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Italy aims to delay release of Italian films on Netflix to protect its cinema industry (AFP/File / Lionel BONAVENTURE)

Italy is to introduce an obligatory delay between Italian films screening in cinemas and being shown on streaming services like Netflix, in a bid to protect its domestic film industry.

The law comes after the thorny issue reared its head at this year's Venice Film Festival, where several films came from US streaming giants Netflix or Amazon, including the festival's Golden Lion winner "Roma".

Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron's movie was the first by Netflix to win a major festival prize. Thanks to its festival success, it will start being released in theatres around the world on November 21 and then on Netflix on December 14.

In contrast, France's Cannes Film Festival opted only to accept films with a guaranteed cinema release, in a bid to protect theatres.

French law says there must be a 36-month interval between when a film is shown in theatres and when it can be shown by a streaming or Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) service.

The result is that streaming producers have to wait 36-months before being able to show their films on their own platform, if they also show them in cinemas.

As a result, the Venice festival drew several famous directors with made-for-streaming products, including the Coen brothers, Paul Greengrass and Cuaron, who could not compete at Cannes, drawing ire from many in Italy's film industry.

They slammed what they saw as an attack on film theatres, saying that any festival winner should be available to a broader public than just Netflix subscribers.

Italy's film industry appealed to Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli to rule on the matter and introduce a law stipulating a "statutory window" between cinema and streaming release.

France's 36-month stipulation is the strictest in the world, with most other countries deciding for themselves, or allowing studios, producers and broadcasters to negotiate on a case-by-case basis.
The US assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (pictured October 2018) was behind the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi directly contradicts the conclusions of a Saudi prosecutor, which exonerated the prince of involvement (AFP/File / FAYEZ NURELDINE)

The US Central Intelligence Agency has concluded Saudi's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, US media reported Friday, citing people close to the matter.

The US assessment directly contradicts the conclusions of a Saudi prosecutor one day prior, which exonerated the prince of involvement in the brutal murder.

But The Washington Post, which broke the story, said the CIA found that 15 Saudi agents flew on government aircraft to Istanbul and assassinated Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate.

Queried by AFP, the CIA declined to comment.

Khashoggi, a Post columnist, had gone to the consulate to obtain documents necessary to marry his Turkish fiancee.

Saudi Arabia -- which quickly dismissed the reported CIA findings -- has repeatedly changed its official narrative of the October 2 murder, first denying any knowledge of Khashoggi's whereabouts and later saying he was killed when an argument degenerated into a fistfight.

In the latest version presented by the Saudi prosecutor on Thursday, a 15-member squad was formed to bring Khashoggi back from Istanbul "by means of persuasion" -- but instead ended up killing the journalist and dismembering his body in a "rogue" operation.

The CIA scrubbed multiple intelligence sources, the Post said, among them a phone call between the prince's brother -- the Saudi ambassador to the United States -- and Khashoggi.

The ambassador reportedly told the late journalist that he would be safe to go to the consulate in Istanbul and get the papers he needed.

- 'Some things you can't do' -

But a Saudi embassy spokesperson said that Ambassador Khalid bin Salman had never discussed "anything related to going to Turkey" with Khashoggi.

"Amb Prince Khalid bin Salman has never had any phone conversations with (Khashoggi)," the statement posted on the ambassador's Twitter account said.

"The claims in this purported assessment is false," it said.

Meanwhile, the US intelligence agency also said in determining the crown prince's role it considered him a "de facto ruler" in Saudi Arabia: "The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved," the Post quoted an official as saying.

That official dubbed Prince Mohammed a "good technocrat" -- but also someone unpredictable who "goes from zero to 60, doesn't seem to understand that there are some things you can't do."

The New York Times later reported that the CIA findings were also based on calls from the kill team to one of the crown prince's senior aides.

But the paper said that while the intercepts showed Prince Mohammed was working to lure Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, the crown prince had not said in the calls that he wanted Khashoggi killed.

The NYT cited officials as saying US and Turkish intelligence as of yet has not found direct evidence connecting the prince to Khashoggi's killing.

The CIA conclusions nevertheless threaten to further fray relations between Washington and key ally Riyadh, which has sought to end discussion of the murder and rejected calls for an international investigation.

On Thursday, the US Treasury slapped sanctions on 17 people, including close aides of Prince Mohammed, suggesting a coordinated effort between Riyadh and Washington to pre-empt the threat of harsher actions from an outraged US Congress.

US President Donald Trump has shied from directly blaming the Crown Prince but on Friday agreed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that "any cover up of the incident should not be allowed."

Photo: Zero Hedge

Shares of JPMorgan Chase rose in after-hours trading Wednesday after Berkshire Hathaway founder Warren Buffett disclosed a $4 billion stake in the bank.

Buffett’s firm purchased more than 35 million shares of JPMorgan in the third quarter, Berkshire Hathaway disclosed in a 13-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing detailed Berkshire’s holdings through Sept. 30.

JPMorgan shares are little changed this year.

Berkshire Hathaway is heavily invested in U.S. banks. The company’s stake in Bank of America ranks as its second-largest holding and grew by 29 percent in the third quarter. Berkshire also holds stakes in Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, U.S. Bancorp and Bank of New York Mellon.
A longtime admirer of JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Buffett admitted last March that he felt he had made a “mistake” by never investing in the bank in the past.

“We have had a pretty heavy weighting in banks right along. But I should have bought JPMorgan,” Buffett told Yahoo Finance. “I wish we bought a lot more. I made a mistake.”

Buffett is also teaming up with Dimon and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on a new healthcare venture that aims to increase transparency and cut costs for their employees. Berkshire Hathaway, which earned nearly $45 billion in net profit in fiscal 2017, also disclosed new stakes in Oracle and Travelers.

By Fox Business
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May said cabinet approval of a draft Brexit agreement was a 'collective decision' (AFP / Ben STANSALL)

British Prime Minister Theresa May won the support of her bitterly divided cabinet on Wednesday for a draft divorce deal with the European Union that has put both Brexit and her leadership at stake.

May emerged from a five-hour meeting with ministers that had sent the value of the pound gyrating to announce she had the government's "collective" backing to move ahead with the plan.

"The collective decision of cabinet was that the government should agree the draft withdrawal agreement and the outline political declaration," May said outside her Downing Street office.

A spokesman said the meeting ended without any explicit threats of resignation and everyone unwinding with a glass of wine and some snacks.

But the embattled leader conceded that she could face even stronger resistance when she takes the 585-page text to parliament for approval next month.

Rumours of ministers quitting and a plot by eurosceptic MPs in May's own party to unseat her saw the pound plunge one percent in a wild hour of trading that ended with the currency on the upswing.

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the divorce was making "decisive progress" that still required "lots and lots of work".

The blueprint agreed on Tuesday capped a year and a half of politically fraught negotiations aimed at unwinding nearly 46 years of British EU membership.

- Deal, no deal or no Brexit -

Its announcement saw May come under attack from both those backing a cleaner break with Europe and those dreading a future in which Britain strikes out on its own.

May's government is split between the two camps -- as is parliament and much of the country.

The premier said she engaged in an "impassioned debate" with her ministers -- and that there "will be difficult days ahead".

But she added: "The choice before us is clear.

"This deal, which delivers on the vote of the (2016) referendum, which brings back control of our money, laws and borders, ends free movement, protects jobs, security and our union -- or leave with no deal, or no Brexit at all."

May did not explain how Brexit might still not happen on March 29 -- a possibility rooted on passionately by many of those who lost the 2016 vote by a 52-48 margin. Read More...

An angry Donald Trump removed a senior advisor Wednesday after First Lady Melania Trump demanded her sacking, with more heads set to roll in a White House reshuffle triggered by infighting and setbacks in the midterm elections.

Melania Trump made the extremely rare demand for deputy national security advisor Mira Ricardel to be fired on Tuesday, saying "she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House."

The protocol-busting move followed a falling out that press leaks say was partly linked to a dispute over seating arrangements on the plane that took the first lady for a tour of African countries in October. Ricardel was also reportedly blamed for negative news coverage of Melania Trump.

The first lady got her way Wednesday when presidential spokeswoman Sarah Sanders announced that Ricardel "departs the White House to transition to a new role within the Administration."

The start to the second half of Donald Trump's first term is enveloped in gloom as the president surveys the damage from the midterms, tension with some of America's closest allies, and now turmoil inside the administration.

On Wednesday, he was quoted by right-wing website The Daily Caller saying that a wider reshuffle is coming.

"A lot of people want to come in, a lot of politicians who have had very successful careers want to come in," he said.

- 'Adult in the room' -

The biggest name on the chopping block, according to multiple US media reports, is chief of staff John Kelly.

A retired Marine Corps general, he has often been referred to as "the adult in the room" during Trump's drama-prone administration, even if critics say he has done little to temper the president's most damaging outbursts.

Now Kelly's days are numbered, according to the unconfirmed but mounting leaks to US media.

His position, tenuous for months, has been undermined further by reports that he also clashed with Melania Trump -- a relatively backstage first lady who has rarely made her influence so obviously felt as this week.

Melania Trump was angry that Kelly had refused to promote some of her aides, reports say.

Nick Ayers, a 36-year-old chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence and renowned political consultant, is reportedly high on the list to replace Kelly.

Another expected reshuffle casualty is Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, a Kelly ally who oversees the politically sensitive task of carrying out Trump's crackdown on illegal immigration.

Trump told The Daily Caller he'll make "a decision on homeland shortly."

Among Nielsen's critics has been National Security Adviser John Bolton, who last month was widely reported to have erupted in a shouting match with Kelly right outside the Oval Office over her performance.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has headed the CDU for 18 years (AFP / Tobias SCHWARZ)

Germany's Angela Merkel will not run for re-election as leader of her centre-right CDU, sources said Monday, in the clearest sign yet that the veteran chancellor is preparing her eventual exit after voters again punished her fragile coalition in a regional poll.

However, German media reported that Merkel had told a meeting of top brass in the Christian Democratic Union that she did intend to stay on as chancellor, a mandate set to run until 2021.

Merkel, who has headed the CDU for 18 years, had until now always indicated that she believed the posts of party leader and chancellor should be held by the same person.

"She will not stand again for the chairmanship of her party," a source within the Christian Democratic Union told AFP.

Merkel had been widely expected to be reelected as CDU chief at a party congress in December.

She is due to give a press conference at 1:00 pm (1200 GMT).

The surprise news comes a day after the CDU and its junior federal coalition partner the Social Democrats (SPD) suffered heavy losses in an election in the state of Hesse, just two weeks after a similar drubbing in Bavaria.

Both polls have been seen as damning verdicts on the right-left "grand coalition" in Berlin which has lurched from crisis to crisis, often over the hot-button issue of migration.

- 'Mistake' to cling to power -

With her authority badly weakened by last September's inconclusive general election and ongoing squabbles in her unhappy coalition, the chancellor has faced mounting calls to prepare Germany for the post-Merkel era.

Die Welt reporter Robin Alexander said the path could now be clear for Merkel's chosen heir, CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, to take the reins if no other credible candidate emerges by December.

"The two women have taken back the momentum, because none of their opponents were ready for this," he tweeted.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said on Sunday it would be "a mistake" for Merkel to cling to power.

"By passing the baton of her own free will she would show that she knows the same thing everyone knows: the end of her chancellorship is approaching."

German media reported that Merkel had told her party's top brass that she did intend to stay on as chancellor, a mandate set to run until 2021 (AFP/File / Jean-Christophe VERHAEGEN)

Merkel's 13 years as chancellor have piled up baggage from repeated compromise-laden "grand coalitions" with the SPD, as well as a fateful 2015 decision to keep Germany's borders open, ultimately allowing in more than one million migrants.

The mass arrivals are credited with fuelling the rise of the far-right, but Merkel has resisted calls to steer the CDU further rightward in response.

Railing against the newcomers, the far-right anti-immigrant AfD is now the biggest opposition party in the Bundestag, and has seats in all of Germany's state parliaments.

AfD leader Joerg Meuthen hailed news of Merkel's eventual exit as "good news" and said he expected her to also "give up her chancellorship soon".

- Coalition hammered -

No party has haemorrhaged more support in recent years than the SPD, which has wilted as the junior partner governing in Merkel's shadow.

Preliminary final results showed both of the formerly dominant parties being hit with losses of around 11 percentage points in Hesse, western Germany, compared with the last election in 2013, although the CDU still claimed first place with 27 percent of the vote.

The SPD plunged to its worst result in decades to tie for second place with the up-and-coming ecologist Greens, each at 19.8 percent.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) meanwhile took 13.1 percent to enter the Hesse state legislature for the first time.

That result would allow the current state government of the CDU and Greens to continue, albeit with a thinner majority.

- SPD ultimatum -

SPD chief Andrea Nahles said on Monday her centre-left party, Germany's oldest, had failed "to break free from the government" and stand out in its right.

She said the SPD would now propose a "discussion paper" in Berlin demanding concrete progress on key issues over the next year, including pension rights and better childcare, before deciding whether to remain in the coalition.

The unstable government almost collapsed twice over the summer, notably when Merkel restrained hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer's attempts to toughen up migrant policy.

Increasing numbers of SPD members have been calling for the party to quit government and lick its wounds in opposition, as it is presently polling below AfD nationwide, at 15 percent to the far-right's 16 percent.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been leader of the CDU for 18 years (dpa/AFP/File / Bernd von Jutrczenka)

Chancellor Angela Merkel will not stand again as leader of her centre-right CDU, a party source told AFP Monday, a clear sign that the German leader is preparing for her eventual succession after a series of regional vote defeats.

National news agency DPA said she planned to remain chancellor even as she gives up the top party job.

"She will not stand again for the chairmanship of her party" when it meets at a congress in December to elect a new leader, said the source within the Christian Democratic Union.

Merkel has chaired the CDU for 18 years and has until now insisted that the presidency of the party went hand in hand with the chancellorship post.

In power as chancellor for 13 years, Merkel has become greatly weakened since last year's general election, when voters handed her an inconclusive result that forced her to form an uneasy coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats.

Over the last two weeks, voters in the states of Hesse and Bavaria also punished her party and coalition allies CSU and SPD in two separate regional elections.

Merkel is due to hold a press conference at 1 pm (12 GMT).

Steve Pearce smashes the second of two home runs as the Boston Red Sox dominate the Los Angeles Dodgers to clinch the World Series (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / Sean M. Haffey)

Steve Pearce smashed two home runs as the Boston Red Sox romped to their ninth World Series crown on Sunday, pounding the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 with a ruthless display of hitting to clinch the Major League Baseball championship with two games to spare.

Pearce's double-blast sandwiched home runs from Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez to seal a 4-1 victory in the best-of-seven match-up as the Dodgers' quest for a first World Series title since 1988 ended in disappointment.

"This has been a lifelong journey," said Pearce, who was later named Series MVP. "To be here right now is a dream come true."

The 35-year-old Pearce, who supported the Red Sox as a boy, only joined the club in June after an 11-year career in the Majors.

"Best feeling in my life," he said. "This is what you grow up wishing that you could be a part of something like this."

Red Sox pitcher David Price claimed the win with a sublime pitching performance, notching five strikeouts in seven masterful innings for one run and just three hits conceded.

It was another ice-cold display from Price, who had also shut down the Dodgers' expensively-assembled batting line-up in game two of the series at Fenway Park on Wednesday.

But it was yet another bitter postseason outing for Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who once again failed to deliver on the big occasion with the Dodgers needing a victory to take the series to a game six in Boston.

The 30-year-old Texan lefty, who had also given up five runs in a mauling by the Red Sox offense in game one, is widely regarded as the greatest pitcher of his generation.

But his dream of crowning a decade of regular season dominance with a World Series ring looks more remote than ever after a brutal pummeling in what could turn out to be his final outing with the Dodgers if he opts out of the remaining two years on his contract.

The Dodgers were left to watch a visiting team celebrate a World Series at Dodger Stadium for a second year running following the Houston Astros' victory in game seven of the Fall Classic last season.

"There's only one team that can win and we know that, but it just hurts worse when you make it all the way and get second place," Kershaw said.  Read More...