New York City

Fans watch the final episode of Game of Thrones at a watch party in the Manhattan borough of New York
Fans watch the final episode of Game of Thrones at a watch party in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., May 19, 2019. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

May 20, 2019

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Mixed reviews, a stray water bottle and pleas for a spinoff for feisty teen assassin Arya Stark marked the end of “Game of Thrones,” which came to a close on Sunday with one more shocking demise and an unlikely character named as king.

The 80-minute series finale of HBO’s medieval fantasy series proved as divisive as Season 8 itself, with the hard fought Iron Throne burned to the ground and the saga ending in what some called an anti-climax.

USA Today’s Kelly Lawler called the finale “a disaster ending that fans didn’t deserve,” adding that it was “hacky; it was cliched.”

Britain’s Radio Times was kinder, with blogger Huw Fullerton writing there were “some bits I liked, one or two I loved, an awful lot that leaves me scratching my head. But I will say, it ended better than I expected given the last two episodes.”

According to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the finale got 59 % approval from television critics, compared with 92 % for the Season 8 premiere on April 14.

Television series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were silent on Monday. The executive producers had said they planned to go offline when the finale aired.

“We’ll be in an undisclosed location, turning off our phones and opening various bottles,” Weiss told Entertainment Weekly earlier this year.

Many fans were more upset about the series coming to an end after eight seasons.

“I thought it would be more of a dramatic ending,” healthcare worker Christine Lethune told Reuters at a viewing party in New York. “I’m mad, I’m mad that this is the last episode. I wish that there was more after this.”

Eagle eyed fans spotted another modern prop that made its way on camera.

On Sunday. it was a plastic water bottle seen partly hidden behind the boot of character Samwell Tarly. The sighting followed dismay and jokes over the sighting of a stray paper coffee cup glimpsed during episode 4, aired two weeks ago.

HBO last year ordered a prequel, co-written by author George R.R. Martin, that is set thousands of years before the events of “Game of Thrones.”

But on Monday, many fans wanted a sequel based around Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), who is last seen aboard a ship to explore lands unknown.

“Arya was the only good part of Season 8. Give us the spinoff,” tweeted Riley McAtee, an associate editor at sports and pop culture website The Ringer.com

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Diane Craft)

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A sign advertising Juul brand vaping products is seen outside a shop in Manhattan in New York City
A sign advertising Juul brand vaping products is seen outside a shop in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., February 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

May 20, 2019

By Lisa Rapaport

(Reuters Health) – Almost half of the people who followed Juul Labs Inc on Twitter were not old enough to legally purchase e-cigarettes in the United States, according a study published on Monday.

Researchers analyzed data collected in April 2018 on all public followers of Juul’s Twitter account (@JUULvapor) with at least one public tweet. About 45 percent of the individuals who followed Juul were 13 to 17 years old, according to the study in JAMA Pediatrics, published online on Monday.

In the study, only 19 percent of Juul’s Twitter followers were at least 21. These findings from more than a year ago may not reflect what is happening on social media today.

The study also was not a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how following Juul on social media directly impacts vaping habits. Other research has linked teen vaping to an increased risk of smoking traditional cigarettes.

In an effort to curb teen vaping, the FDA in March proposed new age verification rules for retail and online sales of e-cigarettes in flavors like mango and cucumber that appeal predominantly to minors.

Juul also said in November that it would pull many flavors popular among teens from retail store shelves in an effort to reduce surging use of its products by young people.

The number of tweets about Juul rose dramatically from 2015 to 2017, corresponding with a sharp rise in Juul’s retail sales, researchers reported in JAMA Pediatrics.

Online conversations about Juul were rarely about smoking cessation; instead, they focused on how to use and purchase Juul devices, which look like a USB flash drive and vaporize a flavored liquid containing nicotine

(Editing by Vanessa O’Connell and Meredith Mazzilli)

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The final episode of Game of Thrones is projected at a watch party in the Manhattan borough of New York City
The final episode of Game of Thrones is projected at a watch party in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., May 19, 2019. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

May 20, 2019

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s Tencent Video has delayed the broadcast of the “Game of Thrones” finale, according to an official message published by the online streaming site on Monday, prompting uproar among fans of the popular TV series in the country.

Tencent Video, which owns the online broadcast rights in China for the long-running smash series from HBO, was originally scheduled to air the episode at 9 am Beijing time, or 0100 GMT.

But an hour before the scheduled broadcast, one of Tencent Video’s official accounts on Weibo, a Chinese social media site, announced that the airing would be postponed.

“Dear users, we regret to inform you that the sixth episode of the eighth season of Game of Thrones will not go online at the intended time due to media transfer issues,” the notice reads. “We will keep you informed of the broadcast time.”

Several viewers expressed anger online at Tencent Video, with many demanding refunds for their membership, as the final episode was aired around the world, bringing the curtains down on the series that has run for eight seasons.

“All those paying members and their trust, and this is how you repay them,” a viewer wrote on Weibo after the broadcast was postponed. It charges 15 yuan per month or 198 yuan ($28.66) a year for access to some exclusive shows like Game of Thrones.

Others were skeptical about the reason for the delay, with some suggesting that political tensions were to blame.

“Is it the result of the trade war between the U.S. and China?” wrote another Weibo user in a top-ranked comment.

Tencent Holdings did not respond to a request for comment on the broadcast delay by its video platform.

In late 2014, Tencent signed a deal with HBO to broadcast some of the TV station’s content exclusively in China.

But the Chinese internet giant has heavily censored some Game of Thrones episodes, removing scenes featuring sex and excessive gore, in line with Beijing’s broader push to clean up content seen as vulgar or not in line with its socialist values.

Despite the cuts, the series has entered China’s cultural zeitgeist much as it has elsewhere in the world.

The first episode of its eighth and final season racked up over 20 million online views in its first day in China, shows data from Maoyan, a Tencent-backed online ticketing website.

In April, Chinese premier Li Keqiang referenced the Emmy-winning medieval fantasy series at a diplomatic meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia, where some of its scenes have been shot.

(Reporting by Josh Horwitz and Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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FILE PHOTO: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks with reporters following the weekly policy luncheons on Capitol Hill
FILE PHOTO: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks with reporters following the weekly policy luncheons on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

May 19, 2019

By Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is asking the federal government to investigate if a plan for new subway cars in New York City, designed by a Chinese state-owned firm, could pose a threat to national security.

The move comes after China’s CRRC Corp Ltd <, the world’s top passenger train maker, was slammed by U.S. lawmakers during a hearing on Thursday to limit its access to U.S. projects amid security fears.

It also comes at a time when the Trump administration has added China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to a trade blacklist, citing security risks as the world’s two largest economies ratchet up tariffs in a battle over what U.S. officials call China’s unfair trade practices.

CRRC, The Chinese state-owned company, which won a design contest for new subway cars, plans to install new technology in the New York subway system and government agencies must determine whether this poses any threat to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and its commuters, Schumer said in a statement to Reuters.

“Given what we know about how cyberwarfare works, and recent attacks that have hit transportation and infrastructure hubs across the country, the Department of Commerce must… thoroughly check any proposals or work China’s CRRC does on behalf of the New York subway system, including our signals, Wi-Fi and more,” Schumer added.

The company has not won a contract in New York City, which has America’s biggest transit system. However, it has won contracts for new subway cars in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia.

CRRC has also launched a charm campaign in the United States as it seeks to secure a Washington D.C. metro car contract worth over $500 million, after roaring into the American passenger rail market by dramatically underbidding foreign rivals.

Concerns CRRC could soon set its sights on the much more lucrative U.S. freight market and use its railcars to spy on passengers have prompted a series of legislative proposals.

A bipartisan bill unveiled in the U.S. House recently, which mirrors one proposed in the Senate earlier this year, would prevent transit agencies from spending federal dollars on projects awarded to CRRC.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Trump arrives aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump walks down the steps of Air Force One as he returns to Washington from a trip to New York City at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., May 17, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

May 19, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank AG recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving entities controlled by President Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

The newspaper, citing five current and former Deutsche Bank employees, said executives at the German-based bank, which has lent billions of dollars to the Trump and Kushner companies, rejected their employees’ advice. The reports were never filed with the government.

The Times said the transactions, some of which involved Trump’s now-defunct foundation, set off alerts in a computer system designed to detect illicit activity, according to the former bank employees.

Compliance staff members who then reviewed the transactions prepared so-called suspicious activity reports that they believed should be sent to a unit of the Treasury Department that polices financial crimes, according to the newspaper.

The Times reported the bank employees viewed the decision not to report the transactions as a result of a lax approach to money laundering laws. They said there was a pattern of bank executives rejecting reports to protect relationships with lucrative clients, according to the newspaper.

One employee who reviewed some of the transactions said she was terminated last year after raising concerns about the bank’s practices, the Times reported.

The Times quoted a Deutsche Bank spokeswoman as saying investigators were not prevented from escalating activity identified as potentially suspicious. The spokeswoman described as “categorically false” any suggestion that bank staff were reassigned or fired in an effort to quash concerns related to any client. She also said Deutsche Bank has intensified efforts to combat financial crime.

A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, which oversees many of Trump’s business interests, said the company was not aware of any flagged transactions and currently has no operating accounts with Deutsche Bank, according to the Times.

The newspaper said a Kushner Companies spokeswoman called any allegations of relationships involving money laundering “made up and totally false.”

Officials at Deutsche Bank, the Trump Organization and Kushner Companies were not immediately available to Reuters for independent comment.

The Times said the nature of the transactions was not clear. At least some of them involved money flowing back and forth with overseas entities or individuals, which bank employees considered suspicious.

The report surfaces at a time when congressional and New York state authorities are investigating the relationship between Trump, his family and Deutsche Bank, and demanding documents related to any suspicious activity.

Trump has sued in court in an attempt to block U.S. House of Representatives subpoenas for his financial records that were sent to Deutsche Bank, Capital One Financial Corp and the accounting firm Mazars LLP.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Chris Reese)

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MLS: New York City FC at LA Galaxy
May 11, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) tangles up with New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson (1) during the second half at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

May 18, 2019

(Reuters) – LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was handed a two-game ban for violent conduct after he grabbed New York City goalkeeper Sean Johnson by the neck in their 2-0 MLS win last Saturday.

The pair were involved in an altercation in the 86th minute of the match after Sweden’s Ibrahimovic missed an opportunity to score, with Johnson going to ground holding his neck.

“The disciplinary committee has suspended LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic for two games and issued an undisclosed fine for violent conduct in the 86th minute against New York City FC on May 11,” the MLS said in a statement.

Former Manchester United striker Ibrahimovic, who signed a new one-year deal with Galaxy last December, will miss matches against Colorado Rapids on Sunday and Orlando City on May 24.

The 37-year-old was also fined earlier this month for simulation in their 3-1 defeat by Columbus Crew.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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FILE PHOTO: Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala - Met Gala - Camp: Notes on Fashion- Arrivals - New York City, U.S. – May 6, 2019 -Kim Kardashian and Kanye West
FILE PHOTO: Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala – Met Gala – Camp: Notes on Fashion- Arrivals – New York City, U.S. – May 6, 2019 – Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

May 18, 2019

(Reuters) – Reality television star Kim Kardashian announced on Friday she has named her fourth child, a boy born last week via a surrogate, Psalm West.

Kardashian wrote “Psalm West” in a post to her 60 million followers on Twitter that included a photo of the infant wrapped in a blanket in a crib with a caption that read in part: “We are blessed beyond measure. We have everything we need.”

Kardashian and her musician husband Kanye West have three other children – Chicago, a girl who was also born via a surrogate in January 2018, a son, Saint, 3, and daughter North, 5.

Kardashian has said she decided to use a surrogate after doctors warned of serious health risks if she became pregnant again following the birth of Saint in 2015.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Paul Tait)

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A politically savvy Missouri teenager spoiled New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s big presidential announcement — unearthing a Facebook tip about the big reveal.

The progressive mayor apparently intended to make his official entry into the 2020 White House run Thursday morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” with an appearance alongside his wife Chirlane McCray.

But Gabe Fleisher, 17 — who authors a daily political newsletter “Wake Up To Politics” — noticed de Blasio had a event planned in Sioux City, Iowa, on Friday, tweeting that the local Democratic party, in a Facebook post, billed the event as the “first stop on his Presidential announcement tour.”

The de Blasio campaign scrambled to get on top of the tip, telling NBC News that de Blasio was tossing his hat into the ring. At the same time, the New York Daily News also reported the 2020 run was official.

With de Blasio becoming the 23rd Democrat to announce a White House bid, “he faces an uphill battle, with low early poll numbers both nationally and across the five boroughs,” the News reported.

De Blasio on Monday had a disastrous runup to the bumbled  announcement, getting booed at a campaign-style rally inside Trump Tower, the News reported.

He seemed to make matters even worse when he tussled on Twitter with Eric Trump, warning that Trump Organization buildings might face some steep fines for non-compliance with a new law establishing tighter emission standards.

During the war of words, Eric Trump blasted the mayor, saying New York City had “gone to s**t” under the de Blasio administration.

Source: NewsMax Politics

A Wells Fargo logo is seen in New York City
A Wells Fargo logo is seen in New York City, U.S. January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

May 15, 2019

By Pete Schroeder and Michelle Price

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A top U.S. bank regulator said on Wednesday it will vet Wells Fargo & Co’s pick for its next chief executive, a development that could complicate the scandal-hit lender’s efforts to find a permanent replacement for CEO Tim Sloan.

Joseph Otting, the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), told Congress he would use special legal powers that the regulator typically reserves for overseeing financially troubled lenders to review any proposed candidate.

But Otting said he does not plan to make findings from the review public, despite pressure from U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren who pressed him on the issue during a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee.

“At this point in time I do not have plans to release that information,” Otting told Warren in a heated exchange.

Warren and other Democratic lawmakers have accused the OCC of being too soft on Wells Fargo, a claim Otting disputed on Wednesday.

Otting said the OCC remains disappointed by the bank’s progress on fixing risk management and governance problems that led to a number of customer abuse scandals, including in its mortgage and auto lending businesses.

A spokesman for Wells Fargo did not immediately provide comment.

Sloan abruptly departed in late March, making him the second CEO to leave Wells Fargo following its sales practice scandal. He has said he stepped down because the external attention on him had become a distraction.

Wells Fargo general counsel C. Allen Parker, one of the few newcomers in the bank’s top ranks, is serving as interim CEO.

Intense congressional and regulatory scrutiny is likely to narrow the field of CEO candidates. Wells Fargo’s board is looking for an outsider following criticism that company veterans are incapable of turning things around.

The bank’s CEO search is also being hampered by limits on how much it can pay, Reuters reported this month.

Wells Fargo’s woes began in September 2016 when the bank admitted it had potentially opened millions of unauthorized accounts. Internal and regulatory probes have discovered other issues in the bank’s businesses, resulting in billions of dollars in fines and penalties.

The Federal Reserve has also placed an unprecedented restriction on Wells Fargo to keep it from growing its balance sheet until it proves risk management controls are improved.

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Meredith Mazzilli)

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Democratic 2020 U.S presidential candidate Andrew Yang holds a rally in the Manhattan borough of New York
Democratic 2020 U.S presidential candidate Andrew Yang holds a rally in the Manhattan borough of New York, May 14, 2019. REUTERS/Gabriela Bhaskar

May 15, 2019

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Andrew Yang is ready for his closeup next month at the first Democratic presidential debate, when he knows most Americans will have one question: “Who is the Asian man standing next to Joe Biden?”

The thousands of so-called “Yang Gang” members who braved cold and rain to attend the candidate’s rally in New York City on Tuesday evening shouted his name in reply, showing his eclectic campaign is catching on with some voters.

The 44-year-old entrepreneur, philanthropist and self-described nerd launched his long-shot bid more than a year ago, centered on a proposal to give every American $1,000 a month in cash.

Since then, he has rolled out more than 100 policy ideas, a technocratic approach rivaled in sheer wonkiness perhaps only by that of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts among the Democratic candidates seeking the 2020 nomination.

“I liked that he was a very policies-first kind of guy,” said Chris Nyugen, 28, who attended the rally and is considering backing Yang over U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, his choice in the 2016 presidential election.

“He wasn’t just anti-Trump,” Nyugen said of Yang. “He ran on the issues.”

Yang’s odds of victory remain long against better-known and better-funded candidates such as Biden, a former vice president. Yang is drawing around 1 percent support among voters in national polls, on a par with experienced politicians like U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

A native of upstate New York and the son of Taiwanese immigrants, Yang would be the first Asian-American president.

He has embraced social media, and Andrew Yang memes have proliferated on Reddit and Twitter. His campaign received a major boost after a lengthy February interview with comedian Joe Rogan’s popular podcast.

Yang’s biggest proposal is what’s known as a universal basic income, or UBI, a concept that in recent years has gained traction within certain academic circles.

Under his “Freedom Dividend” plan, every adult American would receive $1,000 a month regardless of income or work status, a cash infusion he says is the best way to combat the destruction of manufacturing and other jobs due to automation. The proposal would be funded by a European-style value-added tax that Yang says would ensure technology companies pay their fair share.

At the rally, Yang – who often sports a “MATH” hat in a nod to his devotion to numbers – rattled off the industries that were using machines to replace millions of humans: truck driving, retail stores and customer service call centers.

“Donald Trump is our president for one simple reason: Automation did away with 4 million manufacturing jobs,” mostly in states like Pennsylvania and Michigan that were key to Trump’s 2016 victory, Yang said.

Tyler Riley, a 27-year-old from Weehawken, New Jersey, said Yang’s argument resonated with him.

“A lot of candidates focus on immigration, but automation is doing a lot more damage to jobs than any immigrants coming into the U.S.,” he said.

Yang’s platform includes a dizzying mix of standard Democratic fare like Medicare-for-all; voting reform proposals like eliminating gerrymandering or making the Electoral College proportional; and seemingly quirky concepts such as subsidizing marriage counseling, giving everyone $100 to donate to charity and establishing a $1 billion journalism fund to support struggling local news outlets.

He has proposed cutting 10 percent of U.S. military spending and redirecting the funds to a domestic infrastructure force known as – in all seriousness – the Legion of Builders and Destroyers. The legion’s commander would have the power to override local regulations in pursuing massive improvement projects.

Yang has leaned into his political outsider status, coining the slogan “Not Left, not Right, Forward,” and emphasizing his experience running an education startup company eventually acquired by test-prep giant Kaplan.

Some supporters said they would consider his campaign a success if it brings some of his policy proposals to the forefront.

“Even if he doesn’t win, it’s OK – his ideas are there,” said Kai Wong, a 27-year-old physical therapy doctoral student at New York University.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; editing by Jonathan Oatis; Editing by Colleen Jenkins)

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