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    Netflix's video streaming service suffered a dramatic slowdown in growth during its traditionally sluggish spring season, a drop-off coming as the company boosts its prices and girds for even stiffer competition. The service picked up 2.7 million worldwide subscribers for the April-June period. That's far below Netflix's forecast of 5 million subscribers. The second-quarter letdown announced Wednesday comes after Netflix attracted nearly 10 million subscribers during the first three months of the year , more than any other quarter since the debut of its video streaming service 12 years ago. The slowdown rattled investors already wondering how Netflix might fare against a new wave of competition coming this fall when both Walt Disney Co. and Apple plan to launch their own video streaming services. After the second-quarter numbers came out, Netflix's stock plunged 12% in extending trading. If that sell-off is replicated in Thursday's regular trading session, it will be the largest decline in Netflix's stock price in three years and wipe out $18 billion in shareholder wealth. Netflix ended June with 151.6 million worldwide subscribers, far more than a current crop of video streaming rivals that includes as Amazon and Hulu. Signaling it expects to regain some momentum this summer, the company projected it will add 7 million subscribers from July through September. The optimism stems in part from the immense popularity of 'Stranger Things,' whose third season attracted record viewership after its July 4 release. But the battle for viewers' attention and dollars is about to get much tougher. Besides the Disney and Apple, AT&T will also join the fray next year with HBO Max and NBC is expanding into video streaming, too. 'I think our position is excellent,' Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said during a Wednesday webcast. 'We're building amazing capacity for content. Our product has never been in better shape.' Netflix traced the second-quarter's slow subscriber growth primarily to a recent round of prices increase, including hikes of 13% to 18% in its biggest market, in the U.S. That pushed the price of its most popular U.S. plan to $13 per month, testing the bounds of how much some consumers are willing to pay for a service that started out at $8 per month for the same level of service. Disney is already planning to undercut Netflix by charging just $7 per month for its new service . Some U.S. households decided Netflix is no longer worth it at the higher price, causing the company to end June with 120,000 fewer subscribers in the country than it had at the end of March. Hastings brushed off the disappointing second quarter as an aberration and predicted Netflix's subscriber growth this year will surpass the 28.6 million customers who were added last year. But the increasingly crowded video streaming field has led to questions whether Netflix will be able to maintain the rapid rate of subscriber growth that has made its stock as one of Wall Street's premier performers during the past decade. A $10,000 investment in Netflix at the end of 2009 would have been worth $460,000 at the end of Wednesday's regular trading session. Netflix also needs more customers to help cover the costs of all the exclusive TV series and movies that it keeps adding to its line-up to stand out for the rest of the crowd. The Los Gatos, California, company so far has been borrowing heavily to finance a highly acclaimed slate of programming that garnered 117 Emmy nominations, second only to HBO's 137 nominations among all networks. Selling ads would help Netflix bring in more revenue, but the company's management on Wednesday reiterated the service will continue to remain commercial free. For now, Netflix is still burning through more cash than it is bringing in. In the second quarter, it registered a negative cash flow of $594 million and expects to accumulate a negative cash flow of $3.5 billion for the entire year. Part of that outgoing money will go toward the development of more original shows to replace some of the programming that it has been licensing from Disney, AT&T and NBC, all of which are reclaiming the rights for their own streaming services. The losses include 'Friends' and 'The Office,' long-defunct series that still remain among the most-watched shows on Netflix. But Netflix still posts profits due to the way entertainment companies are allowed to account for their programming costs. In the most recent quarter, Netflix earned nearly $271 million, a 30% drop from the same time last year. Revenue climbed 26% from last year to $4.9 billion.
  • The top Senate Democrat is calling on the FBI to review a Russian company's trendy smartphone app that transforms faces from photos into younger and older images of the person, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press. Senator Chuck Schumer says in the letter Wednesday to the FBI and Federal Trade Commission that he's concerned FaceApp could pose 'national security and privacy risks for millions of U.S. citizens.' The New York Democrat is asking the agencies to assess the situation. He says it would be 'deeply troubling' if sensitive personal information was provided 'to a hostile foreign power actively engaged in cyber hostilities against the United States.' Many popular apps collect user data, but concerns have circulated about FaceApp, which is developed in Russia by Wireless Lab.
  • The U.S. is tightly limiting travel by Iranian officials visiting or assigned to the United Nations, sparking concern from the world body. Representatives to the U.N. from Iran and some other countries have long had some limitations on their movements. But the new rules for Iranians — imposed as its foreign minister was preparing to arrive for U.N. meetings this week — are particularly strict. Visiting officials, Iranian diplomats posted at the country's U.N. mission and their families now can travel only among Kennedy airport and three places in Manhattan: the mission, the Iranian ambassador's residence and a six-block radius that includes the U.N. headquarters, according to a diplomatic note sent Saturday to Iranian officials and seen by The Associated Press. The diplomats can seek waivers for housing or hotels, but it is not known whether waivers would be granted or whether they could apply to doctors' appointments, children's schooling or other activities. The new rules come amid rising tensions between two longtime adversaries. It's not immediately clear whether the limitations are the tightest the U.S. has ever imposed, but they are far more restrictive than a previous policy that let Iranian representatives to the U.N. travel within a 25-mile radius of Columbus Circle in midtown Manhattan. 'It is certainly not a friendly action,' Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters Wednesday at the U.N. He said that while he personally didn't need to go beyond the permitted places, the restrictions created 'basically inhuman conditions' for the mission's diplomats and their families. U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the organization had raised concerns about the limitations with the U.S. and Iranian missions. 'We'll continue to take up the matter as needed,' he said. The U.S. State Department said the restrictions are 'fully consistent with our obligations' as the U.N.'s host country. 'The U.S. intends to stick to its obligations,' the department said Wednesday. Tehran and Washington severed diplomatic ties after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and the hostage crisis that ensued when militant students stormed the U.S. Embassy. Friction has flared anew after U.S. President Donald Trump last year pulled the U.S. out of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers — a pact he called one-sided — and reimposed sanctions on Tehran's oil exports. The sanctions have exacerbated an economic crisis that has sent Iran's currency plummeting. Iran recently began surpassing limits on the amount and purity of uranium it is allowed to stockpile under the nuclear agreement. Tehran has said the moves can be reversed if the deal's other participants come up with economic incentives that effectively offset the American sanctions. The U.S. has sent thousands of troops, an aircraft carrier, nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and advanced fighter jets to the Middle East, and fears are growing of a wider conflict after mysterious attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz blamed on Iran, attacks by Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen on Saudi Arabia and Iran's downing of a U.S. military drone. The U.S. also imposes various travel restrictions on U.N. diplomats from China, Cuba, North Korea, Russia and Syria. The list has varied over the years, and countries have periodically chafed at the limitations. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told The Washington Post on Sunday that it is 'absolutely appropriate' that Iran's foreign minister have the travel rights due under a longstanding U.S. agreement with the United Nations, but 'nothing more than that.' 'U.S. diplomats don't roam around Tehran, so we don't see any reason for Iranian diplomats to roam freely around New York City, either,' he said. ___ AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.
  • A combative President Donald Trump rallied Republican supporters Wednesday in North Carolina, harshly criticizing four fiery, left-wing congresswoman of being un-American and claiming they are the face of the Democratic Party that will ruin the country. 'I think in some cases they hate our country,' Trump said to the crowd in North Carolina, a swing state he won in 2016 and wants to win again next year. Trump's jabs were aimed at the four freshman Democrats, self-described as 'the squad,' who have garnered attention since their arrival in January for their outspoken liberal views and distaste for Trump: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. All were born in the U.S. except for Omar, who came to the U.S. as a child after fleeing Somalia with her family. Trump recently tweeted that the Democratic congresswomen of color should 'go back' to their home countries — though three were born in the United States. Trump has accused the four of 'spewing some of the most vile, hateful and disgusting things ever said by a politician' and has told them, 'If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!' When he named them at Wednesday's rally, the crowd booed and launched into chants of 'Send her back!' Before he left Washington, Trump said he has no regrets about his ongoing spat with the four. Trump told reporters he thinks he's 'winning the political argument' and 'winning it by a lot.' 'If people want to leave our country, they can. If they don't want to love our country, if they don't want to fight for our country, they can,' Trump said. 'I'll never change on that.' Trump's harsh denunciations were another sign that the nation is in store for a combative presidential election. His speech was filled with Trump's trademark criticisms about the news media, which he says sides with liberals, and special prosecutor Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Mueller had been scheduled to testify Wednesday on Capitol Hill, but it was postponed. Trump brought him up anyway. 'What happened to me with this witch hunt should never be allowed to happen to another president,' he said. He also talked about illegal immigration, a main theme of his first presidential bid that is taking center stage in his reelection campaign. He brushed off the criticism he has gotten for saying that the congresswomen should go back home. 'So controversial,' he said sarcastically. The four freshmen have portrayed the president as a bully who wants to 'vilify' not only immigrants, but all people of color. They say they are fighting for their priorities to lower health care costs and pass a Green New Deal addressing climate change, while his thundering attacks are a distraction and tear at the core of America vales. The Democratic-led U.S. House voted Tuesday to condemn Trump for what they considered 'racist comments,' despite near-solid GOP opposition and the president's own insistence that he doesn't have a 'racist bone' in his body. Trump hasn't shown signs of being rattled by the House rebuke, and called an impeachment resolution that failed in Congress earlier in the day 'ridiculous.' The condemnation carries no legal repercussions and his latest harangues struck a chord with his die-hard conservative base. Trump's comments about it in Greenvilleonly fired up the crowd, whose chants of 'Four more years!' and 'Build that wall!' bounced off the rafters. Trump was greeted in an arena at East Carolina University by supporters, many sporting red-white-and-blue outfits and waving 'Trump 2020' and 'Women for Trump' signs. Vice President Mike Pence was first up after spending the day in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and visiting troops at Fort Bragg. 'North Carolina and American needs four more years,' Pence said. It was Trump's sixth visit to the state as president and his first 2020 campaign event in North Carolina, where he defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016. Before Trump arrived, Wayne Goodwin, chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party, spoke at a rally in Greenville and called Trump 'just another corrupt snake oil salesman.' 'From sparking a harmful trade war that puts our farmers in the crosshairs, to giving corporations a billion-dollar giveaway at the expense of our middle class, to repeatedly pushing to end protections for pre-existing conditions and raise health care costs, his broken promises have hurt hard-working families across North Carolina,' Goodwin said.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts says it's 'a little bit tough to swallow' that closer Kenley Jansen changed his mind about the severity of a foot injury after blowing a save Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies. Jansen was struck in the foot by Adam Haseley's grounder in the ninth inning but told Roberts he was OK to continue pitching. After blowing the lead in Philadelphia's 9-8 victory, Jansen told reporters he should have come out of the game. He was limping in the clubhouse postgame. Roberts said Wednesday he was caught off guard by Jansen's remarks. 'I think I do a very good job of being honest with my guys,' Roberts said. 'We're all trying to win, we're all trying to compete. But when you give certainty that you're not compromising yourself for the team, then I'm going to trust it. So to then go back and say, 'I should've come out of the game,' it's a little bit tough to swallow.' Roberts said Jansen was not available to pitch Wednesday night against Philadelphia but would be able to close if needed in the series finale Thursday. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • The agency overseeing California's legal marijuana market has been overmatched by the job and is struggling to hire sufficient staff and set an overall strategy, an audit found. The Bureau of Cannabis Control is authorized to hire 219 people, but only 75 positions have been filled, according to an audit by the state Finance Department. While the cannabis bureau is in its relative infancy and has established a foundation to oversee the market, 'the current status and location of personnel is not sustainable to provide effective and comprehensive oversight of cannabis activities throughout California,' auditors said. 'The bureau does not have a comprehensive management strategy ... that identifies mission critical activities aligned with workload and available resources,' said the audit, which was released earlier this month. The problems outlined in the audit provide a backstory to the uneven rollout of the state's legal pot market, which is still competing with thriving underground sales. Legal cannabis is being sold around California, though it's unavailable in many areas because local governments have banned sales or not set up rules for the market to operate. In a lengthy response, the Department of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the cannabis bureau, said the agency faced a rigid deadline to adopt regulations and begin issuing licenses by Jan. 1, 2018. Regulators hit that target, but the agency acknowledged it faced a maze of shifting legislation and related requirements, including hiring staff, conducting studies, finding office space, entering into contracts for basic equipment and services, designing an online system and reviewing license applications. The agency disputed some findings and argued that it met or exceeded its responsibilities despite the challenges. 'Unlike most state government programs, the bureau was simultaneously starting from the ground up on multiple fronts,' the response said. The audit did not examine two other agencies with a hand in pot regulation — the Department of Food and Agriculture, which oversees cultivation, and the Public Health Department, which regulates manufacturers.
  • Paul McCartney is writing his first stage musical, an adaptation of the classic movie 'It's a Wonderful Life.' The ex-Beatle is collaborating with 'Billy Elliot' playwright Lee Hall and West End producer Bill Kenwright. McCartney said he'd never considered writing a musical, but after meeting Kenwright and Hall three years ago, 'found myself thinking this could be interesting and fun.' Hall said McCartney's 'wit, emotional honesty and melodic brilliance brings a whole new depth and breadth to the classic tale.' Frank Capra's 1946 film tells the story of George Bailey, a small-town banker wracked with regret who is shown the value of his life by a guardian angel. Producers said Thursday they are aiming for a late 2020 launch for the show. Its dates and venue have not been released.
  • Former Boston Red Sox infielder Elijah 'Pumpsie' Green, the first black player on the last major league team to field one, has died. He was 85. A Red Sox spokesman confirmed the death Wednesday night, and the team observed a moment of silence before its game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Green, who was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2018, had been living in California. A speedy but light-hitting utilityman, Green brought baseball's segregation era to an end of sorts when he took the field against the Chicago White Sox on July 21, 1959 — more than a dozen years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Green joined the team on a lengthy road trip and had played nine games before taking the field at Fenway Park for the first time. Green said this year in an interview with NESN, the Red Sox TV network, that he remembered receiving a standing ovation when he came to the plate, batting leadoff. 'It was heart-warming and nerve-wracking,' he told reporters in 1997, when he returned to Boston to take part in ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of Robinson's debut. 'But I got lucky: I hit a triple off the left-center fence.' Green didn't have the talent of Robinson, a Hall of Famer, or Larry Doby, an All-Star who was the first black player in the American League. The Red Sox infielder reached the majors as a role player, just once playing more than 88 games, and never hitting more than six homers or batting better than .278. Green played parts of four seasons with the Red Sox before finishing his career with one year on the New York Mets. In all, he batted .246 with 13 homers and 74 RBIs. But his first appearance in a Boston uniform ended baseball's ugliest chapter, and the fact that it took the Red Sox so long left a stain on the franchise — and a void in the trophy case — it is still trying to erase. The Red Sox had a chance to sign Robinson in 1945, before the Dodgers, and Hall of Famer Willie Mays a few years later; they chose not to, decisions that go a long way toward explaining the 86-year World Series championship drought that didn't end until 2004. Last year, acknowledging the poor racial record of longtime owner Thomas A. Yawkey, the team expunged his name from the street outside the ballpark. A few days after Green was called up, the Red Sox added Earl Wilson, a black pitcher. Green said there was an informal quota system that required teams to have an even number of black players so they would have someone to room with on the road. There were few blacks in the clubhouse, the offices or the Boston stands, Green said in '97. 'Most of the time it was just me,' he said. 'It was almost an oddity when you saw a black person walking around the stands.' But unlike Robinson, Green said, he received no death threats. 'It was mostly insults,' he said. 'But you can get those at any ballpark at any time,' he said. 'I learned to tune things out.' Green returned to northern California and worked as a counselor at Berkeley High School before retiring in the 1990s. The Red Sox honored him again on Jackie Robinson Day in 2009, but he was unable to attend the ceremony in 2018 when he was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame. Upon his return to Fenway in '97, he noticed that things had improved but still saw work to be done. 'Baseball still has its problems, and so does society,' Green said. 'I don't believe things are that much better in baseball or society. Hopefully, it will be shortly.' A brother, Cornell Green, was a star safety for the Dallas Cowboys. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • House Democrats and Republicans joined in a rare show of unity Wednesday, voting overwhelmingly to repeal an unpopular tax on generous health insurance that's a symbol of former President Barack Obama's signature health care law. The so-called 'Cadillac tax' never went into effect, since lawmakers kept delaying it. Wednesday's 419-6 vote increases chances that the Senate will follow the House, going for full repeal. Beginning in 2022, the tax would slap a 40% levy on the value of health insurance plans above $11,200 for single coverage and $30,100 for family policies. The idea was to help control costs by putting a brake on the value of health insurance plans. To avoid the tax, insurers and employers might have to shift more costs to policyholders. Based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, repeal would add $193 billion to the federal deficit from 2022-2029, by scratching projected revenues off the government's books. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation expects that about 1 in 5 employers offering health insurance would have at least one insurance plan subject to the tax in 2022, and the share would grow quickly over time. A broad coalition of business groups and unions is pushing to kill the Cadillac tax, while policy experts have mounted a lonely defense. Unions oppose a tax on health benefits because health insurance is one of the most important issues for their members, and union plans are generally a cut above what non-union employers offer. Insurers and employers oppose the tax because they'd be the ones most exposed to its bite. About 160 million Americans are covered by workplace plans, still the largest source of coverage. Despite the political risks of tampering with employer coverage, policy experts and economists across the political spectrum argued that the tax would start to get at a fundamental reason behind high U.S. health care costs. Economists see health insurance benefits as another form of compensation. While the government taxes salary and hourly wages, the value of job-based health insurance is tax-free to workers and tax deductible for employers. Economists see that as an incentive to over-spend on health care, creating an income stream that enables hospitals, drug companies, and medical specialists to charge high prices and subsidizing services of questionable value. Even if the Cadillac tax appears doomed, the idea of limiting government tax breaks for health insurance is likely to come back. Several such options are regularly listed the CBO's compendium of ideas for reducing government deficits.
  • The Democratic-controlled House voted Wednesday to hold two top Trump administration officials in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with subpoenas related to a decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The House voted, 230-198, to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt. The vote, a political blow to the Trump administration, is largely symbolic because the Justice Department is unlikely to prosecute the two men. The action marks an escalation of Democratic efforts to use their House majority to aggressively investigate the inner workings of the Trump administration. Four Democrats opposed the contempt measure: Reps. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, Anthony Brindisi of New York, Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania and Jared Golden of Maine. All but Lamb are in their first term and all represent swing districts. Independent Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican, supported the contempt measure. President Donald Trump abandoned the citizenship question last week after the Supreme Court said the administration's justification for the question 'seems to have been contrived .' Trump directed agencies to try to compile the information using existing databases. The White House called the vote 'ridiculous' and 'yet another lawless attempt to harass the president and his administration.' The Justice and Commerce departments have produced more than 31,000 pages of documents to the House regarding the census issue, and senior officials from both agencies, including Ross, have spoken on the record about the matter, the White House said, adding that Democrats continue to demand documents that the White House contends are subject to executive privilege. 'House Democrats know they have no legal right to these documents, but their shameful and cynical politics know no bounds,' White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said the contempt vote was an important step to assert Congress' constitutional authority to serve as a check on executive power. 'Holding any secretary in criminal contempt of Congress is a serious and sober matter — one that I have done everything in my power to avoid,' Cummings said during House debate. 'But in the case of the attorney general and Secretary Ross, they blatantly obstructed our ability to do congressional oversight into the real reason Secretary Ross was trying for the first time in 70 years to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.' While Ross and other officials have claimed the sole reason they wanted to add the citizenship question was to enforce the Voting Rights Act, 'we now know that claim was nothing but a pretext,' Cummings said. 'The Supreme Court said that.' At the direction of Barr and Ross, 'the departments of Justice and Commerce have been engaged in a campaign to subvert our laws and the process Congress put in place to maintain the integrity of the census,' Cummings said. The contempt resolution 'is about protecting our democracy, protecting the integrity of this body. It's bigger than the census,' he said Ross called the vote a public relations 'stunt' that further demonstrates Democrats' 'unending quest to generate headlines instead of operating in good faith with our department.' Democrats prefer to 'play political games rather than help lead the country' and 'have made every attempt to ascribe evil motivations to everyday functions of government,' Ross said. Ross told the oversight committee that the March 2018 decision to add the question was based on a Justice Department request to help enforce the Voting Rights Act. Democrats disputed that, citing documents unearthed last month suggesting that a push to draw legislative districts in overtly partisan and racist ways was the real reason the administration wanted to include the question. Democrats feared that adding the question would reduce participation in immigrant-heavy communities and result in a severe undercount of minority voters. They have pressed for specific documents to determine Ross' motivation and contend the administration has declined to provide the material despite repeated requests. 'The real issue we should be debating' is why Democrats are afraid to ask how many citizens live in the United States, said Rep. James Comer, R-Ky. Contrary to Democrats' claims, Ross and other officials have cooperated with the oversight panel and provided thousands of documents, Comer said. 'If the Democrats can't impeach President Trump, they will instead hold his Cabinet in contempt of Congress,' he said. 'This is just another episode in political theater.' In a letter late Wednesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Barr and Ross asked Democrats to postpone the vote, saying they have shown a 'clear record of cooperation' with Congress. The contempt vote 'is both unnecessarily undermining' relations between the two branches and 'degrading' Congress' 'own institutional integrity,' they wrote. Trump has pledged to 'fight all the subpoenas' issued by Congress and says he won't work on legislative priorities, such as infrastructure, until Congress halts investigations of his administration.