Here we go again
July 13, 2020

Just a few weeks after it reopened, Hong Kong Disneyland is closing again.

The park is set to "temporarily close" on July 15 "as required by the government and health authorities in line with prevention efforts taking place across Hong Kong," Disney announced on Monday, per CNN. It had reopened on June 18.

Hong Kong is facing a surge in COVID-19 cases, on Monday reporting 52 new infections, 41 of which were locally transmitted, Reuters reports. Previously, "from June 13 to July 5 there were no locally transmitted cases in Hong Kong," according to NPR. Schools in Hong Kong closed as a result of the recent uptick, and on Monday, authorities reduced the maximum gathering size to four people from 50, Variety reports. Movie theaters will also need to close again in Hong Kong starting this week.

This comes after Disney began to reopen its Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida. Florida has seen record numbers of COVID-19 cases and on Sunday reported more than 15,000 new infections, the most of any state during the pandemic. Brendan Morrow

June 26, 2020

Tenet, which is aiming to be one of the first movies released in theaters when they reopen, has been delayed — again.

Warner Bros. has announced that Christopher Nolan's Tenet is moving its release date from July 31 to Aug. 12. This comes less than two weeks after the studio previously bumped the movie from July 17 to July 31, so whether the new Aug. 12 will hold, or whether another two-week delay might be in the cards, is very much an open question.

"Warner Bros. is committed to bringing Tenet to audiences in theaters, on the big screen, when exhibitors are ready and public health officials say it's time," a spokesperson for the studio said.

Theater chains like AMC and Regal are planning to begin reopening movie theaters next month, having hoped to be back in business across the country in time for both Tenet and Disney's Mulan. But the delay of Tenet comes as the U.S. has been hitting new records for number of daily new COVID-19 cases; Texas on Thursday announced it would pause its reopening as it faces a "massive outbreak" of coronavirus.

The Russell Crowe movie Unhinged and the romantic comedy The Broken Hearts Gallery are still scheduled to be released in July, Variety notes, and Disney has Mulan set for July 24 at the moment. But Disney is reportedly considering delaying the film, meaning if there is to be something of a summer movie season this year, the idea of it kicking off with big blockbusters next month is looking less and less likely. Brendan Morrow

June 19, 2020

Some Apple stores that reopened during the coronavirus pandemic will already have to close again as new COVID-19 cases rise in numerous states.

Apple announced on Friday it's temporarily closing 11 stores in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Arizona, citing "current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve," CNN reports.

"We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible," Apple added.

Customers will be able to pick up devices they were having repaired at these stores over the weekend, and employees will still be paid, Bloomberg reports. Apple, The Wall Street Journal notes, was "one of the first major U.S. retailers in mid-March to close its stores nationwide amid the pandemic."

Amid reopenings around the country, COVID-19 cases are climbing in 20 states, and 10 have experienced records highs over the past week, including the four where Apple is closing these locations. Experts say Florida has "all the markings of the next large epicenter of coronavirus transmission," and six out of the 11 stores being closed are in Arizona, which Harvard University epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding says "per capita has surpassed Lombardi, Italy." Brendan Morrow

October 28, 2019

It didn't take long for President Trump to criticize Chicago during his first ever presidential visit to the city Monday.

Trump, who was speaking at the annual gathering of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, bashed the Midwestern metropolis and the superintendent of its police department, Eddie Johnson. Despite hosting the event, Johnson did not attend Trump's speech because he said he "couldn't stand by while racial insults and hatred are cast from the Oval Office." Trump criticized Johnson for overseeing a city that he says is less safe than Afghanistan and argued that Chicago's police officers are "entitled to a police superintendent who has their backs and knows what he's doing."

Trump wasn't done there, though. He also went after actor Jussie Smollett who claimed he was attacked by Trump supporters in Chicago, comparing his "scam" to the House impeachment inquiry.

But it wasn't all insults — Trump also had some praise for, well, himself. He touted the death of former Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed during a U.S. military raid in Syria on Saturday night, as a major accomplishment, which was received positively by the crowd. Trump also hinted that former President Barack Obama should've done more to bring down Baghdadi, while indicating that his own determination to zero in on the terrorist leader played a significant role in his death. Tim O'Donnell

October 21, 2019

It might be time to prepare for a liquidity crisis, Axios reports.

Balance sheets may be strong, but the heads of major banks have issued warnings that September's repo market shock may not have been a one-time thing. They're concerned it was the start of a wide-ranging liquidity shortage, reportedly resulting from "regulations, changes to market structure, and banks' desire to keep their reserve levels high."

One sector that appears to be particularly worrisome is shadow banking, which consists of firms that are not banks, but lend money to consumers for auto loans and home mortgages. Axios notes they aren't subject to the same regulations as banks.

"Regulators have been very successful in distributing risk," said Ron O'Hanley, president and CEO of State Street. "It's now been very much deconcentrated. But it hasn't gone away; it's been moved."

Tim Adams, the president and CEO of the Institute of International Finance, made a comparison that's growing increasingly common whenever the state of the economy is discussed — he likened the situation to the market for mortgage-backed securities before the housing bubble burst in 2007. You know what happened after that.

"We used to make the same case on securitization of mortgages — that we could slice them and dice them and we distribute risk globally and it was a safer system because it was distributed," Adams told Axios. "We found out that wasn't necessarily the case." Read more at Axios. Tim O'Donnell

September 30, 2019

Don't look now, but President Trump is calling for the arrest of his political opponents again.

Trump once again lashed out Monday morning at House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who he previously accused in a Sunday night tweet of being guilty of "treason." Schiff during the testimony of acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire last week had read what he described as a "parody" of Trump's phone call with Ukraine's president using his own original language that he said was meant to capture its "essence."

Since then, Trump has been repeatedly blasting Schiff for what he calls a "FAKE & terrible statement," taking things up a notch quite a bit Monday morning by suggesting he should be arrested "for treason."

This was just one part of a wild Monday morning Twitter tear for Trump, who also declared the Ukraine scandal "closed" and inaccurately suggested the whistleblower rules were recently changed in an all-caps tweet.

CNN notes Schiff's summary of the Ukraine call "did make it easy for viewers to get confused," with the House Democrat creating the false impression that Trump told Ukraine seven times to "make up dirt" on Biden. Yet rather than simply taking issue with the accuracy of Schiff's statement, Trump is now calling for his arrest over it. CNN's Daniel Dale dryly points out the obvious, tweeting, "It is very much not illegal for a member of a congressional committee to paraphrase someone badly." Brendan Morrow

August 25, 2019

Joe Arpaio marked the anniversary of President Trump pardoning him by announcing he is once again running for sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona.

"Watch out world!" the 87-year-old said in a statement. "We are back!" Arpaio served six terms as sheriff, and his jails were known for their harsh conditions, with immigrants housed in tents outside during extreme heat; inmates fed twice a day with food served at other institutions as a form of punishment; and prisoners forced to wear pink underwear. As a result, several civil rights lawsuits were filed against Arpaio, NBC News reports, and a federal judge ruled twice that his jails violated the constitutional rights of inmates because of poor medical care.

Arpaio was handily defeated in November 2016, and convicted in July 2017 of contempt of court after he disregarded a federal judge's order to stop arresting immigrants based on suspicion that they were undocumented. One of Trump's earliest supporters, he was pardoned by the president in August 2017. In his statement, Arpaio said he's been urged by "thousands" to run again, and "the last four years have proven to be a time of lost opportunities to continue the kind of tough policing this country needs." Catherine Garcia

August 12, 2019

Automattic Inc., the online software and publishing company that owns WordPress.com and Longreads, is adding Tumblr to its lineup.

Verizon, which acquired the multimedia blogging platform in 2017 when it bought out Yahoo, is selling Tumblr for an undisclosed amount considered "nominal" to its previous $1.1 billion worth, reports The Wall Street Journal. A source for Axios put the number "well below" $20 million.

This marks Automattic's largest ever acquisition, in terms of both monetary value and personnel. Tumblr's current staff of around 200 will reportedly join the company.

The Tumblr community went into an existential tailspin back in December when the site banned all NSFW content. Many users abandoned the platform for other websites in a move reminiscent of the exodus following Yahoo's takeover of the site in 2013. Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg says his company doesn't plan on changing what makes Tumblr "fun," but this shakeup may be the last straw for the remaining holdouts on the website. Cyrena Touros

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