February 26, 2018: Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony Highlighted by K-Pop and Skating Pandas, Facebook Removes VR Shooting Game From CPAC, Russian Spies Hacked the Olympics

By Ian Zelaya February 26, 2018, 8:39 AM EST

1. WINTER OLYMPICS CLOSING CEREMONY HIGHLIGHTED BY K-POP AND SKATING PANDAS: The closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on Sunday delivered a dazzling, K-pop-heavy spectacle similar to the opening ceremony, but also featured a segment that let Beijing—the next Winter Olympics host city—preview the type of performance they'd bring to the event. Deadline: “Offering a 'reason to smile' and 'hope in humanity' out of the Olympics, primetime host Mike Tirico eventually summed up the XXIII Winter Games tonight in pedantic geopolitical terms but that all took a backseat to pop overtly on Sunday. Still, amidst commentary from NBC’s latest team of Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir, and Terry Gannon, digital Pandas and 2022 hosts Beijing gave their greetings, giving an indication that the Asian Century is fully upon us as the Olympics were handed over to China yet again. As that occurred, the Comcast-owned network managed to avoid any major pratfalls in the booth but also much excitement in the end. The same could not be said on the floor of the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium—and I’m not talking about the parade of some of the more than 2,900 participating athletes from around the world taking selfies. The non-Weir volume only got pumped up more by the arrival of the stateside chart-topping EXO. Performing their worldwide hit 'Power,' the eight-member boy band grabbed the night from everyone—even strongman Chinese leader Xi Jinping who showed up via video to welcome everyone to his nation in four years after the Tokyo summer games of 2020. As social media exploded to EXO fans, Weir garnered his music critic credentials with the assertion that 'K-Pop is a global sensation…maybe it’s just pop!'"

2. FACEBOOK REMOVES VR SHOOTING GAME FROM CPAC: Facebook pulled and apologized for its first-person VR shooting game at the Conservative Political Action Conference, after sparking controversy amid the heated gun debate in America. Variety: “Facebook was demo’ing futuristic combat-simulation game 'Bullet Train' in its booth at CPAC in Maryland just outside of Washington, D.C. The company and the game’s developer, Epic Games, have showed off the VR experience at trade shows before. But the optics were bad. It’s been just over a week since the horrifying mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 dead. The event sparked national outrage and reignited demands for the U.S. government to ban the sale of rapid-fire weapons designed for killing people. Meanwhile, Facebook was hosting the demos at CPAC, a confab that draws many pro-gun advocates. After media drew attention to the 'Bullet Train' demo, Facebook announced Friday it was shelving violent game titles from its exhibit. Hugo Barra, Facebook’s VP of virtual reality, said in a statement, 'There is a standard set of experiences included in the Oculus demos we feature at public events. A few of the action games can include violence. In light of the recent events in Florida and out of respect for the victims and their families, we have removed them from this demo. We regret that we failed to do so in the first place.' 'Bullet Train' is developed for the Oculus VR platform by Epic Games. In the game, players assume the role of an agent in an infiltration simulation set inside a train station where they must 'blast through resistance forces.' Gameplay features teleportation, time manipulation and 'close-quarters combat,' according to Epic Games."

3. RUSSIAN SPIES HACKED THE OLYMPICS: U.S. intelligence said that Russian military spies hacked hundreds of computers used by authorities at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which concluded Sunday. Washington Post: “They did so while trying to make it appear as though the intrusion was conducted by North Korea, what is known as a 'false-flag' operation, said two U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. Officials in PyeongChang acknowledged that the Games were hit by a cyberattack during the Feb. 9 Opening Ceremonies but had refused to confirm whether Russia was responsible. That evening there were disruptions to the Internet, broadcast systems and the Olympics website. Many attendees were unable to print their tickets for the ceremony, resulting in empty seats. Analysts surmise the disruption was retaliation against the International Olympic Committee for banning the Russian team from the Winter Games due to doping violations. No officials from Russia’s Olympic federation were allowed to attend, and while some athletes were permitted to compete under the designation 'Olympic Athletes from Russia,' they were unable to display the Russian flag on their uniforms and, if they won medals, their country’s anthem was not played. As of early February, the Russian military agency GRU had access to as many as 300 Olympic-related computers, according to an intelligence report this month."


EL PASO, TEXAS:  The eighth annual Neon Desert Music Festival will take place May 26-27 downtown. Headliners will include Cardi B, Third Eye Blind, Gucci Mane, and Martin Garrix. 

LOS ANGELES:  The sixth annual Latin Food Fest, a Hispanic culinary celebration, will take place March 23-24 at Santa Monica Beach.

For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner:

MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA:  The Pavilion Grille in Boca Raton will host a luncheon for the Zonta Club of Boca Raton Foundation, Inc. on March 10. The event will benefit service organizations including Women’s Circle, Inc. and the Not Just Me Foundation. 

NEW YORK:  The Municipal Art Society of New York’s 125th Anniversary Salon Series Celebration will take place March 20 at the Montauk Club in Park Slope. 

Persisticon’s inaugural benefit will take place March 25 at the Bell House in Brooklyn. The event, which benefits Emily’s List—an organization committed to electing progressive women to government positions—will include comedy performances from Phoebe Robinson, Aparna Nancherla, Bridget Everett, and more. 

Transforming Commerce, a forum about advancing social impact through business, will take place April 10 at the United Nations. Speakers will include Leslie Moonves, chairman and C.E.O. of CBS Corporation, and Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications, Inc. 

BMF Media is the new experiential partner for Advertising Age. 

For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner:

TORONTO:  The third annual Toronto Winter Brewfest will take place March 2-3 at the Enercare Centre. The event will offer tastings from more than 40 breweries. 

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With contributions from Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, and Ian Zelaya in New York.

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