Documents show how the worlds largest publicly traded tobacco company pursued growth and profit amid instability in African and Middle East countries
British American Tobacco (BAT) has promoted sales of its cigarettes in some of the most fragile, war-torn and unstable countries of Africa and the Middle East, documents seen by the Guardian show.
While civilians were being killed and cities ravaged by violence, BAT pursued opportunities to grow its markets.
The documents describe how cartons of cigarettes were distributed to traders hidden in black bags in Somalia after Al-Shabaab banned sales and threatened punishments under Sharia law between late 2008 and early 2009.
They also show that BAT made plans to launch in South Sudan just two days before it gained independence from the north after years of destruction from a civil war that left 4 million people displaced.
And they tell of a town in eastern DRC that is not on any map, created by BAT to produce and process tobacco leaf, where, according to a whistleblower, millions of dollars were delivered to pay farmers and staff, carried in secretly.
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At 5:05 am Sunday, long before the rest of Sunnyvale, California will wake up, Yahoo’s control room is packed. Seventeen people, many of them standing, face a wall of screens. On the two largest, the hosts of Fantasy Football Live, Yahoo’s decade-old web show about fantasy football, are discussing their best bets for the week to come.
Producer Evan Doherty has a chair but is too restless to use it. Tall and spiky-haired, he talks constantly into his black headset mic, ordering shots and telling the hosts to wrap it up and move on to the next segment. He tugs at his shirt, a black polo embroidered with a Yahoo Sports logo. He rubs his hands together, purses his lips, and jiggles his legs like a restless kid waiting for school to end.
The day is coming when people will stop subscribing to cable altogether. Yahoo has to be there.
Doherty has produced and hosted shows more complicated than this, but the stakes are higher today. According to the big red numbers counting down on the clock, the team has 85 minutes until Yahoo’s coverage turns to the Buffalo Bills-Jacksonville Jaguars game being broadcast live from Wembley Stadium in London. It’s Yahoo’s first NFL game, and the first time an NFL game has appeared exclusively online for free to anyone with an Internet connection. It’s a glimpse into the future of sports, and television.
It’s also a chance for Yahoo to show everyone what it can do with technology and content.Less than a week earlier, the company took a $42 million writedown on its original content, all but admitting defeat. “We couldn’t see a way to make money over time,” Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman told investors. So itpivoted: rather than chase Hulu and Netflix and the like, Yahoo is trying to go where millions of people already congregate: sports.
Yahoo’s spent weekspromoting, testing, and rehearsing for this game. It’s streamed other NFL games to no one, worked with network partners around the world, and tested every gadget it can think of. they can think of. It all works.
All that’s left to do ispraythe game doesn’t suck.
The NFL and Yahoo announced the the partnership in June, and even then referred to it as “an experiment.” The NFL could afford to take chances: Everyone expected the game to be a snoozer between two lame teams, and broadcast so early that it wouldn’t bother anyone. But it was a chance for Yahoo to prove it can do live video, an opportunity to establish itself as the go-to place for the transition from cable TV to Internet TV.
“I think about it from the perspective of a hundred-and-fifty-plus billion dollar industry that is set to be disrupted,” says Adam Cahan, Yahoo’s senior vice president of mobile and emerging products. The day is coming, he says, when people will stop subscribing to cable. Yahoo has to be there.
Sports are a uniquely powerful agent for that change. “This is unique programming,” Cahan says. “It’s the kind of things that people will shift their behaviors with.” He says Netflix and its ilk offer a service that is increasingly commoditized. Live sports, on the other hand, move the industry. It made HDTV important, brought satellite TV to the fore, and will play a huge role in determining what happens next. Yahoo’s thinking is that people will go where the games are, and then all it has to do is keep them around when it ends. (Call it The ESPN Plan.)
Neither side would discuss what Yahoo paid for the rights to broadcast the game, though $20 million was widely reported. Yahoo doesn’t seem to care about recoupingthat money—and almost certainly didn’t. This is a chance to show the NFL—and advertisers—what it can offer over time. Yahoo says it worked with 30 domestic and international partners and locked up some big-name sponsors. It’s appealing to advertisers, because the enterprise offers the data of online ads and the reach of television. “We’re going to be able to give information about users,” Cahan says, “that also says what screens did they access it from, what geographies were they in, what type of network were they accessing on.”
We have a significant portion of the world’s Internet bandwidth reserved for this game.Yahoo VP Ron Jacoby
The Yahoo Video team has featured concerts by Taylor Swift, streamed the Emmys, and was at the Electric Daisy Carnival. It has apps for every platform you can think of, and supports most dongles, boxes, and sticks. The technical infrastructure is robust. But an NFL game is another thing entirely.
The football audience is much bigger, for one thing, and has little tolerance for low resolution or lag. “There will be a lot of motion, a lot of action, the ball moving on the screen,” says P.P.S. Narayan (everyone calls him PPSN), Yahoo Video’s VP of engineering. “We want to provide the best experience for our users, so we decided we needed to provide the highest-quality HD video.” The team decided early on to try streaming 720p video, at 60 frames per second, with 6Mbps bitrate1. “We have a significant portion of the world’s Internet bandwidth reserved for this game,” says Ron Jacoby, Yahoo’s vice president and chief architect for connected TV. In all, Yahoo streamed 8.5 petabytes to users.
Few people’s connections can support such ridiculous throughput, so Yahoo made its stream more adaptive. The software knows the quality of your network and the size of your screen, and tries to deliver the best picture possible. As long as it’s not buffering, that is. “Nobody should see the spinner,”Narayan says. After all, TV doesn’t buffer.
Others handled most of the game production—it was a CBS broadcasting crew, and an NFL Network halftime show. Yahoo’s job was mostly to make sure things stayed live. Representatives from nearly every team at the company sat in a room, their noses in laptops, constantly providing status updates. In the control room, everyone watcheda panel of twelve screens showing the status of the fiber feed and satellite backups.
The real show is down the hall, in another Yahoo studios. Two card tables are set up in a V, facing a giant unbranded television. Six men sit at six mics, trying something new: an alternative, fan- and fantasy-driven audio stream for the game.
Shaun King, a former NFL quarterback and the day’s designated Jaguars fan, is on a roll. It’s the middle of the second quarter, the Bills just turned the ball over again, and the Jags are about to go up 27-3. King, having shed his pre-game show outfit of shirt, tie, suit jacket, and camo cargo shorts in favor of a polo shirt and camo cargo shorts, leans back in his flimsy chair, giggling. “This is awesome” he shouts at Kirk Morrison, aformer linebacker and the day’s Bills fan. He’s spent the last 15 minutes telling everyone how horrible Bills quarterback EJ Manuel is. Morrison shakes his head. When the game breaks for a commercial, King sips his tea, pumps his fists, and shouts “Yes! Yes! We killing them!” Morrison sighs, again.
Yahoo didn’t want to try too many new things and risk pissing off fans or the NFL. Most people saw and heard the normal broadcast, hosted by CBS stalwarts Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon. But the “fantasy broadcast” is the start of something big, says Yahoo Sports executive producer Ryan Dornbusch. He argues that the buttoned-up, straightforward CBS show “is not authentic to what a viewer is saying on their couch as they’re slapping their heads, frustrated.” Listening to the fantasy broadcast was like watching the game alongside two whip-smart former pros who are having a blast. It was great fun.
The fantasy broadcast is the start of something big for Yahoo’s coverage.
Dornbusch notes that this is how most people experience the game—as fans, with biases and feelings and money on the line—and thinks Yahoo can cover it that way, too. He points to examples like Bill Simmons, formerly of ESPN and now at HBO, who created a huge following in large part because of his aggressive homerism and love of Boston teams. “I’m resolute to allow our talent to be more subjective and invested in the things they’re passionate about,” he says. “That makes for better entertainment. It makes them care more, which makes the audience care more.”
That means letting talent talk about their favorite teams, their favorite players, and especially their fantasy teams. If Yahoo is the future home of football, fantasy will be a big part of it. During the pregame show—which, don’t forget, is called Fantasy Football Live—every player card they showed included the player’s positional fantasy rank. Just before the game started, everyone in the green room was on their phones setting their lineup. During the broadcast, Yahoo fantasy expert Brad Evans dropped in a few times to talk about how different players were doing in Yahoo leagues. When the guys discussed aplayer’s performance, they didn’t discuss his yardage or touchdowns. They talked about fantasy points. They also discussed his dollar value in daily fantasy, an increasingly key part of the Yahoo Sports puzzle.
Part of what Yahoo hopes to do with fantasy in general is bring more people into watching sports. Fantasy is to football what your bracket pool is to March Madness: an easy wayto get excited about a few teams before you get hooked on the game. It’s just one part of the challenge facing Yahoo, too. A big part of its pitch to the NFL was its ability to turn a billion monthly Yahoo users into viewers. There was an in-game video with Katie Couric, anotherwith tech columnist David Pogue, and lots of entertainment-meets-sports coverage around the game. Still, Dornbusch cautions that such additions arepart of a bigger show. “There was so much publicity and so much attention just to an NFL game being live-streamed and free on the web, that we wanted that to be the focus.”
About that. On Monday, Yahoo proudly declared there had been 33.6 million streams of the game by 15.2 million unique viewers in185 countries. Big numbers indeed. But when you consider that, for instance, the game autoplayed for anyone who went to Yahoo.com during, the streaming figures seem dubious. The more telling number may be the 2.3 million viewers for an average minute of the game. (There were likely peaks and valleys, but that number compares more closely to how Nielsen measures TV.) That’s a fraction of thenumber that watch even a crappy game on TV.
Yahoo says the stream went well, but from the numbers and tweets, it’s hard to tell.
Reviews ofthe stream itself were all over the map. You didn’t have to look far to find the furious, the amazed, and everything in between. At one point, many were complaining about an intermittent beeping on the broadcast—it turned out to be a part of the NFL’s feed, and was resolved quickly. Personally, my viewing experience was solid, though there were one or two jumpy spots. Yahoo says its rebuffering ratio was near one percent, meaning 99 percent of the broadcast streamed perfectly to everyone.
The NFL, for its part, is happy. No one at the league got back to us, but Commissioner Roger Goodell told NFL.com he was pretty stoked. “It took a game that was going to have a limited amount of distribution on television—it probably would have gone to 10 percent or less of the country on Sunday had we not chosen this distribution,” he said. “We reached new fans through this platform. We can really formulate our media strategy and how we can continue to reach the broadest number of fans.”
Yahoo is stoked too. As the post-game show ended—long after an epic Bills comeback gave Morrison plenty of shots back at King on the fantasy broadcast but ultimately ended in 34-31 win for King’s Jaguars—the Yahoo team celebrated. People popped champagne, drank up, then went home, presumably to bed. The feeling within Yahoo is that they’ve proven themselves a worthy partner to the NFL, and they hope to do more live sports soon.
There’s more to do. The Yahoo crew is thinking about DVR-type experiences, more ways to watch and share the game, and an easier way to find the alternative broadcasts. Dornbusch has lots of ideas about how to integrate more content, more fantasy, more fan perspective.Narayan—the guy everyone callsPPSN—knows the network and streaming performance can be even better. But if this was a trial, it was a successful one.
Now comes the part where Yahoo arguesover billions of dollars with ESPN, Fox, and who knows who else. We’ve all seen what sports on the Internet looks like. It looks pretty good. Everyone’s going to want in.
UPDATE 10/28 12:39PM: We originally wrote that Yahoo streamed 1080p footage—it was actually 720p. (1080p would’ve been nice, though, come on guys.)
Blogging The Boys (blog)
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On Saturday night in Las Vegas, Floyd Mayweather will put his undefeated record on the line against mixed martial arts’ biggest star, Conor McGregor. But the person with the most to gain — and lose — may be Dana White, president of McGregor’s employer, the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
By letting McGregor step into the ring, UFC and its owner WME-IMG are highlighting the financial differences between boxing and mixed martial arts. UFC will make money on the fight, and a McGregor upset would give mixed martial arts newfound status. White’s company may also risk losing its biggest star to a sport that will pay him much more.
Whatever the outcome Saturday, McGregor will make more from his first professional boxing match than he has in 4 1/2 years as a UFC fighter — one who’s held titles in two different weight classes and been a part of five of the eight most lucrative fights in UFC’s history, based on ticket sales.
McGregor could make $100 million from the fight, and Mayweather will make well over $100 million, White said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “It’s tracking as the biggest digital event we’ve ever been involved in,” he said.
Saturday’s fight is expected to sell more than $72 million worth of tickets, a record for a professional fight of any kind. According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the match-up should also set a record for pay-per-view sales. To do so, it will need to surpass the 4.6 million orders for the 2015 fight between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
All of those numbers dwarf the take from the biggest UFC fights. When McGregor fought Eddie Alvarez in New York City last November, UFC sold a record $17.7 million in tickets. The promoter’s record for pay-per-view buys is 1.6 million, a night headlined by McGregor’s fight against Nate Diaz in 2016.
But it’s about more than boxing’s popularity — the way fighters get paid in the two sports is also totally different. In a standard boxing pay-per-view event, fighters get about 60 percent of the pay-per-view money. (The rest is split between the network and the cable providers.) UFC doesn’t disclose how its money is divvied up, but the company keeps a large percentage of what’s available after the cable providers take their share. That’s why McGregor, as the sport’s biggest star, has likely never made more than $15 million for an MMA fight.
“The question is what parts of the UFC business model need to be changed in order to satisfy Conor’s monetary needs, now that he’s made over $100 million as a boxer,” said Ross Greenburg, former head of HBO Sports and a consultant for Showtime on the Mayweather-McGregor fight. “The UFC business model is threatened by this fight.”
In recent years, UFC fighters have criticized their employer for its relatively miserly revenue sharing, and few have been more outspoken than McGregor. In April 2016, he voiced his displeasure in a Facebook post, highlighting the amount of money he’d made for UFC in his previous three fights and clarifying that he’d refuse to fight unless he renegotiated his contract.
A few months later, after he knocked out Alvarez and UFC was sold for $4.2 billion to WME-IMG, he said he wouldn’t fight again unless he was given an equity stake in the company. “I want what I deserve,” he said. “I want what I earned.” He hasn’t been in an Octagon since, and White has acknowledged UFC may have to pay him more.
In the run-up to the Mayweather boxing match, McGregor has said that he’d like to continue to contend for titles in both MMA and boxing — “and I will rule both with an iron fist.” It may be more complicated than that. He’s under contract with UFC and had to negotiate to make this boxing match happen. Any conversation about a future in boxing will likely have to include UFC.
A lot of this will depend on how McGregor fares Saturday. He’s a heavy underdog, but that hasn’t stopped the betting public from backing him to win. Should McGregor lose, Greenburg said there probably won’t be enough of an appetite for him to keep boxing, at least not in another major pay-per-view fight. If he wins, it’s great for UFC’s brand — the company can say its champ, with no pro boxing experience, did what 49 previous pros could not — but that likely complicates the MMA star’s return.
“The more record-breaking this fight is, the bigger the issue they have with Conor McGregor and his managers when he tries to negotiate his next UFC deal,” Greenburg said.
Meantime, White is enjoying his foray into boxing promotion.
“When two guys like this come together, these type of events show you where the bar is set for the right guys and the right place at the right time — and what a big fight can do,” he said on Bloomberg Television.
It’s been a helluva retrograde cycle this month, with a total solar eclipse, a new moon, and with Saturn (the disciplinarian planet) going direct after months of retrograding in Sagittarius. This month, we’ve all been challenged to reassess the areas in life where we feel we can improve, where in life we feel we’re ready to step into a more authentic version of ourselves, and your horoscope for the week of Aug. 28 will continue that trend, with the focus more on play than on work.
You may have given something up, either literally or figuratively, and been dealing with the consequences of that. You may have adopted a new outlook on life before truly giving up another, and Mercury retrograde has taught you that you need to be more thorough. This week, that focus will be on your love life, and your money — not how much money you make, but the ways in which you make it, and how much joy it brings you.
Ultimately, because of Mercury’s retrograde coinciding with the solar eclipse, we’ve all been forced to utilize this time in the most efficient way possible, and we have one week left to go before Mercury goes direct. Here’s what to expect in that time.
Venus is the planet of romantic love, beauty, and money. Leo is a sign of drama, theatrics, play, creativity, and being in the spotlight. This last week of Mercury retrograde, you’ll be wanting a lot of attention. You will be stepping into the spotlight in your relationship, wow-ing your partner by being more expressive, outgoing and romantic. Your warmth is bound to attract others, whether you’re single or attached, so enjoy the attention!
If your focus is less on your love life and more on career, you’ll be feeling like you want to start making your money in ways that allow you to shine the way you feel you’re meant to.
Venus is the planet of love, beauty, and money. Uranus is the planet of unexpected surprise. It’s easy to remember because, like a finger in your ass, this planet always surprises you. Your love life could come across some fairly sudden, abrupt changes… or you could find that your regular toss in the sheets just isn’t doing it for you anymore. You need change to keep moving forward, so if you’re single, try saying yes to that date you thought was “too whatever” for you. Think of it as an experiment. If you’re attached… dare I suggest a finger in the ass? If you’re into that.
If your focus is on money rather than your love life, chances are you’ll start finding alternative ways to make money this month. Beware of impulsive changes before Mercury stations direct on September 4.
You may have been feeling like making sudden moves throughout this Mercury retrograde period, but have been restraining yourself. GOOD for you. Keep doing that. Restraint of pen and tongue during this last week of Mercury retrograde will keep you in a stable place, as the information that needs to reveal itself before you make changes will do so in the next week.
You may feel stuck in the hallway of life, but remember, that’s just a part of life. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be.
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Blogging The Boys (blog)
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During the clip, Scottopens up to Khlo and says ever since Kourtney took the kids for the week, he feels anxious and he needs to book his time up to keep his mind off his family.
This usually means making club appearances for money.
Khlo makes the point this may not be the best choice for him at the moment and suggests he finds other ways to make money.
Im going to be honest, Im not the biggest Scott Disick fan. I think he was kinda funny for a little a few seasons back, but hes now mostly an annoying whiner.