AT&T’s $48.5 billion DirecTV acquisition could form 2nd largest U.S. pay TV company
DALLAS (AP) -- AT&T Inc. on Sunday agreed to buy DirecTV for $48.5 billion, or $95 per share, a move that gives telecommunications company a larger base of video subscribers and increases its ability to compete against Comcast and Time Warner Cable, which agreed to a merger in February.
AT&T’s proposed combination, which is subject to government review, could improve its Internet service by pushing its existing U-verse TV subscribers into video-over-satellite service, and thereby free up bandwidth on its telecommunications network.
AT&T currently offers a high-speed Internet plan in a bundle with DirecTV television service. The acquisition would help it further reap the benefits of that alliance.
With 5.7 million U-verse TV customers and 20.3 million DirecTV customers in the U.S., the combined entity would serve 26 million. That would make it the second-largest pay TV operator behind a combined Comcast-Time Warner Cable, which would serve 30 million.
The companies expect the deal to close within 12 months. Under the terms agreed to Sunday, DirecTV shareholders will receive $28.50 per share in cash and $66.50 per share in AT&T stock. The total transaction value is $67.1 billion, including DirecTV’s net debt.
Tea party losing primaries but winning ideological fight as GOP tugged rightward
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Tuesday’s high-profile primary elections may extend a streak of sorts for tea party Republicans: losing individual races but winning the larger ideological war by tugging the GOP rightward.
Several tea party-endorsed candidates are struggling in Tuesday’s Republican congressional primaries in Georgia, Kentucky and Idaho. In each state, however, the "establishment" Republican candidates have emphasized their conservative credentials, which narrows the party’s philosophical differences.
Citing similar dynamics in other states, Democrats say the GOP candidates who are trying to give Republicans control of the Senate will prove too far right for centrist voters in November.
Republicans need to gain six Senate seats to control the chamber. Holding Kentucky and Georgia against well-funded Democrats, both women, is crucial to their hopes.
Six states hold primaries Tuesday. Georgia, Kentucky and Oregon have closely watched Republican contests for Senate. Pennsylvania and Arkansas have feisty gubernatorial primaries.
Ferry sinking makes South Korea question pride in progress,
faith in leaders
ANSAN, South Korea (AP) -- Park Si-chan had trouble sleeping the night before the biggest trip of his young life, a four-day journey with his entire junior high school class to a lush volcanic island known here as the "Hawaii of Korea."
The trip was the students’ last chance for all-out fun before preparing for grueling, all-important university entrance exams, and Si-chan was excited. While packing, he kept saying, "’What am I missing?"’ his father, Joseph Park, recalled.
He gave his son some advice: Know where the life jackets are, "just in case." And if anything happens, "just do what those in charge say."
That’s exactly what the kids and other passengers did, and many died as a result when the five-story-high Sewol ferry turned upside down and sank in just a few hours on April 16. Most of the 304 people dead or missing were teenagers trapped in cabins where the crew had ordered them to stay.
The tragedy has prompted Koreans to question the very foundations of their society.
Historic flooding in Bosnia triggers landslides, unearths unexploded mines
BRCKO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) -- Floodwaters triggered more than 3,000 landslides across the Balkans on Sunday, laying waste to entire towns and villages and disturbing land mines leftover from the region’s 1990s war, along with warning signs that marked the unexploded weapons.
The Balkans’ worst flooding since record keeping began forced tens of thousands of people from their homes and threatened to inundate Serbia’s main power plant, which supplies electricity to a third of the country and most of the capital, Belgrade.
Authorities organized a frenzied helicopter airlift to get terrified families to safety before the water swallowed up their homes. Many were plucked from rooftops.
Floodwaters receded Sunday in some locations, laying bare the full scale of the damage. Elsewhere, emergency management officials warned that the water would keep rising into Sunday night.
"The situation is catastrophic," said Bosnia’s refugee minister, Adil Osmanovic.
3 face charges in Turkey mine disaster amid growing anger about alleged negligence
ISTANBUL (AP) -- In the face of widespread anger over Turkey’s worst mining disaster, prosecutors arrested three people, including a company manager, on charges of negligence Sunday.
The three were also accused of causing the death of more than one person, a charge that doesn’t imply intent, prosecutor Bekir Sahiner said at a news conference in the western town of Soma, where 301 coal miners were killed in Tuesday’s tragedy.
The arrests follow allegations by miners that the company failed to heed safety concerns and that government inspections had been superficial. The disaster has provoked anger at a critical time for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he mulls running in August’s presidential election.
A total of 25 people were initially detained for questioning and six were later released, Sahiner said. Prosecutors will now decide whether to charge or release the remaining 16 people in custody.
Sahiner said one of those arrested was the company’s operations manager. The manager is Akin Celik, though Sahiner didn’t identify him by name.
Pyongyang building collapse leaves casualties; prompts rare NKorean apology
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korean officials offered a rare public apology for the collapse of an apartment building under construction in Pyongyang, which a South Korean official said was believed to have caused considerable casualties that could mean hundreds might have died.
The word of the collapse in the secretive nation’s capital was reported Sunday morning by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, which gave no death toll but said that the accident was "serious" and upset North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un.
The report said it occurred in the capital’s Phyongchon district on Tuesday "as the construction of an apartment house was not done properly and officials supervised and controlled it in an irresponsible manner."
In Seoul, a South Korean government official speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information said the 23-story apartment building that collapsed was presumed to have housed 92 families.
That could mean the casualties could be in the hundreds because a typical North Korean family has four members. However, it was not clear whether all the residents were inside at the time of the collapse, or that four people lived in each apartment.
Libyan general’s group says parliament has been suspended after its Tripoli attack
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) -- Forces apparently loyal to a renegade Libyan general said they suspended parliament Sunday after earlier leading a military assault against lawmakers, directly challenging the legitimacy of the country’s weak central government three years after the overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
A commander in the military police in Libya read a statement announcing the suspension on behalf of a group led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter, a one-time rebel commander who said the U.S. backed his efforts topple Gadhafi in the 1990s. Hours earlier, militia members backed by truck-mounted anti-aircraft guns, mortars and rocket fire attacked parliament, sending lawmakers fleeing for their lives as gunmen ransacked the legislature.
Gen. Mokhtar Farnana, speaking on a Libyan television channel on behalf of Hifter’s group, said it assigned a 60-member constituent’s assembly to take over for parliament. Farnana said Libya’s current government would act on an emergency basis, without elaborating.
Farnana, who is in charge of prisons operated by the military police, said forces loyal to Hifter carried out Sunday’s attack on parliament. He also said Sunday’s attack on Libya’s parliament was not a coup, but "fighting by the people’s choice."
"We announce to the world that the country can’t be a breeding ground or an incubator for terrorism," said Farnana, who wore a military uniform and stood in front of Libya’s flag.
Kerry jokes that Yale’s diverse graduating class is Clippers owner Sterling’s ‘nightmare’
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) -- Secretary of State John Kerry took a poke at the NBA’s controversy surrounding Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling during a speech at Yale University’s Class Day.
Joking about college and pop culture at the start of his speech Sunday, Kerry told the Ivy League graduates: "You are ... the most diverse class in Yale history. Or, as it’s called in the NBA, Donald Sterling’s worst nightmare." The comment drew laughs from the audience.
The NBA commissioner has banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million following the release last month of a recording in which the Clippers’ owner makes racist remarks. The commissioner also called on owners to oust Sterling from the league.
According to a speaker at Class Day, students from 61 countries are graduating from Yale this weekend.
Obama’s Cabinet may be training ground for San Antonio Mayor Castro, possible VP pick in 2016
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- President Barack Obama’s expected nomination of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro as secretary of Housing and Urban Development could test the 39-year-old’s ability to navigate Washington ahead of 2016 elections, Texas Democrats say.
Since giving the 2012 keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, Castro’s star has been on the rise, with his name often included among possible vice presidential contenders.
"This is an important step for Julian," Henry Cisneros, a HUD secretary under President Bill Clinton and a former mayor of San Antonio, told The Associated Press. "If indeed he has the capability to be what we all think he can be," Cisneros said, he can prove it by performing well at the helm of the federal housing agency.
Job performance aside, Castro’s background could be his main selling point.
He and his twin brother, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, grew up on the West Side of San Antonio in a working-class Mexican-American neighborhood. They were raised by their single mother, a prominent Latino rights activist in the 1960s and 1970s, and their grandmother, who crossed the border from Mexico as a child.