records boss Scott Borchetta has disputed her account and insisted she was offered a new record deal which would have given her back all her “assets”, including the master recordings and implied she knew about the deal before it was announced, something which the ‘Bad Blood’ hitmaker’s representative later insisted wasn’t the case.

Kris Jenner’s relationship with Kylie evolves ‘every few years’

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 03:00 AM PDT

Kris Jenner says her relationship with daughter Kylie “changes every few years”.

The 63-year-old reality star matriarch revealed she is “always” there for Kylie – who gave birth to her own daughter Stormi 17 months ago – as their friendship constantly evolves.

She said: “We’ve always been very connected emotionally and spiritually and have this incredibly strong bond. But I think as we both get older, our relationship shifts a bit.

“And for me, I just want her to know that I’m always here to guide her and help her with whatever she needs, rather than it always being, you know, the way it used to be back in the day. Our relationship changes every few years.”

And Kylie, 21, admitted becoming a mother herself made her “appreciate all the things” her own mum has done for her over the years, and given her a greater understanding of how it feels to be a parent.

She told Harper’s Bazaar Arabia’s July/August issue: “When I became a mother, my perspective on life completely changed, and so did how I look at my own mum and appreciate all the things that she’s done for me.

“Now I can understand the way that she feels about me, the way that she loves me, and how strong her love is for all her kids, because of how obsessed I am with Stormi.”

Meanwhile, Kris – who is mother to Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, and Rob Kardashian, as well as Kendall and Kylie Jenner – previously said her secret to raising children is to “pay attention” and to make sure you’re “a part of their lives”.

She said: “Just listen, pay attention, really talk to them, be a part of their lives. They’re all my best friends, so I couldn’t be more blessed.”

Miley Cyrus supports ‘baby brother’ Lil Nas X after he came out

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 03:00 AM PDT

Miley Cyrus heaped praise on her “baby brother” Lil Nas X after he came out at the end of Pride month in the US.

The rapper joked he thought he “made it obvious” after sharing new single ‘C7osure’ on Twitter alongside a rainbow emoji, and now the ‘Black Mirror’ star has given her friend her support on social media.

She wrote on Instagram: “SO proud of my baby brother @lilnasx… In your corner forever my friend!”

Her own post comes after Lil Nas X – whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill – opened up about his sexuality and admitted some people may “already know”, while other might not care.

The 20-year-old musician tweeted: “Some of y’all already know, some of y’all don’t care, some of y’all not gone fwm no more. but before this month ends i want y’all to listen closely to c7osure. (sic)”

He later shared the artwork for his debut EP ‘7’ – which was released in April – and focused on the rainbow skyscrapers, adding: “Deadass thought i made it obvious (sic)”

Lil Nas X also posted a screenshot of one fan’s interpretation of ‘C7osure’, which simply reads: “He gay. (sic)”

Meanwhile Miley, 26, has been open about her own sexuality in the past, including coming out as pansexual to her mother when she was 14.

She has opened up about her romances with women in the past, and she told Variety in 2016 that her “eyes started opening in the fifth or sixth grade.”

She said at the time: “My first relationship in my life was with a chick. I grew up in a very religious Southern family. The universe has always given me the power to know I’ll be okay. Even at that time, when my parents didn’t understand, I just felt that one day they were.

“My whole life, I didn’t understand my own gender and my own sexuality. I always hated the word ‘bisexual,’ because that’s even putting me in a box. I don’t ever think about someone being a boy or someone being a girl.”

‘The Father’ Directing Duo on Laughing Through Grief, and Film as Therapy

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 02:27 AM PDT

Writer-director duo Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov are two of Bulgaria’s most acclaimed filmmakers, earning critical plaudits with their award-winning features “The Lesson” (2014) and “Glory” (2016). Part of their Newspaper Clippings Trilogy, the films were inspired by sensationalist media stories depicting the absurdity of life in post-communist Bulgaria.

Grozeva and Valchanov took a break from the trilogy to shoot their latest feature, “The Father,” which has its world premiere Tuesday in the East of the West competition at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Inspired by a mysterious, real-life event, the film follows a bereaved husband and son who discover that the deceased has been persistently calling a neighbor’s phone since her passing. When Vassil (Ivan Savov) decides to visit a famous medium to unravel the supernatural mystery, his estranged son Pavel (Ivan Barnev) is forced to tag along to keep him out of trouble — a tragicomic road trip that could ultimately bring the distant duo closer together.

“The Father” is produced by Abraxas Film in co-production with Greece’s Graal Films. Wide is handling world sales. Grozeva and Valchanov spoke with Variety about the use of humor to cope with grief, the trouble with modern-day (mis-)communication, and the influence of the supernatural on everyday life in Bulgaria.

What inspired you to make “The Father”?
It was partly inspired by personal experience, and partly by observing the experiences of other people. It was at Petar’s mother’s funeral. After the funeral, the neighbor actually received a phone call from the deceased, which inspired the film. The first moment when the whole family gathered together, when they heard that his mother is actually calling the neighbor, their first reaction was to believe it — to not doubt it whatsoever, because everybody wanted it to be true.

This is a movie about the relationship between a father and son, but also about the relationship they had with the late Valentina, who is being buried in the film’s opening scene. Vassil clearly feels guilt toward his dead wife, but you chose not to explore Pavel’s relationship with his mother.
It was mostly because Pavel’s relationship to his mother was more of a balanced, conflict-less relationship. At the present, he’s much more absorbed by his troubles with his wife. That’s what balances out the whole movie.

You create an interesting dynamic between Pavel and his wife, who never actually appears on screen. We only hear her voice over the phone. In some ways that mirrors the character of Valentina, with her phone calls from beyond the grave.
This was one of the biggest challenges: to have these female characters without actually having them or seeing them there, and to build an image of them that you can see in the mind’s eye. Even though they’re not present or really active, those female characters are maybe the strongest factors influencing the story.

Everything in the movie seems to hinge on cell phones. Pavel’s work and personal relationships in the film exist over the phone, while Vassil sets off on his quest because of his wife’s mysterious call from the afterlife. But instead of bringing people together, the phones seem to fuel misunderstanding between the characters.
It is a commentary about the way we communicate as a society today — the dependence on technology, and technology itself not really being reliable. A communication breakdown at every step of the way.

The quince is another recurring theme throughout the film. In many cultures, including across the Balkans, the quince represents fertility, love and life. Did you have that symbolism in mind
First and foremost, the quince is a very common fruit around here — especially in the autumn setting that the film is set in. It’s a traditional thing to make quince jam at that time of the year. Other than that, the quince itself is a fruit that is sweet, sour — you can’t really eat it without doing something with it. This also reflects somehow the experience of the story.

[Over the course of the film], the quince also becomes a symbol, a bridge between not only generations, but between members of the family somehow — and between here and the beyond.

Vassil has a very rational, scientific mind. But in the movie, we see how he’s willing to grasp at every coincidence, any opportunity he has to find some sort of meaning in his wife’s death — often in a way that’s very funny for the viewer. Do you find humor is a useful vehicle to explore feelings like pain and loss and grief?
We definitely see humor as an intrinsic part of the human experience, and also as a way to deal with guilt and pain. Creating this film was sort of a therapeutic process, and we hope it will have the same affect on the audience.

Petar, you said “The Father” was partly inspired by events after the death of your mother. How long did it take you to process that grief and, as you said, use the making of this film as a form of therapy?
We started working on it about four years after the event. We first let it rest; we needed the whole experience to transform in a way, and then come back to it when we were ready. It’s important to point out that this is not an autobiographical film. It’s a story which was inspired and influenced by events in our lives. We used a lot of what we went through before while in the writing process, but then, when we started shooting and we went on set, we let this be forgotten and let the story take its own course and its own life. We abstained from influencing it too much with our own experiences.

Can you tell us about your next feature?
That will be the final instalment of the trilogy that we began with “The Lesson” and “Glory.” It will be the third film; the working title is “Triumph.” We recently got financing from the Bulgarian Film Fund, and also from Creative Europe – Media. Now we’re developing it.

It will be quite a crazy story, based on true events from the dawn of democracy in Bulgaria — from the period between 1990 and 1992, when a group of high-ranking military officers started digging a hole in the search for something that was relayed to them by a group of psychics who were allegedly in contact with a very advanced alien race. They dug for two years and ended up digging a 160-meter (520-foot) tunnel before someone found out what they were doing and shut them down. This actually happened, and we’re going to fictionalize it in the last film of the trilogy.

Karlie Kloss explains quitting Victoria’s Secret

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 01:00 AM PDT

Karlie Kloss quit Victoria’s Secret because it didn’t reflect her feminist beliefs.

The 26-year-old model walked away from the lingerie brand in 2015 and though she didn’t explain her decision at the time, she’s now revealed it came after she started studying feminist theory at New York University’s Gallatin School and it made her question the message she wanted to put out to young women.

She explained: “The reason I decided to stop working with Victoria’s Secret was I didn’t feel it was an image that was truly reflective of who I am and the kind of message I want to send to young women around the world about what it means to be beautiful.

“I think that was a pivotal moment in me stepping into my power as a feminist, being able to make my own choices and my own narrative, whether through the companies I choose to work with, or through the image I put out to the world.”

The ‘Project Runway’ host used to worry about saying no to things in case it affected her work but she’s now discovered that the more she speaks out, the more “power” she has.

She told America’s Vogue magazine: “Looking back at my late teens and early twenties, I think I was fearful that I would lose a job or lose my position if I said I didn’t want to do something.

“But I did not lose out on jobs. If anything, the more I exercised the power of my voice, the more I earned respect from my peers. And I earned more respect for myself. Only now do I have the confidence to stand tall – all 6ft 2in of me – and know the power of my voice.”

Brad Pitt’s private gallery tour

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 01:00 AM PDT

Brad Pitt received a private tour of London’s Tate Modern.

The ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ actor reportedly visited the art gallery – which currently has special exhibitions by Jenny Holzer and Natalia Goncharova and one called ‘Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany 1919-33’ – after it had closed one evening last month in order to be shown around personally by one of the curators, sources told the New York Post newspaper’s Page Six column.

The 55-year-old star is known to be a keen art fan and even missed the 2017 Oscars – where ‘Moonlight’, which he helped produce, won Best Picture – because he was busy working on a sculpture .

A source explained at the time the ‘World War Z’ actor had been at the Los Angeles studio of British artist Thomas Houseago for almost 10 days working on the piece, though it is unclear what form the finished work will take.

And Brad – who teamed up with Frank Pollaro for a high-end furniture collection in 2012 – previously admitted he loves spending quiet time in galleries and museums alone.

He once said: “It’s a lovely experience walking around a museum by yourself.

Brad and his former wife Angelina Jolie – with whom he raises six children – were avid art collectors during their marriage, with pieces by the likes of Banksy, Ed Ruscha and Schoony part of their $25 million collection.

And the ‘Moneyball’ star is also known for his love of architecture and design.

His friend, director Andrew Dominik, previously said: “I never wanted to be rich until I met Brad. Because he knows what to do with it.

“You go to the homes of most movie stars and they’re like really, really nice hotel rooms. Brad lives in pieces of art.

“There’s a breeze blowing through every window. As soon as you walk through the door, you feel stoned.”

Jamie and Jools Oliver to wed again

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 01:00 AM PDT

Jamie and Jools Oliver will get married again next year.

The 44-year-old chef and his clothes designer wife – who have children Poppy, 17, Daisy, 16, Petal, 10, Buddy, eight, and River, two, together – plan to mark their 20th anniversary by tying the knot again but want the ceremony to be “different” to the “classic English wedding” they had the first time round.

Jools told Red magazine: “Next year, we’ll have been married 20 years, and we’re going to get married again, but do things differently – outside and barefoot.

“Our wedding was formal, but we’re so not like that. It’ll be a big party.

“Why the hell not? I think we’ve done well!”

Jools, also 44, recalled how she ended up finishing their first dance alone because the ‘Friday Night Feasts’ star didn’t feel comfortable.

She said: “Our first dance was to Dusty Springfield’s ‘I Only Want To Be With You’, but Jamie doesn’t like dancing, so I threw him off. I was in my element!”

Jools loves her large brood and thinks she’s been “true to [herself]” as she always wanted to settle down.

She said: “All I wanted was children and to get stuck into home life. I was quite true to myself in that way.”

Jamie previously credited his wife for all the “good” things in his life.

He gushed: “She’s my best mate. There nothing good I’ve ever done that hasn’t come from how we are as a unit.”

Jools has admitted she’s keen to have another child but Jamie thinks their brood is “enough” – though he won’t completely rule out expanding their family again.

He said: “I’m going to try to control that one . . . but I have to try to control myself, which I’m not very good at.

“I do think five is enough but everyone keeps telling me that six is a round number.”

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Posted: 02 Jul 2019 12:01 AM PDT

Happy introvert doesn’t know how to party

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 12:01 AM PDT

Dear Amy: I am a happy introvert. Always have been. I like to go to the movies alone, out to eat alone, and other activities by myself. My wife is the same way, though we obviously enjoy going out together.

My question is about our 7-year-old son. We’ve never done play dates or thrown birthday parties that his classmates in day care or school were invited to because interacting with other parents is terrifying.

I feel bad that my not wanting to interact with other parents might be depriving my little guy of friendships.

So far, my son doesn’t seem to mind our household’s version of normal, but he is outgoing and I don’t want to squash his extroverted nature.

Should I go far outside of my comfort zone and force play dates, or will my son eventually make “real” friends when he’s ready?

— Joe

Dear Joe: Many only children basically pair up with their parents in a singular way, and I assume your son enjoys this closeness with you two.

But yes, you should go outside of your comfort zone. That’s what parents do. Because when parents bravely try new things, their children are inspired to bravely try new things. (That’s how I ended up screaming my way down an amusement park roller coaster.)

Being your son’s father will change you in many ways. You should do what you can to adjust to his extroverted nature. So — try harder.

At the age of seven, play dates and birthdays do not involve other parents. I know that some parents throw festival-sized combination birthday/cocktail parties with tons of kids and parents, but a birthday party should be child-centered, and it need not be overwhelming.

So yes, encourage your son to have a friend over, or to go on an outing — perhaps to a movie — if he would like. You should also encourage him to play soccer, clarinet, chess, or any activity outside of the home that you think might be a good fit for him. If you and your wife are turned off by the sideline parent-scene on the soccer field, then you and she can sit quietly together. Your son will grow and change. And if you foster his interests and encourage him to take some social risks outside the home, you will, too.

Dear Amy: I was married for 45 years to a man who was self-absorbed and acted like a teenager. I stayed, believing the family we had was important. We are in our late 60s, and have two children and four grandkids.

My husband was moody, drank a lot, and spent his money on his hobbies and friends.

After he left I learned he was hiding money, had kept his inheritance in his name, and was having an affair with a high school girlfriend. They are now together.

He lied about this, and then joked when he admitted it was true.

Should I see this man at family occasions? I don’t want to make others uncomfortable, but I would prefer not to. Whenever I see his happy posts on social media, I cringe.

He says he would like to remain in contact. He has told people that he has no remorse or guilt about leaving or cheating. He tells everyone we just grew apart. He tells me he cares for me, but I don’t believe him.

I am disappointed with myself that I stayed. It has been difficult, but I am managing. I work full time and sometimes feel isolated.

What should I do?

— Left

Dear Left: Have you ever done whatever you wanted? Maybe not. Now you can make your own choices, without regard to what your ex wants.

If you want to cut him off, then do so. Definitely de-link from him on social media (although you’ll occasionally see pics of him with your grandkids).

I hope you can enjoy your own later-life do-over. It might be nice for you to attend a family function with a silver fox on your arm. Stepping out more will help you to shake off this unfair betrayal. Don’t let your bitterness over this run your life. You’ve got more to do.

Dear Amy: Thank you, thank you, for advocating for adopting older animals in your response to “Second Thoughts,” who had just bought a puppy.

Lots of people don’t realize how many wonderful older animals are available at their local shelters.

— Grateful

Dear Grateful: I advocate for adopting senior animals — because I’m sitting next to one right now!

(You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

YOUR DAILY ASTROLOGY, For release 07/02/19 for 07/02/19

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 12:01 AM PDT

BIRTHDAY STAR: Actress Ashley Tisdale was born in West Deal, N.J., today in 1985. This birthday star portrayed Maddie Fitzpatrick on “The Suite Life of Zach & Cody” and she provided the voice of Candace Flynn on “Phineas And Ferb.” She’s also appeared on episodes of “MacGyver,” “Super Fun Night,” and “Sons of Anarchy.” Tisdale’s film work includes “Playing It Cool,” “Scary Movie 5,” and “High School Musical 3: Senior Year.”

ARIES (March 21-April 19): It’s great to think and move fast but be sure to consider the best approach to the win. The ends do not automatically justify the means. When your competitive juices are flowing make sure you play by the rules.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Avoid any temptation to leap before you look. Put your cash back into your wallet and wait for better timing to spend it. A romantic partner might not be in a romantic mood tonight, show them you can be patient.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): If you want to sell a brownie, offer a sample. You should receive a nod of approval when you approach others with creative ideas. Make sure to get it all written down first to provide documentation.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Remember, you are the caring flame of your own domain. Every eclipse has a theme, and yours might be about nurturing. Be your own loving parent to your inner child. Coach yourself into a positive state of mind.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): You can rock the spotlight now and really shine. Be a benevolent royal; use your imagination to create ideas in which everyone wins — use your charisma and powers of persuasion to sell them to those around you.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): It’s not time yet to step up the pace — doing so now could have negative consequences. Don’t initiate important business agreements or projects. A partner or family member may have imaginative ideas that could prove to be impractical.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Put your faith in the universe. Someone else’s dreams of a better career or enhanced reputation might appear to be in conflict with your own ambitions; be patient and seek ways that you both can rise and benefit.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Find ways to be stable even if the boat is rocking. Think in terms of financial stability. A friend could encourage you to take steps to nail down a profitmaking scheme, but you would be wise to wait for better stars.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Some people may not be able to keep up with your fast pace. You may want to go full speed ahead but someone else may want to stop and smell the roses. Everyone’s priorities are different, but you can compromise.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): The world’s a stage but your theater may seem a little empty and dark right now. Today’s eclipse lands in your opposite sign so it is entirely possible that you might feel slightly isolated or ignored when attention shifts to other people.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Don’t play around with your bank balance as you may not have the savvy to conserve your resources sufficiently. Stay serious with money matters; focus your more spontaneous energies on social events.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Maintain a low profile in the business world right now. This isn’t a good time to push toward your objectives as you may be swimming upstream. Save your energy for when the tide turns in your favor.

IF JULY 2 IS YOUR BIRTHDAY: You have the world by the tail during the next four to five weeks and can relax and enjoy. You may make a real friend during September, or a group of friends or co-workers might become more crucial to your happiness. Your new contacts may inspire you to try something new when you take your vacation in October or you may see a romantic twinkle in someone’s eye and know it is time to live up to a fantasy. Late October or early November can bring opportunities for advancement and the good judgment to use them to your advantage. Put financial schemes on the back burner during December when your ambitions may interfere with seasonal celebrations. Wait until January and February to put your most crucial plans into action.

Learn more at https://magihelena.com/ Questions? Reach out to Helena at questions@magihelena.com.

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Posted: 02 Jul 2019 12:01 AM PDT

Questions I would have asked the Democrats

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 12:01 AM PDT

The likelihood I would ever be invited to serve on a network panel questioning the Democratic presidential candidates is equivalent to an invitation to take the next trip to the moon.

Still, as I tortured myself watching the two “debates,” which were not really debates, but mostly a show of memorized sound bites, I thought of unasked questions that ought to have been put to them all.

Question 1: Some of you have, or had, the power to change many of the things you now say are wrong with America. Why didn’t you?

Question 2 (for Joe Biden): You and Barack Obama, for a time, had a Democratic majority in Congress. Why didn’t you reform immigration laws and address homelessness? Your administration deported a lot of people who were in the country illegally, so why criticize President Trump for wanting to follow your example? Do our laws mean nothing?

Question 3: During the second debate, all of you raised your hands when asked if you would provide free health care to immigrants who are here illegally. Aren’t you inviting even more to come to America with such a policy, and wouldn’t that add to our already staggering debt? Follow-up: President Trump said we should take care of Americans first. Why would you use American tax dollars to pay for people who break our laws?

Question 4: Is there anything President Trump has done that you could praise? Many of you talk as if unemployment hasn’t declined — especially for minorities — and wages haven’t risen. Unemployment is at, or near, record lows and wages are up.

Question 5: Some of you think raising taxes again is a good idea, but with a $22 trillion debt and with record amounts of revenue already coming into Washington, isn’t the real problem uncontrolled spending? Follow-up: Are there any government programs you would cut or eliminate?

Question 6: Many of you have a lot of complaints about the U.S. Is there anything positive you could say?

Question 7: Many of you have criticized President Trump for confronting Iran and withdrawing from the nuclear deal. Iran is a major sponsor of terrorism in the world and its leaders say they have a religious mandate to wipe out Israel and impose Islamic law on everyone. How would you negotiate with their leaders and what is your plan for fighting terrorism?

Question 8: Some of you say Russia is the greatest existential threat and others name China. Russia has been supporting the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and the crumbling dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. Russia has also sent a warship to Cuba. How would you oppose Russia’s adventurism and China’s expansionism? How would you deal with China spying on us?

Question 9 (for Sen. Kamala Harris): You attacked Joe Biden for working with segregationist senators during his time in the Senate. He (and Lyndon Johnson, who pushed through significant civil rights legislation in the ’60s) said it was necessary in order to accomplish anything. If you were in the Senate at that time, would you have refused to work with those senators, possibly scuttling significant legislation that has led to improvements in the lives of many Americans, including African Americans?

Question 10: There have been 60 million abortions in America since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, black women are more than five times as likely as white women to have an abortion. Does this trouble you? Follow-up: Some states allow babies to die if they survive an abortion and some call that infanticide. Are you opposed to that practice?

These questions and others might have provided more useful information to the public than the ones tossed at the candidates. As I say, though, it is unlikely I will ever have a chance to ask them and the network stars won’t either.

(This year marks Cal Thomas’ 35th year as a syndicated columnist. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

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Posted: 02 Jul 2019 12:01 AM PDT

LATEST LINE

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 12:01 AM PDT

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             By J. McCarthy  

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Boston is only 1-4 in David Price’s last 5 series opening starts. The Red Sox are 4-10 their last 14 Tuesday games. Toronto is 4-1 its last 5 home games. Take Toronto over Boston for another Best Bet winner.

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                      MLB  

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 Favorite             Odds     (O/U)      Underdog  

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                National League   Chicago Cubs       Even-6     (9)      PITTSBURGH   WASHINGTON           9-10     (8.5)         Miami   CINCINNATI         Pick'em    (10)      Milwaukee   ATLANTA          5 1/2-6 1/2  (9.5)  Philadelphia   LA DODGERS          10-11     (9)         Arizona   SAN DIEGO        6 1/2-7 1/2  (9)   San Francisco                  American League   Boston           7 1/2-8 1/2  (9.5)       TORONTO   TAMPA BAY       12 1/2-13 1/2 (8.5)     Baltimore   LA Angels        5 1/2-6 1/2  (11)          TEXAS   Detroit              6-7      (9)   CHI WHITE SOX   Cleveland        8 1/2-9 1/2  (9)     KANSAS CITY   Minnesota        5 1/2-6 1/2  (9.5)       OAKLAND                    Interleague   NY Yankees           6-7      (8.5)       NY METS   COLORADO         5 1/2-6 1/2  (13)        Houston   St. Louis            6-7      (9)         SEATTLE  

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               Home Team in CAPS  

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Family finances: Share passwords with your spouse

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 12:01 AM PDT

About a year ago, my friend Susie’s husband of 46 years died unexpectedly. John left Susie with a technology nightmare: an Apple computer, four iPads, four iPhones, a stack of hard drives — and no passwords.

That left her unable to get access to critical information (think tax records) and accounts in his name that were on autopay, including Amazon Prime and the cellphone bill.

To help crack the codes, Susie hired someone from her IT department at work. They were never able to get into the computer, but thanks to a combination of logic and “wild guesses,” they managed to open the iPads and iPhones. The entire process took almost a year, “and it all occurred during a time when, as a grieving widow, you are most vulnerable,” says Susie.

Getting access to key financial and estate information has always been a critical issue for women, who are statistically more likely than men to be widowed or may have a spouse who suffers from a serious illness. “The problem has gotten more pronounced as we’ve gone more digital,” says Jody King of Fiduciary Trust Co. in Boston. “With digital records and passwords, there’s no paperwork to help you find accounts no one knew existed,” she says.

A further complication is that women of all ages often delegate key financial and estate responsibilities to their spouse. “Younger women may have a better awareness of the family’s financial situation than older generations, but they still may not choose to be involved,” says King.

To address that problem, Marilee Fitzgerald and Robyn Wagman co-founded Estate of Mine Organizers (www.estateofmineorganizers.com), a system for helping women organize both personal and financial records. Their system includes checklists of must-have documents — a will, powers of attorney for financial and health affairs, bank and investment accounts — but it also covers facets of life other than financial: Where is the warranty for your new stove? The titles to your cars? The name of the furnace repair person?

Fitzgerald and Wagman have found that a number of issues tend to trip people up — for example, beneficiary designations on life insurance policies or retirement accounts. “People don’t understand that beneficiaries take precedence over anything you have in your will,” says Wagman, “and they often forget to update them.”

She and Fitzgerald suggest other ways to avoid unpleasant surprises: Be sure your joint bank account really is in both names. Have a credit card in your own name, and get a copy of each spouse’s credit reports at www.annual creditreport.com. Keep a copy of your will outside the safe deposit box.

And what about keeping tabs on those devilish passwords? The women I interviewed use digital password managers. But as backup, they also keep a written record and store it in a place that’s secure yet accessible to family members.

Even in this digital age, paper still rules. Says King, “Any documentation you have is always the best thing.”

(Janet Bodnar is editor at large at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to moneypower@kiplinger.com. And for more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com.)

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Posted: 02 Jul 2019 12:01 AM PDT

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