Disney’s John Lasseter takes leave of absence, apologizes for unwanted gestures

John Lasseter, one of the biggest names in animation, is taking a leave of absence from Disney following what he called “missteps.”

In an internal memo sent to Disney employees obtained by CNN, Lasseter, who is the chief creative officer of Pixar and Disney Animation, said that he recently had “a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me.”

“It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them. As a result, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the leader I am today compared to the mentor, advocate and champion I want to be. It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent,” he wrote.

Lasseter added that he wanted to apologize to “anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form.”

“No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected,” he added.

According to Lasseter, he and Disney have agreed to “take some time away to reflect on how to move forward from here.”

“As hard as it is for me to step away from a job I am so passionate about and a team I hold in the highest regard, not just as artists but as people, I know it’s the best thing for all of us right now,” he wrote. “My hope is that a six-month sabbatical will give me the opportunity to start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.”

A Disney spokesperson told CNN the company is “committed to maintaining an environment in which all employees are respected and empowered to do their best work.”

“We appreciate John’s candor and sincere apology and fully support his sabbatical,” the spokesperson said.

Lasseter’s statement comes on the same day that The Hollywood Reporter, who first reported Lasseter’s memo, published a story with the headline “John Lasseter’s pattern of alleged misconduct detailed by Disney/Pixar insiders.”

The report quotes an unnamed Pixar employee as saying Lasseter had a reputation among employees “for grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.”

Lasseter is one of the founders of the highly successful Pixar animation studio that has been behind films, including “Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo” and “Inside Out.” Since its inception, Pixar has gone on to make more than $11 billion at the worldwide box office and win multiple Academy Awards.

Disney bought Pixar in 2006 in roughly a $7 billion deal that made Lasseter the chief creative officer for the company’s two animation studios.

Lasseter is credited with a resurgence for Disney’s Animation, which has seen recent hits like “Frozen” and “Moana.”

A representative for Lasseter did not immediately respond for comment on this story.

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Disney’s John Lasseter takes leave of absence, apologizes for unwanted gestures

John Lasseter, one of the biggest names in animation, is taking a leave of absence from Disney following what he called “missteps.”

In an internal memo sent to Disney employees obtained by CNN, Lasseter, who is the chief creative officer of Pixar and Disney Animation, said that he recently had “a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me.”

“It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them. As a result, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the leader I am today compared to the mentor, advocate and champion I want to be. It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent,” he wrote.

Lasseter added that he wanted to apologize to “anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form.”

“No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected,” he added.

According to Lasseter, he and Disney have agreed to “take some time away to reflect on how to move forward from here.”

“As hard as it is for me to step away from a job I am so passionate about and a team I hold in the highest regard, not just as artists but as people, I know it’s the best thing for all of us right now,” he wrote. “My hope is that a six-month sabbatical will give me the opportunity to start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.”

A Disney spokesperson told CNN the company is “committed to maintaining an environment in which all employees are respected and empowered to do their best work.”

“We appreciate John’s candor and sincere apology and fully support his sabbatical,” the spokesperson said.

Lasseter’s statement comes on the same day that The Hollywood Reporter, who first reported Lasseter’s memo, published a story with the headline “John Lasseter’s pattern of alleged misconduct detailed by Disney/Pixar insiders.”

The report quotes an unnamed Pixar employee as saying Lasseter had a reputation among employees “for grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.”

Lasseter is one of the founders of the highly successful Pixar animation studio that has been behind films, including “Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo” and “Inside Out.” Since its inception, Pixar has gone on to make more than $11 billion at the worldwide box office and win multiple Academy Awards.

Disney bought Pixar in 2006 in roughly a $7 billion deal that made Lasseter the chief creative officer for the company’s two animation studios.

Lasseter is credited with a resurgence for Disney’s Animation, which has seen recent hits like “Frozen” and “Moana.”

A representative for Lasseter did not immediately respond for comment on this story.

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NAFTA talks are in trouble

No meaningful progress is being made in NAFTA trade talks between the United States, Canada and Mexico, increasing the odds that President Trump could withdraw from a critical 23-year old agreement.

After Round 5 of NAFTA talks ended Tuesday — only two more are scheduled — no progress has been made on divisive issues.

“While we have made progress on some of our efforts to modernize NAFTA, I remain concerned about the lack of headway,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.

“We have seen no evidence that Canada or Mexico are willing to seriously engage on provisions that will lead to a rebalanced agreement.”

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the U.S. put forward “extreme proposals” that “we simply cannot agree to.”

“Some of the proposals that we have heard would not only be harmful for Canada but would be harmful for the U.S. as well,” Freeland added, citing concerns from U.S. and Canadian auto companies.

Mexico’s Economy Ministry didn’t immediately provide a comment at the end of talks on Tuesday, though Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo had criticized the Trump administration’s proposals before.

Trump blames NAFTA for the loss of hundreds of thousands of American jobs, particularly manufacturing jobs, and a growing trade deficit with Mexico of about $60 billion last year. America has a small trade surplus with Canada.

Nonpartisan congressional research concluded this year that NAFTA did not trigger a mass exodus of Rust Belt jobs. Trade economists say automation and advanced technology have eliminated millions more jobs.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says 14 million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico, which has boomed since NAFTA became law in 1994.

All three sides can’t agree on a few key issues. Top of the list: The manufacturing of cars.

Automobiles make up the vast majority of the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico, so the Trump administration wants to rewrite the rule book on how and where cars are made in North America. Canada and Mexico say the U.S. proposal on the so-called rules of origin is unacceptable.

Another key issue: The agreement’s actual existence. The Trump administration has proposed a “sunset clause,” which means the deal would end every five years unless all three sides agree to renew for another five. Mexico countered with a proposal that all sides be forced to examine the costs and benefits of NAFTA every five years, though leaving an automatic withdrawal off the table.

That’s not all. The U.S. and Canada have renewed a decades long fight over Canadian lumber exported to the United States. The Trump administration slapped tariffs as high as 18% on Canadian lumber.

The two nations are also arguing over an aviation dispute involving American plane maker Boeing and its Canadian competitor, Bombardier.

The Trump administration recently defeated Mexico in a years-long battle over Mexican tuna exports to the United States.

If those disagreements and trade battles persist, Trump may resurface his threat to tear up NAFTA.

Economists, and even Guajardo, say it’s unlikely Trump would actually withdraw in the coming weeks because many congressional Republicans support NAFTA. Trump needs them to pass tax reform.

All three sides say they will meet intermittently in Washington in December, but the next full round of negotiations isn’t scheduled until January 23-28 in Montreal, Canada.

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NAFTA talks are in trouble

No meaningful progress is being made in NAFTA trade talks between the United States, Canada and Mexico, increasing the odds that President Trump could withdraw from a critical 23-year old agreement.

After Round 5 of NAFTA talks ended Tuesday — only two more are scheduled — no progress has been made on divisive issues.

“While we have made progress on some of our efforts to modernize NAFTA, I remain concerned about the lack of headway,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.

“We have seen no evidence that Canada or Mexico are willing to seriously engage on provisions that will lead to a rebalanced agreement.”

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the U.S. put forward “extreme proposals” that “we simply cannot agree to.”

“Some of the proposals that we have heard would not only be harmful for Canada but would be harmful for the U.S. as well,” Freeland added, citing concerns from U.S. and Canadian auto companies.

Mexico’s Economy Ministry didn’t immediately provide a comment at the end of talks on Tuesday, though Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo had criticized the Trump administration’s proposals before.

Trump blames NAFTA for the loss of hundreds of thousands of American jobs, particularly manufacturing jobs, and a growing trade deficit with Mexico of about $60 billion last year. America has a small trade surplus with Canada.

Nonpartisan congressional research concluded this year that NAFTA did not trigger a mass exodus of Rust Belt jobs. Trade economists say automation and advanced technology have eliminated millions more jobs.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says 14 million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico, which has boomed since NAFTA became law in 1994.

All three sides can’t agree on a few key issues. Top of the list: The manufacturing of cars.

Automobiles make up the vast majority of the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico, so the Trump administration wants to rewrite the rule book on how and where cars are made in North America. Canada and Mexico say the U.S. proposal on the so-called rules of origin is unacceptable.

Another key issue: The agreement’s actual existence. The Trump administration has proposed a “sunset clause,” which means the deal would end every five years unless all three sides agree to renew for another five. Mexico countered with a proposal that all sides be forced to examine the costs and benefits of NAFTA every five years, though leaving an automatic withdrawal off the table.

That’s not all. The U.S. and Canada have renewed a decades long fight over Canadian lumber exported to the United States. The Trump administration slapped tariffs as high as 18% on Canadian lumber.

The two nations are also arguing over an aviation dispute involving American plane maker Boeing and its Canadian competitor, Bombardier.

The Trump administration recently defeated Mexico in a years-long battle over Mexican tuna exports to the United States.

If those disagreements and trade battles persist, Trump may resurface his threat to tear up NAFTA.

Economists, and even Guajardo, say it’s unlikely Trump would actually withdraw in the coming weeks because many congressional Republicans support NAFTA. Trump needs them to pass tax reform.

All three sides say they will meet intermittently in Washington in December, but the next full round of negotiations isn’t scheduled until January 23-28 in Montreal, Canada.

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Uber hacked in 2016, reportedly paid $100k ransom for silence

Hackers accessed millions of Uber users’ personal information last year, and the company did not report it until Tuesday.

In late 2016, two people outside the company accessed the personal information of 57 million Uber users including names, email addresses and phone numbers, the company said. Hackers also accessed driver’s license numbers of around 600,000 drivers in the United States. The 600,000 was included in the total number of affected users.

The company did not alert victims or regulators of the breach when they discovered it happened.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement he recently learned of the breach.

Khosrowshahi, who became CEO in August, said he launched an investigation into why the company did not alert authorities or individuals affected by the hack. He said, “two of the individuals who led the response to this incident are no longer with the company.” Khosrowshahi said the company is now notifying regulatory authorities.

Bloomberg reports that Joe Sullivan, Uber’s chief security officer, is no longer with the company. Uber would not confirm to CNNMoney which individuals had left the company.

“At the time of the incident, we took immediate steps to secure the data and shut down further unauthorized access by the individuals,” Khosrowshahi said in the statement.

“We subsequently identified the individuals and obtained assurances that the downloaded data had been destroyed. We also implemented security measures to restrict access to and strengthen controls on our cloud-based storage accounts,” he said.

Uber did not say how hackers assured the company the stolen data was destroyed. Bloomberg reported that Uber paid them $100,000. Uber would not confirm it paid this ransom.

According to the company, no location history, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, or dates of birth were downloaded in the hack. Uber said it is providing free credit monitoring to drivers who had their license numbers exposed.

It’s the latest blow to Uber, which is trying to improve its public image. The company has been embroiled in a number of controversies, including using software called Greyball to evade regulators, a court battle over allegedly stolen secrets from Google’s self-driving car division, and a slew of complaints regarding sexual harassment and toxic company culture.

This week, the company was fined almost $9 million for background check issues in Colorado.

In his statement, Khosrowshahi said things will be different moving forward. “While I can’t erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes,” he wrote.

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