Fortnite furore, Trump’s climate change, and the ‘backstop to the backstop’

Planet Business: Also in the news – it’s a Betfair cop, and farewell Microsoft’s Paul Allen

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (left), who died this week aged 65, is pictured with Bill Gates cheering his basketball team the Portland Trail Blazers in 2000. Photograph: File photograph: Reuters

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (left), who died this week aged 65, is pictured with Bill Gates cheering his basketball team the Portland Trail Blazers in 2000. Photograph: File photograph: Reuters


Image of the week: Microsoft two

A trip into the picture archives this week to the year 2000: Bill Gates, having recently stepped down as chief executive of Microsoft, is pictured with Paul Allen, who co-founded the software company with him back in 1975. The two men are cheering courtside as basketball team the Portland Trail Blazers, owned by Allen, play the Los Angeles Lakers. Allen died this week aged 65 from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He first met Gates at Lakeside School, a private school in north Seattle, and both dropped out of university to build Microsoft and usher in the age of the personal computer. Like Gates, Allen later became a philanthropist. An avid sports fan, he also owned American Football team the Seattle Seahawks. Gates, who now runs the largest philanthropic foundation in the world with his wife Melinda, said he was “heartbroken” at the loss and that he would “miss him tremendously”.

The lexicon: Backstop to the backstop

Not to be confused with the backlash to the backlash, the “backstop to the backstop” is the thing that Theresa May really, really wants – essentially, it is a time limit on the Brexit backstop. And for anyone who was totally on top of what is meant by the backstop but has temporarily forgotten, it is a safety net designed to kick in if the UK ends up leaving the EU in a no-deal fashion that causes chaos or indeed any kind of trade friction on the Irish Border. The version proposed by the EU and hated by the Democratic Unionist Party would see Northern Ireland become the only part of the UK to remain indefinitely in the customs union, parts of the single market and the EU VAT system. May, meanwhile, is talking about a backstop that would effectively keep all of the UK in the customs union, but only for a while. In summary, London is demanding an insurance policy with a built-in expiry date, Brussels understandably says no, a thousand times no, and everybody else is groaning so hard they have a backache on their backache.

Getting to know: Brandon Lucas

Brandon Lucas is the man behind the YouTube channel Golden Modz, and he’s being sued by Epic Games, the makers of the multiplayer battle game craze Fortnite. That’s because Golden Modz helps players “cheat” at Fortnite Battle Royale, a game that has about 125 million players worldwide, by offering “hacks” such as the “aimbot”, which lets players kill their enemies without having to go to the trouble of aiming their weapon at them.

“Nobody likes a cheater,” said Epic Games in its legal filing, which also named a second YouTuber, Colton Conter. “Defendant Lucas not only cheats, he also promotes, advertises and sells software that enables those who use it to cheat.”

For his part, Lucas is just “confused” that Epic Games is targeting him in this way when “there’s about a thousand other content creators on YouTube that make Fortnite content”. Some parents, of course, will just be happy if their kids avail of a few YouTube hacks if it means the whole Fortnite ordeal will be over that little bit faster.

The list: The ecological evolution of Trump

US president Donald Trump isn’t sure if global warming is “man-made” and won’t be giving “trillions and trillions of dollars” to any efforts to avert a climate change catastrophe. But he has made one crucial backtrack, as illustrated by this list of his super-smart statements on the subject over the years.

1. Conspiracy theory “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive,” Trump tweeted in the halcyon days of 2012. Meanwhile, in Beijing, you can barely see the skyscrapers for the smog.

2. Hoax paranoia “We should be focused on clean and beautiful air – not expensive and business-closing GLOBAL WARMING – a total hoax!”

3. LA chills: “Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee – I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!”

4. Unreal s***: “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop,” he tweeted in 2014. “Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.”

5. Updated view: “Something’s changing, and it’ll change back again. I don’t think it’s a hoax,” he told CBS’s 60 Minutes this week. Cool, thanks Donald.

In numbers: Bad bookies

€1.9 million Sum that Paddy Power Betfair will pay to the charity Gamble Aware after it was fined a total of €2.5 million for failing to catch problem gambling and stop bets made with stolen money.

£894,754 Money that was defrauded from a Birmingham dogs’ home by its then chief executive, Simon Price, and his wife in order to feed his gambling addiction with Betfair over a four-year period. The money will be returned to the dogs’ home as part of the bookmaker’s settlement with the UK’s Gambling Commission.

€7 million Fine issued by the Gambling Commission to bookmaker William Hill earlier this year for failing to spot problem gambling and money-laundering.