Harvard Education School students protest commencement speaker

May 17
TELECOM INDUSTRY
Report: AT&T to acquire DirecTV

For weeks, rumors have been circulating that AT&T may try to buy DirecTV, the nation’s biggest satellite TV company. Now it appears Ma Bell is ready to pull the trigger.

The phone company intends to announce its plans to acquire DirecTV as soon as Sunday, according to BuzzFeed — making official what has previously been reported as a $50 billion deal.

The agreement would create in AT&T a massive pay-TV conglomerate that would rival Comcast in terms of subscriber figures. Analysts say AT&T is watching the cable giant closely as it tries to sell regulators on its own deal to purchase Time Warner Cable. If that acquisition goes through, Comcast would control roughly 30 million U.S. pay-TV customers.

AT&T already has a small chunk of the pay-TV market with its U-Verse service. Purchasing DirecTV would allow AT&T to shunt its U-Verse video programming onto satellites, freeing up the wireline pipe for broadband data, according to Paul Gallant, a telecom analyst with Guggenheim Partners. The result for U-Verse subscribers might be faster Internet speeds.

— Brian Fung

MASSACHUSETTS
Harvard students protest speaker

Students, faculty and alumni of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education are protesting the school’s choice of commencement speaker for his stance on education reform that relies on so-called test-based accountability.

Colorado State Sen. Michael Johnston was chosen last month by Dean James Ryan to speak. The school is being asked to rescind Johnston’s invitation and to create a more transparent and inclusive process for choosing future commencement speakers.

Student and faculty opposition has led to other protests this graduation season. On May 12, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde withdrew as speaker at Smith College amid protests over IMF policies. Earlier this month, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pulled out from Rutgers University’s ceremony after complaints about her position on the war in Iraq.

In the School of Education case, the group objected to Johnston’s “vision of education reform that relies heavily on test-based accountability while weakening the due process protections of teachers.” The graduate school’s commencement is set for the week of May 29, according to the school’s Web site.

— Bloomberg

MICHIGAN
Activist in plea talks in immigration case

A Chicago activist might plead guilty in Detroit to failing to tell U.S. immigration officials about her conviction in a deadly bombing in Israel in 1969, her attorney said Saturday.

A court hearing is scheduled Wednesday for Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, associate director at the Arab American Action Network in Chicago.

“We are engaging in serious negotiations, which could lead to a guilty plea,” defense lawyer William Swor told the Associated Press. “If she enters a guilty plea, she will likely have to leave the country.”

Odeh’s case has angered pro-Palestinian activists in the U.S. who accuse the government of trying to silence dissent on Israel. Her appearance at the Detroit federal courthouse last fall drew sidewalk protesters who traveled from Illinois to chant criticism of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Odeh, who is in her 60s, entered the U.S. from Jordan in 1995 and became a naturalized citizen in 2004. She is charged with not disclosing her past when she applied for citizenship in Detroit.

Odeh was convicted of an attack that killed two people at a Jerusalem market in 1969. An Israeli military court sentenced her to life in prison in 1970, but she was released 10 years later in a prisoner swap with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

— Associated Press

Utah man shot by police in emergency room: A 34-year-old man was on pain pills for a back problem when he was shot four times by police inside a northern Utah hospital emergency room, a family member said. Jason Burr was sent to the emergency room at Cache Valley Hospital in North Logan after being told he needed immediate surgery, said Gar Workman, the grandfather of Burr’s wife. Burr returned with the emergency room with two handguns on Friday morning after he was earlier turned away for help there, Workman said. Burr was shot after he made demands and pulled out the two guns, police said. He was injured by two probation officers who happened to be with a parolee at the hospital, located about 85 miles north of Salt Lake City. Nobody else was injured. Burr, who suffered chest wounds, was listed in critical but stable condition at a Salt Lake City hospital.

— From news services

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