August 9, 2017 Last Updated 10:00 am

Media bangs war drums as world leaders play Abbott and Costello; Disney dumps Netflix for its own video streaming service launch

Morning Brief: After reporting disappointing earnings, Disney decides to shake things up by acquiring a majority stake in BAMTech and then announcing plans to launch ESPN-branded video service in early 2018

The media in the US appears to take seriously the idea that North Korea would attack Guam. Guam, the 210 sq mile island that is part of the Mariana Islands. One in a hundred Americans have any idea where the hell Guam is, yet there are reporters today who think it is big news that North Korea has threatened it.

This has to be wildly amusing in Pyongyang.

UK magazines

But the rest of the world does not seem amused by the rantings of Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump, both of whom look like the third rate leaders that they are.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” the president said in his typically juvenile (4th grade, actually) use of the English language. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

The idea that North Korea’s leader would risk his reign over an attack on an island in the Pacific is absurd, but we are in absurd territory now — and with Trump’s approval ratings in the low to mid-thirties, many can imagine him doing something crazy in the hopes that Americans will rally around him and forgive the little fact that he is selling out the nation to the Russians and corporate interests (hey, its only a planet, right? There are billions of ’em out there.)

Let’s face it, the press loves war. No paper is more pro-war that The New York Times, that never saw a war it didn’t feel needed a small push to really get started. But the Gray Lady is not alone in its warmongering.

Yesterday, The Washington Post would not be outdone, preemptively waving the saber with a report from Defense Intelligence Agency that said North Korea was capable of placing a miniaturized nuclear device on a missile for delivery. This is the same agency that said the exact same thing three years ago, leading to the firing of Michael Flynn. But no matter, it is an oldie but a goodie, and if it can lead to a nice little nuclear war and better web traffic, then it is time to pull it out once again.

It is sad when it is so easy to compare a major US newspaper to a British tab, but this morning it is easy. (The Daily Mail’s headline is epic — five decks!)

Interestingly, Murdoch’s tabs in both the US and UK are not playing along. I get the inside joke here (it’s all for show).

The Washington Post, Joby Warrick, Ellen Nakashima and Anna Fifield:

North Korea now making missile-ready nuclear weapons, U.S. analysts say

The analysis, completed last month by the Defense Intelligence Agency, comes on the heels of another intelligence assessment that sharply raises the official estimate for the total number of bombs in the communist country’s atomic arsenal. The United States calculated last month that up to 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Some independent experts think the number is much smaller.

The findings are likely to deepen concerns about an evolving North Korean military threat that appears to be advancing far more rapidly than many experts had predicted. U.S. officials concluded last month that Pyongyang is also outpacing expectations in its effort to build an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the American mainland.

Left here without comment because… well, it would be impolite to say what I am thinking.

The Washington Post, Sarah Pulliam Bailey:

‘God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un,’ evangelical adviser says

Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, one of President Trump’s evangelical advisers who preached the morning of his inauguration, has released a statement saying the president has the moral authority to take out North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“When it comes to how we should deal with evil doers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary — including war — to stop evil,” Jeffress said. “In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.”

What the hell is going on between China and India?

While watching TV last night I heard retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson urge the Trump administration to get its **it together and pay attention to world events, pointing to a growing tension between China and India.

With the madness of the situation in the US, not to mention the continuing Brexit farce, it is hard to pay attention to every political situation, but I think this one has been ignored long enough.

Reuters, Sanjeev Miglani:

Diplomacy fails to defuse India, China border crisis: sources

India’s diplomatic efforts to end a seven-week military standoff with China have hit a roadblock, people briefed on the talks said, prompting Chinese state-run media to trumpet rhetoric of “unavoidable countermeasures” on the unmarked border.

China has insisted that India unilaterally withdraw its troops from the remote Doklam plateau claimed by both Beijing and Indian ally Bhutan.

Asia Sentinel, Salman Rafi Sheikh:

India-China Rivalry Deepens over Border Clash

What is significant is that because of the way the crisis is playing itself out, the regional balance of power is undergoing significant transition, leaving both countries, particularly India, adjusting to the changing dynamics. Relations between the two have polarized as India has risen to seek to counter China’s growing hegemony.

The latest manifestation of China’s position came when the Chinese Foreign office released a “facts and position” paper, supported by a map and pictures of the Indian military’s position on the border and arguingthat “Indian border troops have illegally crossed the China-India boundary in the Sikkim Sector and entered the Chinese territory.

So, do you want to pay for another subscription service? Neither do I.

I pay for Comcast, AT&T, Netflix, HBO and other premium channels, Spotify, the NYT, the WaPo, and even the Chicago Tribune, though they often forget to deliver the damn paper. I don’t need to pay for another service, but even if I did decide to pony up for another, surely there is a limit to the number of services I would subscribe to.

Yet, the advocates for paid content are everywhere, and they seem to think that consumers have a never ending supply of money to spend on them. We’ll see if that is true as Disney has decided to get into the game.

Yesterday it announced that it had acquired a majority stake in BAMTech (it previously owned a share of the company) and that it would be pulling out of Netflix to start its own ESPN-branded subscription service.

One might think that, with the ESPN brand, it would be sports oriented. But no, it appears Disney’s movies will be available through the new service, set to debut next year.

Disney Company

NPR, Doreen McCallister:

Disney Will End Netflix Deal And Offer Its Own Streaming Services

Disney is saying goodbye to Netflix and will aggressively enter the crowded subscription streaming market.

There will be one streaming service for sports and another for films and television shows, the company announced on Tuesday. The same day it reported weak fiscal third-quarter earnings.

Disney is trying to appeal to younger audiences who are choosing Netflix and other digital platforms over traditional television.

The Hollywood Reporter, Paul Bond:

Disney to Pull Movies From Netflix, Launch Streaming Service

Disney’s announcement coincided with a mixed quarterly earnings report, which sunk its stock 4 percent in after-hours trading…

…Details of the Disney streaming service were sketchy Tuesday, with CEO Bob Iger saying that if a movie is Pixar- or Disney-branded, it will probably appear exclusively on the new service — including shows and movies made specifically for the service — but the jury is still out on Marvel and Star Wars films.

ESPN has been losing TV subscribers for a few years and an online stand-alone product has been predicted for months, but ending a distribution agreement with Netflix beginning with the 2019 theatrical slate caught investors off-guard and Netflix shares quickly sunk 4 percent on the news in after-hours trading.

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