The U.S. media world is about to be shaken up with the merging of country’s two biggest cable companies. Comcast announced Thursday a deal to purchase Time Warner Cable for $45 billion in stock, putting to rest takeover attempts by Charter Communications. Consumers are unlikely to feel the impact, as Comcast and Time Warner have tended to compete in few of the same markets. But regulators will still take a close look at the buyout’s impact.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Two weeks of protests in Venezuela culminated with three deaths Wednesday night, and an arrest warrant for opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. The government blames Lopez for fomenting and funding groups the government described as violent. The opposition’s goal, meanwhile, is to push President Maduro from power, and Lopez blames the government for trumped-up charges. Coup fears abound, but at least one expert says government, beware — putting a target on Lopez may backfire and make him a martyr to the cause.
Tina Maze of Slovenia and Switzerland’s Dominique Gisin get an entry in the history books for tying for gold in the women’s downhill. Both finished the race in exactly one minute and 41.57 seconds. The race was actually measured to a 10,000th of a second, but official timing goes to just 100th of a second, so only the timers — who are forbidden to tell — know who was really fastest. Other ties include Canada, Norway and the Netherlands with four gold medals each; Germany leads with six golds. The U.S. has won nine medals, including three golds. Today’s line-up includes hockey, luge and skiing.
Senators have given final congressional approval to a bill raising the debt ceiling. Politicians often use the necessity of raising the debt ceiling as a tool for extracting concessions, but in an apparent break from partisan wrangling, the bill passed yesterday without any riders attached for the first time since 2009. The drama may just be getting started, though, for 12 Senate Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who face criticism for voting in favor of the bill.
A master comedian, improviser and jazz musician, funnyman Caesar has died at his home in Los Angeles. Before the Saturday Night Live era, Caesar and his colleagues were the royalty of Saturday night television with live variety program Your Show of Shows. Caesar’s popularity waned as he battled addiction in the 1960s and 70s, but he worked regularly in the 80s and 90s. It didn’t take a genius to enjoy Caesar’s humor, but Albert Einstein was a fan, and Mel Brooks once called him “the funniest man America has produced to date.”
Afghan prisoners freed despite U.S. protest. (BBC).
Russia offers its own resolution for Syria. (DW).
Italian leader’s government faces possible collapse. (The Guardian).
Weather batters much of Europe. (CNN).
European diplomat’s speech in Israel draws fire. (DW).
We’ve all heard of text messages and Morse code, but what about Norse code? Norwegians, it turns out, were sending playful messages to one another centuries ago. A runologist has cracked the mysterious joetunvillur code, dating back to 12th or 13th century Scandinavia, by studying a stick on which two ancients had inscribed their names in both code and standard runes. Similar sticks held messages like “Kiss Me,” revealing intimate interactions. The biggest revelation is that the Vikings were such a romantic bunch.
Source: The Guardian
Frustrated with the violence in her beloved Lebanon, student Sandra Hassan created an app to help users send a simple message after bomb attacks: “I am still alive.” The app, which launched in January and has been downloaded by thousands, has already been used following two bombings. Phone lines can be congested after blasts, but this app is able to send a tweet even with weak signals. Critics say that it normalizes violence, but other countries, such as Egypt and Pakistan, have asked for it to be extended to them. Amidst the violence, it may bring some peace of mind.
Cyberattacks on Bitcoin currency exchanges have forced operators to halt transactions and sent prices crashing. It has also exposed the volatile electronic currency to even more negative press following the recent arrest of a related firm’s CEO on money laundering charges. Bitcoin’s growth and bad headlines have prompted many countries to consider greater control of electronic currency investments. New York regulators are set to fight back by issuing licenses to Bitcoin firms in an attempt to stamp out money laundering and protect consumers. Could this turn into a virtual disaster for the virtual currency?
He might not be nominated for any Oscars this season, but Tom Hanks has topped Forbes’ list as Hollywood’s most trustworthy celebrity. Comedian Carol Burnett nabbed the second spot, with the angelic Morgan Freeman coming in third. It is hard to tell why certain actors inspire more trust than others. But after decades of watching Hanks bring Meg Ryan flowers, survive a desert island, lead troops into battle, venture into space, tame wily dogs and charm the creator of Mary Poppins, is it any surprise?
The five-time World Series champion and New York Yankees shortstop has announced he is hanging up his glove at the end of the 2014 season. Jeter, 39, felt like a throwback: he will have spent his entire 19-year career in the Bronx, and made headlines for hard work and stellar play (and not, say, juicing and celebrity dates). Fans were distraught when he was sidelined by injury in 2013. On Facebook, Jeter wrote: “I will remember it all.” So will saddened baseball lovers.