Comcast and AT&T Are Fighting to Become Media Companies

On Wednesday, Fox increased its bid for the 61 percent of Sky it doesn’t own yet, at a price that values the British pay-TV company at $32.1 billion. Meanwhile, Comcast swiveled away from fighting Disney for control of Fox, then fired back at Fox with a $34 billion counterbid for Sky—and news broke that the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice is appealing last month’s decision by Judge Richard Leon approving the merger of AT&T and Time Warner.

All of these things fit together: Comcast wants to buy Sky for the same reason that the Department of Justice is still fighting AT&T. Both Comcast and AT&T want to be high-risk, high-reward media companies, and that’s bad news for every other part of the entertainment/data ecosystem—including consumers.

Let’s start with AT&T. Judge Leon’s opinion on the merger with Time Warner, which would put content plus distribution in the same hands—was looney, in my view. (AT&T read more

Self-Driving Cars Finally Get an Easy-to-Read Rule Book

For a species that would like to see self-driving cars stick to the letter of the law, we humans don’t make things easy. We let lane lines fade and stop signs fall down. We fail to mark speed limits and flag pop-up construction sites. For the most part, humans can handle this lack of clarity. For robots, it can be baffling.

So consider the AV Road Rules Platform a helping hand. The new effort, launched today by transportation analytics firm Inrix, is a tool that lets cities pull together all the rules they expect human drivers to follow, and translate them into a computer-friendly format that any self-driving developer can fold into its software.

Today, before a developer can put its robo-cars on the road, it must gather piles of data: which streets have which speed limits, where the school zones are, how many lanes any stretch of road has, and so on. The standard method of collecting this data is to drive all the streets in question, and use the cars’ sensors to spot read more

RealNetworks Launches Free Facial Recognition Tool for Schools

Like many parents in the United States, Rob Glaser has been thinking a lot lately about how to keep his kids from getting shot in school. Specifically, he’s been thinking of what he can do that doesn’t involve getting into a nasty and endless battle over what he calls “the g-word.”

It’s not that Glaser opposes gun control. A steady Democratic donor, Glaser founded the online streaming giant RealNetworks back in the 1990s as a vehicle for broadcasting left-leaning political views. It’s just that any conversation about curbing gun rights in America tends to lead more to gridlock and finger-pointing than it does to action. “I know my personal opinions aren’t going to carry the day in this current political environment,” Glaser says.

So he started working on a solution that he believes will prove less divisive, and therefore more immediately actionable. Over the last two years, RealNetworks has developed a facial recognition tool that it hopes will help schools read more

The Best Amazon Prime Day Deals for Home, Outdoor, and Lifestyle: Instant Pot, Zojirushi, Fitbit

It’s here, it’s here! Amazon Prime Day, our unofficial national summer shopping holiday, can be a little overwhelming. We’ve winnowed down our picks in a few niche categories to help you get the best prices on some of the most expensive gear around. For your shopping pleasure, we’ve selected some of the best home, outdoors, and lifestyle gear that you’ll find on Amazon for Prime Day. Take a look at all of our best Prime Day deals here.

Browse our full list of Prime Day Deals here, and check out the discounts you can find on Amazon Devices here.

Save 60 Percent on A KitchenAid Stand MixerA sturdy stand mixer is an indispensable kitchen item, useful for everything from mixing meatballs to whipping up pizza dough from scratch. KitchenAid’s iconic mixers are usually expensive, but right now, they’re 60 percent off. If you already have one, this is a perfect graduation gift or wedding present for someone else.Buy A Professional 6-Quart Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer for $220 (was $390).

More Home Goods Deals

Vitamix 7500 64-Ounce Blender for $370 (was $529). One of the priciest blenders around is also a perennial WIRED favorite, renowned for its ability to reduce the toughest kale leaf to microscopic particles. This is a great time to grab a blender whose blades spin fast enough to heat soup through friction alone. Instant Pot Duo for $65 (was $100). We’ve recommended an Instant Pot in multiple gift guides for new parents. It’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to get some cooked calories into your mouth. If you can’t find a good recipe, we’ve also tested Instant Pot cookbooks here.

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Rubio, Warner Stress Election Security After Trump-Putin Summit

One of the most surprising things about the jaw-dropping joint press conference given by US president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin on Monday is that it compelled a Democratic and a Republican member of Congress to admit, before a room full of press and international lawmakers, that they agree with each other.

Seated side by side at a summit held by the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, senators Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) both cast Trump’s appearance in Helsinki as a major setback in the fight against Russian interference in elections around the world. Just hours before, Trump had stood beside Putin in Helsinki and expressed doubts about whether Russia interfered with the US election in 2016, despite the fact that the US Department of Justice issued an indictment against a dozen Russian intelligence agents last week.

“[Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats came to me and others and said, I think it’s read more

Why Sinclair’s Bid to Buy the Tribune Company Might Die

Sinclair Broadcasting’s proposed $3.9 billion takeover of Tribune Media, which would have expanded the conservative media company’s footprint to nearly three-fourths of American households, suddenly appears in trouble.

Today, Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai effectively came out against the acquisition by proposing to refer it to a hearing with a judge. In theory, the deal could still go ahead if the judge finds no problems with the acquisition or if the decision is appealed. But mergers referred to judges, such as AT&T’s 2011 bid for T-Mobile, have a tendency to die before their hearings, due in large part to the unpredictable timelines for hearings and decisions.

“Based on a thorough review of the record, I have serious concerns about the Sinclair-Tribune transaction,” Pai said in a statement. “When the FCC confronts disputed issues like these, the Communications Act does not allow it to approve a transaction. Instead, read more

Strikes, Boycotts, and Outages Mar Amazon Prime Day

Prime Day, which began Monday, is one of Amazon’s biggest promotions of the year, when the retailer offers deals to subscribers to its Prime service. This year, some Amazon workers in Europe are striking during Prime Day, hoping to draw draw attention to working conditions like proposed cuts in wages and health benefits. In solidarity, some consumers have been boycotting the company and its many subsidiaries, like Twitch and Whole Foods.

Nearly 1,800 workers went on strike on Monday in Spain, where the planned protest was first conceived as a way to fight pay cuts and restrictions on time off. But workers in Poland, Germany, Italy, France, and England are also reportedly joining the call for a transnational strike around Prime Day. The unions representing warehouse workers involved in the strike are Comisiones Obreras in Spain and Verdi services union in Germany.

Prime Day is a bit of a misnomer, as the promotion lasts for 36 hours. German workers are expected to walk read more

Trump-Putin Press Conference Gave Russia Everything It Wanted

Over the course of a roughly 45-minute press conference Monday, President Donald Trump stood beside Russian leader Vladimir Putin both physically and metaphorically. He repeatedly, pointedly declined to acknowledge that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, contrary to the assessment of every relevant US intelligence agency and a fistful of detailed indictments from special counsel Robert Mueller. Moreover, he seemed open to Putin’s suggestion that Russian intelligence assist in running down the evidence.

For Putin, an avowed judo enthusiast, Monday’s events must have come as a pleasant change of pace, less a grapple than a hug. “Between this and the World Cup, I don’t think Russia’s had a better foreign policy week since the defeat of Napoleon,” says Brandon Valeriano, an international conflict researcher at Marine Corps University.

But for the United States, Trump’s fealty to Putin’s version of events raises alarms. It comes just two days after Homeland read more

The Best Amazon Prime Day Deals (2018): Home, Laptops, Echo, Kindle

It’s that time of year yet again—time for Amazon’s blockbuster sales event. We’ve combed the spreadsheets and chased every link to find the best deals in a variety of categories. From home entertainment, to PC components, and even some awesome high-tech kitchen necessities, this is the list of the best Amazon Prime Day deals you’ll want to peruse first. Up top, we’ve hand-picked deals we really love—because they’re products we’ve written about or already have experience with, so you’ll be sure to not accidentally pick a dud of a deal.

Our Favorite Prime Day Deals

Bose Noise-Cancelling Cans for Cheap

Bose Quiet Comfort 25 Headphones

Bose

These wired Bose headphones are perennial best-sellers and today they’re almost a steal. Usually priced at $300, you can get them today for less than half their MSRP. If you or someone you know fly a lot, then you’ll want these headphones. They sound good, and the noise cancellation helps your ears feel just a little bit better after a trans-continental trip in coach class.

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Roku TV Wireless Speakers: Price, Specs, and Release Date

The modern TV experience is an odd combination of technological advancements and drawbacks. Thanks to streaming video, we have more content options than ever; thanks to advances in displays, our TVs can be as thin as pencils. Sound quality, however, has suffered; the physics of flat-panel televisions are hardly conducive to booming audio.

Roku knows this, and has a plan to improve the sound on the TVs that come with its Roku software built in: The company is going to start selling speakers. The Silicon Valley-based maker of streaming boxes, sticks, and software has just announced a two-speaker bundle, called the Roku TV Wireless Speakers. The bundle also includes a standard Roku remote, and a “tabletop remote” that’s supposed to go in a different room than the one your TV is in, so you can control the speaker audio from elsewhere in your home.

The pair of speakers don’t have the same elongated shape as a soundbar; they look more like a pair of black read more