Massive merger. Comcast Corp. announced today it plans to buy Time Warner Cable Inc., forming an uber-company out of the nation’s two largest cable TV providers. Comcast beat out Charter Communications for the sale, with a bid of $45.2 billion already approved by both the Comcast and Time Warner boards of directors. But the deal is sure to set off a regulatory battle in Washington. Critics already say the new cable giant will wield too much bargaining power with content providers, stifling creativity and consumer choice in TV programming. The companies are taking the position that because Comcast and Time Warner Cable don’t serve overlapping markets, their combination won’t reduce competition for consumers.
Topsy-turvy weather. “Snow has become a four-letter word … all along the East Coast this winter,” said Tom McGarrigle, chairman of the Delaware County Council in suburban Philadelphia. A storm of sleet, snow, and ice that started in the middle of the country left more than 800,000 homes and businesses without power in several Southeastern states on Thursday morning. Power companies in the Northeast are preparing for outages as the storm moves in there. In a cruel twist of irony, the temperatures soared to the 60s at the Winter Games in Sochi, providing Olympic visitors with opportunities for outdoor napping, sunbathing, and even a dip in the Black Sea.
On the streets. The Afghan government has freed 65 inmates who are considered highly dangerous from a former American detention facility. The NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan claims the detainees are linked to attacks that killed or wounded 32 U.S. or coalition personnel and 23 Afghanis. The coalition has condemned the release, which includes people accused of conspiring with the Taliban to build and detonate roadside bombs. But the Afghan government says it doesn’t have enough evidence to hold the prisoners. President Hamid Karzai called the facility where the prisoners were kept a “Taliban-producing factory” where innocent Afghans are tortured into hating their country.
Rabbit resurrection. China’s moon rover Jade Rabbit, a symbol of national pride, has awoken from what engineers thought was a terminal sleep. China lost communication with the rover after mechanical failures combined with the extreme cold of the lunar night. China’s lunar program spokesman, Pei Zhaoyu, told Xinhua, “It came back alive. The rover stands a chance of being saved as it is still alive.” The announcement sparked excitement among China’s social media users, who have made the rover into a national pet of sorts.