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Disney Again Makes History with Earning Above $7B for 2018

Walt Disney Studios is again ending the year on a high note, posting more than $7 billion in global box office earnings, thanks to hits such as “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”

“This is only the second time in history any studio has surpassed the $7 billion mark, after Disney’s own industry-record 2016 global gross of $7.6 billion,” the company said in a statement on Monday.

“The Studios’ estimated international box office gross through December 9 is an estimated $4.069 billion, marking our second biggest year and the third biggest in industry history,” it added.

Disney’s success comes as the studio is set to release “Mary Poppins Returns” on December 19, which is expected to top the box office during the holiday season.

​”To date, four of the top eight worldwide releases of the year are from The Walt Disney Studios, including the top two global and top three domestic releases,” the company said.

“Avengers: Infinity War,” made by Disney’s Marvel subsidiary, led the way, earning $2 billion alone. It is followed by superhero movie “Black Panther,” which earned $1.35 billion worldwide.

“Incredibles 2,” made by Pixar, another Disney subsidiary, earned $1.24 billion.

Other top box office earners for 2018 are “Ant-Man and The Wasp,” “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” which has held the number one spot at the North American box office for the third consecutive week.

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China, US Discuss Next Stage of Trade Talks

China and the United States discussed the road map for the next stage of their trade talks on Tuesday, during a telephone call between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Earlier this month in Argentina, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a truce that delayed the planned Jan. 1 U.S. hike of tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

Lighthizer said on Sunday that unless U.S.-China trade talks wrap up successfully by March 1, new tariffs will be imposed, clarifying there is a “hard deadline” after a week of seeming confusion among Trump and his advisers.

China’s Commerce Ministry, in a brief statement, said Liu had spoken with Mnuchin and Lighthizer on Tuesday morning Beijing time on a pre-arranged telephone call.

“Both sides exchanged views on putting into effect the consensus reached by the two countries’ leaders at their meeting, and pushing forward the timetable and roadmap for the next stage of economic and trade consultations work,” the ministry said.

It did not elaborate.

The Harvard-education Liu, Xi’s top economic advisor, is leading the talks from China’s end.

Global markets are jittery about a collision between the world’s two largest economic powers over China’s huge trade surplus with the United States and Washighton’s claims that Beijing is stealing intellectual property and technology.

The arrest of a top executive at China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has also roiled global markets amid fears that it could further inflame the China-U.S. trade row.

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Goodyear Halts Tire Production in Venezuela as Economy Slips

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is halting production in Venezuela, making it the latest international corporation to abandon a South American nation in economic crisis, officials said Monday.

 

Spokesman Eduardo Arguelles told The Associated Press that Goodyear-Venezuela had made the “difficult decision” to no longer produce tires in the country, which has seen an economic contraction worse than the U.S. Great Depression.

 

“Our goal had been to maintain its operations, but economic conditions and U.S. sanctions have made this impossible,” Arguelles said.

 

The company had endured tens of millions in losses in recent years as the Venezuelan bolivar plummeted in value against the U.S. dollar. The company based in Akron, Ohio, moved to deconsolidate its Venezuelan subsidiary in the fourth quarter of 2015, but continued to operate with a staff of about 1,100 from the depressed industrial city of Valencia.

Workers who arrived at the plant Monday were stunned to find it was no longer in operation.

 

“They closed doors without saying anything,” said Luis Aponte, a union worker who said government workers were on site assessing the situation.

There was no immediate response from the government.

 

The announcement came after a letter issued “to whom it may concern” circulated online stating the company had been forced to cease operations and that starting Monday no one in Venezuela would be authorized to continue producing the company’s products.

 

The letter also said Goodyear would fulfill its financial obligations to workers.

 

Goodyear’s retreat from Venezuela adds it to a growing list of corporations that have ceased operations in the country. Some of those enterprises, like General Motors, had assets including factories and vehicles seized by the government. Others chose to cut their losses because shortages, inflation and currency and prices controls made business difficult.

Kellogg, Bridgestone, Kimberly-Clark and General Mills have all closed or reduced operations in recent years.

 

Julian Rodriguez, 62, said he spent over three decades working for Goodyear and was unsure how he’d make ends meet after losing his only source of income.

 

“This is a grave situation,” he said.

 

The International Monetary Fund has estimated that inflation in Venezuela could top 1 million percent by the year’s end.

 

President Nicolas Maduro activated an economic recovery plan in August that including increasing the minimum wage and printing a new currency, among other measures, but thus far the economy has shown few signs of improvement.

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Chinese Court Bans iPhone Models in Patent Dispute

A Chinese court has ordered a ban in the country on most iPhone sales  because of a patent dispute between iPhone maker Apple and U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm.

The Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court granted Qualcomm’s request for preliminary injunctions against four subsidiaries of Apple, ordering them to immediately stop selling the iPhone 6S through the iPhone X that use older versions of Apple’s iOS operating system, according to a statement from Qualcomm Monday.

Apple said in a statement Monday its iPhones using newer operating systems remain on sale in China.

The Chinese court found Apple violated two of Qualcomm’s software patents involving resizing photographs and managing applications on a touch screen.

Apple shares fell Monday on the news.

“Qualcomm’s effort to ban our products is another desperate move by a company whose illegal practices are under investigation by regulators around the world,” Apple said in its statement.

Qualcomm’s general counsel, Don Rosenberg, said in a statement Monday “Apple continues to benefit from our intellectual property while refusing to compensate us. These court orders are further confirmation of the strength of Qualcomm’s vast patent portfolio.”

China’s court decision is the latest legal action in a long-running dispute between the California tech giants.

Qualcomm has also asked regulators in the United States to ban several iPhone models over patent disputes, however U.S. officials have so far declined to do so.

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Musk Suggests Tesla’s New Chairwoman Won’t Rein Him In

Tesla CEO Elon Musk dismissed the idea that the company’s new chairwoman can exert control over his behavior.

Robyn Denholm, an Australian telecommunications executive, was appointed chairwoman of Tesla’s board last month, replacing Musk as part of a securities fraud settlement with U.S. government regulators.

But Musk said “it’s not realistic” to expect Denholm to watch over his actions because he remains the electric car company’s largest shareholder.

“It’s not realistic in the sense that I am the largest shareholder in the company,” Musk said in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” broadcast Sunday evening, adding that a large percentage of shareholders support him and all he needs is about one-third of them.

“I can just call for a shareholder vote and get anything done that I want,” he said.

Musk, who owns about 20 percent of Tesla, gave up the chairman role under a settlement with the Securities Exchange Commission, which had charged the CEO with misleading investors in August with a tweet that said he had “funding secured” for taking the company private.

 The SEC settlement also required the company to vet Musk’s tweets and other comments about the company before they are released to the public. Musk also shrugged off that provision, saying none of his tweets have been censored so far and the company does not review his posts to determine beforehand whether they could potentially affect the company’s stock price.

“I guess we might make some mistakes. Who knows?” Musk said.

Musk said he does not respect the SEC, but when asked if he would obey the settlement, he said: “Because I respect the justice system.”

After the interview was aired, Tesla said in a statement that the company is complying with the SEC settlement. The part that requires pre-approval of communications that could affect the stock price technically must be in place by December 28, the company said.

Denholm’s appointment in November drew a mixed response from corporate governance experts, who praised her financial expertise but questioned her ability to carve out an independent path for a board that has been dominated by Musk.

Denholm has been on Tesla’s board for five years. She is the chief financial officer and strategy head at Telstra Corp. Ltd., Australia’s largest telecommunications company, but will step down from that company after a six-month notice period and work at Tesla full-time.

Musk told “60 Minutes” interviewer Lesley Stahl that he had hand-picked Denholm.

The SEC settlement would allow Musk to return as chairman after three years, subject to shareholder approval. Musk said he would not be interested.

“I actually prefer to have no titles at all,” Musk said.

Amid its CEO’s erratic behavior, Tesla delivered on promises to accelerate production of its pivotal Model 3 sedan, progress seen as essential to the company’s ability to repay $1.3 billion in debt due within the next six months.

The company also fulfilled a pledge to make money during the third quarter, and Musk has said he expects the company to remain profitable. He said Tesla would consider buying any plant that rival GM closes as part of a restructuring plan that could cost up to 14,000 jobs.

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Japanese Economy Experiences the Worst Downturn in Four Years

Japan’s economy contracted 2.5 percent in the third quarter of this year, July-September, which marks the worst downturn in the past four years. 

The revised data released Monday was more than double the initial estimate of a 1.2 percent contraction.

The slide is in part driven by a series of natural disasters that hit Japan, which forced factories to cut production, and contributed to lower consumer demand and corporate investment. To a lesser extent, the U.S.-China trade dispute has had its impact on Japanese economy. 

The adjusted gross domestic product, the total value of a nation’s goods and services, also dipped 0.6 percent in the third quarter compared to the previous one, according to the data released from the Cabinet Office.

Economists, however, say that the setback for the world’s third-biggest economy is likely temporary.

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Japanese Economy Experiences the Worst Downturn in Four Years

Japan’s economy contracted 2.5 percent in the third quarter of this year, July-September, which marks the worst downturn in the past four years. 

The revised data released Monday was more than double the initial estimate of a 1.2 percent contraction.

The slide is in part driven by a series of natural disasters that hit Japan, which forced factories to cut production, and contributed to lower consumer demand and corporate investment. To a lesser extent, the U.S.-China trade dispute has had its impact on Japanese economy. 

The adjusted gross domestic product, the total value of a nation’s goods and services, also dipped 0.6 percent in the third quarter compared to the previous one, according to the data released from the Cabinet Office.

Economists, however, say that the setback for the world’s third-biggest economy is likely temporary.

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ITU: More Than Half World’s Population Using Internet

The International Telecommunication Union reports that for the first time in history, half of the global population is using the internet. A new report finds by the end of the year, 3.9 billion people worldwide will be online.

The report finds access to and use of information and communication technologies around the world is trending upwards. It notes most internet users are in developed countries, with more than 80 percent of their populations online. But it says internet use is steadily growing in developing countries, increasing from 7.7 percent in 2005 to 45.3 percent this year.

The International Telecommunication Union says Africa is the region with the strongest growth, where the percentage of people using the internet has increased from just over two percent in 2005 to nearly 25 percent in 2018.

The lowest growth rates, it says, are in Europe and the Americas, with the lowest usage found in the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition to data on internet usage, newly released statistics show mobile access to basic telecommunication services is becoming more predominant. ITU Senior Statistician, Esperanza Magpantay says access to higher speed mobile and fixed broadband also is growing.

“So, there is almost 96 percent of the population who are now covered by mobile population signal of which 90 percent are covered by 3G access. So, this is a high figure, and this helps explain why we have this 51 percent of the population now using the internet,” she said.

With the growth in mobile broadband, Magpantay says there has been an upsurge in the number of people using the internet through their mobile devices.

The ITU says countries that are hooked into the digital economy do better in their overall economic well-being and competitiveness. Unfortunately, it says the cost of accessing telecommunication networks remains too high and unaffordable for many.

It says prices must be brought down to make the digital economy a reality for the half the world’s people who do not, as yet, use the internet.

 

 

 

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More Than Half the World’s Population is Using the Internet

The International Telecommunication Union reports that for the first time in history, half of the global population is using the internet. A new report finds by the end of the year, 3.9 billion people worldwide will be online.

The report finds access to and use of information and communication technologies around the world is trending upwards. It notes most internet users are in developed countries, with more than 80 percent of their populations online. But it says internet use is steadily growing in developing countries, increasing from 7.7 percent in 2005 to 45.3 percent this year.

The International Telecommunication Union says Africa is the region with the strongest growth, where the percentage of people using the internet has increased from just over two percent in 2005 to nearly 25 percent in 2018.

The lowest growth rates, it says, are in Europe and the Americas, with the lowest usage found in the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition to data on internet usage, newly released statistics show mobile access to basic telecommunication services is becoming more predominant. ITU Senior Statistician, Esperanza Magpantay says access to higher speed mobile and fixed broadband also is growing.

“So, there is almost 96 percent of the population who are now covered by mobile population signal of which 90 percent are covered by 3G access. So, this is a high figure, and this helps explain why we have this 51 percent of the population now using the internet,” she said.

With the growth in mobile broadband, Magpantay says there has been an upsurge in the number of people using the internet through their mobile devices.

The ITU says countries that are hooked into the digital economy do better in their overall economic well-being and competitiveness. Unfortunately, it says the cost of accessing telecommunication networks remains too high and unaffordable for many.

It says prices must be brought down to make the digital economy a reality for the half the world’s people who do not, as yet, use the internet.

 

 

 

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More Than Half the World’s Population is Using the Internet

The International Telecommunication Union reports that for the first time in history, half of the global population is using the internet. A new report finds by the end of the year, 3.9 billion people worldwide will be online.

The report finds access to and use of information and communication technologies around the world is trending upwards. It notes most internet users are in developed countries, with more than 80 percent of their populations online. But it says internet use is steadily growing in developing countries, increasing from 7.7 percent in 2005 to 45.3 percent this year.

The International Telecommunication Union says Africa is the region with the strongest growth, where the percentage of people using the internet has increased from just over two percent in 2005 to nearly 25 percent in 2018.

The lowest growth rates, it says, are in Europe and the Americas, with the lowest usage found in the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition to data on internet usage, newly released statistics show mobile access to basic telecommunication services is becoming more predominant. ITU Senior Statistician, Esperanza Magpantay says access to higher speed mobile and fixed broadband also is growing.

“So, there is almost 96 percent of the population who are now covered by mobile population signal of which 90 percent are covered by 3G access. So, this is a high figure, and this helps explain why we have this 51 percent of the population now using the internet,” she said.

With the growth in mobile broadband, Magpantay says there has been an upsurge in the number of people using the internet through their mobile devices.

The ITU says countries that are hooked into the digital economy do better in their overall economic well-being and competitiveness. Unfortunately, it says the cost of accessing telecommunication networks remains too high and unaffordable for many.

It says prices must be brought down to make the digital economy a reality for the half the world’s people who do not, as yet, use the internet.

 

 

 

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