8.14.2019

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Need To Know.
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CBS and Viacom Reunite.
Broadcast giant CBS and media conglomerate Viacom announced a much-anticipated merger yesterday in a deal worth an estimated $30B. It is a reunion of sorts for both companies, which were both part of an older incarnation of Viacom Inc. that split apart in 2006 (see timeline). The deal will allow CBS to add Viacom's media content - the company's portfolio includes channels like Nickelodeon and MTV, and films from its Paramount Studios - to its digital streaming platform. The deal follows other media mega-mergers, including Disney's $71B buyout of 21st Century Fox and AT&T's $80B acquisition of Time Warner. The deals each marry media content with digital infrastructure, signaling the accelerating trend towards streaming platforms. The combined company, to be called ViacomCBS Inc., will have the largest market share of the US television audience at 22%. 

The move may allow the Star Trek franchise to become the next Marvel Studios.  
Epstein Saga Continues.
Guards overseeing disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein falsified logs to cover up the fact that the convicted sex offender was left unattended when he died by suicide last weekend, according to sources. The logs were altered to show officers were checking on inmates at least every half hour, while surveillance footage shows a number of the checks never happened. The accusations came on the heels of reports that officers at the federal prison were overworked, and at least one guard was a substitute and not properly trained. Epstein had been accused of sex trafficking, shuttling young girls between his New York City and Palm Beach residences, and his death came just days after a trove of court documents filled with lurid details about his operations were released. Attorney General William Barr said the investigation into Epstein's crimes will continue, shifting focus to potential accomplices. 
Tariffs Delayed.
The White House said yesterday it would delay a large swath of Chinese imports scheduled for tariff hikes on September 1st by over three months to December 15th. The move, coming on the heels of pressure from business and consumer groups, is a partial reversal of a 10% tariff placed on $300B of Chinese imports announced by the administration at the beginning of August. The proposed levies - the net result of which is to make Chinese imports less competitive in the US marketplace - come on top of a 25% tariff on $250B in goods, which together cover nearly all imports from China. Items whose tariffs will be delayed range from fish fillets to diapers (see full list), and include key electronic components critical to products from tech giants like Apple, IBM, and others. The President said the delay would benefit consumers during the holiday shopping season, and stocks were buoyed on the news (S&P 500 +1.5%, Dow +1.4%, Nasdaq +2.0%).

In separate news, 22 states joined together in a lawsuit to block the administration's repeal of Obama-era clean power plant rules. 
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In The Know.
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Sports, Entertainment & Culture.
> Placido Domingo, opera music icon and general director of Los Angeles Opera, accused of sexual harassment by nine women (More)
> Jay-Z's entertainment company, Roc Nation, enters multiyear partnership with NFL to advise on in-game live entertainment and highlight league's social justice efforts (More)
> Chrisley Knows Best stars Todd and Julie Chrisley indicted by grand jury on 12 counts of tax evasion, wire fraud; Todd Chrisley proclaims innocence to his nearly 2 million Instagram followers (More)
Science & Technology.
> Twitter pilots letting users follow general interests, beginning with sports, with topics being moderated by company's AI (More)
> Colombian officials confirm dreaded banana fungus has appeared in the country; devastating type of Fusarium fungus is resistant to treatments (More) | Previously wiped out what was the world's main banana, the Gros Michel (More)
> Mouse study finds gut-brain link behind compulsive eating; high-fat foods produce hormone in gut that travels to brain via bloodstream where it inhibits leptin, which signals stomach is full (More)
Business & Markets.
> US home mortgages reach $9.4B in Q2, highest level since before Great Recession in 2008, though delinquencies at much healthier rate (More)
> Facebook, Google and Amazon to testify in hearing next week on France’s proposed 3% digital services tax (More)
> Earnings Season: China e-commerce giant JD.com exceeds Wall Street earnings expectations, shares surge 13% (More)
Politics & World Affairs.
> Russia flip-flops on evacuating town nearest to radioactive missile explosion; accident thought to be related to secretive nuclear-powered cruise missile (More)
> Report says eight states to use paperless voting in 2020 elections despite security concerns (More) | ...and GOP launches innovation fund to match Democratic investment into election-oriented start-ups (More)
> Flights at Hong Kong International resume after protests turn violent on Tuesday; protesters leave leaflets apologizing to travelers (More)
Etcetera.
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The number of consumers cutting their cable cord is skyrocketing
15% of US pharmacies handled 50% of all opioid prescriptions (paywall, WashPo). 

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Some of the world's oldest people may not actually be that old
Starbucks' pumpkin spice latte arrives earlier than ever
Fortnite champion gets "swatted" while livestreaming (it's worse than it sounds). 
Comedian Bill Hader shows how disturbing deepfake videos can be
Bystanders in Australia stop stabbing suspect with chair and milk crate.  
Scientists make moonshine from Chernobyl rye
Clickbait: FDA officially warns people to not drink bleach
Historybook: HBD Steve Martin (1945); HBD Magic Johnson (1959); HBD Halle Berry (1966); Blackout in US, Canada affects 53 million (2003, see photos); US embassy in Cuba opens for 1st time in 54 years (2015).
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- Earvin "Magic" Johnson
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