Neither dad in 1978’s Superman gets a ton of screen time, but Jonathan (Glenn Ford) raises Clark and, with Martha, helps instill in him the values that he’ll need in order to use his incredible powers for the benefit of others. Marlon Brando’s Jor-El gets credit as well, not only for creating and building the oddly tiny rocket that sent his son to Earth but also for showing up to offer advice from beyond the grave. Kal-El was the sole survivor* of that doomed planet, and that’s almost entirely thanks to his dad, who sent along an interactive virtual dad for Kal to talk to when the young Superman needed a morale boost, or just a Kryptonian history lesson. I’m saying it took two dads (and a couple of great moms, as well) working together from across the universe to shape Clark.
(Between salary and profit points, Marlon Brando earned around $20 million in 1978 dollars for fewer than 20 minutes onscreen, making him not just one of the best, but also one of the best-paid dads on the list.)
*Or one of dozens, including at least one dog, depending on which version of the story we’re talking about.
HYDERABAD: Telangana on Friday reported 1,417 new Covid-19 cases, pushing the tally to 6,10,834, while the toll rose to 3,546 with 12 more fatalities. The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) accounted for the most number of cases with 149, followed by Rangareddy (104) and Khammam (93) districts, a state government bulletin said, providing details as of 5.30 pm on Friday. The number of recoveries outnumbered fresh cases with 1,897 people recovering from the virus, taking the cumulative number to 5,88,259. The number of active cases was 19,029, the bulletin said. It said 1,24,430 samples were tested on Friday, taking the total number of samples tested so far to 1,73,14,780. The samples tested per million population was 4,65,200. The case fatality rate in the state was 0.58% against 1.3% at the national level. The recovery rate in Telangana was 96.30%, while it was 95.99% in the country, the bulletin said.
Jammu and Kashmir: Sources say the meeting can take place any day next week (File)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has likely called an all-party meeting on Jammu and Kashmir next week, sources say amid reports that the Centre may discuss restoration of statehood and other important issues concerning the union territory. This is the PM’s first major outreach to end the political impasse over the scrapping of Article 370 in 2019.
“We have been intimated about a meeting next week. We are waiting for a formal invitation,” a senior Jammu and Kashmir leader told NDTV.
Sources say the meeting can take place any day next week. “May be on June 24. We are expecting an invite for the meeting,” a leader said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah today met National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and top security and intelligence officers.
In August 2019, the centre cancelled Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and also bifurcated the state into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Top leaders in Jammu and Kashmir – including former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah – were arrested just before the Centre announced the mega decisions in parliament. They were released months later.
NDTV had last week reported that the centre was likely to initiate the political process that has been virtually non-existent since 2019.
The centre is also expected to discuss assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, due since 2018, when then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti snapped ties with her coalition partner BJP.
The Gupkar Alliance or PAGD, the seven-party amalgam formed to campaign for the restoration of special status to Jammu and Kashmir — has indicated its willingness to join the talks.
The centre had held local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir in December; the Gupkar Alliance won more than 100 seats and the BJP emerged as the single largest party with 74 seats.
The latest development comes months after India and Pakistan announced a ceasefire along the Line of Control, the first major peace initiative since 2019.
E3 2021 concluded this week and there were a lot of interesting new titles. We got to see Starfield, Forza Horizon 5, and Guardians of the Galaxy. At the Xbox and Bethesda showcase, Microsoft also gave us a look at the free-to-play multiplayer mode of Halo: Infinite — the next version of the popular Xbox and Windows first-person shooter game. Mario fans were pleased with Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope at Ubisoft’s E3 presentation.
We start off with our favourite games, including Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy — a new action-adventure game based on the zany superheroes of the Marvel universe. It was showcased by Square Enix and has Star-Lord as the prime character. However, the game will not come with multiplayer support, something that might disappoint Marvel fans who want to play with characters such as Groot and Rocket as well. I am Groot!
Microsoft surprised us with Forza Horizon 5, a new arcade racing title that is coming in November. It will let you form a co-op convoy, participate in minigames, and challenge other players in Horizon Arcade. The game will be available in 1080p at 30fps on Xbox Series S and 4K at 30fps on Xbox Series X, with an optional 60fps performance mode.
The Halo: Infinite multiplayer trailer was very promising, but weirdly, Microsoft wouldn’t give us an exact release date — it’s simply Holiday 2021 — even though we have exact dates for Xbox’s 2022 titles, including Starfield (coming November 11, 2022 — exactly 11 years to the day since Bethesda launched Skyrim).
For people who want to build and wage war with new civilisations, E3 2021 brought another trailer for Age of Empires IV that will be released in late October. The game, developed by Relic Entertainment and published by Xbox Game Studios, revealed two new civilisations — France, with returning Joan of Arc, and Abbasid Dynasty — and the concept of naval battles. Hopefully, Age of Empires IV will take more after the beloved Age of Empires II, and not the much less liked Age of Empires III.
This year’s E3 also gave us a look at Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora that is releasing in 2022. The first person game will be available across platforms, namely Windows PCs, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X, Google Stadia, and Amazon Luna. As you can tell, it’s a purely next-generation adventure.
That’s not all in this week’s episode. We also discuss the anticipated Nintendo Switch Pro console and some more interesting games that are coming in the future.
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Write to us at [email protected] with your feedback, questions, or comments. New Orbital episodes drop every Friday.
Entertainment has clearly indicated it is shopping around. When the company landed a deal on June 1 to sell about $231 million worth of shares to Mudrick Capital, Chief Executive
proclaimed that it is time for the largest theater operator in the U.S. to “go on the offense again.” He noted at the time that the company was in discussions with multiple landlords to take over some theaters formerly operated by ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres.
That deal may be near done. The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that AMC was nearing a deal for “key” Pacific theaters in the area. Two of the theaters were even listed on AMC’s site and ticketing app for part of the day before being taken down, the paper reported. They are unlikely to be the last, considering AMC’s acquisitive history and now bulging coffers. Chief Financial Officer
told a Credit Suisse investment conference this week that the company will end June “in the ballpark” of about $1.8 billion in cash, according to the broker’s report of the conference. AMC had about $308 million on its balance sheet at the end of 2020.
The wisdom of AMC pursuing more acquisitions is debatable. The company entered the pandemic with a ratio of net debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 5.7 times at the end of 2019—twice that of competitor Cinemark, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. Much of that stemmed from three acquisitions totaling about $3.2 billion in 2016 to 2017. AMC as a result was flirting with bankruptcy before the explosion of interest from retail investors ballooned the stock, which is now up more than 2,700% for the year. Eric Handler of MKM says AMC should use the new bounty to pay down its debt load that now totals about $5.5 billion, adding in a June 8 report that the company’s past deals have “produced subpar returns.” Mr. Aron has said AMC intends to use some of its funds to pay down debt.
Still, the opportunities may be tempting for all the major players. The National Association of Theatre Owners, or NATO, estimates about 125 exhibitors have closed permanently due to the pandemic. Emagine Entertainment, a privately held chain of 208 screens based in Michigan, has picked up four sites from competitors out of bankruptcy, according to Chief Executive Anthony LaVerde, also speaking at the Credit Suisse conference. Cinemark has been conservative with M&A historically, but its CEO,
told the same conference that the company is “really open” to opportunistic deals in the current environment. He added, though, that “we’re not going to overpay for assets.”
Adding screens could theoretically boost the bargaining power of major theater operators with studios, at a time when shrinking release windows and soaring popularity of streaming services has muddled the long-term outlook for the industry. And the relatively strong performance of the few blockbuster-sized releases that have hit theaters so far this year has been an encouraging sign.
But it may take a lot of deals to have an impact. AMC, Cinemark and Cineworld’s Regal chain already control about 48% of U.S. screens combined, according to Wedbush analyst Alicia Reese. And most of the operators who have closed have fewer than 100 screens, according to NATO spokesman Patrick Corcoran. Ms. Reese says operators with between 50 and 250 screens would be most attractive to companies like AMC, Regal and Cinemark. But even adding 250 screens would boost each chain’s domestic market share by just one percentage point. Paying down debt may be safer, but it makes for a less exciting show.
Corrections & Amplifications The National Association of Theatre Owners was misspelled as National Association of Theater Owners in an earlier version of this article. Also, the last name of the group’s spokesman, Patrick Corcoran, was misspelled as Cochran. (Corrected on June 18)
Banks have been instructed to disburse pension expeditiously to ensure “ease of living” for the elderly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said on Friday. Instructions have also been issued that in case of death of a pensioner, the spouse or the family member should not be subjected to any inconvenience by seeking unnecessary details and documents, and instead the family pension should be disbursed at the earliest, he said.
Briefing about a circular issued by the Department of Pension & Pensioners Welfare, Singh said that some instances have been brought to the notice of the department wherein on the death of a pensioner, the family members were asked by the disbursing banks to submit various details and documents, which are otherwise not required for commencement of family pension.
He said the government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to ensuring “ease of living” for all, including the pensioners, and therefore, such inconvenience to the elderly citizens has to be avoided, particularly during the time of the pandemic, according to a Personnel Ministry statement.
In a communique to the heads to all pension disbursing banks, it has been instructed that without causing harassment to the family members of the pensioner, the family pension should be commenced on the production of the death certificate and in case where the pensioner had a joint account with his or her spouse, submission of a simple letter or application should suffice.
In cases where the spouse did not have a joint account with the pensioner, a simple application in Form-14 bearing the signature of two witnesses should be held valid for commencement of family pension, it said.
The Department of Pension & Pensioners Welfare (DOPPW) has also instructed the banks to conduct special awareness programmes to sensitise the officers concerned in order to make them aware of the latest instructions as well as for compassionate handling of family pension cases.
It has also been instructed that the bank websites should prominently display the name and contact details of a nodal officer who can be contacted by a family pensioner in the event of any inconvenience faced in processing family pension cases after the death of the pensioner.
In addition, a half-yearly statement on progress of sanction of family pension cases may be submitted to the department of pension in the prescribed format, the statement said.
This week’s out-of-touch guide is a snapshot of a sleepy week in youth pop culture. Nothing too groundbreaking went on, just a great new show about an all-Muslim, all-female punk band, a debate over popcorn buttering, and an Xbox branded mini-fridge.
This week in streaming: This is Lady Parts
I don’t know if it’s a trend or what, but all-female punk rock bands are popping up all over lately. There’s the awesome The Linda Lindas, the less-awesome Tramp Stamps, and now the all-Muslim band in Peacock’s We Are Lady Parts.
The six-episode British import take us inside both Muslim and punk rock cultures and upend the expectations and stereotypes of both. Main character Amina’s parents don’t want their daughter to drop punk rock and her studies to get married. The Parts’ mysterious manager Momtaz wears a full nijab with spiked bracelets and works in a lingerie store. The band’s songs that actually sound like punk rock and have titles like “Ain’t No One Gonna Honour Kill My Sister But Me.” Check out the This is Lady Parts trailer here, then download Peacock for the whole shebang. It’s delightful.
Are you buttering your popcorn wrong?
Have you been buttering your movie theater popcorn wrong all these years? TikToker Colleen Lepp thinks so, and she has a solution. The problem, according to Lepp, is that the butter is only distributed over the top of the corn, leaving most kernels dry. The solution: Stick a straw in the bucket and send that butter to the bottom.
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Over six million people have viewed Colleen’s corn-hack, with commenters praising her or pointing out that positioning the stream of molten butter into the straw can be messy. I like this video because it indicates that people are allowed to go back to the movies and have silly arguments about popcorn again.
Hashtag of the week: #2018vs2021
Only young people would make #2018vs2021 a trendy hashtag. The point of it is to imagine your 2018-self fighting your 2021-self by comparing pictures. Personally, I’m a tiny bit fatter and a little bit balder than I was a few years ago, but essentially the same basic, old white dude. But kids really are different! They have a different idea of how time passes too—to me, 2018 just happened, but the time between 16 and 19 was a lifetime.
Anyway, check out the videos and project yourself back to a time when three years seemed like forever, and you were confident/deluded enough to think anyone would care about the changes you’re going through.
This week in video games: It’s E3 week…It just doesn’t feel like E3 week
This is E3 week, but you might not even know it. With large gatherings still verboten, the video game world can’t get together in a convention center to show off new games and products, so the hype isn’t what it used to be. Still, there were some cool announcements of upcoming games and products delivered through streaming video, of course.
There’s a sequel coming to my personal favorite game of 2019, Plague Tale: Innocence. Plague Tale: Requiem will be released at some point in 2022.
The biggest video game announcement this E3, by far, is the Xbox Mini-Fridge. Playing on their new console’s blocky look and slogan, Microsoft promise gamers “the world’s most powerful mini-fridge” that will feature “Xbox Velocity Cooling Architecture” and will no doubt hold all the Monster energy drink you need. Also: It’s not a joke. I mean, it is kind of a joke, but you’ll really be able to buy one this holiday season.
Viral video of the Week: Lumberjack
This week’s viral video comes from rapper/virtuoso Tyler, The Creator, a musician whose work I do not understand. I’m way outside his target, but I recognize a genius when I hear one. In the just-over-a-minute LumberJack video, Tyler raps about…something (I’m not really sure what) over provocative images that look like super-8 film and depict…something.
A true product of the online world, Tyler has been creating unique and not-aimed-at-me art since the days of MySpace, and I’m happy he’s out there doing whatever it is he does, and I’m happy that millions are still sharing and enjoying his videos. Tyler, The Creator is proof that the online world’s unrelenting quest for likes and shares doesn’t always result in bland, terrible, lowest-common-denominator art; it sometimes leads to inexplicable awesomeness like Lumberjack. If you’d like to try to understand Tyler, check out this feature length explainer video. But if you’re anything like me, you still won’t get it.
expects to take $3 billion in losses as part of an agreement to sell its unprofitable French retail bank, in a sign of the souring fortunes of European banking.
London-based HSBC, one of the world’s largest lenders, said Friday that it had agreed to sell the bank to a company owned by Cerberus Capital Management LP, a New York-based private-equity firm.
HSBC said it would receive 1 euro for the bank, equivalent to around $1.19, and that it might be required to put additional cash into the deal, which isn’t expected to close until the first half of 2023. It expects to take a pretax loss of $2.3 billion on the sale, plus a further $700 million goodwill write-down.
Two decades ago, HSBC paid $10.6 billion to acquire Credit Commercial de France, as part of a broad growth strategy to expand its footprint to economies large and small around the world.
Its sale reflects the dire straits of European banks, with slow growth, negative interest rates and regulatory and political obstacles to consolidation.
“It is not expected that the potential transaction will result in any net proceeds of sale for the HSBC Group,” HSBC said.
In 2000, when it bought Credit Commercial de France, the total value of takeovers of European banks was over $90 billion, according to Dealogic. Last year, the value of European banking takeovers slumped to under $50 billion.
However, a two-member bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian also said the Supreme Court would examine the bail order, noting that this case could have “pan-India ramifications” because of the way UAPA, or the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, had been interpreted.
This will be heard next month, the Supreme Court said as it issued notices to the activists and stressed that the High Court order could not, in the meantime, be used as precedent for other cases.
At today’s hearing Delhi Police asked the Supreme Court to “stay the (High Court) order because (it) virtually records the acquittal of the accused” and others would seek bail using this as precedent.
“53 died and many were police officers… 700 were injured. The court says riots were controlled so UAPA is not applicable… How can the intensity of the offence be diluted?” Delhi Police asked.
“(Delhi) High Court watered down UAPA (and) it had been turned upside down,” Delhi Police claimed.
The top court acknowledged that discussing all laws in a bail hearing was “something very surprising”, and said: “We agree. There are many questions that arise. The issue is important and can have pan-India ramifications. We would like to issue notice and hear the other side.”
However, the court also noted that bail had, in fact, been granted.
“They (the activists) will not be affected, but we will stay the effect of the High Court order,” it said.
Riots broke out in northeast Delhi in February last year amid protests over the citizenship law (File)
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta (appearing for Delhi Police) and senior advocate Kapil Sibal (appearing for the activists) agreed with the court’s decision on both counts.
“The High Court has made wide-ranging observations. They (the activists) are out on bail… let them remain out but please stay the judgements… let it not be a precedent,” Mr Mehta said.
“Staying this would mean the order is prima facie stayed. We too also have a lot to say. Let us not do this… in the meantime let us not treat the High Court order as a precedent,” Mr Sibal said.
In the judgement for Ms Narwal and Ms Kalita, the High Court on Tuesday said: “In its anxiety to suppress dissent, in the mind of the State, the line between constitutionally guaranteed right to protest and terrorist activity seems to be getting somewhat blurred.”
The three student-activists were released from Delhi’s Tihar Jail late Thursday night
In the judgment for Mr Tanha it said: “The phrase terrorist act’ cannot be permitted to be casually applied to criminal acts that fall squarely within definition of conventional offences under IPC.”
The court also said there was a “complete lack of any specific, factual allegations…. other than those spun by mere grandiloquence” and “(such serious sections) must be applied in a just and fair way, lest it unjustly ropes within its ambit persons whom the Legislature never intended to punish”.
is a little-known real-estate investor that helps private-equity firms cash in on their hospital investments. Recent financial documents provide fresh details on the close relationship and deal-making between the firm and its biggest tenant.
The documents show Medical Properties Trust’s exposure to Dallas-based Steward Health Care, a hospital chain until last year controlled by Cerberus Capital Management LP. When Steward ran into financial trouble, Medical Properties Trust provided it more than $700 million through a series of complex deals, the documents show. It provided $200 million to buy Steward assets valued at $27 million. Then it refinanced debts Steward owed Cerberus.
The documents give a window into the finances of a company at the heart of private equity’s push into healthcare in recent years. They show how the financial turbulence at these firms can have ripple effects elsewhere in the financial system.
Steward accounted for 30% of Medical Properties Trust’s revenue last year. Steward lost more than $400 million in 2020 and reported nearly $1 billion of unpaid supplier expenses and other bills, the documents show. The company also faces audits by the Internal Revenue Service and state authorities.
Medical Properties Trust says it is one of the world’s largest nongovernmental hospital owners, with more than 400 properties world-wide and assets of nearly $19 billion. Steward is a large for-profit operator, with 34 hospitals nationally and more than $5 billion of revenue last year.
Steward said in response to questions that it was “on solid financial footing.” It attributed a rise in accounts payable to a surge of Covid-19 cases late last year and information-technology investments the company had made. It declined to comment on the audits, as did the IRS.
Medical Properties Trust has publicly described some of the recent deal-making as an effort to align itself with Steward’s strategy and take advantage of its potential growth. Cerberus declined to comment for this article.
The hospital landlord has previously received written inquiries from the Securities and Exchange Commission, including about its relationship with Steward. As a private company, Steward doesn’t have to publish its financial results. Medical Properties Trust filed Steward’s financials with the SEC last week because it said the information might be relevant to investors.
The SEC declined to comment.
The close relationship between Steward and Medical Properties Trust is partly a result of deal making by Cerberus. Under the private-equity firm’s control, Steward sold significant hospital real estate to Medical Properties Trust, which in turn leased the real estate back to Steward. Medical Properties Trust also has a roughly 10% stake in Steward, documents show.
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Steward, like many hospital operators, struggled in the pandemic and says it received more than $400 million in government relief last year. The company says it lost more than $400 million last year, compared with an $82 million net profit in 2019.
While company financial statements show it had around $400 million of cash and equivalents at the end of last year, its short-term liabilities significantly exceeded its current assets.
Medical Properties Trust operates in a niche of real-estate investing. It buys hospital real estate—the physical buildings and land—and then leases it back to the companies that run the hospitals. Many of its deals have been with private-equity firms, which can use the cash from the sales to lock in profits or pay down debt incurred in the takeover of hospital operators. The playbook turns hospitals into renters of property they previously owned.
Rhode Island officials recently restricted the owners of two hospitals from doing sale-leaseback transactions to raise funds. The ruling stemmed from a state probe of hospital chain Prospect Medical Holdings Inc., which until recently was backed by Leonard Green & Partners LP.
Prospect had earlier used proceeds from real-estate sales to Medical Properties Trust to pay down debt, including money borrowed to fund hundreds of millions of dollars in dividends.
“We’d all rather own our home than rent it or lease it. Why? Because there’s value in it. There’s value in it I can use on a rainy day to raise capital,” said
The Easton Hospital was ultimately saved after a nonprofit operator agreed to buy it from Steward. Cerberus has said it is happy the Easton community’s needs were met.
As losses mounted, Medical Properties Trust proved to be a key source of cash for Steward, financial filings show. In 2017, Steward acquired two hospitals in Utah as part of a broader transaction involving Medical Properties Trust. Under the deal, Medical Properties Trust issued Steward roughly $700 million of mortgages for the properties.
Then, in July 2020, Medical Properties Trust agreed to acquire the Utah properties from Steward. Under the deal, Medical Properties Trust erased Steward’s mortgages and paid Steward an extra $200 million for what Medical Properties Trust said was the real estate’s “relative fair value.” Steward leased the properties back from Medical Properties Trust in exchange.
“All of our sale-leaseback transactions are subject to independent valuation and analysis,” Steward said.
Cerberus sold its 90% stake in Steward last year to a management group led by Chief Executive Officer
Ralph de la Torre
in exchange for a note from Cerberus, Steward said at the time.
In January, Medical Properties Trust stepped in to provide Steward a new $335 million loan that it said would extinguish the debt Steward owed Cerberus. Medical Properties Trust’s chief financial officer told analysts that the loan would be “nominally profitable.”
“The goal of the investment is not necessarily to earn a high-profit interest rate,” he said, but the deal would help better align Medical Properties Trust with Steward’s growth.
Steward declined to disclose loan terms but said the deal allowed it to sever ties to Cerberus.
The most complex deal involved Steward’s international business, which had been running hospitals on the island nation of Malta. Under the deal, Medical Properties Trust formed a new joint venture with Dr. de la Torre and other executives that is separate from Steward.
Medical Properties Trust then agreed to provide financing. It lent the joint venture $205 million so it could acquire the international assets from Steward. The hospital company’s financial statements said the assets sold were worth $27 million.
Asked about the price tag on an analyst call, Medical Properties Trust CEO
Edward K. Aldag Jr.
said it reflected work done by Dr. de la Torre’s team to secure opportunities for a venture in Colombia. “They put an awful lot of time and effort and infrastructure in place,” he said.
Steward said the price for the assets was fair and determined by arm’s length negotiations.
Despite the losses and government financial support, Steward said it returned cash to owners of the business this year. Steward said the payment wasn’t a dividend but a return of shareholder capital. The total payout likely totaled more than $100 million.