Tag Archives: China

Obama admin told father of student imprisoned in North Korea to “keep a low profile”

obama and warmbier

In typical form, Obama was more concerned about his own image.

From Fox News: The father of Otto Warmbier said his son, who was imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months before being returned home in a coma this week, “fought to stay alive” during his ordeal.  

Fred Warmbier also dismissed whatever efforts were made on behalf of his 22-year-old son Otto by the Obama administration, which asked the family to keep a low profile when news of Otto’s arrest became public.

“The results speak for themselves,” he said in a news conference, adding that President Trump, by contrast, reached out to him personally.

“Last evening, we received a very nice phone call from Pres. Trump, who told us that Sec. of State Tillerson worked hard to bring Otto home. We are extremely grateful for their efforts and concern,” he said.

At the same news conference a spokeswoman for the University of Cincinnati Medical Center reported that Otto suffered a “severe neurological injury” and was in “satisfactory” condition.

Warmbier said his son “fought to stay alive” while in captivity since January 2016. “Otto is a fighter,” he said. “I’m so proud of Otto, my son, who has been in a pariah regime for the last 18 months – brutalized and terrorized.”

“His spirit is with us and I can share his spirit with my spirit,” said Warmbier, who was wearing the very same light-colored blazer his son wore during his trial in North Korea in March 2016.

His disgust for the Pyongyang regime was crystal clear. “We went for 15 months without a word from or about Otto. It was only a week ago that we were informed that the North Korean government now claims he was in a coma for almost all of that time. Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing the coma — and we don’t — there is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition secret and denied him top notch medical care for so long. North Korea is a pariah regime, they’re brutal (feed loses quality) and they’re terroristic.”

Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, was detained on Jan. 2, 2016, at Pyongyang International Airport, while visiting the country as a tourist with Young Pioneer Tours. He was charged with stealing the sign from a staff-only floor in the Yanggakdo International Hotel in Pyongyang and committing “crimes against the state.” He was given a one-hour trial in March 2016, when the government presented fingerprints, CCTV footage and pictures of a political banner to make its case against the American student. “I beg that you see how I am only human,” Warmbier said at his trial. “And how I have made the biggest mistake of my life.”

Despite his pleas, the college student was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. In a post-trial video released to the world, Warmbier, under obvious duress, praised his captors for his treatment and for handling of the case “fair and square.”

Before Thursday’s news conference, a U.S. official had told Fox News that Warmbier was in a coma for “over a year.” The official added that the North Koreans told the U.S. that Warmbier contracted botulism and slipped into a coma after taking a sleeping pill. Neither the family nor doctors treating Warmbier have commented on that claim.

Fred Warmbier also criticized the companies that profit off young people’s naïve willingness to visit North Korea. “The North Koreans lure Americans to travel to North Korea via tour groups run out of China, who advertise slick ads on (feed loses quality) the internet proclaiming no American ever gets detained off of our tours and this is a safe place to go.”

In Wyoming, Ohio, a Cincinnati suburb, friends and neighbors of Warmbier said they were elated the young man was home but expressed grave concern over his condition.

“We’re very concerned for his health and future,” said neighbor Tom Purdy. “We hope he can return to normal. We’ve been praying for him every night.”

At Wyoming High School, where Warmbier attended, students described him as an “outstanding person” who was known in the community for his academic achievements and athleticism.

Foreigners who have been detained or imprisoned in the Hermit Kingdom often have a shared experience: confusion, forced confessions, communication blackouts and isolation.

Warmbier’s release leaves three U.S. citizens currently known to be held in North Korea: accounting professor Kim Sang Duk, businessman Kim Dong Chul and Kim Hak-Song, who worked at Pyongyang University.

When asked what advice he might have for their families, Warmbier said he had none. “I wouldn’t know what to say to them,” he said. “This is, I’ve been told, not precedented.”

DCG

Advertisements

Hollywood’s summer movie season is off to a rough start

Hollyweird

Imagine my despair…

From NY Post: Tinseltown’s hopes for a $5 billion summer are already fizzling, with a couple of flicks crashing out of the gate.

Warner Bros.’ “King Arthur” and Fox’s “Alien: Covenant” both disappointed this month, and movie analysts are warning this summer’s box office won’t be as hot as last year, when Disney’s “Finding Dory” was the biggest hit.

When it comes to striking cinema gold, no one needs it more than Viacom’s Paramount Pictures and Sony’s Columbia Pictures. Paramount, which just tapped a new chief executive and got a fresh injection of cash from its China financing deal, needs to find its mojo, and quickly. The studio lost $136 million in 2016 and has paid out steep restructuring and severance charges.

Paramount is behind the upcoming “Baywatch” movie and is releasing a new “Transformers” feature. “If ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ flops, Paramount is in big, big trouble,” said Jeff Bock at Exhibitor Relations, which tallies ticket sales. “They need a billion-dollar hit.”

Sony, meanwhile, is set to roll out “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” in partnership with Disney’s Marvel. “They’re planning multiple spinoffs” for Spider-Man, according to Bock. “But you need the flagship firing on all cylinders.” Sony also is releasing “The Emoji Movie” in July, for which expectations are already set low.

The inclusion of the Iron Man character will help juice interest in “Spider-Man,” but “it’s the third reboot in 15 years,” Bock notes.

Last year’s summer box office was $4.4 billion. Anything under that number is going to have Tinseltown in a tizzy, according to the analyst.

A survey conducted by online movie ticketing service Fandango suggests that Warner’s “Wonder Woman,” out on June 2, is the most anticipated movie of the summer, followed by “Spider-Man.”

A strong first quarter at the box office and promising. However the summer sorts out, executives on the lots can always plead their newbie status.

Viacom’s Bob Bakish, who took over as acting CEO in October last year, hired new Paramount boss Jim Gianopulos in March. Twentieth Century Fox has a new chief in Stacey Snider. Sony Pictures Entertainment this month named as its new CEO Tony Vinciquerra, who starts in June. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. parent Time Warner is in the midst of being acquired by AT&T. Only Disney and Universal have left their top executives in place this year.

“I don’t think anyone will judge [Paramount’s] Jim Gianopulos based on this summer,” observes Cowen & Co. entertainment analyst Doug Creutz. “Warner really needs to do well. They had one issue with ‘King Arthur,’ and they have ‘Dunkirk’ coming out, it’s a prestige picture.”

Warner is launching the most original movies versus sequels, and will likely be the biggest spender on marketing this summer.

DCG

Matt Damon’s ‘The Great Wall’ to Lose $75 Million

matt-damon

Too bad, so sad…

From Hollywood Reporter: The collapse of The Great Wall at the domestic box office (it has made $34.8 million in North America) has iced any notion of a significant future for U.S.-China co-productions. The movie likely will end up with losses of more than $75 million, sources say, and Universal Pictures will be on the hook for at least $10 million.

The studio funded about 25 percent of the film’s $150 million production budget, the rest coming in equal parts from Legendary Entertainment, China Film Group and Le Vision Pictures. But Universal also covered Wall’s global marketing expenses, conservatively estimated at $80 million-plus. The film earned $171 million in China (a disappointment) and is expected to top out at about $320 million globally. That’s way less than investors had anticipated for the biggest-ever U.S.-China co-production. “The fusion of the No. 1 and No. 2 movie markets in the world will eventually happen, but it is a misfire, domestically speaking,” says box-office analyst Jeff Bock. Adds one Hollywood executive who has dealt extensively with China, “There’s no question but that it’s a failure.”

The good news for Universal is that its share of this failure will be relatively modest. The studio gets to collect a roughly 10 percent distribution fee from all theatrical revenue (between 40 percent and 50 percent of the total box office), and box-office rentals likely will recoup much, if not all, of its marketing outlay before other investors dip into whatever money is left to cut into production costs. The four partners will split any further theatrical income equally.

If the movie generates hoped-for ancillary revenue (including $20 million from domestic home entertainment and as much as $40 million from international home entertainment, with $25 million to $30 million from TV — admittedly, a best-case scenario), that will further stanch the red ink.

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

China fights masculinity ‘crisis’ with new textbook for boys

super-junior

A bad influence: South Korean boy band Super Junior

Pajama Boy, SJWs, and feminazis do not approve.

From Fox News: China is apparently concerned that its boys are becoming too effeminate. The country’s solution: a masculinity-promoting school textbook called Little Men, aimed for use in grades 4 and 5.

The illustrated book talks about fathers and sons, and it encourages boys to stress their masculine side, with money management and other ostensibly guy-geared topics thrown in.

NBC News reports the concern is widespread and that citizens blame the “gender crisis” on everything from too much homework (and too little physical activity), to being spoiled rotten by parents allowed just one child. “Girls are becoming more like boys while the boys are becoming more like girls, introvert[ed] and shy,” one parent complains.

An English-language newspaper in China blamed the perceived problem on “effeminate” actors and pop stars in Japanese and Korean culture.

The new six-chapter textbook was printed in December by Shanghai Educational Publishing House and has already been given a test drive in some schools. The idea is that boys will be taught from the book during class, while girls won’t take the course, reports the South China Morning Post.

Anthropologist Tiantian Zheng tells NBC the concern about masculinity is seen as a priority among government officials, and she suggests that all-male middle schools could result.

DCG

Alibaba aims to create a million US jobs with Trump’s help

maga

From NY Post: President-elect Donald Trump made an appearance with Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, Monday — and expressed unreserved confidence in his own Cabinet picks.

“Jack and I are going to do great things — small business,” Trump said, towering over Ma in the lobby of Trump Tower. Trump praised the Chinese businessman, saying, “He loves this country and he loves China.”

“I do, China, and I love America,” Ma said, in total agreement.

Asked about a variety of topics — like the intelligence briefing on Russia hacking he received Friday — Trump demurred. “We’ll talk to you about that at another time,” the president-elect said, referring to a planned press conference Wednesday.

“We had a great meeting. It’s jobs,” Trump said, turning the conversation back to his meeting with Ma, who built Alibaba into a forceful Web sales platform. “Jack and I are going to do some great things.”

Ma told reporters that the two discussed allowing US products such as “garments, wine and fruit” to be sold on the Alibaba platform. CNBC reported that Alibaba wants to create 1 million jobs in the US over the next five years. The company had 36,446 full time employees as of March 32, according to SEC filings.

Ma also said that the discussion included talk on the need for China and US to improve their relationship.

Asked about his pending Cabinet picks — some of which will sit for public confirmation hearings later this week on Capitol Hill — Trump was bullish. “Confirmation is going great. I think they’ll all pass,” said the president-elect, praising in particular his selection for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

DCG

Stanley Black & Decker to open U.S. plant after Trump’s ‘border tax’ threat

maga

From USA Today: Stanley Black & Decker said Thursday that it would open a new $35 million manufacturing plant in the U.S. after acquiring the Craftsman tool brand from ailing retailer Sears Holdings.

Expanding American manufacturing makes “business sense” amid “pervasive” uncertainty regarding the future of U.S. trade with China and Mexico, Stanley Black & Decker CEO James Loree told investors Thursday in a conference call.

Although he did not mention Donald Trump by name in his remarks to investors, Loree’s comments had all the hallmarks of an effort to inoculate his company from the possible effects of the president-elect’s threatened “border tax.”

“We view it sort of as one of several political movements, or concepts, that really drive us to this concept of make-where-we-sell,” Loree said. “It’s going to be advisable to have more manufacturing in the U.S.”

Stanley Black & Decker has about 3,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs today, up 800 from three years ago, according to a company presentation. It was not immediately clear how many jobs the company plans to add.

Loree said the location of the new manufacturing plant to produce Craftsman products has not yet been determined. The company currently operates 29 total U.S. plants.

About a half century ago, the Craftsman brand was primarily made in America. Today it’s largely made overseas, Loree said. “We believe this is an excellent opportunity to re-Americanize and revitalize this legendary brand,” he told investors.

In addition to the threat of trade policies that could damage imports, manufacturing products in the U.S. to sell to American consumers reduces logistics and distribution costs and lowers the company’s environmental footprint, Loree said. “It makes good business sense for us,” he said.

Stanley Black & Decker paid about $900 million to acquire Craftsman from Sears, which is closing stores and selling assets in a bid to stay afloat following a series of steep losses. About 90% of Craftsman products are sold in Sears stores, but Stanley Black & Decker plans to expand production and sales to other retailers and business channels.

Stanley Black & Decker shares rose 3.5% to $120.54 shortly after the opening bell Thursday.

DCG

Trump Stock Rally Leaving Big Media-Entertainment Behind

The most-biased, left-leaning companies are not thriving? Gee, I wonder why…

trump-and-us-media

From Hollywood Reporter: The Donald Trump election rally that’s sent the Dow Jones Industrial average hurtling toward an all-time high of 20,000 has left behind one key industry: big media conglomerates.

The president-elect has spent the election railing against television news giants like CNN and even right-leaning Fox News Channel. And Wall Street appears to be listening now that the real-estate mogul is heading to the White House. Of the 50 entertainment/media stocks tracked by The Hollywood Reporter, 36 of them lag the 9 percent gain made by the blue-chip index ahead of Friday’s potential record-breaking open.

While it’s tough to say there’s an exact correlation between Trump’s criticism of media and falling stock prices, experts say there are some legitimate concerns for the sector — as well as some lucrative opportunities — under a Trump presidency.

“Media and technology have underperformed because Trump wasn’t exactly favorable to leaders of those industries, so perhaps his policies will reflect that,” said Michael Kramer, founder and portfolio manager of Mott Capital Management. “He has been very critical of media. Obviously, the bad-mouthing hurts.”

trump-and-crooked-media

On the flipside, Steven Birenberg of Northlake Capital Management predicts that a lucrative business environment under Trump will help a variety of industries and it’s only a matter of time before media-entertainment catches up. The FCC, Justice Department and IRS could all adopt a more business-friendly, merger-friendly posture, which would keep stocks humming under Trump, he says.

Among Birenberg’s favorite stocks, all of which he owns shares of, are Comcast and Charter Communications, two of the major players in cable television.

“Cable is a big winner under Trump as net neutrality could go away. At least the odds of the FCC enforcing any price caps on broadband will go away,” says Birenberg, who did not support Trump. “I despise the man … but when it comes to managing my clients’ money, my fiduciary responsibility is to do what is best for them, so if Trump helps out media and entertainment stocks, I’ve got to take advantage.”

He also likes video game publishers Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard due to the transition to digital downloads and in-game purchases, as well as Live Nation Entertainment, the giant concert promoter that also operates Ticketmaster. “The concert industry is booming globally,” he says.

Trump has been beating the drum against what he considers unfair trade deals with China, and among the biggest losers since the election is Alibaba. The massive Chinese new-media company that is co-producing films with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners is off 7 percent since the election.

Another laggard since Nov. 8 is Facebook, down 3 percent. The social networking giant has been under fire from the left for promoting “fake news” and from the right for allegedly pushing negative stories about conservatives and positive ones about liberals.

Also lagging are some theater operators, most notably Regal Entertainment Group, down 7 percent, and Cinemark Holdings, off 3 percent. Movie theaters, though, are expected to get a boost from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which could open this weekend to as much as $350 million globally.

Kramer says the Trump rally has mostly benefited bank, energy and infrastructure stocks, and he suspects it won’t last. “It’s all about tax reform, deregulation and infrastructure and deficit spending under Trump, and those are all pro-growth policies,” he said. “The market is forward-thinking, but it doesn’t know what the actual policies will be, so the rally may fizzle.”

Beyond a Trump effect (perceived or real), there are plenty of issues plaguing individual companies. Disney, for example, will score big with Rogue One, but it lost 2 million ESPN subscribers in the fiscal year ending Oct. 1. As for Viacom, it remains to be seen what new CEO Bob Bakish can do to turn around the Paramount film studio as well as cable channel MTV. And 21st Century Fox was hit by a downgrade Monday by Telsey Advisory Group, which predicts the Rupert Murdoch-controlled company will have to fight European regulators over its planned $14.1 billion acquisition of the 61 percent of British satellite TV service Sky that it doesn’t already own.

Read the whole story here.

maga

DCG