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The Amazon rainforest is one of the most important natural ecosystems in the world and it’s on fire.

The forest’s biodiversity is unmatched and its positive impact on global oxygen levels is significant making it devastating that the city of Sao Paulo has been darkened by a cloud of smoke coming from the burning Amazon rainforest. Strong winds brought the smoke from the forest over 1,600 miles away. The state of Amazonas declared an emergence earlier this month because of the forest fire and NASA images show smoke covering large parts of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay.

The event inspired Brazilians to go to social media to protest the destruction of the Amazon.

Sao Paulo resident, Gianvitor Dias, told BBC that it seemed as though the day had been turned into night.  Another particularly popular Twitter post was by William Barros, who pointed out how Brazil had celebrated its natural abundance at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic opening ceremony only to continue to destroy the country’s most valuable natural resource.  So far the post gathered 17,000 likes as it encouraged people to pray for the rainforest.

Many of the most popular tweets criticized Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) said that the Amazon has increasingly suffered losses since Jair Bolsonaro took office last January. In response, President Bolsonaro claimed that the data did not relate to reality and went on to accuse the Institute of smearing Brazil. If the forest fire does not inspire action to save the Amazon, major negative impacts on the climate will result.

The summer is coming to an end soon. For film, this summer has seen many big box office hits despite an overall industry decline compared to last summer. Disney in particular was a winner with successes including The Lion King, Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, Aladdin and Toy Story 4.

Here’s a quick list of box office winners and losers from summer 2019.

1. Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame took in a record breaking $357.1 million on its domestic opening.  In total, worldwide revenue reached $2.8 billion, the all-time box-office record without adjusting for inflation.

2. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum took away $320 million worldwide.

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood already brought in $180 million worldwide in first couple weeks.

4. Dark Phoenix

Dark Phoenix has only taken in $66 million domestically. Disney’s CEO said the film was the primary cause for Fox’s operational loss last quarter.

5. Men in Black: International

Men in Black: International earned only $ 79.5 million domestically and received bad reviews from Rotten Tomatoes.

6. Shaft

Shaft took in a mere $21 million.

The Roku Channel is a two-year-old streaming service with 30.5 million users is offering a new Kids and Family portal, which is going live the week of August 19th.

Rob Holmes, VP of programming and engagement for Roku said, “We recognize that it can be a challenge to find quality kids and family entertainment across multiple streaming channels, particularly free, ad-supported options.”

With that in mind, Roku has bundled 7,000 free, ad-supported movies and TV episodes and they promise the ad intrusions will be 60% less than on standard TV.  Participating programmers include: Hasbro Company, DHX Media, Happy Kids TV, Lionsgate, Mattel, Moonbug and pocket.watch, among others. Brands include: Care Bears, The Cat in the Hat, Leapfrog, Little Baby Bum, My Little Pony, Rev & Roll, Super Mario Brothers and Thomas and Friends.  Premium channel viewers will see even more options.

Roku’s new family friendly portal includes a PIN-based system for parents to monitor the content their children watch. The free-to-consumer, ad-supported content is the advantage Roku brings to the market against some fierce completion from the paid offerings of Netflix and Disney+.

Sony Pictures and Disney had a deal which gave Marvel Cinematic Universe legal rights to make Spider-Man movies. Talks between the two companies to renew the deal have recently collapsed.  In a plot worthy of the films themselves, Spider-Man is now set to leave the Marvel Universe.

Disney, the owner of Marvel Studios, had demanded a 50/50 funding and profit split with Sony.  Sony declined causing Disney to remove Marvel as producer of future films. A Sony spokesperson expressed disappointment over Disney’s decision while saying that Sony would continue producing Spider-Man movies without Marvel. Sony is already working on Spider-Man spin offs including Tom Hardy’s Venom and Morbius. A sequel to the animated Spider-Man film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, is also being produced.  We’ll have to see of these back office battles effect the on-screen results.

One of the most important parenting responsibilities is to help kids develop the skills needed to grow into happy, healthy adults. Social skills, teamwork and good communication skills, needed for success in adult life, all can be learned through group games. Here’s a quick list of traditional, group games that will help your kids to learn social skills:

Blind Man’s Bluff is an old-time game in which children are tagged as “it.” The “it” child is blindfolded and must wander around trying to tag other kids in order to make them the new “it.”

Capture the Flag is a game where kids are divided into two teams.  Each team tries to capture a flag on the other team’s side of the field. The kids must run into enemy territory and take the flag without being tagged by the other team.

Kick the Can is a variation of games such as tag or hide & seek. In this game, the “it” tags people in order to capture them while the un-captured players attempt to kick a can in order to release the captured players; the game ends when all non-“it” players are captured.

Balancing Act is a game where kids place a bean bag, a pencil, an eraser or a similar object on their heads. When the music starts the game begins, the kids try to walk around without the objects falling off their heads; if an object falls, then they are frozen. They can be unfrozen if another child puts the object back on their head.

If money equals success, our friends at Apple are going for it.  The Financial Times reports that the company is increasing its budget for content from $1 billion – which sounds a lot like Netflix’s reported budget for this year – to $5 billion.  With that bankroll they’ll assure themselves of a competitive position against Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Hulu and Disney +.

One particular Apple program, The Morning Show, is reportedly budgeted at $300 million for just the first two seasons, which makes it more expensive than HBO’s Games of Thrones that is estimated to have cost a mere $15 million a season.  The math says one season of The Morning Show will cost more than the entire run of Thrones. Nuts.

Apple is throwing big money and a-list talent into its efforts to establish a dominant position in the streaming industry. Jennifer Anniston, Steve Carell and Reese Witherspoon lead in The Morning Show cast while producing talent like Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg are also contributing content. An interesting side story that comes out of all this content expansion is the need for lots of talent, both back stage and in front of the camera.  There will be fewer starving actors in the future.

            For many years artificial intelligence wasn’t producing many breakthroughs. However, in recent times AI has finally produced major success stories. AI has already changed the world and its impact won’t slow down anytime soon. AI is set to dramatically transform the global economy and to disrupt lifestyles around the world. Here’s a short list of ten major changes that are expected to come soon because of the AI revolution.

1. Increased Economic Productivity

AI machines are better at certain skills than humans and can get certain tasks done faster. This means that the productivity of labor, business and entire countries is expected to increase with the AI revolution. Given the slow growth rates of major countries in recent years, this is good news.

2. Increased Unemployment and Declining Pay

Because AI is set to automate certain skills, companies are expected to increasingly automate many positions leaving many workers with less work, less pay or even full unemployment.

3. More Time for what Humans are Good At

AI is expected to give humans more time for what we are good at; social leadership and creative skills are not expected to be automated. AI should free up our time for these types of skills.

4. Higher Levels of Inequality

There are significant gaps between different nations, companies and industries when it comes to AI readiness. Companies are expected to make a lot more money while hiring and paying workers less. All of these factors are expected to increase economic inequality between individuals and between countries.

5. Increased Predictive Maintenance

AI is good at making predictions. This means that tasks like medical diagnostics will increasingly be done by AI, while doctors will have more time for human interactions with patients.

6. Increased AI Related Jobs

More jobs than ever before will be using AI. For many occupations, only certain tasks will be automated. So, if you’re trying to prepare for the coming years of career life, you should start working together with AI.

7. More Partially Automated Occupations

According to Mckinsey & Co. research, about 30 percent of activities in 60 percent of all occupations could be automated; in contrast, in 5 percent of occupations nearly all activities are automatable. This means that working hours might be fewer with remaining hours being spent collaborating with AI.

8. Increased Security 

AI drones will increasingly help us deal with emergency situations by delivering care packages or emergency responses to those in need.

9. Better Healthcare

AI is already better than human doctors at diagnosing certain illnesses; this means that AI should set up humanity for a healthier future.

10. Routine Jobs and Data Maximization Jobs are expected to be Automated

AI is good at routine tasks with stable and predictable environments. It is also good at using data for maximizing results. Jobs involving these tasks are expected to be automated soon.

            Last January China landed the first ever robotics mission to the far side of the moon. China’s Chang’e-4 mission has done eight full days of science work in this new territory. Days and nights last roughly two weeks and the nights are deadly cold. Despite difficult conditions the rover finished up its seventh workday on July 9th. The two robots took a two-week nap which started July 26th and ended on August 7th. After the workday of August 7th eight workdays had gone by. By then the rover had travelled a total of 890 feet. The far side of the moon has major differences from the side that we typically see and this mission is hoping to uncover reasons behind those differences. Beautiful photos of this new world have emerged from this inspiring trip. This mission has historical significance because it is the first time that China has done something not yet attempted by other space powers. China wishes to become a leading space power like the United States and Russia. Now China has a space exploration accomplishment that no other country can claim for themselves. China is also beginning to build a new space station in 2020 with the goal of it being operational in 2022.
Companies such as Comcast, Warner Media and Walt Disney are trying to compete with Netflix in their video streaming services. In order to do this, they are looking at the rights to use Seinfeld, a hugely famous retired comedy show which is has its streaming rights up for sale again. Seinfeld  has been available for streaming on Hulu since 2015. Retired shows with well-established fame are heavily competed over between streaming companies; these shows include not only Seinfeld, but also the Office and Friends. Netflix has given much trouble to the traditional TV industry by offering a streaming alternative to the traditional method of distribution. Hulu’s ownership of streaming rights to Seinfeld ends in 2021. Sony Pictures Television handles the distribution of streaming rights to Seinfeld. The company is already getting calls about these rights. The bidding process for the Seinfeld streaming rights is expected to begin in the next few weeks. Netflix has already been beat by competition for streaming rights for the Office and Friends. NBCUniversal bought streaming rights for the Office for the next five years for $500 million. Warner Media paid $425 million for five years of streaming rights over Friends. The future will show how much profit these streaming rights will generate for these massive companies.

In the first half of 2019 Amazon doubled its digital ad spending relative to its 2018 spending levels. Amazon also increased TV spending by 28% for Amazon Prime Video. Amazon Prime Video launched 13 new campaigns for original shows in the first half of 2019. Many other companies in the world of big media are making similar investments. Disney and Apple are planning to launch separate streaming services in the fall.

One of Amazon’s big advantages is its more than 100 million Amazon Prime members in the United States. Netflix’s subscriptions in the US fell from 60.2 million in the first quarter to 60.1 million in the second quarter. This might mean that Amazon has space to catch up to its competition.