ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The Albany Times Union on the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner.
The state Public Service Commission seems to be hinting that its final recommendation on the proposed Comcast Corp. purchase of Time Warner Cable will be a "yes" with conditions.
PSC staff has recommended Time Warner's minimum Internet package be maintained because staff believes rate hikes otherwise would be inevitable, counter to what the companies have promised. PSC staff also suggested conditions on the deal regarding employment levels, customer service and broadband availability, according to the Times Union's Larry Rulison.
These are important points that completely miss the broader issue: Whether the deal should be approved at all.
The $45.2 billion combination of the two cable and Internet giants needs approval by both the PSC and the Federal Communications Commission. The PSC noted in an August filing that it's "not offering an opinion" on whether the federal government should approve the merger. The FCC can certainly decide for itself, but the PSC can __ and should — say no.
The PSC also has noted its concerns about the merger's potential to sway "market power" — a company's influence over suppliers and customers in terms of prices and contract negotiations. New York consumers, especially those in the Capital Region, would go from reasonably sized pan fish in Time Warner's lake to mere specks in Comcast's ocean. Comcast would control more than two-thirds of the nation's cable TV customers and nearly 40 percent of the high-speed Internet market, if the deal goes through.
Gerald Norlander, an attorney who advocates on behalf of utility customers through an initiative called New York's Utility Project, has questioned the deal. He noted in July that Comcast has told investors the deal will result in more than $1 billion a year in savings. "How can they save a billion a year without cutting?" he said.
Anyone who has ever spent a nails-on-chalkboard telephone call trying to reduce a phone/cable/Internet bill can guess what Mr. Norlander worries will suffer the most: Customer service. Earlier this year, an audio recording of a nasty Comcast customer service representative refusing to allow a customer to cancel service went viral. Of course, Comcast painted the employee as a bad apple, but, really, we can just imagine the behavior that stems from a "make it difficult to cancel" model.
Common Cause has sued PSC to stop the merger. Among its many arguments is Comcast's history of proposing data caps, which limit the amount of Internet that its customers can use without paying a fee. The company has said the limits would apply to all its customers within five years.
In New York, the PSC can only approve a utility merger if a specific benefit to consumers is found. So far, the benefits sound illusory. The PSC should say no and allow us fish the limited choices we already have.
The Auburn Citizen on the results of the Democratic primary election contest between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and challenger Zephyr Teachout
Gov. Andrew Cuomo defeated challenger Zephyr Teachout in Tuesday's Democratic Primary, but we hope the governor doesn't put the race behind him too quickly, because the election revealed a great deal of dissatisfaction with the way he's doing his job.
Cuomo said on Tuesday that all he needed was 51 percent of the vote. He ended up getting about 60 percent, but he also got fewer than 50 percent of the vote in dozens of upstate counties, a clear signal that Teachout's criticism of the current administration resonated with a large number of Democrats.
But whether we're talking about a Democratic primary or the election in November (in which the governor holds a huge lead in the polls), Cuomo shouldn't be treating his time in office as an effort to win a contest. Sure, 51 percent of the vote keeps him on the Democratic line. And 51 percent of the vote on Nov. 4 will give him four more years as governor. But being governor means representing more than just 51 percent of New Yorkers.
If a large number of people are disappointed with the administration's handling of Common Core, upset about the SAFE Act, or miffed that Cuomo refuses to take a position on hydrofracking, then he is failing to adequately represent a large percentage of his constituents.
For an incumbent to lose so many counties shows that Cuomo is not connecting with a large number of people in his own party, not to mention Republicans, Conservatives and so on. So rather than look at elections as "Cuomo vs Teachout" or "Cuomo vs Astorino," the governor should be concentrating on doing the best job for the people of the state — all of the people.
Earning the right to be governor of New York cannot be compared to a sports contest in which 1 point determines the winner. The people of the state deserve leadership that responds to all of their concerns, not just those of a slim majority.
The Buffalo News on President Obama's response to the threats posed by the Islamic State group.
What is the threat posed to the United States by ISIS, the savage band of radicals who have taken over parts of Syria and Iraq? It's a critical question and opinions vary from not significant to overwhelming. Given that broad range of analyses, and in light of what we already know about ISIS' thirst for blood, President Obama's approach to the problem seems sensible and appropriately scaled.
That doesn't mean it is without risk, though. Consequences — intended and unintended — will flow from the actions he proposes. That is among the reasons, though not the only one, that Obama should seek the approval of Congress. This is a large undertaking that, even from the air, will put Americans at risk. Congress should furnish not only funding, but authority. It is time for it to do something worthwhile.
Obama, in a national address Wednesday night, said he plans an intensive campaign against ISIS that will prominently feature American airpower and Arab troops. No American ground troops will be used in what he expects to be a multiyear campaign against the terror group, Obama said.
Few American leaders are saying the country should do nothing against ISIS, though some are saying Obama isn't proposing enough. Largely, though, they are American hawks such as Sen. John McCain and former Vice President Dick Cheney — men who led the nation into the quagmire of Iraq and who never seem to have found a war they didn't want to fight. They may be right about ISIS, but their record shows that it is dangerous to simply accept their views as fact, however insistently they push them. They have been drastically, tragically wrong too often for that.
The reason to take an interest in this at all isn't simply because ISIS beheaded two Americans in retaliation for U.S. assaults on its positions, though those executions factor into it. That brutality demonstrated for all to see exactly what the organization is capable of doing. We ignored those kinds of signs before Sept. 11, 2001, and paid a steep price for it.
What is more, ISIS' territory gives it access to resources such as oil, which it sells to finance its operations and its goals. If it is a regional problem today, it could become a global problem in the not-so-distant future. It is important to act sooner rather than later.
But there are risks. Besides the unknown effects, the fight is taking attention and pressure off of Iran, which also opposes ISIS and which still lusts for nuclear weapons. Speaking to the New York Times, Yuval Steinitz, Israel's strategic affairs minister, observed that ISIS is "a five-year problem" but a nuclear Iran is "a 50-year problem . with far greater impact."
Obama needs to gather as large a coalition as possible to counter this threat, and Arab nations must shoulder a large share of the cost and danger. As neighbor to Iraq, Saudi Arabia is at far greater immediate risk than the United States. Jordan, which borders both Iraq and Syria, also must play a significant role.
Obama should proceed with the cooperation and specific agreement of Congress, but should do so understanding that there will be unwanted consequences, and watching for them.
The New York Daily News on controversies embroiling the NFL.
Roger Goodell runs a league in which games are decided, and fortunes determined, based on rules: Catch the ball in the back of the end zone, get both feet down and maintain possession, it's a touchdown. Bobble the pigskin or touch a toe on the white line, it's an incompletion.
No middle ground.
Which is one example of why Goodell's utter failure to delineate clear and consistent rules for what constitutes suspension-worthy misconduct off the field is stunning — and is permanently staining his tenure atop America's most powerful professional sports brand.
Exhibit A: Baltimore running back Ray Rice is accused of punching out his fiancée.
Prosecutors send him to a diversion program enabling him to avoid trial, and Goodell sidelines him for two games. But when video reveals how brutal the punch looked, and a storm follows, the commish banishes Rice indefinitely.
Exhibit B: Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson is accused of abusing his 4-year-old son.
He admits to injuring the boy, claiming it was discipline that went too far. After prosecutors indict him, the Vikings sit him for one week — but plan to play him next Sunday.
Goodell sits and waits even though Peterson admits battering the boy — and even though photographs show how badly bruised the child was.
Still worse, Vikings GM Rick Spielman said he wasn't sure the team would change its approach even if Peterson is convicted of assault.
Exhibit C: Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy is convicted by a judge of threatening and assaulting an ex-girlfriend. Convicted.
Though his team belatedly deactivated Hardy on Sunday — two days after the head coach said Hardy would start — Goodell has taken no action. The league says it is waiting because Hardy has appealed his conviction and a jury will decide guilt or innocence.
Exhibit D (yes, there's a "D''): San Francisco defensive end Ray McDonald, arrested on suspicion of felony domestic abuse for allegedly assaulting his pregnant fiancée, but not yet charged, continues to play. Again, Goodell sits and waits.
What's the standard? Dammed if we know. Damned if Roger Goodell knows.
Goodell and NFL team owners are meting out discipline, or not, based on appearances and make-it-up-as-you-go rules. Clearly, his $44 million compensation package has not delivered smart, strong leadership.
In the uproar, he was late to appointing a former FBI director to investigate the NFL's handling of the Rice case and still later to assembling a three-member, all-woman panel of domestic abuse experts to advise the league.
So, let's hear it, commissioner. Is it the policy to wait for a determination of guilt or innocence by the criminal justice system before acting?
Will the league conduct its own investigations to determine, through a parallel process, whether a player has engaged in unacceptable brutality?
Or will Goodell move immediately only when there happens to be video of a beating? Imagine that 6-foot-1, 220-pound Peterson had been recorded breaking off a tree branch and whaling on a screaming 4-year-old. Surely, Goodell would have been done with Peterson in an instant.
The child's bruises vividly tell that same story, yet the Vikings have okayed Peterson to suit up.
Why, commissioner, why?
The Syracuse Post-Standard on the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Sept. 11, 2001 was a day that Central New York and America stood still. We were glued to the television, watching in horror as the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed, the Pentagon burned and a commercial jet crashed into a Pennsylvania field.
Nearly 3,000 people died as terrorism roared up to our doorstep. We were forever changed.
That was 13 years ago. Children alive then are now in middle and high school. The oldest of them barely remembers that bright, late summer day. For them, it's a date to memorize for history class, just as the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 that drew America into World War II, was for their parents.
Today, we will set time aside to remember those civilians and emergency responders who died on 9/11. Syracuse will hold a 17-minute moment of silence at the Forman Park Police Memorial starting at 8:46 a.m., the time the first jet hit the north Trade Center tower, ending at 9:03 a.m., the time the second jet hit the south tower.
Even as we remember 9/11 with silence, candles and prayers, the fight against terrorism continues. The threat remains real, whether it's in the form of individuals, like the Boston Marathon bombers, or the brutal forces of ISIS who are beheading and crucifying those in Iraq and Syria who oppose them. We must not let down our guard.
President Barack Obama has outlined his strategy for dealing with the ISIS threat. Now is the time for Americans to unite and to show the world our collective resolve.
Let memory spur us to action to confront terrorism wherever it threatens our lives and interests.