ESPN will lay off 100 on-air personalities and writers, source says

ESPN plans to lay off 100 on-air personalities and writers, a source familiar with the matter told CNNMoney on Wednesday.

The job cuts, including television, radio and online personalities, will be announced Wednesday, and most will take effect immediately, the source said. ESPN also plans to cut what the source described as a limited number of additional off-air jobs.

ESPN is shifting its focus toward digital as it faces cable subscriber losses and increased pressure on costs. The network has spent billions of dollars in recent years on rights deals with major sports leagues and college conferences.

It was not immediately clear who was losing their jobs. But Ed Werder, a prominent NFL reporter, said on Twitter that he was among those laid off. “I have no plans to retire,” he said.

ESPN declined to comment on the job cuts. In a note to employees, however, ESPN president John Skipper mentioned the changing habits of viewers.

“These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company,” he wrote. “I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN.”

Many of the people who were laid off were coming to the end of their contracts and did not want to accept large pay cuts, the source said. For others, ESPN offered to buy them out of their contracts.

ESPN employs about 8,000 people around the world.

Jim Miller, the co-author of “Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside The World of ESPN,” told CNNMoney that ESPN believed the moves were necessary “to not only stay competitive, but to help transition their content strategy for the future.”

“SportsCenter,” ESPN’s flagship show, will become more of a digital presence and move away from “a show with many, many, highly paid anchors,” Miller said.

“ESPN is arguably one of the greatest success stories in the history of modern media,” Miller added. “But now even it can’t escape some of the harsh realities of an ever changing technological landscape.”

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Budget director: Trump would sign a funding bill without wall money

With a potential government shutdown set for Friday at midnight, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney confirmed on Tuesday that President Donald Trump would, in fact, sign a funding bill that did not provide money to build his border wall.

“The offer that we received from the Democrats the last couple days included a good bit of money for border security,” Mulvaney said on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

When Tapper asked if Trump would sign the bill even without funding for a border wall, a clear administration priority in early talks, Mulvaney said “yeah.”

He added that the border security money in the bill would allow Trump “to follow through on his promise to make that border more secure.” However, he said the administration was not backing down from its demand for border wall funding.

“We just thought that it would be a good first step to get these things that everybody agrees on and take that idea of a government shutdown off the table,” Mulvaney said.

The discussion for what to do in fiscal year 2018, which starts October 1, starts “as soon as this bill is signed,” he added.

But despite the White House tabling the border wall money request on this bill, Mulvaney said avoiding a government shutdown was not yet a sure thing. He said they had yet to get a response after they told Democrats they would accept a bill without wall funding.

“We’ve not heard anything from them today,” Mulvaney said. “We thought we had a deal as of yesterday.”

Trump pledged throughout his campaign to construct a wall between the United States and Mexico. He insisted that Mexico would pay for the wall. In his campaign’s “Contract with the American Voter,” Trump promised he would get Congress to pass a bill fully funding his wall, with the caveat that Mexico would reimburse the United States for it, in the first 100 days of his presidency.

In March, the administration requested money from Congress as a “down payment” on the wall, which Trump said would be recouped later from Mexico.

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Budget director: Trump would sign a funding bill without wall money

With a potential government shutdown set for Friday at midnight, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney confirmed on Tuesday that President Donald Trump would, in fact, sign a funding bill that did not provide money to build his border wall.

“The offer that we received from the Democrats the last couple days included a good bit of money for border security,” Mulvaney said on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

When Tapper asked if Trump would sign the bill even without funding for a border wall, a clear administration priority in early talks, Mulvaney said “yeah.”

He added that the border security money in the bill would allow Trump “to follow through on his promise to make that border more secure.” However, he said the administration was not backing down from its demand for border wall funding.

“We just thought that it would be a good first step to get these things that everybody agrees on and take that idea of a government shutdown off the table,” Mulvaney said.

The discussion for what to do in fiscal year 2018, which starts October 1, starts “as soon as this bill is signed,” he added.

But despite the White House tabling the border wall money request on this bill, Mulvaney said avoiding a government shutdown was not yet a sure thing. He said they had yet to get a response after they told Democrats they would accept a bill without wall funding.

“We’ve not heard anything from them today,” Mulvaney said. “We thought we had a deal as of yesterday.”

Trump pledged throughout his campaign to construct a wall between the United States and Mexico. He insisted that Mexico would pay for the wall. In his campaign’s “Contract with the American Voter,” Trump promised he would get Congress to pass a bill fully funding his wall, with the caveat that Mexico would reimburse the United States for it, in the first 100 days of his presidency.

In March, the administration requested money from Congress as a “down payment” on the wall, which Trump said would be recouped later from Mexico.

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Government shutdown: Border wall money out, Obamacare fight on

Congressional Republicans have privately proposed a funding bill that does not include money for the border wall, a Congressional source told CNN on Tuesday, a sign congressional Republicans are willing to buck the President to avoid a government shutdown.

But there are still obstacles to passing a spending bill by Friday, sources tell CNN.

Congressional negotiators are now trying to work through another major issue: what to do about cost-sharing reduction payments, money the government pays to health insurers to reduce the out-of-pocket costs of low-income people. The payments are a major way Democrats ensured low-income people would be covered under the Affordable Care Act, but with a new Republican administration, their future is uncertain.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” that Trump would be willing to sign a bill without money for the border wall and stave off the threat of a government shutdown.

“We just thought that it would be a good first step to get these things that everybody agrees on and take that idea of a government shutdown off the table,” Mulvaney said.

He said he hoped that would be enough to keep the government running, but had yet to hear back from Congressional Democrats. Mulvaney also said Democrats had made their request on Obamacare subsidies too late in the negotiating process.

“They dropped this Obamacare bailout, these insurance company payments, about two weeks ago,” Mulvaney said. “These are things they’ve brought to the table very late.”

Without the payments, health insurers would likely pull out of the Obamacare marketplace and could leave many Americans without a choice of insurers, but the payments are politically fraught. They are the subject of a lawsuit between House Republicans and the Obama administration that President Donald Trump inherited. Trump has waffled over whether Republicans should make them at all, even as Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have signaled they are necessary to stabilize the insurance market.

Democrats want assurances in the spending bill that Republicans will continue making the payments. A senior Democratic aide told CNN that “the position of House and Senate Democratic negotiators is that the omnibus must include the CSR language.”

Insurers are also desperate to get some clarity on the issue and make sure the administration continues making the payments.

But, Republicans argue that the payments are part of mandatory spending and therefore shouldn’t be part of the negotiations.

The CSR payments are just the latest snag to roil the spending negotiations. There is a growing possibility on Capitol Hill that lawmakers may need to fall back on a week-long funding bill to avoid a shut down and keep the negotiations moving forward.

On Tuesday afternoon Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remained coy about what he would do.

“I don’t want to start talking about a short-term CR on a Tuesday. We’re hoping to reach an agreement in the next few days on how to process the entire bill through Sept. 30, and I don’t want to speculate about whether that can actually clear this week,” Sen. Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

Over the recess, Republicans and Democrats worked carefully to craft a must-pass spending bill that all parties could agree on and could be signed by the President, but the delicate negotiations have hit a few roadblocks in recent days.

With just days to go before the government runs out of money, Trump’s mixed messages on a border wall, sources tell CNN, may not ultimately doom the bill, but they certainly caused consternation on Capitol Hill.

“The President and his advisers are every day, I think learning new lessons about how delicate and complicated this process is. And, it’s a whole lot more art and balance than it is science,” one Republican senator said noting that it will be imperative to watch the administration over the next few days.

“Let’s see how the White House deals with the next day or so,” the member said. “Either we come to an agreement or don’t, but they seem to be working now to get an agreement.”

The President continued to stand by his promise to build the wall Tuesday afternoon, though he did not specify when it would happen after being grilled by reporters.

“The wall’s going to get built, folks,” Trump said at the White House, when asked if he’d sign a continuing resolution without funding for his border wall. “In case anybody has any questions, the wall is going to get built.”

When asked when the wall would be built, Trump said, “Soon. We’re already preparing. We’re doing plans, we’re doing specifications, we’re doing a lot of work on the wall, and the wall is going to get built.”

It’s not unusual for the White House to have a stake in the legislative agenda or try to influence it, but with a spending bill deadline only three days away, the confusion over the border wall was a complicating factor.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said Trump’s interest in legislating is a good thing, but he did offer a warning.

“He’s put a focus on border security unlike any other president. That’s a good thing. Just don’t overplay your hand,” Graham said.

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Uber unveils plans to demo flying cars by 2020

Uber, not satisfied with giving customers rides on land, is now looking to the skies.

The tech company announced Tuesday at its Elevate Summit that it has struck partnerships with the cities of Dallas and Dubai to demonstrate a network of flying cars by 2020. Uber also announced a handful of partnerships with aviation companies to develop and deliver a flying car.

Uber believes that investing in flying cars is essential to protecting its business, and envisions full-scale operations of a flying car network launching in 2023.

“If you’re not planting the seeds for 5-10 years out, you have no company in five to 10 years,” Uber chief product officer Jeff Holden said Tuesday.

Uber is already investing heavily in self-driving cars, aware that its existing business could be disrupted by autonomous vehicles. Now it’s striving to protect itself from being disrupted by aviation as well.

Uber expects flight to be become a daily part of our transportation lives. The company believes it can offer rides in flying cars for about the same price as an UberX ride. The technology could be transformative in areas plagued by traffic.

In October, Uber released its ambitious vision for how flying cars, technically known as vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (VTOL), could make transportation incredibly fast and cheap.

The technology is also largely unproven. Many hurdles remain to making flying cars safe, affordable and reliable. There will be regulatory questions to answer.

But interest in the space is heating up. Innovators are racing to capitalize on advances in electric power and artificial intelligence. Monday morning, Kitty Hawk released video of a prototype vehicle that can hover above water. The startup is backed by Google cofounder Larry Page. Airbus, the French aviation giant, has announced its own plan for developing air taxis.

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