November 15, 2018

Facebook may soon have to embark on another apology spree.

In a massive investigation published Wednesday, The New York Times painted a picture of "cascading crises" that have overtaken Facebook over the last two years. Crises which, per the Times' interviews with more than 50 people, Facebook ignored or used political ploys to keep quiet.

Facebook's plague of Russian interference has been well documented, and Facebook has largely maintained it learned of widespread attacks after the 2016 election. But the Times reports Facebook was alerted to Russian hacking in the spring of 2016 — a year and a half before admitting its Russian interference findings and launching its much-derided cleanup effort.

Conservatives have long claimed Facebook was biased against their content. The Times did find that Facebook had tight ties with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). But it also alleges Facebook hired the GOP-run consulting group Definers Public Affairs, which crafted articles to "blast Google and Apple for unsavory business practices," and downplay "the impact of the Russians' use of Facebook," and attacking liberal political donor George Soros.

Neither Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg nor COO Sheryl Sandberg commented on the Times' article. Facebook released a Thursday statement denying five of the article's claims, including that was "slow to investigate" Russian interference, and said it never asked Definers to "spread misinformation" and "ended its contract" with the firm Wednesday night. Read more at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:28 p.m.

Marvel has been planting the seeds of its grand finale, Avengers: Endgame, for nearly a decade now — and there's no better example than a prescient scene from Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The looming threat of Thanos hung over Joss Whedon's 2015 sequel, when Tony Stark was haunted by the fallout of the Chitauri alien invasion from the original Avengers. The man behind that invasion was none other than Thanos, who even then was seeking to obtain the six Infinity Stones and wipe out half the universe.

Tony's desire to protect the Earth from returning alien invaders is what inspires him to secretly build Ultron, an artificial intelligence program that goes awry. In a brief scene that sets up the primary conflict of Endgame years in advance and could easily inspire a callback, Tony defends his thinking.

"A hostile alien army came charging through a hole in space — we're standing 300 feet below it," Tony says. "We're the Avengers. We can bust arms dealers all the livelong day but that up there? That's the endgame. How were you guys planning on beating that?"

Steve Rogers responds, "Together." Tony retorts, "We'll lose," to which Steve says, "Then we'll do that together, too."

Earlier, Tony saw a vision of his fellow Avengers dying, apparently at the hands of this alien threat. He explains that the worst part of this nightmare wasn't that his friends were killed, but that he wasn't.

Four years later, the endgame Tony foresaw has arrived, and just as he feared, half of the Avengers were murdered in Infinity War while he survived. In Endgame, which derives its name partially from this scene, the Avengers will seek out a rematch against Thanos. Although they failed last time because they were split apart, this time, they may able to beat him just like Steve said: together. Brendan Morrow

4:26 p.m.

And they said playing ball like a girl was a bad thing...

CBS Sports Network announced on Monday that it will broadcast 40 WNBA games when the season begins next month. This multiyear deal is a major win for the women's league, as it will double its national TV exposure, reports ESPN.

“We are truly excited to partner with the WNBA, bringing the country's premier women's sports league to CBS Sports Network. This partnership is one of the biggest and most impactful women's sports programming arrangements ever at CBS Sports,” said CBS Sports chair Sean McManus.

The WNBA's 23rd season opens on May 24, with the matchup between the Minnesota Lynx and the Chicago Sky on March 25 being the first to air on the CBS Sports Network. This new deal is just another addition to the WNBA's already budding network, which has ESPN showing 16 regular-season telecasts, reports ESPN.

Each year, the WNBA's average viewership steadily increases. In 2018, the league's following across ESPN2 and NBA TV went up 31 percent.

Smaller details of the deal are still being finalized. It's unclear how the WNBA will choose which games to air on ESPN versus CBS Sports after this year, and there are still discussions about expanding the coverage to include features and other WNBA programming.

Either way, this seems like the first official win of the season. Amari Pollard

4:17 p.m.

Three years after Prince's tragic accidental overdose at the age of 57, Random House announced on Monday that The Beautiful Ones — the singer's highly anticipated autobiography — will be posthumously released on October 29.

Initially announced just weeks before his 2016 death, the memoir will be a collection of Prince's unfinished manuscripts, never-before-seen pictures, and handwritten lyrics, and will invite the reader to take a deep dive into the creative process of the singer's early days as he shaped an iconic "persona, an artistic vision and a life, before the hits and the fame that would come to define him," wrote Random House, per The Hollywood Reporter.

The nearly 300-page book will also include an introduction by Dan Piepenbring — the New Yorker writer who Prince chose as collaborator before passing — focusing on Prince's last days and his conflicted attempts to reveal more of himself and his ideas to the public, while remaining true to the "mystique he'd so carefully cultivated."

The biography will cover the singer's childhood in Minneapolis, early years as a rising musician, all the way to the peak of his international fame, solely using Prince's own writings, personal archive and unfinished manuscripts. The Beautiful Ones promises to detail and celebrate the story of one of the most influential musicians of all time — read more about the upcoming work at The Hollywood Reporter. Marina Pedrosa

3:38 p.m.

The response didn't take long.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that the United States would not renew waivers exempting five countries from sanctions on Iranian oil imports. Pompeo said the intention is "to bring Iran's oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue."

The list of countries includes large markets such as China, India, South Korea, Japan, and Turkey. And a few of them quickly let the U.S. know they were not happy about the announcement.

Iran denounced the move as "illegal" and denied that it has "any value or credibility." Turkey, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, followed suit. The country's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter that Turkey would not accept the "unilateral" terms.

China also pushed back, calling Pompeo's words more evidence of the United States' "unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction."

On the flip side, Israel and Saudi Arabia — two countries historically at odds with Iran — praised the decision. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it "is of great importance for increasing pressure" on Iran.

India, South Korea, and Japan have yet to formally respond.

The announcement is the latest example of the Trump administrating ramping up tensions with Iran — the White House recently designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group. Tim O'Donnell

3:27 p.m.

It's not a good day to be one of President Trump's picks for the Federal Reserve Board.

Not only did Herman Cain on Monday withdraw from consideration after facing Republican opposition in the Senate, but CNN is also now reporting on numerous old articles written by Trump's other Fed pick, Stephen Moore, in which he complains about "the feminization of basketball."

Moore wrote that at men's college basketball games, there should be "no more women refs, no women announcers, no women beer venders, no women anything," unless the women "look like Bonnie Bernstein." He also said that female tennis players want "equal pay for inferior work," complained about the fact that women "now feel free to play with the men," and wrote, "Women are sooo malleable! No wonder there's a gender gap."

"This was a spoof," Moore told CNN in defense of his past writing. "I have a sense of humor."

Trump has not yet formally nominated Moore to the Federal Reserve Board, although he has announced his intention to do so. Moore's nomination previously faced some setbacks especially in light of a report that he owes the IRS $75,000. As the White House interviews other potential candidates, Politico reported on April 16 that Moore's nomination may not ever end up reaching Capitol Hill. Brendan Morrow

2:31 p.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) isn't ruling anything out.

Pelosi addressed her Democratic colleagues on Monday with a letter detailing how she thinks the party should proceed following last week's public release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on 2016 Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's conduct surrounding the meddling.

In the letter, Pelosi refrains from choosing a hard path about how to proceed — she writes that the party consists of a range of members, some of whom wish to continue investigating Mueller's findings, while others want to move directly toward impeachment procedures. But the speaker did say that, either way, the party must be "free from passion or prejudice" as they proceed, and rely "strictly on the presentation of fact."

"It is clear that the President has, at a minimum, engaged in highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior which does not bring honor to the office he holds," she wrote.

Pelosi also attached a letter Democratic leaders sent rejecting Attorney General William Barr's suggestion to provide an unredacted version of the Mueller report only to a limited group of members of Congress in a classified setting. Instead, she argued Democrats need to insist on the "public's right to know." Read Pelosi's full letter below. Tim O'Donnell

2:12 p.m.

Samsung has delayed its new foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Fold, just days before it was scheduled to launch.

The company on Monday confirmed a report from The Wall Street Journal that it's delaying the release of the Galaxy Fold, which functions both as a 4.6-inch smartphone and a 7.3-inch tablet and was scheduled to be released on April 26, per CNBC.

This comes after a number of journalists from outlets like Bloomberg and CNBC reported that their review copies broke after just days of use. Some said they inadvertently peeled off a part of the screen that looked like a screen protector, while others said the screen simply stopped working. Samsung on Monday explained that these reviewers "showed us how the device needs further improvements," promising to "take measures to strengthen the display protection."

Some of these early issues "could be associated with impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge," Samsung said, adding that there "was an instance where substances found inside the device affected the display performance," per CNN.

No new launch date was provided for the device, which costs almost $2,000, but Samsung said it will announce a new one "in the coming weeks." Brendan Morrow

See More Speed Reads