Comcast strikes deal to buy Time Warner Cable
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Comcast Corp. is buying Time Warner Cable Inc. for about $45.2 billion in a deal that combines the nation’s top two cable TV companies and would create a dominant force in both creating and delivering entertainment.
The company is also presenting federal regulators with an equally outsized quandary: How should they handle a conglomerate that promises to improve cable TV and Internet service to millions of homes but also consolidates unprecedented control of what viewers watch and download?
Comcast says the deal will provide faster, more reliable service to more customers and save money on TV programming costs. But industry watchdogs say the deal will give the company too much power and ultimately raise the price of high-speed connections.
If the acquisition is approved, Comcast will serve some 30 million pay TV customers and 32 million Internet subscribers.
Huge US thermal plant opens as industry grows
PRIMM, Nevada (AP) — A solar power plant sprawling over 5 square miles — the largest of its type in the world — has formally opened along the California-Nevada border.
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System uses nearly 350,000 mirrors — each roughly the size of a garage door — to gather the sun’s energy to make electricity.
The $2.2 billion complex can produce enough power for 140,000 homes.
But Ivanpah can also be seen as a cautionary tale, highlighting the inevitable trade-offs between the need for cleaner power and the loss of fragile, open land.
GM recalling nearly 780,000 older compact cars
DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is recalling almost 780,000 older-model compact cars in North America because a faulty ignition switch can shut off the engines without warning and cause crashes.
The company says six people have died in 22 crashes linked to the problem in Chevrolet Cobalts from the 2005 through 2007 model years, and Pontiac G5s from 2007.
A heavy key ring or jarring from rough roads can move the ignition switch out of the run position, cutting off the engine and electrical power, GM said in statements and documents released Thursday by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If that happens, the front air bags may not work if there’s a crash.
GM says the six fatalities occurred in five front-end crashes, all of which happened off-road and at high speeds.
Winter storms are threatening to chill US economy
WASHINGTON (AP) — The winter storms barrelling across much of the United States are undercutting the nation’s economy just when signs of stronger growth had begun to emerge.
Retail sales tumbled in January after a smaller decline in December, the government said Thursday. The news came as another snowstorm blanketed a third of the country, likely ensuring that February will mark a third straight month of weak job growth.
Some economists responded by lowering their overall growth estimates for the January-March quarter. Freezing weather usually slows the economy during winter before growth picks up once temperatures rise again. But the onslaught of snow days this winter could prolong the slowdown.
New gender options for Facebook users
MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — You don’t have to be just male or female on Facebook anymore. The social media giant has added a customizable option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender as well as three preferred pronoun choices: him, her or them.
Facebook said the changes initially cover the company’s 159 million monthly users in the U.S. and are aimed at giving people more choices in how they describe themselves, such as androgynous, bi-gender, intersex, gender fluid or transsexual.
Facebook, which has 1.23 billion active monthly users around the world, also allows them to keep their gender identity private and will continue to do so.
US investigates NC coal ash spill
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation into a massive coal ash spill into a North Carolina river, demanding that Duke Energy and state regulators hand over reams of documents related to the accident that left a waterway polluted with tons of toxic sludge.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh issued grand jury subpoenas seeking records from Duke and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The subpoenas seek emails, memos and reports related to the Feb. 2 spill into the Dan River and the state’s oversight of the company’s 30 other coal ash dumps in North Carolina.
JC Penney CFO Hannah leaving the company
PLANO, Texas (AP) — J.C. Penney has replaced its chief financial officer, the latest move by the struggling department store operator as tries to improve its results.
Chief Financial Officer Ken Hannah, 45, is leaving the company and will be replaced by Ed Record, 45. He was previously chief operating officer at department store chain Stage Stores. The move is effective March 24.
Record will be responsible for J.C. Penney Co.’s financial operations and will report to CEO Mike Ullman. Hannah will remain CFO during the transition process. The company did not give a reason for his departure.
Believe it, or not: New Argentine inflation index
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — In Argentina, the credibility of a new consumer price index unveiled Thursday is key to containing inflation and attracting investment from a world that has lost confidence in the government’s numbers.
The new index’s first monthly report said consumer prices rose 3.7 per cent in January compared to the month before. That’s 44 per cent on an annual basis, and roughly four times the rate Argentina reported nearly every month for the previous seven years.
Since January 2007, the government systematically underestimated inflation and thus overestimated economic growth, critics said.
The new index was designed in consultation with the International Monetary Fund, which shamed the government last year by refusing to include its economic data in global reports.
By The Associated Press=
The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 63.65 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 16,027.59. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 10.57 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 1,829.83. The Nasdaq composite rose 39.38 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 4,240.67.
Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery slipped 2 cents to $100.35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to set prices for international varieties of crude, fell 6 cents to $108.73 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Natural gas futures jumped 40 cents, or 8 per cent, to $5.22 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $2.78 per gallon. Heating oil added 2 cents to $3.03 a gallon.