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Kids’ safety on the internet is something about which that all parents should be concerned.  A recent survey by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education shows disturbing results about the way kids are using the internet. Many kids don’t understand safe from unsafe digital behavior, which should alarm parents. The Center’s surveyed of 4th to 8th graders discovered that 40 percent of them had used the internet to connect with strangers and that over 50 percent had given their phone number to strangers. Twenty-one percent of them admitted to speaking to a stranger on the phone while 30 percent of them had texted a stranger. Fifteen percent had met up with a stranger in person, 11 percent had visited a strangers’ house and 6 percent had given a stranger their address. Another disturbing pattern is that kids use the internet at all hours. Forty-nine percent claim to be online at 11pm and 33 percent claim to be online past midnight. Late nights and talking to strangers are not good activities for pre-teens and teens. Also, kids often know they are misbehaving: 29 percent admitted to using the internet in ways that their parents wouldn’t approve and a third of them admitted to lying about their age to access adult programs. Meeting bad people at all hours of the night is not the only internet usage risk to children. Self-esteem issues from cyber bullying and gossip is another major problem. Then there is tech addiction that prevents many young children from healthy levels of interaction with nature and friends – not to mention that late hours hamper school work. Given how ill-informed most children are about healthy internet safety standards, it’s important for parents to educate their kids about what’s proper. Further, children need parental controls to prevent them from making mistakes even after they’ve been schooled about healthy internet behavior.
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.
Everybody loves a horse race.  That’s why it’s fun when someone like Lil Naz X comes along and scores big against the best in the world, in his case, with a record breaking hit song, “Old Town Road.”  The Taylor Swift’s and the Ed Sheeran’s couldn’t beat him.  He held the number one position on the Billboard chart for 19 weeks, longer than any artist in history…longer than Mariah, Madonna or Beyonce…longer than all the one-names. Then 17 year old Billie Eilish challenged the 20 year old by hanging in the weeds with her “Bad Guy” hit. When the leader started to weaken, as he inevitably would, she struck and took away that first position. But which horse in this race has the longer tail?  “Bay Guy” is not likely to have the lasting power of “Old Town Road.”  Songs like “Old Town Road” come along infrequently.  But which artist will have the longer career?  That is the real question and the answer may not be the one that’s obvious at this time. Billie Eilish is only seventeen, but she has a four year career with a series of minor hits, all building to this moment. She’s proven she can write appealing songs consistently.  By contrast, Lil Naz X has had one explosive hit, which will be very hard for him to follow.  His second song “Panini” has gotten good exposure by drafting the monster hit, but it does not have the magic X was able to package in his breakthrough hit?  Just a guess, but in the long term horse race between these two, it feels like Ms. Eilish has a shot to cross the finish line more often.  It all depends on the next couple releases from Lil Naz X…will he fade or is he able to make another charge? Check back in ten years when this is resolved.
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. 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. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum took away $320 million worldwide. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood already brought in $180 million worldwide in first couple weeks. 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. Men in Black: International earned only $ 79.5 million domestically and received bad reviews from Rotten Tomatoes. 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+.
Somehow, the Josh Gordon saga continues. The New England Patriot’s wide receiver may have an opportunity to play in the NFL this season in spite of a career full of drug-related suspensions and mental health issues. The talented wideout was traded to the Patriots last year in a move that was viewed by many as his last chance in the NFL. The Patriot’s no nonsense approach was thought to be the only environment that could salvage his blemished career. While things were going well last year and he was clicking with future hall of famer Tom Brady on the field, another drug violation got him suspended for the final three games of the 2018 regular season and all of the playoffs – the umpteenth of his career. Returning to training camp over the weekend, fresh off his latest NFL suspension, the Patriots placed Gordon on the non-football injury list. He was seen on the practice field stretching and doing some light conditioning, but he declined all interview requests. Gordon burst onto the scene in 2013, catching 87 passes for a league high 1,646 yards, which put him in the Pro Bowl.  That happened even though he was suspended for the first two games of the season for a substance abuse violation. He was suspended next in 2015, ultimately missing the next two seasons while battling with mental health issues as well as drug problems. Barring a decision by the Patriots to release him, it seems Josh Gordon will have yet another go at life in the NFL this year. The Pats have supported Gordon throughout the process and his teammates are rooting for him to turn things around both on the field, and more importantly, off the field. Gordon could be a fantasy sleeper pick this year should he find his way back on the field. While his problems away from football have been significant, there is no denying his talent when he is suited up on Sundays.
Dallas Cowboys all-pro, running back Ezekiel ‘Zeke’ Elliot has been holding out all pre-season as he petitions for a new contract that will make him the highest paid running back in the league. Zeke has been one of the most productive backs in the NFL since he came into the league in 2016, though he’s had the advantage of playing behind Dallas’s star-studded offensive line. The Cowboys have made the playoffs in two of the last three seasons on the backs of that line, Zeke and quarterback Dak Prescott, who is also looking for a new deal. After the Cowboys second preseason game, owner Jerry Jones joked with the media, “Zeke Who,” in response to rookie running back Tony Pollard’s 42-yard performance, which was capped by a touchdown. The comment was an attempt at comedic relief relating to the tense contract negotiation that has been ongoing for the last month. Jones has no intention of letting Zeke go and views Pollard as a great backup option behind Zeke. Elliot has 2 years left on his rookie deal and is set to make a base salary this upcoming season of $3.9 million. Technically, he can be fined 40K per day for every day of training camp he has missed thus far, but that will go away when a deal is finally done. Reports were released that Zeke was not happy about Jones’s joke, although Jason Witten, who recently returned to the Cowboys after a year in the ESPN booth, denies that Zeke took any offense, saying, “I thought it was a beautiful comment. Like everybody, I hope this gets resolved and Zeke is in there sooner rather than later.”  He added, “No, [the joke] wouldn’t bother me. It didn’t bother Zeke either.  Trust me, there’s nobody who loves Ezekiel Elliott more than Jerry Jones does. I wouldn’t have taken it that way and I’m sure Zeke didn’t either.” There is no doubt signing Zeke to an extension is a priority for the Cowboys who are the wealthiest franchise in the NFL and have no shortage of cash. They also have made it a priority to extend current quarterback Dak Prescott who has progressed over his first three seasons in the NFL since winning offensive rookie-of-the-year over Zeke in 2016. When this will all get done, nobody outside of the Cowboys organization really knows, but one would think it’s inevitable given the level of importance Elliot has for the team. Fantasy owners and Cowboy fans alike have suffered some major headaches throughout August as this situation has unfolded, but we have little doubt Zeke will suit up against the Giants in Arlington, Texas when the Cowboys open their season on September 8th.
2019 has been a big year for Disney; releasing and announcing numerous movie and TV series remakes, the impending release of Disney+ as well as the company’s theme parks having a great year. With the good comes the bad and Disney is now dealing with some harsh accusations from a former company accountant. In a recent statement, a former senior financial analyst for Disney, Sandra Kuba, said that employees in the parks division overstated revenue by as much as $6 billion in the years 2008-2009.  Kuba had worked for Disney for over 18 years. She claimed that employees would double count sales from gift cards, once when purchased and once when used.  At times they would even count them as a sale when a complimentary gift card was given to customers who had a complaint about their experience. Whether the errors were done due to negligence or done intentionally these are serious claims that Disney is denying as it performs its internal due diligence.  Disney stock dropped modestly after the statements were made public, but nothing that would send stockholders into a frenzy.  There may be serious sanctions by the Securities and Exchange Commission on the unlikely chance that these irregularities were an attempt at stock manipulation.
Clario freaked out when super-star Khalid shocked her for her 21st birthday. He showed up at her dressing room with Elmo, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie for a surprise Sesame Street birthday party. When she first walked in the room, the surprise put her on the floor. But it was hugs all around once she got to her feet.  She posted a tweet about Khalid’s surprise visit and he party continued as they all performed with her afterwards. The young star has had an exciting 2019, she released her first album this month and now the Khalid surprise.
What was once a mere summer fling has turned into an all out love affair between Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabella. The duo recently released a behind the scenes view of them making of the music video for their chart-topping hit “Senorita.” It’s just clips of the two doing scenes from the production without commentary, but some of the scenes capture hot and steamy moments on the set. This is at the time they were claiming to be just friends. It’s now apparent the connection was far more than just a friendship or a summer fling…or they were really good actors. While Shawn continues to tour, we expect this relationship to continue to strengthen rapidly. Check out the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=ahiXR3ZmraA