(CNN)For politicos profusely consuming the latest polls and presidential candidates spending countless hours on the trail, it is easy to forget that at this stage in the game, many Americans don’t even know who’s running for president. More than half of Americans didn’t even know the first GOP presidential debate had occurred, according to one poll.
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Did Jason Garrett just save his job with a blowout over the Redskins?
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Many will shake their heads and remind us about mediocre seasons, but he managed to keep the Cowboys competitive while enduring some substantial dead money hits. Over his first five years, the Cowboys averaged $20 million in dead money. Think about …
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Cowboys defense created a mirage for the offensive effort on Thursday night
Blogging The Boys (blog)
The Cowboys 38 points is great and made us feel good, but was it for real? by RJ Ochoa@rjochoa Dec 2, 2017, 3:00pm CST. tweet · share · pin · Rec. Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Much has been made about how ineffective the Dallas Cowboys had been …
The director of Money Monster, starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts, opens up about the financial crisis and why she will always support her controversial pal Mel Gibson.
Almost five years to the date after releasing her last movie as director, two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster returns behind the camera onMoney Monster, a Wall Street thriller starring George Clooney as an egocentric cable finance news host whos taken hostage on-air by a disgruntled young investor.
Of course, even someone of Fosters caliber had a bit of a rough go the last time around.
One of the most recognizable names in Hollywood thanks to a nearly five-decade career that began at age 3 and includes films like Taxi Driver, The Accused, The Silence of the Lambs, Panic Room, and Little Man Tate, her first foray as a director, Foster had to hold it down on the press tour for 2011sThe Beaverwhen the controversial personal troubles of her star Mel Gibson turned America off of the film en masse.
Looking back now, Foster reflects on the public stand she took for her longtime friend. Ive known him for 20-something years, and hes someone that I really love and I really care about, she told The Daily Beast on a recent afternoon in Beverly Hills. I obviously cant condone his behaviorhis private behavior. What do I know about his private behavior? But Idoknow the man I know, who is an extraordinary artist. I know the experiences Ive had with him and thats really the only thing I can attest to.
I think if someone you love is struggling, you dont disown them and run in the opposite direction, she added. I think you try to be compassionate, and try to understand their struggle. Try to help them.
For her next directorial effort afterThe Beaver, Foster sought just the right project. She boardedMoney Monsterin 2012, choosing the story of a flawed and unlikeable male celebrity whose public ugliness is exposed as America watchesand whom the audience is then asked to give the chance to regain his humanity as the film progresses.
Friday Cat Blogging â 1 December 2017
Last week I was looking out the window and noticed that the sun was shining brightly on my neighbor's bougainvillea plant. Then one of the cats walked by on the top of the fence. I went out with my camera and immediately realized that a picture of a …
Leon LaBreque, a financial adviser from Troy, Mich., was wowed back in 2011 when he heard the pitch for the Goldman Sachs Strategic Income Fund. It was a new kind of fixed-income portfolio whose managers had the freedom to buy just about anything. Along with bonds, they might bet on emerging-markets currencies or lend U.S. dollars to Japanese investors—and they could draw on the global expertise of Goldman Sachs. “The story was so compelling, and the people were so smart,” LaBreque says. “I thought, how could it not work?”
He wasn’t the only person looking for this kind of fund, and Goldman Sachs wouldn’t be the only company to offer one. By the early 2010s, bonds had been in a decades-long bull market, and the Federal Reserve’s benchmark interest rate was near zero, with nowhere to go but up. Because bond prices fall as rates rise, a nasty turn in the U.S. bond market seemed inevitable to many. That made the idea of a fund with the flexibility to make other kinds of bets more appealing. “This portfolio has a shot at making money in any rate environment,” said Mike Swell, co-manager of the Goldman Sachs fund, in a December 2013 interview with Bloomberg. Over the next several years, many other mutual fund companies introduced “unconstrained” bond portfolios with a similar pitch.
With strong initial returns, the Goldman Sachs fund grew to an impressive $26 billion in assets by 2014. But its performance deteriorated, the result of mistimed calls on interest rates and the strength of corporate credit. In 2014, for example, the managers had positioned the fund to take advantage of rising U.S. rates. Instead, rates fell sharply. Over the past three years, its annual average return has been slightly negative. LaBreque grew disillusioned and withdrew his clients’ money, part of a redemption wave that has cut the fund’s assets down to $6.6 billion.
Other nontraditional bond funds have done better, returning an average of 2.45 percent annually over the past three years, according to Morningstar Inc. Many benefited from the continued rally in plain-vanilla U.S. corporate bonds, which also helped regular intermediate-term bond funds earn 2.19 percent per year. Over five years, nontraditional and intermediate-term funds are neck-and-neck, with an average return of 2.14 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.
Unconstrained funds will have a shot at pulling ahead if U.S. rates start a steady march upward, but there’s no guarantee a manager with such a broad mandate will time the shift correctly. Fidelity Investments—one of the biggest money managers, with $2.13 trillion in assets—says this is why it never opened an unconstrained fund. “One of our investment beliefs is that predicting interest rates is extremely challenging and that very few people have been able to do it consistently,” wrote spokeswoman Sophie Launay in an email.
Rate forecasting “works if you have a crystal ball,” says Jeffrey Klingelhofer, one of the managers of the Thornburg Strategic Income Fund, which invests in a range of corporate securities but isn’t considered unconstrained. “But a lot of investors forget that none of us do, which we’ve been humbly reminded of time and again.”
Swell acknowledges that the Goldman Sachs fund’s performance has been “lackluster,” but he remains committed to its go-anywhere style. Many bond funds, he says, have benefited from the “free money” the world’s central banks provided in the aftermath of the financial crisis, lifting everything, including Treasuries, mortgages, and corporate bonds. But as the Federal Reserve begins to return to a more normal policy, that era could be ending.
Although Swell isn’t predicting when rates might swing in his favor, he says there’s likely to be more volatility and tougher times for assets that have done well up until now. “A lot of people have gotten rich being lazy long in credit,” he says, referring to investors who have done well by sticking to a bullish stance on bonds. Swell says the best chance to make money now is through trades that play off differences in currencies, interest rates, and yield curves around the world. “We think the more balls you have in the air, the better,” he says. “Diversification is key.”
Michael Rosen, chief investment officer at Angeles Investment Advisors LLC in Santa Monica, Calif., remains skeptical. As a group, he says, unconstrained bond funds have yet to prove they can add value for investors. “They asked for fewer constraints so they could make bets and show how smart they are,” he says. “It turns out they are not that smart.”
(CNN)As the President got ready to sell his latest executive order to the American public, an overhaul of the H-1B skilled worker visa program, under his “Buy American, Hire American” slogan, Ivanka Trump appeared to be busy protecting the real emerald of the Trump family’s vast business empire: China.
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.Continue reading
LSU Now (blog)
Influential Instagrammers: Local creatives discuss the Baton Rouge blogging scene
LSU Now (blog)
When she arrived in Baton Rouge, the city's creative scene was lacking and she had no interest in blogging. âWhen I first came here, it was simply for college and I didn't think much of Baton Rouge in terms of a creative centerâ where someone could …
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.)Continue reading