North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a welcome ceremony as he arrives at the railway station in the Russian far-eastern city of Vladivostok, Russia, April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
April 24, 2019
By Maria Vasilyeva and Vladimir Soldatkin
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday at a summit designed to show that Washington is not the only power able to set the agenda on Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
The two men will sit down together on an island off the Russian Pacific city of Vladivostok two months after Kim’s summit with U.S. President Donald Trump ended in disagreement, cooling hopes of a breakthrough in the decades-old nuclear row.
The summit in Vladivostok – the first ever between Putin and Kim – provides Pyongyang with an opportunity to seek support from a new quarter, Russia, and possible relief from the sanctions hurting its economy.
For the Kremlin, the summit is a chance to show it is a global diplomatic player, despite efforts by the United States and other Western states to isolate it.
But with Moscow committed to upholding sanctions until the North dismantles its nuclear program, analysts said the summit was unlikely to produce any tangible help for Pyongyang, beyond a show of camaraderie.
In an interview with Russian state television as his train made a stop off on the journey to Vladivostok, Kim said he was looking forward to useful talks.
“I hope that we can discuss concrete questions about peace negotiations on the Korean peninsula, and our bilateral relations,” he said through an interpreter.
Kim Jong Un, making his first trip to Russia as North Korean leader, arrived at the train station in Vladivostok on Wednesday on board an armored train — his preferred mode of international transport.
After a brief delay while the train had to be repositioned to line up with the red carpet laid out on the platform, he disembarked and headed in a convoy of limousines and minivans across a bridge linking mainland Vladivostok to Russky island, the summit venue. Putin has yet to arrive in Vladivostok.
Putin’s last summit with a North Korean leader was in 2002 when his counterpart was Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un’s father and predecessor. Kim Jong Il also met in 2011 with Dmitry Medvedev, the Putin lieutenant who was then Russian president.
There was heightened security around Vladivostok in preparation for the summit, with an unusually heavy police presence, especially at the university campus on Russky island where the talks will take place.
Classes were still in progress on Wednesday but students were having their documents checked on the way in, and vehicles were no longer allowed to enter the campus. The Russian and North Korean flags fluttered from lamp-posts around the university.
(Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Gareth Jones)
FILE PHOTO: An AT&T logo is pictured in Pasadena, California, U.S., January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
April 24, 2019
By Sheila Dang and Akanksha Rana
(Reuters) – AT&T Inc’s first-quarter revenue fell short of Wall Street estimates on Wednesday after it lost subscribers in nearly all of its main businesses except wireless, where it paid heavily to gain customers through price promotions.
AT&T lost a net 544,000 premium TV subscribers, a category that includes DirecTV satellite and U-verse television customers. Analysts had expected a loss of 385,000 customers across DirecTV and U-verse, according to research firm FactSet.
Pay-TV providers have struggled to keep customers as viewers move to streaming services like Netflix Inc. AT&T has launched its own streaming service, but that too lost customers in the quarter.
Total revenue for the quarter rose nearly 18 percent to $44.83 billion but fell short of expectations of $45.11 billion.
Revenue in AT&T’s wireless business was hurt by aggressive smartphone promotions. The company has tried to reduce its dependency on its phone business, which now brings in roughly 40 percent of total operating revenue, by adding media content through its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.
“Altogether, AT&T’s collection of assets remains challenged,” Jonathan Chaplin, an analyst with New Street Research, said in a note on Wednesday. AT&T’s business wireline segment saw declines in the top and bottom line, and even WarnerMedia trends “were just okay,” Chaplin wrote.
AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit, which includes Turner and premium TV channel HBO, reported revenue of $8.38 billion in the quarter, but that was short of analysts’ estimates of $8.45 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
The company added a net 80,000 phone subscribers, beating analysts’ forecast of a loss of 44,000 subscribers, as it leaned on the smartphone promotions to combat competition in a saturated U.S. market.
But Mobility, AT&T’s largest segment and which includes its wireless business, had revenue of $17.57 billion during the quarter, missing estimates of $17.65 billion, as those promotions hurt revenue for the unit.
AT&T shares were down 3.9 percent at $30.84 on Wednesday.
Postpaid phone churn, or the rate of customer defections, was 0.93 percent during the first quarter, up from 0.84 percent in the previous year.
AT&T’s entertainment segment, which includes satellite TV provider DirecTV, has been in continuous decline. Revenue from the segment fell nearly 1 percent to $11.33 billion.
AT&T also continued to lose subscribers for its DirecTV Now streaming service, which shed a net 83,000 customers during the quarter as viewers abandoned the service after their introductory price promotion plans ended.
“AT&T’s first-quarter earnings give a clear signal that the company is willing to compromise on growth in the short term as it struggles to cut its heavy load of debt,” said Haris Anwar, senior analyst at Investing.com.
“And it’s a wise thing to do considering the market is very concerned about the company’s balance-sheet risk.”
PAYING DOWN DEBT
AT&T’s Latin America segment had revenue of $1.7 billion during the quarter, down from $2 billion in the year-ago quarter. AT&T said the segment lost $551 million due to foreign exchange pressures.
The carrier has focused on paying down its debt after the purchase of Time Warner. The company paid off $2.3 billion during the first quarter, and net debt now stands at $169 billion.
On Tuesday, AT&T announced it would sell office space at Hudson Yards in New York City for $2.2 billion, which it plans to use to pay down debt.
AT&T previously received $1.43 billion by selling its stake in streaming service Hulu back to the company.
Verizon Communications Inc, an AT&T rival, raised its 2019 profit forecast and beat Wall Street estimates for quarterly profit on Tuesday, although it lost more phone subscribers than analysts had expected.
Net income attributable to AT&T fell to $4.1 billion, or 56 cents per share, from $4.66 billion, or 75 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding items, the company earned 86 cents per share, in line with estimates.
(Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru and Sheila Dang in New York; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Paul Simao)
FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
April 24, 2019
(Reuters) – In a win for Netflix, Amazon and other internet streaming services, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted not to change its rules for winning an Oscar, Hollywood’s top prize.
The decision follows a battle over how long a movie must play on the big screens in theaters before being launched on the internet, DVD or other mediums that put it on the small screen.
The Academy’s Board of Governors said on Tuesday that the existing rules, which say a movie has to run in a theater for only seven days in Los Angeles to qualify, had won.
“We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions,” Academy President John Bailey said in a release.
Some theater owners say short runs at a theater means more people will stay home to watch movies.
And movie producers including Steven Spielberg have said movies that are shown primarily on the small screen should only compete for television awards, such as the Emmys.
In February, Netflix won three Oscars for “Roma,” which streamed three weeks after a limited theatrical debut.
Netflix tweeted that it “loved cinema” but also supported access for people who cannot afford, or do not live close to, theaters.
Shorter windows would keep some customers at home, Greg Marcus, chief executive of The Marcus Corporation, owner of the fourth-largest U.S. theater chain, earlier told Reuters.
“If you damage the business and take away 10 percent of our customers, we won’t be able to reinvest in the theatrical experience,” Marcus said. “That would ultimately hurt content providers.”
Others said consumers are happy with the current system.
Ticket sales in 2018 reached a record $41 billion globally and $12 billion in the United States and Canada, even as Netflix released about 90 movies for streaming.
“We’re not talking about something that’s broken,” Vue International cinemas CEO Tim Richards said in an earlier interview with Reuters.
The Academy’s Bailey said the rule could be revisited next year.
“We plan to further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues,” he said.
(Reporting by Rich McKay and Lisa Richwine; Editing by Alexander Smith)
Police officers guard the gate of a court after businessmen suspected of corruption were driven into the building, in Algiers, Algeria April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina
April 23, 2019
ALGIERS (Reuters) – Algeria’s army chief said on Tuesday he welcomed an anti-graft drive against figures close to former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, state TV reported, a day after the authorities announced the arrest of five business tycoons.
Bouteflika quit on April 2 after mass protests against his two-decade rule, in which protesters accused him of allowing widespread corruption in the Algerian political elite.
Army Chief Ahmed Gaid Salah played a role in Bouteflika’s resignation by calling for him to be removed from office, and has since called for a crackdown on corruption.
On Monday state television reported the arrest of billionaire Issad Rebrab, chairman of the family-owned Cevital diversified conglomerate with big interests in sugar refining, ranked by Forbes as Algeria’s richest man. Four brothers from the wealthy Kouninef family were also arrested.
(This story has been refiled to correct day in first paragraph to Tuesday from Monday.)
(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi and Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Peter Graff)
FILE PHOTO: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft attends a conference at the Cannes Lions Festival in Cannes, France, June 23, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
April 23, 2019
(Reuters) – A Florida judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked prosecutors from releasing hidden camera footage that allegedly shows New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft engaged in sexual acts inside a massage parlor, local television station WPTV reported.
The billionaire owner of the six-time Super Bowl champions is among dozens of men accused of soliciting prostitution inside Orchids of Asia Spa in Jupiter, Florida. He has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges and issued a public apology for his actions.
Palm Peach County Judge Leonard Hanser said Kraft’s right to a fair trial could be harmed if prosecutors release the video to media outlets, which requested the footage under Florida’s robust open government laws, according to a ruling posted online by WPTV.
“The potential jury pool would be given the opportunity to preview trial evidence, including identifying (Kraft) as the person depicted in the videotapes,” Hanser wrote.
The videos will remain sealed until a jury is seated, a plea deal is reached or the case is dismissed, Hanser ruled.
Another judge, who is overseeing the prosecution of the spa’s owner and manager, had previously blocked public dissemination of any footage until he holds a hearing on the matter next week.
Kraft, 77, purchased the Patriots, one of the National Football League’s most successful franchises, in 1994.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky)
Billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer is launching a new 30-second television ad urging that President Donald Trump be impeached, Politico is reporting.
The ad is costing Steyer’s Need to Impeach group $325,000. It will be shown nationally on MSNBC and CNN and on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC in the Washington, D.C. area, according to Politico.
In the ad, Steyer holds up the report by special counsel Robert Mueller and says: “It’s all here: 10 detailed acts of obstruction of justice. Robert Mueller’s report lays out a road map for impeachment proceedings against this president, and challenges Congress to do its job. I’m Tom Steyer, and we can’t let this president destroy the public trust, break his oath of office and get away with it. Congress has to do its job and hold him accountable. Please call them at this number. Tell them to get going.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
FILE PHOTO: Jet Airways aircraft are seen parked at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, India, April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo
April 23, 2019
MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s Jet Airways is constantly engaging with the government and lenders for a resolution of the current debt crisis and will not leave any stone unturned to revive the airline, its chief executive officer Vinay Dube told television channel ET Now in an interview.
Once India’s largest private airline, Jet halted all flight operations indefinitely last Wednesday evening after lenders led by State Bank of India declined to extend more funds to keep the carrier going.
“We are in constant touch with the lenders on how to get it (debt resolution) done in a manner that makes sense for them and makes sense for us,” Dube told ET Now.
“But I would like to think that a flying Jet Airways makes definite sense for them (banks) because it preserves their value as well. So we are not talking about anything that does not make good economic sense for the lenders, this is not charity for the sake of it”.
The company has requested banks for 10 billion rupees ($143.29 million), Dube said.
Earlier in the day, newspaper Business Standard reported that all shortlisted bidders for the company had backed out of the bidding process that is due to complete on May 10.
Dube, however, said he was hopeful of finding a keen, healthy investor who can inject the requisite amount of equity into the company.
The government plans to form a committee to temporarily allocate takeoff and landing slots left vacant by the grounding of Jet Airways flights, a senior official said last week.
Dube, however, said the government had assured the airlines this was a temporary move and the slots will be protected for the airline once they start flying again.
“While we have a combination of aircraft that are being deregistered or early terminated, the majority of them have not left the premise,” Dube said referring to the aircraft and said they will be available to the airline when it starts flying again.
“We understand the banks’ position. This is a financial proposition for them as well and we are in constant touch with them and we will be. For us there is no stone that we will leave unturned. We believe in Jet Airways, we will do whatever we can to make other people also believe in us.”
(Reporting by Swati Bhat; Editing by Rashmi Aich)
Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews the honor guards of the Chinese People’s Liberation (PLA) Navy before boarding the destroyer Xining for the naval parade celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in Qingdao, Shandong province, China April 23, 2019. Xinhua via REUTERS
April 23, 2019
By Ben Blanchard
QINGDAO, China (Reuters) – China showed off the first of its new generation of guided missile destroyers on Tuesday as President Xi Jinping reviewed a major naval parade through mist and rain to mark 70 years since the founding of China’s navy.
Xi is overseeing a sweeping plan to refurbish the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) by developing everything from stealth jets to aircraft carriers as China ramps up its presence in the disputed South China Sea and around self-ruled Taiwan, which has rattled nerves around the region and in Washington.
The navy has been a major beneficiary of the modernization, with China looking to project power far from its shores and protect its trading routes and citizens overseas.
After boarding the destroyer the Xining, which was only commissioned two years ago, Xi watched as a flotilla of Chinese and foreign ships sailed past, in waters off the eastern port city of Qingdao.
“Salute to you, comrades. Comrades, thanks for your hard work,” Xi called out to the officers standing on deck as the ships sailed past, in images carried on state television.
“Hail to you, chairman,” they replied. “Serve the people.”
China’s first domestically produced aircraft carrier, which is still unnamed and undergoing sea trials, was not present, though the carrier the Liaoning was, the report said.
The Liaoning, the country’s first carrier, was bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China.
State television also showed pictures of the Nanchang at the review, the first of a new fleet of 10,000-tonne destroyers, though details of that and other ships were hard to determine from the footage, due to the intermittent thick mist and rain.
China had said it would also show new nuclear submarines, and state television did show submarines taking part in the display.
Singapore-based regional security expert Collin Koh said that based on the available evidence, the larger submarine on show was a modified version of China’s existing Jin-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines – a key part of its nuclear deterrent.
The navy has four Jin-class submarines, which are based in Hainan island in the south, and the Pentagon says it believes construction on a new generation of ballistic missile submarines will start in the 2020s.
“It does appear that this is a modified version rather than an entirely new submarine, something which would have been a more significant development,” said Koh, of Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
“Outside analysts still don’t have a complete picture of the precise modifications.”
China’s last major naval parade was last year in the South China Sea, also overseen by Xi.
Tuesday’s parade featured 32 Chinese vessels and 39 aircraft, as well as warships from 13 foreign countries including India, Japan, Vietnam and Australia.
A total of 61 countries have sent delegations to the event, which includes a naval symposium on Wednesday and Thursday.
‘LONG FOR PEACE’
Earlier, meeting foreign naval officers at Qingdao’s Olympic sailing center, Xi said the navies of the world should work together to protect maritime peace and order.
“The Chinese people love and long for peace, and will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development,” Xi said, in remarks carried by the official Xinhua news agency.
“Everyone should respect each other, treat each other as equals, enhance mutual trust, strengthen maritime dialogue and exchanges, and deepen pragmatic cooperation between navies,” he added.
“There cannot be resorts to force or threats of force at the slightest pretext,” Xi said.
“All countries should adhere to equal consultations, improve crisis communication mechanisms, strengthen regional security cooperation, and promote the proper settlement of maritime-related disputes.”
China has frequently had to rebuff concerns about its military intentions, especially as its defense spending reaches new heights.
Beijing says it has nothing to hide, and invited a small number of foreign media onboard a naval ship to watch the parade, including from Reuters.
China’s last naval battles were with Vietnam in the South China Sea in 1974 and 1988, though these were relatively minor skirmishes. Chinese ships have also participated in international anti-piracy patrols off Somalia since late 2008.
The United States has sent a low-level delegation to Qingdao, led by the naval attache at its Beijing embassy, and no ships.
However, the USS Blue Ridge, the command ship of the Japan-based U.S. Seventh Fleet, is visiting Hong Kong, having arrived in the city on Saturday.
A senior U.S. naval official aboard the ship said the Seventh Fleet would continue its extensive operations in the region, including so-called freedom of navigation operations to challenge excessive maritime claims.
China objects to such patrols close to the Chinese-held features in the Paracels and Spratlys archipelago in the South China Sea, where U.S. warships are routinely shadowed by Chinese vessels.
The U.S. official said he believed an incident last September, when a Chinese destroyer sailed within 45 meters of the American destroyer USS Decatur, was an isolated event and other routine interactions with the PLA navy had proved more professional.
(This story has been refiled to fix grammar in paragraph two.)
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Greg Torode in HONG HONG; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel)
A rescuer assists a search dog as they try to reach survivors at a collapsed four-storey building following an earthquake in Porac town,, Pampanga province, Philippines, April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
April 23, 2019
By Peter Blaza and Eloisa Lopez
PORAC, Philippines (Reuters) – Rescue teams in the Philippines searched for signs of life beneath the rubble of a collapsed four-storey commercial building on Tuesday after a strong earthquake shook the country’s biggest island, killing at least 15 people.
Heavy lifting equipment and search dogs were used as dozens of firefighters, military and civilian rescue teams raced to shift lumps of concrete in a commercial area of Porac, about 110 km (68 miles) north of Manila, where a 6.1 magnitude earthquake damaged several buildings on Monday.
Two people were rescued there on Tuesday, adding to seven found alive and four found dead overnight in the mix of rubble and mangled metal that caved in on a ground-floor supermarket in the worst recorded incident.
Most deaths were confined to parts of Pampanga province, where the governor said investigations would be held to determine why only certain buildings were damaged while others were intact.
Porac mayor Condralito Dela Cruz said the earthquake was the most intense the town had ever experienced.
“We’re not sure how many people are trapped still,” he told television news channel ANC.
“We can still hear some voices, the voice of a woman,” he said.
The quake, which struck at 5 p.m. local time (0900 GMT) on Monday, was initially reported as a magnitude 6.3 but was later revised down to 6.1 by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
Another, stronger earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 struck in Samar in the southern Philippines on Tuesday afternoon, according to the USGS.
There were no immediate reports of destruction there but the national seismology agency said damage could be expected from what it recorded as a 6.2 magnitude quake.
The Philippines is prone to natural disasters and is located on the seismically active Pacific “Ring of Fire”, a horse shoe-shaped band of volcanoes and fault lines that arcs round the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
Aurelia Daeng, 65, was in her family drug store in Porac when Monday’s quake struck, breaking windows, leaving cracks in the floor and destroying one wall of her home.
“It was very strong. It was our first time experiencing something like that,” she said.
“This one, it’s terrifying.”
The earthquake was felt strongly in key business areas of Manila, with residential and office buildings evacuated after being shaken for several minutes. Train services were halted and roads and sidewalks were clogged by the sudden exodus of workers.
The government declared Tuesday a holiday for civil servants in Metro Manila to allow for safety inspections of buildings. Foreign exchange trading was suspended and a treasury bond auction canceled.
The international airport in Clark, a former U.S. military base in Pampanga, remained closed for repairs, while parts of one corner of a historic church in the province collapsed.
(Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema in MANILA; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Paul Tait)
FILE PHOTO: Singer Prince performs in a surprise appearance on the “American Idol” television show finale at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California in this May 24, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Chris Pizzello/Files
April 22, 2019
By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – An unfinished memoir that Prince was writing before his 2016 death will be released in October, with previously unseen photos and other material rounding out the book, the publisher Penguin Random House said on Monday.
The Grammy Award-winning artist, known for his androgynous style and sexually-charged songs, announced in March 2016 at a New York City club that he was working on a memoir.
Prince held that news conference and brief concert about a month before he died at age 57 of an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl.
Part of Prince’s forthcoming book, titled “The Beautiful Ones,” is “the exquisite memoir he began writing before his tragic death,” with that unfinished section devoted to his childhood, Penguin Random House said on a web page for the project.
“We’re honored to be publishing Prince’s unfinished memoir, THE BEAUTIFUL ONES, on October 29, 2019,” Random House said in a message on Twitter on Monday.
The book will also contain photos, scrapbooks and lyric sheets and his original handwritten treatment for the 1984 film “Purple Rain,” a quasi-biographical blockbuster that turned Prince into a superstar.
COLLABORATED ON MEMOIR
The book will be published by the imprint Spiegel & Grau. A representative for the publisher could not be reached for further comment.
The writer Dan Piepenbring, who paid homage to Prince in a 2010 essay for the Paris Review, penned an introduction and annotations to the images contained in the book, Penguin Random House said in a statement.
Piepenbring collaborated with Prince on the memoir during the artist’s final months of life.
Prince’s multiple Top 10 hit songs include “When Doves Cry,” “Kiss,” “Little Red Corvette” and “Purple Rain,” the title song from the movie, and his albums sold millions of copies.
A two-year investigation into Prince’s death failed to determine where he obtained a counterfeit painkiller laced with fentanyl, resulting in no criminal charges, authorities said last year when they revealed their findings.
Prince, who was sometimes called “The Purple One,” for his frequent use of that color in outfits, left behind thousands of recordings and videos in the vaults of his home studio in suburban Minneapolis.
Last year, a nine-track album titled “Piano & A Microphone” from Prince’s unreleased collection went on sale, with material from a 1983 home studio cassette of him playing jazz piano versions of his own songs and those of others.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Bill Tarrant and G Crosse)