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Giuliani suggests Trump intervened to nix AT&T-Time Warner merger

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The president has made several public comments about his desire to see the merger terminated, while the Justice Department has demanded a sale of CNN-unit Turner Broadcasting or AT&T’s DirecTV as a condition of rubber stamping the deal.

Trump has railed against the merger and against Time Warner’s CNN, saying thedeal is “not good for the country.” In November, AT&T tried to raise the question of Trump interference in the deal.

“There’s been a lot of reporting and speculation whether this is all about CNN, frankly I don’t know,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. “But nobody should be surprised that the question keeps coming up because we’ve been witnessing such an abrupt change in the application of antitrust law here.”

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Before taking up his role as the DOJ’s antitrust chief in 2017, Makan Delrahim told a Canadian outlet: “I don’t see this as a major antitrust problem.” But he seemingly changed his mind once on the job. The Justice Department cited antitrust concerns when it blocked the proposed $85 billion merger in November.

Federal judge Richard Leon is set to issue a decision on June 12 as to whether the merger can proceed. The case is one of the most important merger decisions this century, since it will influence the outcome of numerous other pending tie-ups across media and telecoms.

Dan Petrocelli, an AT&T lawyer who is arguing the case against the Justice Department, had wanted the judge to allow him to probe communications between the White House and the Justice Department about the merger.

The judge ruled against his request.

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Federal prisons on lockdown in run-up to Biden inauguration

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NEW YORK — All federal prisons in the United States have been placed on lockdown, with officials aiming to quell any potential violence that could arise behind bars as law enforcement prepares for potentially violent protests across the country in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.

The lockdown at more than 120 federal Bureau of Prisons facilities took effect at 12 a.m. Saturday, according to an email to employees from the president of the union representing federal correctional officers.

“In light of current events occurring around the country, and out of an abundance of caution, the decision has been made to secure all institutions,” the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement.

The lockdown decision is precautionary, no specific information led to it and it is not in response to any significant events occurring inside facilities, the bureau said.

To avoid backlash from inmates, the lockdown was not announced until after they were locked in their cells Friday evening.

Shane Fausey, the president of the Council of Prison Locals, wrote in his email to staff that inmates should still be given access in small groups to showers, phones and email and can still be involved in preparing food and performing basic maintenance.

Prison officials patrol around the United States Penitentiary at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Ind., on. Jan. 15, 2021.Bryan Woolston / Reuters

Messages seeking comment were left with Fausey on Saturday.

The agency last put in place a nationwide lockdown in April to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

During a lockdown, inmates are kept in their cells most of the day and visiting is canceled. Because of coronavirus, social visits only resumed in October, but many facilities have canceled them again as infections spiked.

One reason for the new nationwide lockdown is that the bureau is moving some of its Special Operations Response Teams from prison facilities to Washington, D.C., to bolster security after President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Authorities are concerned there could be more violence, not only in the nation’s capital, but also at state capitals, before Trump leaves office Jan. 20.

A Bureau of Prisons spokesman said the agency was coordinating with officials at the Justice Department to be ready to deploy as needed. Earlier this month, about 100 officers were sent to the Justice Department’s headquarters to supplement security staff and were deputized by the U.S. Marshals Service and given special legal powers to “enforce federal criminal statutes and protect federal property and personnel,” said the spokesman, Justin Long.

The specialized units typically respond to disturbances and other emergencies at prisons, such as riots, assaults, escapes and escape attempts, and hostage situations. Their absence can leave gaps in a prison’s emergency response and put remaining staff at risk.

“The things that happen outside the walls could affect those working behind the walls,” Aaron McGlothin, a local union president at a federal prison in California.

As the pandemic continues to menace federal inmates and staff, a federal lockup in Mendota, California, is also dealing with a possible case of tuberculosis.

According to an email to staff Friday, an inmate at the medium-security facility has been placed in a negative pressure room after returning a positive skin test and an X-ray that indicated an active case of tuberculosis.

The inmate was not showing symptoms of the lung disease and is undergoing further testing to confirm a diagnosis, the email said.

As a precaution, all other inmates on the affected inmate’s unit were placed on quarantine status and given skin tests for tuberculosis.

The bacterial disease is spread similarly to Covid-19, through droplets that an infected person expels by coughing, sneezing or through other activities such as singing and talking.

Mendota also has 10 current inmate cases and six current staff cases of Covid-19.

As of Wednesday, the last day for which data was available, there were 4,718 federal inmates and 2,049 Bureau of Prisons staff members with current positive tests for Covid-19.

Since the first case was reported in March, 38,535 inmates and 3,553 staff have recovered from the virus. So far, 190 federal inmates and 3 staff members have died.

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Victory for Germany's ‘mini-Merkel’ will push more countries to quit EU, warns ex-MEP

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ANGELA Merkel’s probable replacement as Germany’s leader – sometimes referred to as ‘mini-Merkel’ in recognition of his close ties with the departing Chancellor – is likely to pursue policies which will drive more of the EU27 to consider following the UK out of the bloc, a former MEP has said.

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Thank God we are out! MEPs explode as Turkey’s Erdogan begs to join Brussels bloc

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MEPs have exploded at Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan after he begged to join the bloc.

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