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AT&T And Starz Ink New Carriage Deal, ‘Power’ Still On

Just hours after the FCC signed off on the $49 billion merger of DirectV and AT&T, the latter reached a deal with the premium cabler. After some contentious and public remarks from 50 Cent and other divisions over a new agreement, Starz and AT&T late last night came to terms on a new multiyear carriage deal. “AT&T and Starz have reached an agreement to continue our long-standing relationship,” said a joint statement from both companies.

This successful return to the negotiating table and agreement, thereby ensures that millions of AT&T U-Verse subscribers will not lose access to Starz shows like 50 Cent’s Power and Outlander, among others. No specific details of the deal were disclosed by either side. However, sources tell me, as with the 2012 deal between the two this contract is multiyear and beneficial to both parties – which is obviously why the both signed on the dotted line.

Related50 Cent Calls AT&T “Racist”, Urges ‘Power’ Fans To Switch Cable Provider

After negotiations between Starz and AT&T broke down a week ago, it looked like Curtis Jackson’s series and other shows would become unavailable to millions of AT&T customers – prompting the hip-hop superstar’s July 17 online rant and accusations of racism. With last night’s deal, of course, that’s all water under the corporate bridge

 

 

Related stories50 Cent Calls AT&T “Racist”, Urges ‘Power’ Fans To Switch Cable ProviderJon Stewart Discusses Life After 'The Daily Show’ With Audience Before TapingFocus Lands Action Film 'Down To A Sunless Sea’ With Morgan Freeman

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Knives Are Out for Those Who Challenge Militarization of the Korean Peninsula
When we began our project, we knew the landmines in the DMZ would be nothing compared to the explosions of anger from those who oppose any contact with North Korea. No surprise that the knives have been attempting to slice away at the remarkable worldwide publicity our trip to both North and South Korea created.

By Ann Wright, Retired U.S. Army Colonel

When we began our project “Women Cross the DMZ,” we knew the landmines in the DMZ would be nothing compared to the explosions of anger, vitriol and hate from those who oppose any contact with North Korea. Some U.S. and South Korean government officials, academics, media talking heads and paid bloggers would have their knives out for any group that dared challenge the dangerous status quo on the Korean peninsula.  No surprise that the knives have been attempting to slice away at the remarkable worldwide publicity our trip to both North and South Korea created.

The latest slice and dice article, “How North Korea’s Marchers for Peace Became Fellow Travelers,” by Thor Halvorssen and Alex Gladstein of the “Human Rights Foundation,” was published July 7, 2015 in Foreign Policy. Halvorssen and the “Human Rights Foundation” are reportedly associated with an Islamophobic and anti-LGBT agenda.

The authors’ goal seems to be to intimidate any group working for peace and reconciliation in Korea by using the issue of North Korean human rights violations to scare off groups from contact with North Korea. For these detractors, peace and reconciliation in various parts of the world might mean they will be out of issues and jobs as their livelihood quite possibly is made from undercutting attempts to resolve contentious and dangerous issues.

In the lengthy article, their fixation on virtually every word, written or spoken, made by members of the delegation, centered on two themes: the only possible result of visiting North Korea is to give legitimacy to the government, and if you don’t hammer the North Korean government on human rights issues on your first visit, you have lost all credibility. It seems apparent that the authors have never been involved in the delicate art of diplomacy. As a diplomat in the State Department for 16 years, I learned that if your goal is to foster dialogue you must first build some level of familiarity and trust before you can go on to difficult issues.

Of course, Halvorssen and Gladstein’s commentary is not unique. In every international challenge, whether it deals with Iran, Cuba or North Korea, a cottage industry of writers emerges to make their fame and fortune on a confrontational approach to the governments. Some of the “think tanks” and organizations they represent are bankrolled by a handful of ideological billionaires or corporations in the weapons industry that benefit from fueling the status quo, continued sanctions, and a military approach to problems that only have political solutions. […]

Britney Spears not so Toxic single

Britney Spears has helped to make a young teen’s dreams come true by sending a message of encouragement after learning her hit song Toxic helped the child recover from a stroke.

Maegan Johnson, from Arizona, recently took to Facebook to share her story after surviving a brain aneurysm and a stroke when she was seven.

She revealed she fell into a deep depression as she struggled to regain her speech and movement.

But when she heard the pop superstar’s 2003 chart smash, her spirits were suddenly lifted and she was inspired to start dancing as part of her therapy.

Johnson, now 13, went public with her remarkable story of recovery in the hopes of gaining Spears’ attention, admitting her family has tried for six years to reach out to the singer, to no avail.

Her perseverance paid off when she appealed to TV daytime show host Ellen DeGeneres for help.

In an online video, she said: “It has been our hope to get my story to Britney. My parents said as an entertainer and mother, she would appreciate knowing the impact and role she played on my recovery.

"We have been trying for six years through radio stations, emails and all social media, with no luck.

"Hopefully with your help, my wish will finally come true. I just want to thank her and let her know how much I appreciate her and tell her my story. Thank you!”

The power of social media helped to get Johnson’s story to Spears, and she has since responded to the teen online, writing: “Thank you for sharing your incredible story, Maegan! I’m so inspired by you and I’m touched my music helped you get through such a difficult time.?#?JustKeepDancing?, sweetie!! You are AMAZING!”

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Rangers Recap: Texas takes collection win over Giants

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New Taliban Chief Urges Unity in Quest for ‘Pure Islamic Regime’

In his first public remarks as leader of the Taliban, newly elected chief Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour urged those within the organization to settle their differences while continuing the insurgency in Afghanistan.

The war should continue until a “pure Islamic regime is built in Afghanistan” and reports on peace talks are “enemies’ propaganda,” he said in an audio message sent via e-mail today by spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed. Enemies are endeavoring to “fracture and undermine the Taliban’s jihad and empower themselves,” he said.

More from Bloomberg.com: The CEO Worshipped by His Workers Is Back and Better Than Ever

The comments come as Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s administration has said face-to-face talks with Taliban members in Pakistan in early July ended with optimism. The next round of discussions about a possible cease-fire was scheduled for yesterday, but was postponed at the request of the Taliban, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry said on July 30.

“We must be united, otherwise our enemies will win in our separation,” Mansour said. “Jihad is all our responsibility to carry out. We should remove our differences.”

Mansour’s 30-minute broadcast to senior Taliban leaders comes less than a week after the Afghan government announced the 2013 death of former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar. Mansour, Omar’s deputy, was elected successor.

More from Bloomberg.com: Why the Trail of Clues to Flight 370 Now Leads to France

Prior to his appointment, Mansour had been directing Taliban operations in Afghanistan against U.S.-led coalition troops since 2001, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad, a senior Taliban commander in Afghanistan, said by phone on July 30. He also played a central role in appointing commanders and shadow governors in the war-torn country, Mohammad said.

Mansour’s deputies are Jalaluddin Haqqani and Mullah Sirajuddin Haqqani. The Haqqani network has been blamed for some of the most high-profile terrorist attacks in Kabul in recent years.

Mansour was born in 1960 in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province, where Mullah Omar would found the Taliban more than 30 years later. Mansour developed his relationship with Pakistani intelligence during the 1980s while fighting against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and served as minister of aviation from 1996 to 2001.

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Market Atlas Review: Obama’s Visit, Zimbabwe in Crisis, Boko Haram’s Menace, Ethiopia’s “Democracy” and Kagame — President for life?

Every fortnight in partnership with Market Atlas, Ventures Africa brings you data, insight, and analysis on changing market conditions across the continent. 

Kenya: Obama’s visit to Kenya shows signs that the US is taking a more pragmatic view on Africa


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US President Obama made his first state visit to Kenya on July 24 to attend the Global Entrepreneurship week and of course have diplomatic talks with his Kenyan counterpart, President Uhuru Kenyatta. Obama focused his public remarks on the expected themes of governance and economic collaboration. Obama offered to support Kenya in improving transparency and accountability, and strengthening Kenya’s institutions to fight corruption.

President Obama also offered up support to Kenya for tackling security issues. He announced the signing of an action plan to help improve law enforcement and border security, and strengthen the judiciary. Obama also showed solidarity with Kenya’s position on the civil war in South Sudan and the electoral crisis in Burundi.

Obama’s visit to Kenya showed a cordial and friendly relationship with President Kenyatta, a remarkable shift from Obama’s previous stance on not visiting Kenya while Kenyatta was under indictment from the International Criminal Court (ICC). This about face seems to show the US is taking a more pragmatic view on Africa in order not to miss the boat on its economic growth. Obama followed up the Kenya visit with a stop in Ethiopia, a country with a poor human rights record.

It’s looking more and more like US trade and investment interests in Africa are taking prominence over a pervious insistence for human rights and governance reforms as a prerequisite for engagement.

Zimbabwe: A string of Supreme Court rulings threaten further weaken an already fragile country


1 year Chart of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange — Source: INET-BFA Expert Platform distributed by Market Atlas

On July 27 the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe ruled that employers in the country are not required to pay workers allowances for housing, education and other fringe benefits, a common practice in the country. This ruling comes on the heels of another by the same court on July 17 that allows employers to disregard labor laws and dismiss workers without lay-off benefits by giving just 3 months’ notice.   Under Zimbabwe’s Labor Act, every employee has the right not to be unfairly dismissed, and employers have to follow a detailed process to show legal grounds for dismissal.

On the immediate heels of the ruling a number of large employers dismissed hundreds of employees. This action pushed the unemployment rate in the country to well over 80%. Zimbabwe’s Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) warned that workers would take to the street if President Zimbabwe did not evoke his emergency presidential powers and prevent job losses after the rulings. These rulings coincide with a crackdown on street vendors by the Harare municipal police that erupted in violence two weeks ago. The traders had been protesting for several weeks against their forced removal from their regular business locations.

Zimbabwe is a country on the precipice both politically and economically. Decisions seem to be made solely on the basis of how they benefit entrenched powers, and the lack of accountability and care for the populace is fast approaching a breaking point. The Zimbabwean government continues to test the limits of its people with decisions that put further pressure on it failing economy. The consequences of these decisions are at best negative and potentially grave.

Cameroun: Two suicide attacks by Boko Haram in Cameroun show the weakened terrorist group is still a factor


Map of Cameroun

The northern Cameroonian city of Maroua was hit by twin suicide attacks on the 22nd of July. Two teenage girls attacked a market and a residential community half a mile apart. The presidency announced that 13 people died and 32 were wounded in both attacks. The Maroua blasts occurred 10 days after Cameroon suffered its first suicide bombing, in Fotokol on July 12, which killed 11.

Cameroun along with Chad were instrumental in commencing the first concerted offensive to repel the Boko Haram insurgency that has taken thousands of lives in Nigeria and forced over 1.5 million people from their homes.

The attacks are clearly reprisals against soft targets in Cameroun for their military support of Nigeria’s efforts to squash the group. It shows that, though weak, Boko Haram will continue to be a menace until they are completely defeated. Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s President, was on a state visit to Cameroun this week to discuss the activation of Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF). The Task Force is a coalition of African countries working together to eradicate the scourge that is Boko Haram. Earlier in the year the United States pledged $5 billion to support the fight against Boko Haram, much of these funds will be used by the MJTF to support their operations.

The long awaited activation of the MJTF is a positive sign that Nigeria and the countries impacted by the terrorist group are finally ready to put together a fully coordinated effort to defeat Boko Haram. The porous borders between Nigeria and its neighboring countries to the North and East have allowed Boko Haram to move personnel, weaponry, and other resources around unabated in the region. Boko Haram will only be permanently defeated once the region is fully secure, and secure region will require coordination between all impacted countries well beyond a victory over Boko Haram.

Ethiopia: A ruling party victory in the National elections were a forgone conclusion but winning 100% of the Parliamentary seats shows the extent of the farce that is Ethiopian democracy


EPRDF Supporters

The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and its allies have won every single seat in the House of People’s Representatives. The official announcement was made by elections officials on June 22 following the vote that took place on May 24.

The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) said that the outcome was “free, fair and credible”. Terms which no reasonable individual would associate with conduct of the elections. Ethiopia is effectively a police state run by the EPRDF. Opposition figures and members of civil society were routinely intimidated and arrested leading up to the vote. Human rights groups routinely rank the EPRDF one of the most repressive regimes in Africa.

To make matters worse President Obama twice described the election a democratic during his state visit to Ethiopia on Monday July 27. His statement seem to confirm our assertion that the US is now willing to look the other way on governance in preference for its economic and business interests.

Rwanda: Vote in parliament makes third term-bid for President Kagame almost a certainty


President Paul Kagame

Rwanda’s Parliament voted for a referendum to allow President Paul Kagame to run for president for a third time in 2017. The Rwandan houses of Parliament met on July 14 to approve an amendment to the country’s constitution which currently limits individuals to two terms as President. This vote was an interim step prior to a formal vote to amend the constitution that will be the final step in the process.

The process to amend the constitution has been legal and widely supported by Rwandan citizens unlike the popular resistance put up against President Pierre Nkurunziza of neighboring Burundi. The vote in parliament came after a petitions signed by 2 million Rwandans in support of President Kagame’s bid to stay in office were submitted.

President Kagame has been an exemplary leader on a continent with very few good examples to point to. We commend the legal approach taken to amend the constitution and think Rwanda would likely continue to do well with Kagame at the helm. On the other hand we are disappointed that another African leader seeks to remain in power rather than hand over to a competent successor. Kagame has often been criticized for his exclusionary leadership style, and he has continuously tightened restrictions on civil society and the media.

We view this political development in Rwanda with caution and concern. One only look at President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. He was once hailed as a liberator and hero who fought for Democracy and its ideals. We see how one man’s zeal to hold on to power turned out for Zimbabwe

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Byrd on benches clearing: ‘Whenever you throw at someone’s head, that is what occurs.’

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Journal Entry June 21, 2015 - 12 Strands and Steve Jobs Cameo

June 21, 2015

I was in “outer space”—dark with stars twinkling all around. I was rising higher and higher, and at one point, an angel came to my right side, held my arm and led me even higher. It was mostly that—rising up, higher and higher—and sometimes it felt as if I was being sucked into a vortex.

All of sudden, I see myself talking to a doctor. I had him test my DNA and they found that I have 12 strands. I was happy and he was shocked. He wanted to make it public—this new, remarkable discovery—but I told him that I would only agree to it if he did it in spiritual light and not medical or scientific. I sensed (and told him) that he is a “believer” but he hides it for fear of being ridiculed and fear of losing his stature in the society.

Then, I saw myself going public in a press conference, calling all the “awakened” or “enlightened” humans or those following the path to spirituality—all those online, on social media, the lightworkers, walk-ins and starseeds—to come together through our website and help our fellow humans follow the path to light. I explained that I am no different than anyone else but a mere instrument to help others see the light and congregate those who already do—for together, our energy will be massively powerful.

After that, I found myself somewhere else. I saw briefly how I had nothing materially and financially yet I was abundantly provided for. Then, a light being came to me, approached me from the right and understood it to be the former human known as Steve Jobs. He somehow made me understand that I will, indeed, be provided for. I asked him how this could be (thinking that he will be the one to help me). He was somewhat amused by my lack of understanding and said, “They will follow you.”

Who am I? Read my story here.

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The state of baseball with Rob Manfred

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Hulk Hogan Fired from WWE After Racist Remarks Go Public

The sports entertainment company fires top wrestling legend Terry Bollea after recordings emerge showing him going off on racist rants.

Sonia condoles former minister Handique's death

New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday condoled the death of former union minister B.K. Handique, saying his journey in public life was “remarkable”.


Gandhi in a message said Handique was a valued member of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance governments and the void created by his death would be hard to fill.

Handique, a Congress leader from Assam, died at the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital on Sunday. He was 80.

A contemporary of Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, he represented the Jorhat Lok Sabha constituency for six consecutive times since 1991. He held several portfolios in the union government.

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Pictures of the Week: 7/26/15-eight/1/15

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3Novices:Sonia condoles former minister Handique's death

3Novices:Sonia condoles former minister Handique’s death

New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday condoled the death of former union minister B.K. Handique, saying his journey in public life was “remarkable”. Gandhi in a message said Handique was a valued member of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance governments and the void created by his death would be hard to fill. Handique, a Congress leader from Assam, died at…

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Is Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch peaking too quickly?

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Lebanon's Hezbollah leader says Iran will not abandon support after nuclear deal

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi
BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Lebanese Hezbollah group believes it can still count on Iran’s support following Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday.
In his first public remarks since the agreement was reached this month in Vienna, Nasrallah said he was sure Tehran would confound critics who say it would end support to Hezbollah.
“We deal with every trust and complete assurance over this Nasrallah said in ceremony to honor sons and daughters of fallen Hezbollah fighters.
"Iran’s relationship with its allies is based on ideological grounds and come before the political interests,” Nasrallah said.
U.S. sanctions against three Hezbollah military leaders whom Washington said were involved in operations in Syria would have no impact on the group, Nasrallah said.
“We have no investment accounts..these measures will not change things either way,” Nasrallah said.
The three leaders - Mustafa Badr Al Din, Ibrahim Aqil, and Fu'ad Shukr - were named for their role in coordinating or participating in the group’s support for Assad’s government in Syria’s civil war, the U.S Treasury said.
It also included a businessman in Lebanon who was sanctioned for procuring weapons for Hezbollah and shipping them to Syria.
The new sanctions following the nuclear deal and Washington’s continued designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist group showed that U.S. policies have not changed toward it, he said.
“The United States is the Great Satan before and after the deal,” he said.
Nasrallah said the targeting of Lebanese businessmen was meant to undermine Lebanon’s economy and said monetary authorities should not cave into U.S. Treasury efforts to blacklist local businessmen.
The Treasury said it had taken action in June against Hezbollah front companies.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have said they are troubled by support from Iran for regional proxy groups such as Hezbollah.
Nasrallah said his group was proud of Tehran’s financial backing, which allowed it to stand up to Israel and U.S. policies in the region.
“The support we get from Iran is enough,” Nasrallah said.
Hezbollah’s support has been crucial to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in the four-year-long Syrian conflict.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Angus MacSwan)