Even as TV watchers increasingly go online, AT&T has become the country’s biggest traditional TV provider with its $48.5 billion purchase of DirecTV.
It got its regulatory approval Friday from the Federal Communications Commission after more than a year. The Justice Department had already cleared the deal on Tuesday.
AT&T Inc. now has 26.4 million cable and satellite TV subscribers.
That’s more than Comcast as well as a bigger Charter, which is seeking government approval to buy Time Warner Cable.
Suppliers of TV are buying one another as video from Internet competitors like Netflix gets more popular and costs rise for channels.
Adding TV customers gives AT&T more power to negotiate with big media companies over prices for those channels.
The deal also combines a nationwide satellite TV service, the country’s largest, with the No. 2 nationwide wireless network as time spent on mobile devices increases. DirecTV also has 19.5 million customers in Latin America, where AT&T wants to grow.
“We’ll now be able to meet consumers’ future entertainment preferences, whether they want traditional TV service with premier programming, their favorite content on a mobile device, or video streamed over the Internet to any screen,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson in a statement.
What could change for customers? AT&T said that it will launch new TV, Internet and mobile phone bundles in the coming weeks.
AT&T’s purchase of DirecTV was approved even as Comcast’s bid for Time Warner Cable, which would have made the country’s biggest cable company even more massive, was blocked. The AT&T deal did not trigger the same fears from consumer advocates because the company wouldn’t contain an entertainment division like Comcast’s NBCUniversal and wouldn’t gain Internet customers, considered the future of the industry, by buying DirecTV.
The FCC repeated Friday that it had set certain requirements for the merger, which it had disclosed on Tuesday when the head of the agency announced his support for the deal.
Among these are that AT&T has to expand a fiber network that can handle fast Internet speeds to 12.5 million possible customers, which it says compensates for the loss of a video option in markets where AT&T’s U-verse cable service had competed with DirecTV’s satellite TV service. The agency said the fiber network requirement will help Internet video competitors reach customers.
AT&T said Friday that including that 12.5 million requirement, its all-fiber Internet network will reach more than 14 million potential subscribers. Analyst Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson had said before the deal’s close was announced that AT&T would probably build the fiber in markets where it already operates a slower Internet network.
“In terms of increasing competition, AT&T has been claiming that bundling with DirecTV will help it compete better with cable. I think that is incrementally the case in some limited set of markets,” said John Bergmayer, a senior staff attorney with public-interest group Public Knowledge.
Another way the agency wants to try to promote video competition is by forbidding AT&T to make a potential online video service of its own not eat up data under the cap imposed by the company on its home Internet customers. If AT&T did that, it could make its own service more appealing compared with Netflix, for example, because streaming Netflix would count toward the data cap and potentially could trigger additional fees if a customer went over the cap.
AT&T also has to offer home Internet to low-income customers without making them buy phone or TV service too. AT&T said that it will offer Internet to households that qualify for food stamps for $10 a month or less. The speed available will be 10 megabits per second or slower, less than the 25 Mbps the FCC has set as the benchmark for high-speed Internet.
The FCC said there will be an independent compliance officer to monitor how AT&T abides by these conditions.
It’s safe to say that Rachel Dolezal never thought much about the endgame. You can see it on her face in the local-TV news video—the one so potently viral it transformed her from regional curiosity to global punch line in the span of 48 hours in mid-June. It is precisely the look of a white woman who tanned for a darker hue, who showcased a constant rotation of elaborately designed African American hairstyles, and who otherwise lived her life as a black woman, being asked if she is indeed African American.
It is the look of a cover blown.
At first, as I watched Dolezal’s story rise from meme to morning show, I wasn’t completely sure what to think, or particularly sure how much I cared; there are, obviously, a host of more crucial issues facing black America. But despite my initial reluctance to even acknowledge Dolezal’s presence in the national conversation, she slowly began to win my attention. There have been women over the years who’ve spent thousands upon thousands of dollars for butt injections, lip fillers, and self-tanners for a more “exotic” look. But attempting to pass for black? This was a new type of white woman: bold and brazen enough to claim ownership over a painful and complicated history she wasn’t born into.
After making calls to what felt like everyone in black America, I was able to get a hold of Dolezal’s e-mail and cell-phone information, and we began a friendly month-long correspondence. We spoke on the phone and exchanged e-mails as events quickly shifted the nation’s focus from Dolezal’s fantastical story to an actual tragedy in Charleston. Eventually, I visited her in Spokane, Washington, where she had been voted head of the local N.A.A.C.P. chapter in November 2014, the crucial, profile-raising step on her rapid ascent in the city’s black community. Throughout our exchanges, as the cameras moved on to their next assignments and public interest waned, she has simultaneously defended the identity she has carefully crafted and insisted that she deceived no one in creating it.
“It’s not a costume,” she says. “I don’t know spiritually and metaphysically how this goes, but I do know that from my earliest memories I have awareness and connection with the black experience, and that’s never left me. It’s not something that I can put on and take off anymore. Like I said, I’ve had my years of confusion and wondering who I really [was] and why and how do I live my life and make sense of it all, but I’m not confused about that any longer. I think the world might be—but I’m not.”
After her estranged parents set her downfall into motion by telling a local newspaper , in no uncertain terms, that their 37-year-old daughter had been born Caucasian, Dolezal was relieved of her paid and unpaid positions in Spokane. She resigned from her position with the N.A.A.C.P. (though odds are she would have been ousted if she hadn’t), and was asked to step down from a police oversight commission. Eastern Washington University, where she had a beloved part-time teaching job in the school’s Africana-studies program, did not renew her contract. Her life bears little resemblance to the one she and her 13-year-old son, Franklin, were living just six weeks ago.
“I’ve got to figure it out before August 1, because my last paycheck was like $1,800 in June,” she says. “[I lost] friends and the jobs and the work and—oh, my God—so much at the same time.”
And yet, Dolezal’s claim on black womanhood still seems to be non-negotiable. Even in conversation with an actual black woman on the other end of the line or sitting in her cozy home, Dolezal unequivocally identifies as black. (Never mind the ancestry.com heritage test that arrived on her doorstep the day I visited.)
Dolezal spent years researching and then perfectly molding her black identity. She commands an impressive knowledge of African American literature, its writers, and the history of the Civil Rights movement. She attended graduate school at the historically black Howard University (where, The Smoking Gun reported , she unsuccessfully sued for being discriminated against because she was white ). She is an expert in black hair, both as a practical matter and as a subject of academic inquiry. She makes it clear she doesn’t plan on altering the way she presents herself anytime soon.
“It’s taken my entire life to negotiate how to identify, and I’ve done a lot of research and a lot of studying,” she says. “I could have a long conversation, an academic conversation about that. I don’t know. I just feel like I didn’t mislead anybody; I didn’t deceive anybody. If people feel misled or deceived, then sorry that they feel that way, but I believe that’s more due to their definition and construct of race in their own minds than it is to my integrity or honesty, because I wouldn’t say I’m African American, but I would say I’m black, and there’s a difference in those terms.”
This is a peculiar defense. If there is a difference between being black and being African American, it’s one that escapes the vast majority of people I know. When I said as much to Dolezal, she claimed to have received a recent traffic ticket where the police officer marked her race as “black” on the ticket without even asking.
“It’s hard to collapse it all into just a single statement about what is,” Dolezal says. “You can’t just say in one sentence what is blackness or what is black culture or what makes you who you are.”
Dolezal feels her outing was a big misunderstanding, but she appears unclear on exactly what was misunderstood. She did identify as a black woman when she was not—there’s not much to misunderstand there. For months, she showcased Albert Wilkerson Jr., a black man she met in Idaho, as her father on Facebook, a move that could only be characterized as misleading. There’s not much of a misunderstanding there, either. The problem, as Dolezal sees it, is one of timing. Had she been able to explain her complicated childhood and sincere, long-time love for black culture to everyone before the blow up, all would have been forgiven.
“Again, I wish I could have had conversations with all kinds of people,” she says. “If I would have known this was going to happen, I could have said, ‘O.K., so this is the case. This is who I am, and I’m black and this is why.'”
Despite the controversy, Dolezal says she has been in touch with some of the people she wishes she could get a do-over with. She says that in the last few weeks she’s been in contact with members of the local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., where she served as president for just over five months. Most of the interaction, she says, has been with the older members in the black community who continue to reach out to check on her.
“It’s been really interesting because a lot of people have been supportive within the N.A.A.C.P., but then there’s also some awkwardness because I went from being president to not-president,” she says. “I’m kind of just keeping a little bit of distance so that Naima can get in her flow of leadership. It’s actually hard because I think there’s a little coldness from her, which is hard to deal with for me, to feel like she doesn’t trust me as much now or something. I don’t know.”
Naima Quarles-Burnley took over as president of the N.A.A.C.P. in June, and earlier this month told Spokane’s Spokesman-Review , “I feel that people of all races can be allies and advocates, but you can’t portray that you have lived the experience of a particular race that you aren’t part of.”
When I ask Dolezal if she feels her dishonesty about her race hurt the organization or other race-related initiatives in the area, she accepts some of the responsibility but also quickly deflects blame.
“Yeah, I mean taking away my ability to lead in the community by questioning my integrity or my character or whatever really hit all of those things really hard,” she says. “Everything I do is connected to other people, so I don’t know how to assess the damage other than within my own mind. I know what I was working on and different people and systems that I was engaged with, but I mean, I hope that people are jumping in and picking up the slack.”
As she figures out where she’ll land next, Dolezal says she is surviving on one of the skills she perfected as she attempted to build a black identity. At Eastern Washington University, she lectured on the politics and history of black hair, and she says she developed a passion for taking care of and styling black hair while in college in Mississippi. That passion is now what brings in income in the home she shares with Franklin. She says she has appointments for braids and weaves about three times a week. She says that a previous custody agreement with her ex-husband mandates she stays in the Spokane area, but that now her ex may approve a move given recent circumstances.
“I would like to write a book just so that I can send [it to] everybody there as opposed to having to continue explaining,” she says. “After that comes out, then I’ll feel a little bit more free to reveal my life in the racial social-justice movement. I’m looking for the quickest way back to that, but I don’t feel like I am probably going to be able to re-enter that work with the type of leadership required to make change if I don’t have something like a published explanation.”
And so, nearly 40 days after that local news interview, Dolezal is still unapologetically identifying as a black woman, still sure that any confusion about her singular story can be explained, still sure she’ll be back in the movement as soon as people stop misunderstanding her.
Her cover’s blown, but that turned out not to matter. It was never a cover to her, anyway.
She deceived people all over the country, over a “misunderstanding” that she cannot explain, and now she want to make money off of it.
Wearing dark sunglasses inside a downtown L.A. courtroom, Sandra Thomas approached the witness stand Thursday and spoke about the Los Angeles police officer she holds responsible for her daughter’s death.
“I have to ask God to help me learn how to forgive her,” she said to a judge before the sentencing of LAPD Officer Mary O’Callaghan. Thomas’ 35-year-old daughter was handcuffed and assaulted by O’Callaghan during an arrest in 2012. She died shortly after being placed in the back of a squad car, complaining she couldn’t breathe.
The encounter, which was captured on a dashboard camera, showed O’Callaghan striking Alesia Thomas — a mother of two — with an open hand and kicking her in the crotch. The officer then can be seen smoking a cigarette on the street, as Alesia Thomas fell unconscious.
Sandra Thomas, who works as a medical assistant, asked why O’Callaghan didn’t show her daughter more sympathy and try to revive her.
“You have to show compassion for people,” she said. “It makes me feel like she wanted that to happen.”
When it was O’Callaghan’s turn to address the court, she faced Sandra Thomas instead of the judge.
“Mother to mother,” O’Callaghan, a 50-year-old mother of three, said through tears, “I am extremely sorry for the loss of your daughter.”
Those were O’Callaghan’s first public comments since Alesia Thomas’ death and her arrest for assault.
O’Callaghan, a Marine veteran who had been with the LAPD for nearly 18 years, said she prays every day for Alesia Thomas’ children.
After the emotional testimony, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sam Ohta sentenced O’Callaghan to 36 months in jail, with the last 20 months suspended, meaning she could be released within five months with good behavior.
The case against O’Callaghan has attracted intense scrutiny amid the national criticism of excessive use of force by police. And the video evidence at trial underscored the value of monitoring police encounters with patrol and body cameras.
The LAPD is outfitting its officers with body cameras. Policy approved by the Los Angeles Police Commission in April required officers to turn their cameras on before most investigative or enforcement activities involving the public.
“It should be clear to everyone that the LAPD and the criminal justice system will hold officers accountable for their actions when they operate outside the law,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement after O’Callaghan’s sentencing.
The jury forewoman in O’Callaghan’s trial said the video played “a big role” in the jury’s decision to find her guilty. One camera recorded conduct outside the vehicle while another documented activity inside the patrol car. That camera recorded O’Callaghan’s assault and showed Thomas losing consciousness.
Thomas can be heard on the video saying, “I can’t move. I can’t breathe,” as O’Callaghan directs her into the back seat of the car.
As O’Callaghan gives Thomas commands about where to place her feet, Thomas says, “I can’t, I can’t.” The officer then screamed a profanity at Thomas and struck her throat with an open hand.
Thomas then glances directly at the camera with wide open eyes.
The officer tells Thomas she’ll get “crushed” if she doesn’t move her feet. As Thomas begins to sit up, O’Callaghan jams her boot into Thomas’ groin three times. When O’Callaghan tries to readjust a nylon restraint around Thomas’ feet, she compares it to “roping cattle.”
After the assault, the footage shows O’Callaghan smoking a cigarette. When she realizes Thomas is unconscious, O’Callaghan says, “That ain’t a good sign.”
Thomas had asked officers for an ambulance more than 30 minutes before one was called.
O’Callaghan was not charged in connection with Thomas’ death. An autopsy by the Los Angeles County coroner determined that cocaine intoxication was probably a “major factor” in the death. It wasn’t possible to determine what role, if any, the struggle with O’Callaghan or other officers who took part in the arrest played in her death. The official cause was listed as “undetermined.”
O’Callaghan’s attorney, Robert Rico, said his client had been relieved of duty by the LAPD pending the outcome of the trial. He said she will be fired because of her felony conviction and will also lose a job as an emergency dispatcher in Vermont that she got after her arrest.
Rico criticized Ohta’s sentence as “excessively longer” than the 180 days in jail and probation the district attorney’s office had recommended. “I wasn’t shocked because this case has been politicized since Day One,” Rico said.
After her tearful comments in the courtroom Thursday, O’Callaghan moved toward Sandra Thomas, who was seated with the rest of her family.
“Can I give her a hug?” Thomas asked Judge Ohta.
“No hugging,” he replied as bailiffs blocked her way. “Cannot be done.”
Later, outside the courtroom, Sandra Thomas said she was satisfied with the judge’s sentence and O’Callaghan’s contrition.
“I feel a great sense of relief,” she said.
Sadly we are going to need to see more officers held accountable in these things…….
The third single from his 1971 album, Nilsson Schmilsson, it reached #8 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Billboard ranked it as the No. 66 song for 1972. It features four distinct characters (the narrator, the brother, the sister, and the doctor), three of which (narrator, sister, and doctor) are sung in different voices by Nilsson. The song describes a story in which a boy and his sister concoct a beverage consisting of lime and coconut and drink it, which causes the girl to have a severe stomach ache; when she calls the doctor late at night, the doctor (annoyed at being awakened by such a complaint) laughs her off and recommends that she “put the lime in the coconut and drink ’em both up”—the exact same idea that caused the stomach ache in the first place—and then call the doctor back in the morning. “Coconut” was the first composition that Nilsson both wrote and recorded that reached the Hot 100. There are no chord changes; the only chord in the song is an arpeggiated C7th.