Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who sued Mark Zuckerberg 13 years ago for allegedly stealing the idea for Facebook, became the first bitcoin billionaires last week. The wealth from the digital currency helped the twins moved beyond their reputation as portrayed by Armie Hammer in the 2010 movie The Social Network, which told the story of the Facebook lawsuit. The twins eventually settled their dispute with Zuckerberg and invested $11 million of the settlement money into bitcoin.
The U.S. victory against the Islamic State has gone practically unnoticed by the foreign policy establishment and the media, writes the New York Times‘ Ross Douthat: “If you had told me in late 2016 that almost a year into the Trump era the caliphate would be all-but-beaten without something far worse happening in the Middle East, I would have been surprised and gratified. So very provisionally, credit belongs where it’s due — to our soldiers and diplomats, yes, but to our president as well.”
Much has been made of the potential film and television consequence of last week’s announcement that The Walt Disney Co. is acquiring 21st Century Fox assets in a $52.4 billion deal. Suddenly, the X-Men can join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Disney will have access to TV properties including The Simpsons, This Is Us and Modern Family. But there will also be dramas unfolding off-screen. Over the next 12 to 18 months, an expert analyst told The Hollywood Reporter that “we believe Disney will need to cut well over 5,000 jobs, and the number could easily swell toward 10,000 given the high degree of overlap between the two companies around the world.”
The predictions for 21st Century Fox are even more bleak. High-level execs, like 20th Century Fox CEO Stacey Snider and Fox TV Group co-chiefs Gary Newman and Dana Walden may be folded into the company. But many in the rank and file know there will be no Disney happy ending for them. “No one believes assurances from management that our jobs are safe, and the assurances we were given were halfhearted at best,” one Fox employee told THR.
Italian model Ambra Gutierrez had endured a hellish, ongoing ordeal since the night she met movie mogul Harvey Weinstein at a theater reception in March 2015. Promising to help her break into films, he brought her back to his Tribeca office, where he reportedly groped her. Incensed, Gutierrez reported the incident to the NYPD and agreed to become a part of a sting operation. It worked. She secretly recorded an apology from Weinstein seemingly admitting the conduct, even as he tried to coax her to accompany him to a hotel. But the fallout didn’t go according to script: Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. opted not to prosecute and Weinstein paid off Gutierrez with a $1 million contract, as long as she signed a nondisclosure agreement. She felt forced to flee New York as an outcast.
Fast forward to late 2017 and Weinstein has been toppled by the #metoo movement. Gutierrez tells The New York Post in a cover story interview in Sunday’s newspaper that she finally feels “vindicated.” “My life is finally coming back to me,” the model told the tabloid.
The real payoff for the five-player mega trade between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves won’t be realized until the 2018 offseason. While on paper, the Dodgers reacquire star outfielder Matt Kemp — in exchange for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir and infielder Charlie Culberson — there’s a very good chance he doesn’t crack the lineup. But Kemp will indeed impact the bottom line as the trade allows the Dodgers to shed a combined $51.6 million in 2018 payroll and avoid being crushed by the luxury tax. More importantly, that allows Los Angeles to join the New York Yankees as buyers in next year’s historic free agent class that includes Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson. Atlanta, meanwhile, absorbs the 2018 hit to rid itself of Kemp’s remaining two years and set itself up for 2019. Those numbers add up to a giant trade that will have more impact on a computer database than on the field.
Though the decisive nine-month battle for Mosul will go down in history books as a victory over ISIS by the U.S. military and allied forces, a scathing new U.S. Army report on the operation is not as favorable. As The Wall Street Journal reports, the study found American military units did not have a unified view of the events on the ground and had communication issues with trapped Mosul residents, making coordination more difficult. The report also found fault with the Army’s urban warfare preparedness and an over-reliance on civilian contractors.
While most of the ground combat was done by Iraqi military forces, the U.S. played an advisory and coordination role in the Mosul operation, code-named “Eagle Strike.” The battle to retake the city began in October 2016 and ended in the collapse of the ISIS caliphate in July came with heavy costs —tens of thousands of citizens dead and a million displaced.
While the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots meet Sunday with home-field advantage in the playoffs at stake, there are potentially other things at stake, too.
Four of the top 10 Pro Bowl vote-getters will take the field, and their performance can swing the popularity contest for bragging rights. As of Saturday night, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell led all players in fan voting with 855,539 votes, with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in second with 833,481. Right behind him is Pittsburgh star receiver Antonio Brown with 832,446. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has elbowed his way into 9th place with 551,058. Injured Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz is in fourth place and the top vote-getter on the NFC side.
‘Twas the Saturday Night Live episode before the Christmas break and all through Studio 8H, not a feature was stirring that did not include a shot at the Trump administration.
Saturday’s SNL cold open continued the NBC comedy series ongoing campaign against the president with a “White House Tree Trimming” sketch that returned Alec Baldwin and his scrunched face impression of Trump. He was joined by Kate McKinnon’s Kellyanne Conway, Aidy Bryant’s Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Beck Bennett’s Mike Pence, Scarlett Johansson’s Ivanka Trump… and Leslie Jones’ Omarosa. But did all those cameos add up to a humorous bit? That probably depends on the viewer’s political leanings.
Disney announced earlier this week that it will be acquiring a major portion of 21st Century Fox’s assets, including independent films, their production company, the FX and National Geographic channels, regional sport networks, and a majority stake in Hulu. This would be the largest-ever merger of two show business companies, and Disney, who is already one of the biggest players in the entertainment industry in the U.S., would be a global colossus. The deal will most likely receive regulatory scrutiny, because the Justice Department has been wary of mega media mergers. But shouldn’t we all be wary? The deal essentially lets Rupert Murdoch consolidate his kingdom back into a news business, and gives Disney a chance to overtake Netflix. Streaming video has beat out pay TV. Young adults in their late teens and early 20s watch 50 percent less traditional television than people did in 2010. But should a merger like this exist in the first place? If it goes through, Disney would control as much as 40 percent of the U.S. movie business and 40 percent of the U.S. TV business. That should sound a little scary, The Atlantic writes.
LinkedIn is not what most people think of when they hear “social media,” but LinkedIn Thought Leaders, or bloggers whose personality and style seems native to LinkedIn, are using it to establish a professional brand, find potential customers, share relevant content, and build trust among clientele. Tony J. Hughes, for example, is an Australia-based speaker and author who decided to start getting serious about LinkedIn when he turned 50. He started writing an article a day for seven months, cumulating into about 420 published articles. He says it was transformative. He now has more than 220,000 followers on LinkedIn and they often comment on his posts to offer their own insight or thank him. The whole LinkedIn community seems to encourage the capitalist schmoozing that happens by all commenting on each other’s posts and networking every day. It has been called “the worst social network,” but LinkedIn leans into it and offers a metric that incentivizes both creating and sharing content.
Even though another star quarterback, Carson Wentz, is out for the rest of the season because of a torn ACL, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has no plans to change his style. What happened to Wentz could have easily happened to Prescott, but the Cowboys star said that he is not going to let that affect him and he is going to continue playing the same way he always has. “That’s part of the game. That just comes with it. Us running quarterbacks, we know that we’re susceptible to that when we’re running,” he said, according to ESPN. Prescott has carried 45 times for 288 yards this season. He has 11 rushing touchdowns over his first two seasons.
Estonia is a small, post-Soviet, borderless, secure nation. But they have found a way to the digital future, through e-Estontia, a coordinated governmental effort to transform the country from a state into a digital society. E-Estonia is the most ambitious project in the technological field today, writes The New Yorker, because not only does it include all members of the government, but it alters citizens’ daily lives. The services that the government offers or is involved with, like voting, education, health care, are all digitally linked across one platform, so the whole nation is wired. Citizens can vote from their laptops, and if they want to apply for a loan, all their data is pulled up from the system. Same with medical histories. The system is keyed to a chip-ID card that reduces tasks that are usually long and dull into a quick process. Almost all bureaucratic processes are done online. The country is home to 1.3 million people and four million hectares, half of which is forest. It has liberal regulations around tech research and has the lowest business-tax rates in the European Union.