March 19, 2018

Senior executives at Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, Strategic Communications Laboratories, were apparently secretly filmed by Britain's Channel 4 News suggesting they have used bribes and other shady techniques to influence more than 200 elections across the globe. Cambridge Analytica was a Trump campaign contractor in 2016, and it was reported this weekend that the company harvested 50 million American Facebook profiles for electioneering, a major data breach.

In order to get the footage, a Channel 4 News reporter "posed as a fixer for a wealthy client hoping to get candidates elected in Sri Lanka." In one clip, Cambridge Analytica's chief executive, Alexander Nix, appears to suggest to the undercover reporter that he could "send some girls around to the candidate's house" as a means of getting dirt on the opponent, adding Ukrainians "are very beautiful, I find that works very well."

Cambridge Analytica's global political managing director, Mark Turnbull, was also included in the meetings, and he talked about putting "information into the bloodstream of the internet" and said "it has to happen without anyone thinking, 'That's propaganda,' because the moment you think [that] the next question is, 'Who's put that out?'"

Nix additionally expressed an eagerness to work with the undercover reporter. "We're used to operating through different vehicles, in the shadows," he said, "and I look forward to building a very long-term and secretive relationship with you."

A Cambridge Analytica spokesman said: "We entirely refute any allegation that Cambridge Analytica or any of its affiliates use entrapment, bribes, or so-called 'honey-traps' for any purpose whatsoever" and that "we routinely undertake conversations with prospective clients to try to tease out any unethical or illegal intentions." Watch below, and read more about the undercover investigation via Channel 4 News here. Jeva Lange

5:58 p.m.

Google hopes to get a competitive edge in the gaming industry by appealing to women with its new game service, Stadia.

"Some of our historical competitors in the console space have been a bit more masculine and a bit more mechanical in their approach," Phil Harrison, Google VP and head of Stadia, said in an interview with CNN Business. In designing new hardware, Google is trying to go "gender-neutral" by selling controllers in three colors: white, black or "Wasabi green," reports CNN. Director of design, Isabelle Olsson explained to CNN that the green color was particularly chosen because "both men and women gravitated towards this color."

CNN notes that the strategy is different compared to other gaming services such as Microsoft's Xbox controller "which comes in colors like electric blue or firetruck red," but also mentions that Google isn't the first to take a gender-neutral approach as Nintendo previously made the Switch Lite in bright colors like turquoise and yellow to appeal to all genders as well.

But color isn't the only design choice meant to appeal to women. In a behind-the-scenes video, Google industrial designer Jason Pi said the controllers will also be designed especially "for small and large hands so it's super usable for a large segment of gamers that aren't always appreciated." Stadia is set to release on November 19 to gamers of all gender. Ramisa Rob

5:37 p.m.

President Trump has released a new Ukraine transcript, but some things don't add up.

While the White House in April said Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed fighting corruption in their first phone call after Zelensky's election, a memo of the call released Friday didn't mention corruption once. White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley still defended the second release in a later statement, and then blamed any discrepancies on Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who is testifying publicly next week in the impeachment probe.

In the April readout, the White House said Trump "expressed his commitment" to work with then just-elected Zelensky to "strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption." And after receiving criticism for the mismatch, Gidley pushed its authorship onto Vindman, saying it was "prepared by the National Security Council's Ukraine expert." In this case, that would be Vindman.

Vindman already gave a closed-door deposition to House impeachment investigators last month, and reportedly said the other rough transcript of the July Trump-Zelensky call left out critical words and phrases regarding the Bidens. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:08 p.m.

In one day, two different actors have been cast to play two different U.S. presidents in two different TV shows, because yes, the past 20 years of U.S. politics really have been that dramatic.

Deadline reports that Clive Owen will play Bill Clinton on American Crime Story, which will dramatize the sex scandal that led to his impeachment. Meanwhile, Kingsley Ben-Adir will play Barack Obama in A Higher Loyalty, which will dramatize James Comey's memoir about his tenure as FBI director, which ended in a dramatic firing by President Trump.

If you don't feel like waiting for the shows to premiere, you can get all the spoilers from literally any contemporaneous newspaper. Read more at Deadline. Scott Meslow

5:05 p.m.

Football is the sport that most frequently sends kids to the ER with injuries, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics found.

The report, published Friday in National Health Statistics Reports, found that between 2010 and 2016, there were about 2.7 million emergency room visits each year for sports injuries among people aged 5-24. Football was found responsible for the largest share of injuries, making up 14.1 percent of the visits, followed by basketball, pedal cycling, soccer, ice skating, roller skating, and skateboarding.

"It's important to understand the types of injuries that are most commonly seen in the emergency department and which sports account for those injuries in order to monitor and guide injury prevention efforts," Pinyao Anna Rui, an author of the report and a survey statistician at the NCHS, told CNN.

Dennis Cardone, a sports medicine specialist and co-director of the Center for Young Athletes at NYU Langone Sports Health in New York, explained the results on CNN and said, "as someone sticks to one sport, they're certainly at risk of injury." To reduce the risk of sports injuries, he advised coaches to "remember to follow guidelines" and parents to "encourage their children to enjoy a more wide variety of activities instead of specializing in just one sport."

The report can be found here. Ramisa Rob

4:57 p.m.

Few living filmmakers are more acclaimed than Werner Herzog, which is why it was a little surprising when he turned up to play a by-the-numbers bad guy in the new Star Wars series The Mandalorian.

But if you think Herzog is slumming it a bit, Herzog doesn't agree; at a recent screening, he somewhat inexplicably declared that The Mandalorian, which is a TV show, as "cinema back at its best" — an argument that would probably make Martin Scorsese's head explode. Read more at Indiewire. Scott Meslow

3:51 p.m.

Taylor Swift is very much included in this narrative.

Swift and Big Machine Records, which produced her first six albums, unamicably parted ways a year ago in what was the beginning of a high-profile fight over who controls Swift's songs. That reached a new height Thursday night when Swift posted an open letter accusing the label of stopping her from performing her songs live — and Big Machine is denying it all.

In her statement, Swift discussed how she'd be getting an American Music Award deeming her the "artist of the decade," and wanted to perform a medley of her songs at the awards show. She also said, and "this isn't the way I had planned on telling you this news," that a Netflix documentary about her was in the works as well. But all of those things are "a big question mark" because Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun — Big Machine's founder and the man whose holding company bought Big Machine earlier this year, respectively — "have now said that I'm not allowed to perform my old songs on television" because she'd be re-recording her music before she's allowed to in November 2020, Swift said.

On Friday, Big Machine fired back. "We were shocked to see her Tumblr statements yesterday based on false information," and "at no point" did Big Machine attempt to block her performances or documentary, it said in a statement. It decried her for risking "the safety of our employees and their families," stemming from how she directed fans to question Borchetta and Braun and their other clients. And with what was likely a deliberate choice of words, Big Machine directly addressed Swift to say "the narrative you have created does not exist." Kathryn Krawczyk

3:41 p.m.

Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, received a standing ovation on Friday at the conclusion of her more than five hours of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. Republicans and Democrats alike had praised Yovanovitch's distinguished service as a diplomat during the inquiry, although President Trump's allies had additionally sought to paint the hearing as part of their opponents' "Watergate fantasies."

Trump broke with his party to personally attack Yovanovitch on Twitter, despite the fact that time and time again the congresspeople in the room noted that the former ambassador was well-respected by her colleagues, many of whom appeared in the room in support of her. After the hearing, people could be heard shouting "Masha," Yovanovitch's nickname among her friends.

Yovanovitch was unceremoniously pulled from her post in Ukraine in May after repeated verbal attacks by Trump and his personal lawyer and fixer, Rudy Giuliani, amid an effort to push Ukraine to launch investigations Trump wanted. "What I'd like to say is, while I obviously don't dispute that the president has the right to withdraw an ambassador at any time for any reason ... what I do wonder is why it was necessary to smear my reputation also?" Yovanovitch said in the course of her questioning. Watch the applause below. Jeva Lange

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