Apple made its most important announcement in years on Monday, but critical details were strangely absent

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook speaks during a company product launch event at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park on March 25, 2019 in Cupertino, California.

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Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook speaks during a company product launch event at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park on March 25, 2019 in Cupertino, California.

Apple CEO Tim Cook began Monday’s highly anticipated event at the Steve Jobs Theater by defining the word “services.” The conceit was to lay out a new vision for how to think about Apple.

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If Apple Version 1 was the Macintosh computer, and Apple Version 2 was mobile hardware from the iPod and iPhone through the Apple Watch, then Apple Version 3 would include a variety of subscription services with recurring revenue.

That’s the vision Cook has been selling to investors on earnings calls for two years now and became more urgent last quarter as iPhone sales slowed in China. Apple shares recovered from that news and are up about 20 percent for the year but are still down more than 10 percent from the stock’s peak last August.

Monday’s event was supposed to be the big coming-out party for this services vision.

But if Apple v.3 is going to change the way investors value Apple, they’ll need more answers than Cook gave Monday. Apple was so sparse on key details around its video and news services that it felt like Apple had rushed the event or was waiting on a critical deal that never came through.

Apple introduced Apple TV+, its subscription video service for original programs, and showcased a handful of series starring Jennifer Aniston, Kumail Nanjiani and Oprah Winfrey.

But it didn’t say how much Apple TV+ would cost. Apple had previously planned on giving away at least some of its original content for free, CNBC reported last year, so new pricing information was hotly anticipated.

In addition, even if the shows are fantastic, a consumer could watch them all in a month. It made no sense to announce a subscription video service with no library.

Apple also failed to discuss its future content spending plans. If Apple is going to charge a monthly fee for its original content, how much does it plan to spend on video? Is Apple considering challenging Netflix’s $10 billion per year? Again, nothing.

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Mueller findings stifle pro-impeachment Democrats

Maxine Water, Brad Sherman and Nancy Pelosi

Reps. Maxine Waters and Brad Sherman have both called for President Donald Trump’s impeachment in the past, but Robert Mueller’s inconclusive findings throw a wrench in those plans. | J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

Some of the most fervent supporters for impeaching Donald Trump are going silent.

Democratic lawmakers who have long sought to force Trump from office came to grips with a harsh new reality on Monday after special counsel Robert Mueller shuttered his investigation without a single charge against the president.

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The nearly two-year investigation had been Democrats’ best hope at turning up incriminating evidence against Trump. But its abrupt end — with no new explosive accusations against the White House — has stifled the Democratic Party’s pro-impeachment caucus for the near future.

“Whatever the bet was last week that the president wouldn’t finish out his term, that bet is not as good this week,” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who has twice filed articles of impeachment against the president, told POLITICO Monday night.

“Our best single source of game-changing revelations was the Mueller report, and according to Barr, there aren’t any game-changing revelations in it,” he said, referring to Attorney General William Barr’s summary of Mueller’s findings.

Sherman added: “On the legal side, I remain convinced.”

Rep. Maxine Waters of California has been one of the most vocal Democrats on the issue, demanding Trump’s impeachment since nearly the beginning of his presidency.

As chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, Waters has launched her own probe into Trump’s finances and business dealings with plans to look into potential wrongdoing at the Trump Foundation next.

But Waters adopted a notably restrained tone on Monday when responding to reporters about how the summary released over the weekend affects the political calculation around pursuing impeachment.

“I think we do nothing now but concentrate on getting the information, getting that report,” Waters said. “[Impeachment has] never been discussed as a strategy for this caucus. It’s only a few of us.”

Democrats said the calculations could again change once they’ve seen the full Mueller report, which they’ve demanded access to within one week.

The leaders of the six House committees set that timeline on Monday night, giving the Department of Justice until April 2 to publicly release the full extent of Mueller’s findings.

Privately, top Democrats said they were relieved that, at least for now, lawmakers insisting on Trump’s removal from office were likely to be much less vocal, allowing the caucus to potentially turn the focus to its legislative agenda, something they’ve struggled with since taking over the House in January.

At a leadership meeting Monday night, Democratic leaders emphasized the need for lawmakers to highlight their loaded legislative schedule this week — from voting on a gender-pay bill to introducing sweeping health care legislation — and demonstrate that Democrats aren’t consumed with the Mueller report.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has never been a fan of the impeachment process and has repeatedly urged her caucus to approach the issue with caution. Several Democrats said Monday they felt Pelosi’s wary approach to the impeachment demands from her left flank was justified after the anticlimactic summary of Mueller’s report.

“I think it’s a vindication of Nancy Pelosi’s caution and deliberative approach, that we need to proceed in a methodical way,” said Rep. Ro Khanna of California, one of the caucus’ most liberal members. “I think we need to have Mueller come and testify. It’s an abuse of discretion for William Barr to try to make conclusions in two days that Bob Mueller was unwilling to make for two years.”

Pelosi and other top Democrats have always said any impeachment effort would have to have not only bipartisan buy-in from Republicans but also support from the public. Senate Republicans made clear on Monday that post-Mueller, removing Trump from the White House was less likely than ever before.

“But it seems to me that we have seen no grounds, at all, for impeachment proceedings to be started by the House,” Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, told POLITICO. “When even Speaker Pelosi says that it would not be the right route, I believe that puts it to rest regarding these allegations.”

Several Democrats argued that the president had still committed impeachable offenses unrelated to the Russia investigation. They allege violations of the foreign emoluments clause related to Trump’s business dealings, for example, as well as other abuses of power.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) confirmed to POLITICO on Monday night that she still intended to introduce a resolution backing impeachment within days. But she declined to comment further, with a staffer interjecting to keep Tlaib from providing more details.

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), who had already said he would seek impeachment regardless of Mueller’s findings, reiterated after Sunday’s letter from Barr that his position had not changed.

“As long as bigotry influences the President’s policies, I will continue to seek his impeachment,” Green tweeted Sunday.

But several Democrats who have previously backed impeachment acknowledged that Barr’s four-page letter had killed their chances politically, “at least for the very immediate moment,” Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky said in an interview Monday night.

“The public would be much more skeptical of an impeachment effort at this time,” Yarmuth said, though he added, “For me, it doesn’t change it at all.”

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Vanderpump Rules recap: Tom and Tommer

Our long national nightmare is finally over: TomTom has officially opened! This honestly feels like it’s been a 10-year process to get this cocktail bar off the ground (Vanderpump Rules has only had 7 seasons but whatever!).

We open with the gang all getting spiffy for the big night…and discussing Lala’s rage issues. Ariana once again comes out saying that Lala needs to get her emotions in check and maybe seek some therapy. Her man, meanwhile, is mostly focused on his $18,000 motorcycle and sidecar situation that he’s planning on debuting at TomTom. Sandoval and Schwartz are wearing matching white suits which makes them a little reminiscent of the matching tuxes in Dumb and Dumber.

But Sandoval’s excitement over showing Schwartz the motorcycle is maybe the most romantic thing ever to happen on Vanderpump—sorry Jax’s proposal. Sandoval is utterly giddy while talking about driving up to Schwartz’s apartment. Then, when Schwartz sees it he is similarly gleeful. I can only imagine Katie is somewhere staring out the window, taking deep breaths but seething with rage. She’s upset with her husband for not spending enough time with her and being a crappy partner. It feels a litttttle ill-timed given that he’s finally opening his business and has struggled to find a career for the last few years.

At the opening, Brittany decides to defy her doctor’s orders and drink booze. Ummmmm there’s a lot of bad decision-making that happens on this show but I don’t recall ever seeing someone openly ignore their medical professional’s advice. She seems to think that if she just drinks the booze as a shot, then it will be okay. GOOD LUCK JAX!!

Katie is once again feeling neglected at the TomTom opening. Schwartz is bouncing around but it doesn’t feel like he’s openly ignoring her—he’s just busy being the party host. Katie takes a break from being mad to tell Lala she’d like to skinny dip with her on this vacay. Then, Stassi asks Lala about what went down at Billie’s brunch. Lala is pretty open and admits she went in on Raquel. But then Lisa calls her over for a chat about the same incident and Lala flips her story. Uh, Lala, this was filmed. Lisa is a little confused by Lala’s “I was perfectly reasonable” story and asks Scheana to talk about the brunch too. Scheana doesn’t really defend Lala but also doesn’t condemn her. I sense this will be a topic on the Mexican vacay.

Then, we have the standard packing sequence where they all debate what ensembles they should bring. Stassi is stressed because she has to “write’ during the vacation. Jax and Brittany are stressed because they haven’t even finished planning their engagement but they’re taking this vacation. Brittany attempts to get Jax to agree upon some wildflower arrangements but he’s appalled that they’re not free. But Sandoval is not anxious at all because he has a brand-new hat box! Crisis averted for those who want to bring wide-brim hats on vacay!

The gang all makes it to the airport but somehow Scheana and Schwartz get upgraded. When Katie boards the plane and sees this, her eyes glow red with fire. She asks Schwartz to trade with her and he says no. She’s annoyed because she loves to travel with him because they can share headphones and watch movies. Sorry, Katie but I wouldn’t give up a steak dinner to watch Coco with you either.

When they finally land, Schwartz reveals that Katie has been “rage texting” him all flight long. Uh oh. The vacation hasn’t even started yet. Once they get to the hotel, the other couples all size up their rooms for where they can, as Jax puts it, “feed the hog.” I think you can guess what Jax is referring to. Katie and Schwartz though just start yelling at each other. She still feels really neglected and he thinks she’s being a wet mop. No hogs getting fed in this room. To be continued…

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Yemen’s war: Four years on, what Houthi rule looks like

Sanaa, Yemen – At a checkpoint on the outskirts of the capital Sanaa, Abu Ali and his colleagues are on duty, inspecting passengers and vehicles entering the capital city which has been under Houthi control since late 2014.

The driver stops the bus, opens the door and hands over a list of the passengers on board. Abu Ali looks at the names, glances at the seated passengers, and says: “ID cards please.”

All passengers rummage in their pockets or handbags, they had made sure their documents were ready. Abu Ali starts from the front seat of the bus and takes about 10 minutes to look at the passengers’ passports or ID cards. Nobody on the bus questions his authority.

Today, and after four years of war, the Houthis have transformed themselves from an isolated militia in Saada to a local state that rules the bulk of Yemen’s north with an iron fist. They have deepened their influence through a combination of force and strengthening alliances with powerful tribes and leading Yemeni figures using political expedience or buying loyalties.

On a local level, they have established a system of administration by appointing “supervisors” in every district. The supervisors take all the decisions needed for day-to-day administration, escalating any larger decisions up to higher Houthi management. Their points of focus are largely security, maintaining control, and mobilising more people to fight for their cause.

“The Houthis have proved to be more capable to govern than the legitimate government,” Abdulaziz Mohammed, a passenger on the bus from Aden to Sanaa, told Al Jazeera. “If we strike a comparison between Sanaa and Aden, Sanaa is better with regard to security.”

The popular support for the Houthis today is strengthened by the ever-present threat of aerial bombings by the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The coalition, which started its bombing campaign four years ago, has resulted in thousands of deaths and enormous destruction to the Arab world’s poorest country.

The Houthi takeover of Sanaa

The Houthis are Zaidi Shia originating from Saada in northern Yemen, their official name is Ansar Allah, or the supporters of God. They gained prominence after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, and have survived repeated attempts by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, supported by Saudi Arabia, to eradicate them. They share an ideological affinity with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and with Iran by extension.

After the advent of the Arab Spring to Yemen, President Saleh was removed and replaced by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a Sunni politician from the south. The Houthis were unhappy with this arrangement, as well as with their allotment in the proposed reconfiguration of Yemen into a federation of sorts.

In 2014, the Houthis formed an alliance with Saleh and elements of the armed forces who were still loyal to him and opposed to Hadi, who was seen by some as a Saudi puppet. They moved on Sanaa in January 2015 and overthrew Hadi. They soon took the port city of Hodeidah as well and began to move on Aden.

The situation was dangerous for Saudi Arabia, which did not want to see vital shipping lanes under the control of the Houthis and its regional rival, Iran. And thus, Operation Decisive Storm was born, a coalition of nations led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE that went to war to reinstate Hadi and the internationally recognised government he headed.

Decisive Storm backfires

Operation Decisive Storm was declared on March 26, 2015, with many expecting the coalition, that also included Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan and Qatar – until 2017 -, to defeat the Houthis quickly. 

Backed by the US and a host of other nations, including several European countries, the coalition embarked on a relentless aerial bombardment that continues to this day. But instead of defeating the Houthis and their loyalists in Yemen, the destruction it wrought increased anger and enmity towards the Saudi-UAE-led bloc.

Ali Alamrani, a 40-year-old resident of Sanaa, said, “Saudi Arabia has the right to worry about its national security or the so-called Iranian influence in Yemen but it does not have the right to spend four years destroying our vital facilities such as bridges, schools and hospitals.

“When I see this destruction by the coalition, I am convinced it doesn’t want good for Yemen. Instead, it wants to make Yemen kneel. I am also convinced that the Houthis are defending Yemen against this unfair destruction and humiliation of Yemenis.”

Yemen’s humanitarian crisis in numbers (2:27)

The longer the war lingers, the more opponents the coalition creates in Yemen, political experts in Sanaa told Al Jazeera.

“The coalition is not against the Houthis only; it is against the entire Yemen,” Mohammed Abdu, a Sanaa-based political writer, said. “If they [the coalition] were honest, they would have ended the war earlier. Since they want to turn Yemen into a fragmented, unstable and chaotic state, this has taken longer.”

“For example, the UAE is supporting southern secessionists in order to undermine Yemen’s legitimate [Hadi] government. The coalition intentionally works to weaken the government and keep President Hadi in exile in Saudi Arabia. These practices can never be for the good of Yemen,” Abdu told Al Jazeera.

Continuous defiance

In spite of its massive military force, the Saudi-led coalition has failed to suppress the Houthis over four years of air raids, numerous ground contingents and marine forces and weapons.

“So far, the coalition is not victorious, and should they win the war one day, it is a military failure that all the coalition countries spent several years to defeat a militia in Yemen,” said Abdu. 

At a press conference in Sanaa last week, Houthi military spokesperson Yahia Sarie said that they would continue to manufacture weapons capable of hitting Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

The defiant Houthi narrative was continued by Houthi defence minister, General Mohammed al-Atifi, who said in a speech that the fifth year of war will be different.

“The aggressors [the coalition] will pay the price of their intransigence, and the fifth year of resistance will be the year of surprises, a year of great and decisive victory,” Houthi-run Saba news agency quoted al-Atifi as saying. “Our armed forces today have cadres, expertise, competencies and strategic deterrent weapons that can defeat the coalition,” he added.

Whether these statements are a matter of exaggeration or real confidence, the fact remains that Yemen will continue to see a prolonged war between the Houthis and their opponents as long as the UN-sponsored peace efforts remain at a dead end.

Remembering the ‘black night’

Operation Decisive Storm was coined by Saudi Arabia as a crucial military intervention to “cut off Iran’s hands in Yemen”, while the Houthis mark March 26 as a celebration of their steadfastness.

However, Yemeni civilians have nothing to celebrate on this day.

Faisal Mohammed, a 32-year-old resident in Sanaa, said he vividly remembers the worst night of his life.

“It was midnight of March 26, 2015, when the Saudi-led Arab coalition made Sanaa a city of horror. The earth was shaking, the explosions were heard everywhere and the warplanes awakened the entire city, casting fear among all civilians. It was a black and fearful night,” Mohammed recalled. 

“Four years of war have been like 40 years. The fifth year of suffering has started and only God knows when life in Yemen will return to normal,” said Mohammed.

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WeWork says revenue more than doubled last year to $1.8 billion, but so did its net loss

WeWork, the company whose co-working spaces are populating many of the world’s biggest cities, said that revenue last year more than doubled, though its losses are growing just as fast.

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In a presentation sent to CNBC on Monday, WeWork said revenue in 2018 climbed to $1.8 billion from $886 million a year earlier. Members, or the people who pay for monthly use of WeWork’s facilities, jumped to 401,000 from 186,000, accounting for 88 percent of revenue. CEO Adam Neumann said in January that the company reached annualized revenue of $2.5 billion in the fourth quarter, though that number was reported as $2.43 billion in the latest presentation.

WeWork’s business model continues to rely on heavy funding from private investors, namely SoftBank, which has poured over $10 billion into the company, including $2 billion this year. WeWork has to plunge cash into real estate in some of the most expensive markets and makes money back over time as companies and individuals pay their rent, or membership.

Those investments left WeWork with a net loss in 2018 of $1.9 billion, up from $933 million in 2017. By one metric, which WeWork calls “community adjusted” earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, the company is becoming more profitable. That margin was 28 percent last year up from 27 percent a year earlier.

In January, WeWorks said that it’s rebranding as the We Company as it intends to expand beyond just work spaces. The company has touted its move into residential living communities, dubbed WeLive, and early education schools called WeGrow. Each of those business segments will run as stand-alone units under the new We Company umbrella.

Within the WeWork business, enterprise members account for 32 percent of the total, up from 23 percent a year earlier. Those customer have longer commitments, generally three to five years, said Artie Minson, WeWork’s finance chief.

WeWork’s financials are hitting the market at a time when the company’s peers in the broader sharing economy space are preparing to hit the public markets. Lyft is expected to debut later this week at a valuation north of $20 billion. Its larger ride-hailing rival, Uber, is reportedly not far behind, while room-sharing company Airbnb is also gearing up to go public.

“We’re rooting for everyone’s success,” said Michael Gross, WeWork’s vice chairman, in an interview. “We’re watching it obviously, but it’s not going to dictate our timeline. We have an incredibly strong hand.”

WATCH: SoftBank’s Masa Son says company has invested about $70 billion of Vision Fund

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In shift, Trump administration backs ruling that Obamacare should be thrown out

Department of Justice building

The Justice Department advocated striking all of the ACA, not just select elements like protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. | AP Photo/J. David Ake, File

The Trump administration on Monday said it supports a federal judge’s ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be thrown out, signaling a shift in the Justice Department’s position and alarming Democrats who vowed to oppose the move.

“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” three Justice Department lawyers wrote to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is now considering the case. “[T]he United States is not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgment be reversed.”

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Regardless of the outcome, legal experts anticipate that the 5th Circuit’s ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court. If the courts ultimately strike down Obamacare — over the objections of a group of Democrat-led states, which have spent more than a year defending the health law in court — the consequences could be substantial for patients, health care organizations and other groups that have adapted to the nine-year-old law.

More than 20 million Americans are covered through the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and its insurance exchanges. The sweeping law — the object of repeated legal challenges since its 2010 passage — has transformed the nation’s health system, creating new patient protections and reshaping payments for doctors and hospitals.

Some of the Trump administration’s proposed drug price reforms depend on provisions contained in the ACA. Senior Trump health officials haven’t detailed how they would respond if all of Obamacare is struck down.

The GOP-led states that initially brought the lawsuit, Texas v. United States, had called for the entire law to be invalidated because Congress eliminated its individual insurance mandate penalty — an argument that swayed U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee.

The Trump administration had previously argued that only elements of the ACA, like its protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, should be struck down but that other parts of the law could stand.

House Democrats — who had separately planned to introduce legislation on Tuesday that would fortify Obamacare — denounced the Trump administration’s new legal position as “unconscionable.”

“Millions of Americans will lose their health care immediately if this decision is upheld,” Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a statement. “We will do everything we can to defeat this attempt to rip away Americans’ health care.”

Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said the department “has determined that the district court’s comprehensive opinion came to the correct conclusion and will support it on appeal.”

Pressed by Senate Democrats at his January confirmation hearing, Attorney General Bill Barr pledged to reconsider the Justice Department’s stance on the lawsuit. But legal experts hadn’t expected Barr to stake out a more aggressive position than his predecessor Jeff Sessions, who told career Justice Department lawyers to drop their defense of the law — a near-unprecedented decision that led three lawyers to remove their names from the government’s brief and prompted the senior attorney, Joel McElvain, to resign.

“Barr inherited an indefensible legal position. But instead of backing down, he’s embraced a downright crazy one” said Nick Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor who’s criticized O’Connor’s ruling.

A group of Democratic-led states led by California is challenging the Texas ruling, arguing that the federal health care law can remain in place even without a tax penalty for Americans who forego health coverage.

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Arrow recap: Oliver questions Emiko’s loyalty

History continues to repeat itself in interesting ways in Arrow’s penultimate season. In the flash-forward storyline, Future-Rene was involved in a very Undertaking/Genesis-like plot to blow up Star City. Now in tonight’s episode, Oliver finds himself going through what Diggle endured in season 4: realizing that your sibling is actually evil and possibly beyond the point of redemption.

At the top of the our, Oliver and Emiko are enjoying some quality brother-sister bonding time, which is code for “sparring.” However, their fun dynamic — Oliver reveals more about his past while she remains pretty guarded — gets disrupted when Laurel shares her suspicions about Emiko with Oliver later on. As we are reminded in this episode multiple times, Oliver has a blind-spot for family (remember how he doubted his mother’s involvement in the Undertaking?), so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he initially rejects Laurel’s accusations.

Of course, once that seed is planted, Oliver has no other option but to investigate. So, he tails Emiko and sees her infiltrate Palmer Tech with Dante. By the time he makes it inside, though, they’ve already departed with whatever it was they came for and blew up the lab. But this little trip wasn’t all for naught. Inside the lab, he finds a scientist who uses her dying to breath to warn him that the Ninth Circle needs to be stopped — which leads us into this week’s DC Comics explainer.

If the Ninth Circle doesn’t immediately ring any bells, that’s because the evil organization/bank is a very recent addition to the DC universe. Introduced in 2016’s Green Arrow: Rebirth #1 (written by Benjamin Percy, with art by Otto Schmidt), the Ninth Circle is comprised of corrupt executives from multinational corporations. In other words, they’re the perfect villain for comic book Oliver, who is a bleeding heart liberal. Furthermore, in the comics, Emiko’s mother Shado has ties to them, too. The show, however, goes in a different direction on this part. (ASIDE: It is incredibly on the nose for Arrow to name a member of the Ninth Circle “Dante” and I love it! END ASIDE)

After debriefing with the team (TL;DR: Rene doubts that Emiko is evil and Felicity comes to Laurel’s defense), Oliver decides to just confront Emiko directly. She tells him that Dante took her in and trained her after Robert Queen abandoned her and her mom all those years ago, and now she feels indebted to both the Ninth Circle and Dante. This is enough for Oliver to believe her, but he becomes more convinced after Dante tries to kill her when Team Arrow show up.

Of course, that little bit was all a show. Oliver eventually discovers a signal disruptor in the bunker, which shut down Felicity’s ARCHER system, and immediately realizes that Emiko was the one who put it there. The two come to blows in a stunning fight sequence that lands hard because Stephen Amell makes you feel how upset Oliver is over this betrayal. He thought he was building a bond with his sister, but it was all a lie.

NEXT: Another Ninth Circle twist

Billionaire Oliver Queen — under the vigilante persona of Arrow — tries to right the wrongs of his family and fight the ills of society.

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