State Department releases emails from Clinton aide Huma Abedin

Like it or not, the Hillary Clinton email saga isn't over yet. The US State Department has released about 2,800 emails and other documents from former Clinton aide Huma Abedin that were found on the laptop of her soon-to-be-former husband Anthony We…
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California Health Department Warns Against Keeping Phones Close to You

For many of us, our smartphones are a constant companion. They’re in our pockets, in our purses, or just generally kept close to us. But according to the California Department of Public Health, that could be a problem.

The CDPH issued a warning last week cautioning against keeping smartphones close to your body. That’s due to the electromagnetic radiation that smartphones and cell phones put off. For its recommendation, the CDPH suggests that people keep their distance from their smartphones and limit their usage of said devices.

Of course, that’s no easy feat in the age of the smartphone. But it might be smart to heed the CDPH’s warnings. While the science is far from settled, there are studies that suggest a slightly increased risk of brain cancer or tumors of the salivary gland and acoustic nerve. Other issues include adverse effects on learning, memory and sleep, as well as headaches.

The California Health Department has released these guidelines in part due to a lawsuit levied at it. A researcher at the University of California, Joel Moskowitz, sued the department for not making the guidelines public. Earlier this year, a judge ruled in his favor, which led to the drafted CDPH guidelines released this week.

Phone manufacturers have generally recommended that people use hands-free devices or a device’s built-in speakerphone when making calls. But those suggestions are usually buried pretty deeply within a user manual. (Which, let’s admit it, most of us don’t read through entirely.) There’s also the issue that there isn’t currently a national standard for safety limits. The FCC does state that it requires phonemakers to ensure that devices comply with “objective limits for safe exposure.”

The CDPH recommends users refrain from keeping their devices in a pocket or bra, using a smartphone next to their ear for a prolonged period, and or sleeping with it near them at night, among other things.

But despite the guidelines, Moskowitz says that most health agencies haven’t kept up with the research — which he says suggests that smartphones pose a “major risk to health.”

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Department of Justice files lawsuit to block AT&T-Time Warner merger

The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit to block the anticipated merger of AT&T and Time Warner this Monday. It has been speculated that The White House under Donald Trump would force the merger to go through, particularly because CNN is owned by Timer Warner, and everyone knows what Trump thinks of CNN – a network often targeted by Trump, calling it (and any other network who doesn’t cover his administration with praise) #FakeNews #FraudNewsCNN #FNN pic.twitter.com/WYUnHjjUjg— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2017 Trumpy shenanigans aside, a DOJ (Department of…

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Justice Department Sues to Block AT&T-Time Warner Merger

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit on Monday to block AT&T from purchasing Time Warner in an $ 85.4 billion deal that’s bound to become one of Washington, D.C.’s biggest antitrust cases in decades.

The DOJ is expressing concern that the combined company could charge competitors a premium to distribute Time Warner’s content. That, the department contends, could provide an unfair advantage to AT&T and its subsidiary company, DirecTV. A DOJ official told reporters Modnay that this arrangement could have a “negative impact” on American TV viewers, and could slow the adoption and development of online video and other distribution models, Politico reported.

“This merger would greatly harm American consumers,” said Makan Delrahim, the Justice Department’s antitrust chief. “It would mean higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy.”

On the other hand, the case comes in the midst of a political storm. Some have expressed concerns that the Trump administration could be hoping to block the deal because of CNN, a Time Warner-owned media organization that the administration has been highly critical of. The DOJ and the White House, for their part, have denied that CNN plays a role in the decision.

According to the Washington Post, the move is also unusual because the merger involves two different types of companies: a telecom giant with over 100 million cable and wireless subscribers and an entertainment firm that has a vast catalog of films, live TV programming and other media content. This is known as vertical merger, because it doesn’t involve removing a competitor from the market.

“Today’s DOJ lawsuit is a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent,” AT&T’s head attorney David R. McAtee II said. “We see no legitimate reason for our merger to be treated differently.” In other words, AT&T has made it clear that it would oppose the suit in court.

It’s not just the DOJ that opposes the merger, either. Some anti-consolidation consumer groups, such as Free Pass, have also argued against the deal, siding with content competitors like Starz, Recode reported.

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The Department of Justice is using AT&T’s own argument for buying Time Warner to try to stop the deal

Turnaround!

The Comcast-NBCUniversal deal was bad. So the AT&T-Time Warner deal is worse — because it’s even bigger.

That’s the gist of the argument the Department of Justice made today, in a background briefing with reporters and in its press release announcing its lawsuit aimed at stopping the deal.

AT&T says that’s a bogus argument.

But here’s the thing: AT&T and Time Warner officials have given the DOJ rhetorical ammunition here, by arguing that merging a content company with a distributor made sense — because the distribution company’s reach was so vast.

I know, because every time I’ve asked a Time Warner or an AT&T exec to explain the rationale for the deal, they point out that AT&T’s wireless service reaches the whole country (and so does AT&T’s DirecTV service, even though that service is steadily losing subscribers).

This usually comes up after I point out that Time Warner used to own a distribution company — what used to be called Time Warner Cable — but got rid of it because it didn’t see the benefit of owning both kinds of companies.

“Time Warner Cable was regional” — limited to territories where it had a license to operate — “and AT&T is national,” they would explain.

And now the DOJ is making the same argument itself — pointing out that Comcast is also a regional pay TV distributor, and federal regulators were worried enough about its acquisition of NBCUniversal* to create a long document full of restraints regulating Comcast’s behavior. (Those constraints expire next year, by the way …)

So if it’s worrisome for a regional distributor to buy a big content company, it’s an even worse one for a distributor with a national footprint. That’s the DOJ argument, in a nutshell.

We’ll see. I find the arguments that, say, AT&T would charge other distributors more to carry networks like HBO and CNN unconvincing — since the whole point of those businesses is to be distributed as widely as possible.

But that’s a different argument, and it’s not one the DOJ is making today.

* NBCUniversal is an investor in Vox Media, which owns this site.


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