Monday, 31 December 2018

Have We Misunderstood The Connection Between Democracy And Social Justice?


Working at the intersection of moral and political philosophy, social science, and economics, Elizabeth Anderson has become a leading theorist of democracy and social justice. She has built a case, elaborated across decades, that equality is the basis for a free society. Her work, drawing on real-world problems and information, has helped to redefine the way contemporary philosophy is done, leading what might be called the Michigan school of thought.  – The New Yorker

As Mattis exits, he tells U.S. military to keep ‘faith in our country’


December 31, 2018
By Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis gave his farewell message to the U.S. armed forces on Monday, telling them to “keep the faith in our country” and stand firm alongside allies after he resigned over policy differences with President Donald Trump.
Mattis, who had been seen as a stabilizing factor in U.S. defense policy, is due to transfer authority near midnight to his deputy, Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing Co executive.
Mattis, a retired Marine general who has often shied from the spotlight, was not expected to have a major departure ceremony, leaving his farewell memo as his likely final public remarks as defense secretary.
In his brief message, Mattis acknowledged the political turbulence in Washington but called on the U.S. military to stay firm in its mission “to support and defend the Constitution while protecting our way of life.”
“Our department is proven to be at its best when the times are most difficult. So keep the faith in our country and hold fast, alongside our allies, aligned against our foes,” Mattis said.
Last week Trump said he was replacing Mattis two months earlier than had been expected, a move officials said was driven by Trump’s anger at Mattis’ resignation letter and its rebuke of the president’s foreign policy.
Mattis had abruptly quit after falling out with Trump, including over surprise decisions to withdraw all troops from Syria and start planning a drawdown in Afghanistan.
Mattis’ resignation letter laid bare the growing divide between them, and implicitly criticized the president for failing to value America’s closest allies, who fought alongside the United States in both conflicts.
Shanahan, best known for his focus on internal Pentagon reform and his private-sector experience, will take over as acting defense secretary on Tuesday. Trump has suggested Shanahan could stay in the role as acting secretary for a considerable amount of time.
Shanahan has served as the deputy secretary of defense since July 2017. Before joining the Pentagon last year, he spent three decades at Boeing and was the general manager for the 787 Dreamliner passenger jet.
Shanahan is not expected to break from major Pentagon policies, including a new focus on the military threats from China and Russia, which were outlined in the U.S. National Defense Strategy.
“Mr. Shanahan was instrumental in crafting the National Defense Strategy. His ideas, priorities and philosophy are in that document,” his spokesman, Army Lieutenant Colonel Joe Buccino, said. That document can be seen at https://bit.ly/2CbX9QM
(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

How Ariana Grande And Pete Davidson Perfectly Explain Our Cultural Moment

Celebrity news was intertwined with some of our culture’s most urgent issues, particularly involving mental health. Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade committed suicide in the same week. Demi Lovato, outspoken about her addiction issues, overdosed and went to rehab. The already-fractured political world was thrown into a frenzy when West, who addressed his bipolar diagnosis on his album this summer, visited the White House. – Washington Post

Falcons fire coordinators Sarkisian, Manuel


December 31, 2018
A losing season in Atlanta has prompted an overhaul of the Falcons’ coaching staff, which began Monday as the team fired offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong.
Head coach Dan Quinn will take over as defensive coordinator. He told the team’s website the consistency between team performance and his vision did not match.
“We know we have a group of players here we are excited about and in order for us to consistently play true to our identity in all three phases we thought we needed some changes,” Quinn said.
The Falcons missed the playoffs for the second time in Quinn’s four seasons at 7-9, a season marred by injuries.
Atlanta’s defense was 25th in points per game, 28th in yards allowed per game and 31st in third-down conversion percentage.
Officially, Manuel’s contract was not renewed. Quinn said he wanted his former player to be able to call plays elsewhere.
“Marquand is a talented coach and excellent teacher that I have coached with for a number of years,” Quinn said. “I believe he should have the opportunity to call plays for a defense, so we have decided to allow his contract to expire so he can explore those opportunities.”
Atlanta’s offense was 27th in the NFL in rushing. Losing running back Devonta Freeman to a knee injury didn’t help matters.
Quinn told the team’s website the Falcons made the move to part with Sarkisian after reviewing the entire season.
“Sark has shown he’s a good coach and play caller,” Quinn said. “After evaluating the entire season, I decided it was necessary that we had a new voice and direction for our offensive unit.”
–Field Level Media

2019 films: 61 Unmissable Blockbusters Part 1 (Jan-June) Avengers Endgame – Captain Marvel



CINEMA-GOERS should be very excited for 2019 movies with the likes of Avengers Endgame, Captain Marvel, Detective Pikachu and X-Men Dark Phoenix, so here’s part 1 from January to June of our guide to next year’s unmissable blockbusters.

PS Plus January 2019 free PS4 games countdown: Steep, Portal Knights join PlayStation Plus



PLAYSTATION Plus subscribers will soon be able to download and play the likes of Steep and Portal Knights.

The Retail “Apocalypse” as A Cultural Indicator

It’s been a rough time for many prominent American retail chains—and the sector’s future prospects don’t look rosy. But “apocalypse” might be an overstatement. – CityLab

Mexican president decrees tax cuts for U.S. border region

December 31, 2018

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s new leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday decreed tax cuts for northern states that he says will help power economic growth and deter migration to the United States.

An executive order in the government’s official gazette granted lower rates for both value-added and income taxes in more than 40 municipalities bordering the United States, an area that has become a flashpoint over U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies to deter immigrants, including building a wall.

Lopez Obrador’s tax cuts could reduce government tax income during 2019, when he will implement a budget that seeks to use spending cuts to help fund new social welfare and infrastructure projects.

At an event in Monterrey in the northern state of Nuevo Leon on Saturday, Lopez Obrador said the minimum wage in the northern strip of municipalities would rise to 177 pesos ($9.00), nearly double the national level, starting Jan. 1, and that fuel prices would be set on a par with U.S. prices.

“This is a very important project to boost investment and job creation,” Lopez Obrador told business leaders.

The decree seeks to give an edge to northern Mexican businesses, which compete with U.S.-based companies across the border.

Lopez Obrador has vowed to increase economic development to deter migration to the United States. Trump wants to make Mexico take in Central Americans who are seeking U.S. asylum.

The plan will give businesses in the region a tax credits worth 50 percent of VAT dues. Companies that can show they earn more than 90 percent of their revenue in the area are eligible for an income tax credit worth one-third of dues.

Last month, Citigroup economists estimated lower tax revenue from the north could cost the government around 120 billion pesos ($6.10 billion) a year.

A national chamber of business owners, Coparmex, welcomed the decree in a statement as a “judicious” measure that could spur investment in the region.

The center-right National Action Party, the biggest opposition to Lopez Obrador’s leftist coalition in Congress, said the decree was a “scam” since it fell short of a campaign promise to cut tax rates for consumers.

PAN leader Marko Cortes said in a statement the VAT tax cuts would only benefit “intermediaries,” and that it would fail to boost investment since it was a presidential decree that could be removed at any moment.

(Reporting by Michael O’Boyle; editing by Grant McCool)

Marrone: Jags to void Fournette’s guarantees


December 31, 2018
The Jacksonville Jaguars intend to void the remaining guarantees that running back Leonard Fournette singed in his rookie contract, potentially saving the team $7.1 million and allowing them to move on from the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Head coach Doug Marrone confirmed the step Monday morning.
The Jaguars had the right to take that step after the NFL suspended Fournette for one game for violating unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary roughness rules when he took part in an altercation in a game against the Buffalo Bills in late November.
Fournette can challenge the team’s ruling, but if it is upheld, the Jaguars can walk away from the contract and owe him no more money. They also could try to trade Fournette, and some team could find great value in a 23-year-old, former first-round selection with a cap-friendly contract.
Fournette and fellow running back T.J. Yeldon drew the ire of team vice president Tom Coughlin on Sunday, who issued a terse statement after the loss to Houston.
Fournette was inactive because of injuries, and Yeldon was in uniform. Cameras caught them sitting on the bench and looking disinterested in what was happening on the field.
“I am disappointed in the behavior today from T.J. Yeldon and Leonard Fournette,” Coughlin said. “They were disrespectful, selfish and their behavior was unbecoming that of a professional football player.”
Yeldon didn’t play on Sunday. His contract expires in March, and he is not expected to be back with the Jaguars.
Fournette missed the equivalent of seven full games with a hamstring injury, and team officials were said to be frustrated over the length of his rehabilitation as well as his lack of conditioning. He yelled at a fan in the stands in Tennessee in addition to his suspension following the Buffalo game.
Fournette rushed for 439 yards and five touchdowns on 133 carries (3.3-yard average) in eight games this season after racking up 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns on 268 carries (3.9-yard average) as a rookie.
–Field Level Media

The Highest-Box-Office-Earning Actor Of 2018


The highest-earning actor of 2018 (George Clooney) didn’t even release a movie this year. But can you name the actor who earned the most at the box office with her films? (and no, she wasn’t even close to being highest paid)

Bills sign backup QB Anderson to one-year contract


December 31, 2018
The Buffalo Bills have signed veteran quarterback Derek Anderson to a one-year contract, the team announced Monday.
No financial terms were announced.
Anderson, 35, joined the Bills in October when rookie quarterback Josh Allen was injured and backup Nathan Peterman was struggling. He started games against Indianapolis and New England, both losses, and didn’t play again in 2018 after suffering a concussion against the Patriots.
He ended the season 42-of-70 passing for 465 yards, throwing four interceptions and no touchdown passes.
Once Anderson entered concussion protocol, the Bills turned to another veteran, Matt Barkley, to fill the position until Allen’s return. Buffalo last week announced Barkley had signed a two-year contract.
Both Allen and head coach Sean McDermott have commented on Anderson’s role as a mentor.
“I think knowing the job of the quarterback I kind of respected and appreciated it more watching a guy like Derek and a guy like Matt to come in and be a professional and come in and really kind of transform this team,” Allen told reporters in mid-December.
“I definitely think that we were a different team before Derek got here and the presence that he’s had in our locker room and on our offense has been tremendous. Then, Matt comes in, he’s kind of the same way. They just know how to be professional quarterbacks and for me to see that, that was huge.”
In 78 career games (49 starts) with four teams since 2006, Anderson has completed 54.3 percent of his passes for 10,878 yards, 60 touchdowns and 64 interceptions.
–Field Level Media

Dorsey: Williams, Kitchens among Browns HC candidates

December 31, 2018

Interim head coach Gregg Williams and offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens are candidates to become head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

General manager John Dorsey said Monday at his season-ending press conference that the team’s performance since Hue Jackson was fired at midseason put both coaches in position to be promoted.

“We’re going to interview Gregg tomorrow,” Dorsey said. “With that being said, I want to see his overarching vision and plan for this organization moving forward. I want to hear his thoughts on the team moving forward. But I also want to be able to explore multiple options out there in the National Football League and see who fits for this organization moving forward.”

A search for Jackson’s permanent replacement won’t stop there.

Former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, with whom Dorsey worked closely in Green Bay before becoming GM of the Chiefs in 2013, is on the team’s radar and as many as eight others are linked to the job in various published reports since Jackson’s departure.

“I have a lot of respect with Mike McCarthy and for what he’s done,” Dorsey said. “But again, great question, but I’m not going to go into details about who is and who is not on our list. You’ll know when it’s the right guy. That’s all I’m going to say.”

Williams, 60, was head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2001-03, and went 5-3 as interim head coach this season.

Kitchens’ star is rising based on the performance of the offense around No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield, who put up record book statistics despite not starting the full season. The 44-year-old was an assistant coach in college football at LSU, North Texas and Mississippi State and also worked on the coaching staffs of the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals.

“I think this organization wants to get to know him a little better. We’ll eventually get him in an interview slot and just move forward,” Dorsey said.

He began the 2018 season as quarterbacks coach but was elevated to offensive coordinator after eight games when Todd Haley was fired along with Jackson.

–Field Level Media

PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch games: BEST indie titles, hidden gems, overlooked classics



FROM Hitman 2 to What Remains of Edith Finch, these are the best indie games and overlooked classics for PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.

Why We’re So Terrible At Predicting The Future


The thing about tech is that even if you can see it coming, you can’t be sure quite how it will arrive or what it will do when it gets here. – The Guardian

Samsung Galaxy M10 FCC certification reveals 6-inch display, 3,400 mAh battery

The FCC has put the upcoming Galaxy M10 through the paces of its certification process, a necessary step prior to launch. This has revealed a few more details about the smartphone that will be the entry level model in Samsung's new M series. The M10 will sport a 6-inch display and a 3,400 mAh battery. Its length and width are 155.7mm and 75.8mm, respectively. According to a past outing in a benchmark's online database, the phone is powered by the Exynos 7870 chipset, paired with 3GB of RAM and 16 or 32GB of expandable storage. The new device is probably going to launch running Android...

House Democrats ready bills to reopen government with $1.3 billion for border

December 31, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives will introduce legislation later this week to fund the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8 that includes $1.3 billion for border security, a senior Democratic aide said on Monday.

Democrats will also offer bills that will provide year-long funding for other agencies and departments that have been closed by a partial government shutdown, the aide said.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

It’s A Wildly Inventive Time For Jazz (But Not A Golden Age)

“The music is meant to evolve, and we’re in the midst of its most wildly adaptive, thrillingly unruly evolutionary phase in some 40 years. So why do I balk whenever someone declares that jazz has entered another golden age?” – The New York Times

Raiders to name Mayock general manager

December 31, 2018

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock is set to become general manager of the Oakland Raiders.

Mayock becomes the right-hand man to Jon Gruden after shadowing the head coach for parts of the offseason. The Raiders fired Reggie McKenzie in December.

“He loves it. He’s a passionate, passionate personnel man,” Gruden said Sunday, per ESPN. “He’s done it for a long time. I know he’s had opportunities to get back into the NFL as a general manager and we’ll see what happens. We’ll see how the dust settles.”

The Raiders finished the 2018 season with a 4-12 record, collecting a cadre of draft picks along the way.

Oakland had a 39-70 record under McKenzie, who helped orchestrate trades that shipped out former first-round picks and Pro Bowl performers Khalil Mack (Bears) and Amari Cooper (Cowboys) during Gruden’s first season back on the sidelines since his “Monday Night Football” run.

In addition to the franchise’s own first-round pick, the Raiders will have first-round picks from Chicago and Dallas. The order of those selections will be determined by playoff results.

–Field Level Media

Report: Cardinals’ Wilks informs coaching staff he’ll be fired


December 31, 2018
Steve Wilks met with his coaching staff Monday morning to inform them he expected to be fired as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, according to multiple reports.
Wilks, a first-year head coach and former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator, was introduced on Jan. 23, 2018.
Arizona finished 3-13 and owns the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Nine of the team’s 13 losses were by more than 10 points.
Last week, when asked about his job security, Wilks said he wouldn’t worry about it.
“I walked into this organization with integrity and, whenever that times comes, I am going to walk away with integrity,” he said.
General manager Steve Keim is expected to return, the Arizona Republic reported Monday.
The Republic also reported former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy would be candidates to replace Wilks.
–Field Level Media

When You’re A ‘Cable Guy,’ You See The Worst Of America

This story has everything: Cat urine, bathroom emergencies, women in lingerie, and, yes, the Cheneys. – HuffPost

Singer Jimmy Osmond suffers stroke during UK pantomime performance

December 31, 2018

LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. pop singer Jimmy Osmond, who performed the chart-topping hit “Long-Haired Lover from Liverpool” as a child in 1972, has suffered a stroke and will take time away from the stage, a spokesperson for the singer said on Monday.

Osmond completed a performance of the Peter Pan pantomime on Dec. 27 at the Birmingham Hippodrome theater in central England before he was driven to hospital and diagnosed with a stroke, the representative said in a statement on the theatre’s website.

Osmond, now 55, was the youngest sibling in The Osmonds family troupe and became the youngest person to reach number one on Britain’s singles charts with the release of “Long-Haired Lover from Liverpool” when he was aged nine.

“He is grateful for all the well wishes and will be taking time out in the new year,” the spokesperson said.

(Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Alison Williams)

Italy’s 5-Star shows ruthless streak, expels four parliamentarians

December 31, 2018

By Crispian Balmer

ROME (Reuters) – The ruling 5-Star Movement expelled four parliamentarians from the party on Monday, including a former coast guard official who once famously ordered the captain of a sinking cruise liner to return to his doomed ship.

The announcement underscored 5-Star’s determination to instill discipline in its ranks, even if it means weakening its fragile majority in the upper house Senate.

The party said in a statement that senators Gregorio De Falco and Saverio De Bonis, along with European parliamentarians Giulia Moi and Marco Valli, had violated various internal 5-Star rules and had to leave the group immediately.

“Everyone is important, nobody is indispensable,” 5-Star leader and Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Twitter. “Whoever does not support the government contract is out of the Movement. Respect for the electorate comes first.”

The decision means the ruling coalition, made up of 5-Star and the League, has just 167 seats in the 320-seat Senate.

De Falco signed up to the 5-Star cause earlier this year in what was seen as a major catch for the anti-establishment party, He subsequently won a Senate seat in a March national election.

A former coast guard officer, De Falco was hailed as a hero in January 2012 when he confronted Francesco Schettino, who had sailed his cruise liner the Costa Concordia onto rocks off an Italian island and then abandoned the sinking ship.

“Go back on board, damn it!” De Falco yelled at Schettino during a radio exchange that was made public. Schettino was subsequently sentenced to 16 years in jail for his role in the maritime disaster that killed 32 people.

Since entering the Senate, De Falco has struggled to bow to party diktat.

He voted against a bill promoted by 5-Star’s partner, the League, which clamped down on asylum rights. He voiced opposition to other government measures, and this week criticized the coalition for ramming its 2019 budget through parliament with only very limited debate.

“I am very sorry and did not expect this,” De Falco said on Monday after hearing of his expulsion.

Speaking to Reuters in November, De Falco dismissed suggestions he was too outspoken to remain within 5-Star. “This is a democracy. It would be unthinkable to remove someone simply for speaking their mind.”

De Bonis was also opposed to the League’s security law and skipped the parliamentary vote. He additionally fell foul of the party leadership when it was revealed that a court had found him guilty of an administrative error in 2004 and ordered him to pay 2,775 euros ($3,170) in damages.

Critics said the conviction should have prevented him from running for the party, which has sought to present a squeaky clean image to the electorate. De Bonis denied this, arguing it was not a criminal case and not a final verdict.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Mayweather blitzes Tenshin in Japanese boxing exhibition


December 31, 2018
(Reuters) – Floyd Mayweather came out of retirement briefly to score a lucrative victory in an exhibition boxing match in Japan over kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa that will do more for his bank balance than it did for the reputation of combat sports.
The 20-year-old, who is unbeaten in professional kickboxing and mixed martial arts, was sent crashing to the canvas three times in the first round by Mayweather, leading the Japanese fighter’s corner to throw in the towel.
The fight topped the bill for the prestigious New Year’s Eve event promoted by Rizin, one of Asia’s fast-growing mixed martial arts organizations, at the Saitama Super Arena, and though it has drawn international attention, it was little more than a shrewd branding move for all concerned.
But for Mayweather, it was about more than just entertainment – the 41-year-old American intimated on Instagram that he would be paid nine million dollars for the fight, which was scheduled for three rounds.
Fought at a weight limit of 147 pounds, there were no judges in attendance and the fight does not count toward the professional record of either fighter.
Mayweather’s August 2017 knockout victory in a boxing match against brash Irish mixed martial artist Conor McGregor ignited speculation that he would cross over into the world of MMA, but the Rizin bout was strictly limited to punches.
There was less than an hour left in 2018 as first Tenshin and then Mayweather made their way down the long ramp to the ring just after 11 pm local time, accompanied by their entourages and with loud music booming around the arena.
Prowling the ring and smiling for the cameras as the American national anthem was sung, Mayweather continued grinning after the bout began.
Although Tenshin connected with one early shot, he offered no real resistance as Mayweather used all his guile and enormous power to rip shots to the body and head at will.
“It was all about entertainment – we had fun,” Mayweather said in the ring following his win.
“The fans in Japan, they wanted this to happen, so I said why not. Once again, I’m still retired, I’m still 50-0, Tenshin is a great champion,” he added.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Reports: Gase out as Dolphins’ coach


December 31, 2018
Head coach Adam Gase was fired by the Miami Dolphins, according to multiple reports Monday.
Gase led the team for three seasons and posted a 23-25 regular season record, including a 42-17 loss in Buffalo on Sunday.
It was unclear Monday morning if the Dolphins would retain general manager Chris Grier or Mike Tannenbaum, vice president of football operations.
The Dolphins were 10-6 in Gase’s first season in 2016 and lost their only playoff game of his tenure after that season.
They followed that season with records of 6-10 and 7-9.
Reports surfaced late Sunday that former Jets and Bills coach Rex Ryan might land in the AFC East again with the Dolphins.
Gase, considered an offensive whiz, had an inconsistent offensive unit to work with. Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill missed 25 games with injuries in three seasons.
The Dolphins never finished higher than 24th in total offense under Gase and were 31st in 2018, just above the Arizona Cardinals.
NFL pundits said Monday that Gase, 40, likely will be considered for another head coach opening this offseason.
–Field Level Media

Reinventing A Theatre Commons


Howlround’s director reflects on the remaking of the theatre commons and what has been accomplished in 2018.

Imagine Starring As The Seaweed Maiden In A Scottish Celtic Ballet

It happened in the 1940s, when Erik Chisholm and Margaret Morris brought modernist dance views to bear on stories of Celtic legends that mixed traditional Scottish and modernist music. One principal: “Rehearsals were held up because the dancers had to learn Scottish folk dancing and that is all on the balls of the feet, whereas ballet you have to push your heels down; so it didn’t come naturally or easily – lots of us got blisters – but we respected it.” – The National (Scotland)

Lewis out after 16 seasons with Bengals

December 31, 2018

(Reuters) – Marvin Lewis has been dismissed as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals after 16 seasons in the job, NFL Network reported on Monday.

Lewis was 131-122-3 with the Bengals, who made the playoffs in five straight seasons at one stage of his tenure.

But he pays the price for the team’s failure to make the playoffs the past three seasons.

Firings came thick and fast on Monday morning, as the Miami Dolphins dismissed head coach Adam Gase, according to multiple media reports.

The news came a day after the team ended the season with a 7-9 record.

Gase was 23-25 in three seasons in South Florida.

The Denver Broncos also dismissed their head coach, Vance Joseph, the team announced.

Joseph went 11-21 with the Broncos, including 6-10 this season.

The Broncos won the Super Bowl three years ago, but have struggled in the wake of the retirement of legendary quarterback Peyton Manning.

There were also media reports that the Arizona Cardinals had informed Steve Wilks that he would not be returning after the team finished the season 3-13, the worst record in the league.

There was a silver lining for the Cardinals, who get the number one draft pick courtesy of finishing last.

Earlier, the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers did not even wait until what has become known as ‘Black Monday’ to announce they were going in a new direction.

The Jets dispensed with Todd Bowles on Sunday night, while the Bucks did likewise with Dirk Koetter.

Bowles was 23-40 in four seasons with the Jets, including a 4-12 record this season.

Koetter had three seasons with the Bucs, who went 5-11 this year.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Louise Heavens)

Tesla has over 3,000 Model 3 vehicles left in U.S. inventory: Electrek

December 31, 2018

(Reuters) – Tesla Inc had over 3,000 Model 3 vehicles left in inventory in the United States as of Sunday, automotive news website Electrek reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The company has been trying to deliver a record number of vehicles in the United States over the past months to help buyers make use of the federal tax credit for its electric cars before it starts to phase out in 2019. (https://bit.ly/2R5Ii1G)

Tesla was not immediately available for comment.

The company’s shares fell nearly 1 percent after the report.

(Reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

‘Pooey Puitton’ purse said to irk Louis Vuitton, prompts lawsuit

December 31, 2018

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – A California toy company has sued Louis Vuitton to stop the French luxury goods maker from interfering with its sales of a slime-filled, poop-shaped toy purse for children, Pooey Puitton.

In a complaint filed on Friday in Los Angeles federal court, MGA Entertainment Inc said no reasonable consumer would mistake Pooey Puitton, which retails for $59.99, for costlier Louis Vuitton handbags.

MGA called Pooey Puitton protected parody “designed to mock, criticize, and make fun of that wealth and celebrity” associated with Louis Vuitton products and rejected what it called Louis Vuitton’s claim of trademark infringement to an MGA customer.

“The use of the Pooey name and Pooey product in association with a product line of ‘magical unicorn poop’ is intended to criticize or comment upon the rich and famous, the Louis Vuitton name, the LV marks, and on their conspicuous consumption,” the complaint said.

Jim Fingeroth, a spokesman for Louis Vuitton, on Monday said the unit of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE <LVMH.PA> had no comment on the complaint.

Many luxury goods makers file lawsuits or threaten litigation to stop companies from piggybacking off their names and customer goodwill.

MGA is seeking a court declaration that Pooey Puitton does not infringe Louis Vuitton’s intellectual property rights, and is protected parody and fair use.

The Van Nuys, California-based company said Pooey Puitton, whose contents include “slime powder” for making a “rainbow of poop” when water is added, is part of its Poopsie Slime Surprise line launched in 2018 and among its more successful new toys.

Other products sold by MGA include L.O.L. Surprise and Bratz dolls.

The case is MGA Entertainment Inc v Louis Vuitton Malletier SA, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 18-10758.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Broncos fire coach Joseph after two seasons


December 31, 2018
The Denver Broncos fired coach Vance Joseph after two seasons on the job.
The Broncos finished the season with a 6-10 record after a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, giving Joseph a record of 11-21, a .344 winning percentage. The Broncos’ last playoff game was their Super Bowl victory with Peyton Manning at quarterback in 2016.
The Broncos hired Joseph in January 2017 to replace Gary Kubiak, who retired.
Under Joseph, the Broncos never could establish a winning pattern. They lost eight straight games in 2017 — which nearly led to his departure — and had a pair of four-game losing streaks this season.
The 2018 Broncos were among the most-penalized teams and lost a number of players to injury throughout the season, including No. 1 wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (Achilles) and cornerback Chris Harris (broken leg.)
Team president John Elway will be hiring the team’s fourth coach since 2011.
“I spoke with Vance this morning and thanked him for all of his hard work as our head coach. Although we decided to make this change, I believe Vance is a good football coach who has a bright future in this league,” Elway said in a team statement. “Vance made a lot of strides and deserves credit for how hard and competitively the team played this season. There’s always going to be a high standard here. The bottom line is we need to win more football games. We’re excited about the foundation that’s being built and look forward to putting in the work to get the Broncos back on the winning track.”
The Broncos have asked permission to interview New England Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores, 37, during the Patriots’ playoff bye this week, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Joseph, 46, likely will be looked at as a potential defensive coordinator elsewhere.
–Field Level Media

The unexpected moneymaker in 2018: euro zone government bonds

December 31, 2018

By Abhinav Ramnarayan

LONDON (Reuters) – Economic optimists have for years been misguidedly predicting the twilight of the boring, safety-first bond market. And the year gone by was another one that proved them wrong, particularly in the euro zone.

Investors who bought government bonds from euro zone countries — with the admittedly large exception of Italy — at the start of 2018 booked a healthy profit if they held them to the end of the year.

Even with the European Central Bank dialling back its stimulus, the dulling of a once-rosy growth outlook and political tensions made “boring” look attractive again.

(Defying the odds: https://tmsnrt.rs/2SueVCy)

Demand was stoked by Italy’s wrangling with Brussels over its budget plan, uncertainty over Britain’s impending exit from the European Union, and global trade tension.

This brought an astonishing 3.36 percent return on German 10-year bonds, defying start-of-year predictions of a return around 1 percent – after two years near zero because of massive ECB bond buying. And those bonds end the year yielding just 0.25 percent.

Even across the Atlantic, where the U.S. Federal Reserve hiked rates four times in 2018, the return on 10-year U.S. Treasury yields is set to end only marginally in the red.

But if German bonds benefited from investors dashing for safety, the story has been more positive elsewhere in the bloc.

Leading the pack is Portugal, its 10-year government bonds returning a stellar 4.6 percent, with the Spanish equivalent a shade behind at 4.3 percent.

“The Portuguese economy recovered to its pre-crisis peak in real terms in the second quarter of 2018,” said Evan Wohlmann, an analyst at Moody’s, which in October became the third ratings agency to lift Portugal into investment grade.

Challenges remain, but he said reforms had made that economy more resilient.

Other peripheral debt, such as that of Greece, also notched up positive returns.

Returns on French 10-year debt were curbed by a late selloff after President Emmanuel Macron boosted spending to quell “yellow vest” protests, but still returned just over 2 percent.

Of course there is an exception — Italy.

Rome’s anti-establishment coalition triggered a selloff of Italian debt by raising doubts over Italy’s future in the euro zone, and then setting spending plans at odds with Brussels.

Yet Rome did finally agree on a budget plan with the European Commission, leading 10-year yields to fall 44 basis points in December.

As a result, bonds that in October looked set to end the year 10 percent down finished only 1.78 percent in the red.

(Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

As temperatures fall, air quality worsens in Indian capital


December 31, 2018
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Pollution levels spiked last week in New Delhi, India’s teeming capital of more than 20 million people, climbing to nearly 12 times the recommended level and exacerbating a public health crisis.
Senior government officials said the main reasons for the surge in the amount of toxic smog trapped over New Delhi were unusually cold air, including fog, and slow wind speeds.
Click here for an interactive Reuters graphic https://tmsnrt.rs/2GORiU9 on the link between Delhi’s pollution and falling temperatures and wind speeds.
The World Health Organization said this year India was home to the world’s 14 most polluted cities. New Delhi was ranked the sixth most polluted.
In the city on Sunday, levels of PM 2.5, the amount of tiny particulate matter under 2.5 micrograms found in every cubic meter of air, were at 415, well above “hazardous” levels, as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The agency says any level above 35 can be unhealthy.
Pollution levels were exacerbated because of fumes from vehicles, pollutants from coal-fired power plants and industries, as well as smoke from fires being burned to keep people warm.
In October and November, crop residue burning in the neighboring states of Haryana and Punjab also contributed to air pollution.
In India, air pollution claimed 1.24 million lives in 2017, or 12.5 percent of total deaths, according to a study published in Lancet Planetary Health this month.
(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj, editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

A New Law Restricts The Use Of Nondisclosure Agreements In Sexual Harassment Cases

Harvey Weinstein’s assistant wasn’t even allowed to have a copy of the NDA she signed, or talk about it with anyone at all unless they signed NDAs as well. She broke her silence because she decided it was an immoral agreement. Now, dubbed a #MeToo law, a California bill that goes into effect Jan. 1 “would ban nondisclosure provisions in settlements involving claims of sexual assault, harassment or discrimination based on sex.” – Los Angeles Times

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