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Comcast makes a move to buy Time-Warner Cable

Comcast makes another big move, making a play for Time Warner Cable.

Already the dominant player in providing pay television services to American consumers, Comcast announced on Thursday a deal to buy Time Warner Cable, which will create a behemoth that will dominate the media industry.

It is the second transformative deal for Comcast in recent years, coming just months after it completed an acquisition of NBC Universal, the TV and movie studio. And the deal, if completed, could have impacts on consumers across the country, though it is unlikely to reduce competition in many markets.

Describing the deal as “a friendly, stock-for-stock transaction,” Comcast will acquire 100 percent of Time Warner Cable’s 284.9 million shares outstanding, in a deal worth about $45.2 billion in stock value.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Quail eggs from PA make it onto state dinner menu

The state dinner menu in honor of President François Hollande of France will feature quail eggs from Pennsylvania alongside other domestic delicacies.

In a nod to French cuisine, the menu will meld all-American food with French flair, set against a backdrop of purple irises and the music of the Bronx-raised, Grammy-winning artist Mary J. Blige.

The meal will include quail eggs from Pennsylvania and American Osetra caviar from the president’s adopted home state of Illinois, as well as 12 kinds of potatoes.

Michelle Obama’s fingerprints are especially evident in the salad course, featuring a “winter garden salad” of what the White House called petite mixed radishes, merlot lettuce and baby carrots inspired by the first lady’s kitchen garden.

The main course will be a dry-aged rib eye of beef, brought in from a family farm in Colorado and topped with blue cheese from Vermont.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete source here.

Visit the home of President James Buchanan in Lancaster

Celebrate President's Day with a trip to the home of James Buchanan in Lancaster; this feature is part of The Patriot-News' 'Not Far by Car' series.

After a brief orientation at the Lancaster Historical Society's new Visitor Center, you'll be greeted at the back door of Buchanan's brick mansion by a guide dressed as a servant, said Patrick Clarke, director of Wheatland.

Buchanan had five or six servants. Miss Hetty, his housekeeper, took care of him for more than 30 years.

Living history actors will welcome you to Wheatland as if it were the fall of 1856. Buchanan was the Democratic Party's nominee for president; his home was campaign headquarters.

Original source: The Patriot-News
Read the complete story here.


Figure skater Johnny Weir talks Sochi with Philadelphia Magazine

Fashion icon and figure skater Johnny Weir -- who is helping call the events in Sochi -- took the time to talk with Philadelphia Magazine.

Before this year, I thought Sochi was a kind of Japanese ice cream. Where is it, exactly?
Sochi is a beautiful resort town that was made famous by Stalin and the elite from the Soviet Party. It’s on the Black Sea. When I tell people I’m going to Russia, they say, “Oh my God, you’re going to freeze to death.” First of all, I have furs. But second of all, Sochi enjoys a really temperate climate.

Now that you’ve retired and reigning Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek has dropped out, I have no idea who is competing. The people most likely to be on that medal stand?
You’re looking at Canadian Patrick Chan. He’s the reigning world champion going into this Olympics, and he’s skating very well. He set world records last year and then had them beaten by Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, who I believe is 18 [ed: 19, but close enough] and is just a phenom. I actually designed his costume for the free program.


Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
Read the complete interview here.

State develops app for mapping PA bridges

A new app will help the state better manage its small bridges -- and to rediscover the "missing" ones.

Pennsylvania keeps detailed information on its larger bridges because it uses federal funds to help maintain and repair those whose spans are more than 20 feet across. All smaller bridges, thousands of which exist within one of the largest northeastern states, are the responsibility of nearby local towns or municipalities. Because the state wasn't responsible for their maintenance, over time locations of the bridges disappeared from the records.

"We knew we wanted to be able to holistically view the complete road and bridge system," said Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Planning Specialist for the Bridge Program Matthew D. Long. "But we didn't have a good way to make that happen other than collecting piles of paperwork from our planning partners, which would have to then be driven into the state office."

Instead, Long and the state created an app whereby local transportation planners working for counties and municipalities could survey the roads and bridges in their local areas, and report that information back to the state quickly and accurately.


Original source: GCN
Read the complete story here.



POLITICO Magazine explores the reinvention of Pittsburgh

POLITICO Magazine takes a deep dive into Pittsburgh with a cover package on its rebirth. The lead feature is titled, "The Robots That Saved Pittsburgh":

“Roboburgh,” the boosterish moniker conferred on the city by the Wall Street Journal in 1999 and cited endlessly in Pittsburgh’s marketing materials ever since, may have been premature back then, but it isn’t now: Pittsburgh, after decades of trying to remake itself, today really does have a new economy, rooted in the city’s rapidly growing robotic, artificial intelligence, health technology, advanced manufacturing and software industries. It’s growing in population for the first time since the 1950s, and now features regularly in lists like “the Hottest Cities of the Future” and “Best Cities for Working Mothers.”

“The city is sort of in a sweet spot,” says Sanjiv Singh, a Whittaker acolyte at Carnegie Mellon who is working on the first-of-its-kind pilotless medical evacuation helicopter for the Marines. “It has the critical mass of talent you need, it’s still pretty affordable and it has corporate memory—the people here still remember when the place was an industrial powerhouse.”


Original source: POLITICO Magazine
Read the complete stories here.

Great American Outdoor Show comes to Harrisburg

Following a year of controversy, sportsmen (and women) descended on the capital this week for the Great American Outdoor Show.

Attendees waded through 650,000 square feet of space in search of the latest and greatest in outdoor merchandise, from guns and bows, to boats and quads, to stands and decoys, to jerky and stoves. There were outfitters for Canadian fishing excursions and big game African hunts, plus plenty of demonstrations and seminars...Up to 230,000 people are expected to visit the show between now and its Feb. 9 conclusion.

Original source: Scranton Times-Tribune
Read the complete story here.

PA filmmaker tackles 'Kids for Cash' scandal

Luzerne County's Robert May has made documentary about the area's notorious "Kids for Cash" controversy. 

Robert May's powerful and chilling documentary, Kids for Cash, traces the epic misdeeds of a pair of judges in Luzerne County that resulted in almost 3,000 convictions - juveniles sent to detention centers in handcuffs and shackles, often for years, for committing what one disbelieving observer would later term "typical adolescent misbehavior."

What was in it for Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan, the Wilkes-Barre judges at the heart of the scandal? Well, it was that "extra judicial compensation" - $2.6 million in what the judges termed a "finder's fee," for getting a privately owned juvenile detention center up and running in the county. The fact that a sizable percentage of the youths who came before Ciavarella between 2000 and 2007 were sent to the center he and Conahan helped build seemed like a quid pro quo. When the revelations exploded in January 2009, the media pegged it the "Kids for Cash" affair.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

New York Times takes note of new Comcast tower

The big Comcast tower news got Philadelphia some national press, including in the New York Times.

The influx of young technology employees to a building designed by a prestigious international architect is likely to encourage boosters of a city that has long harbored an inferiority complex because it lacks either the financial power of New York or the political clout of Washington.

“This new development really speaks to a more favorable outlook for the city,” said [Michael Silverman, managing director in the Philadelphia office of Integra Realty Resources].

The $1.2 billion building will create 20,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction, adding $2.75 billion to the local economy, according to Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, who announced the project, along with Comcast officials, on Jan. 15.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

'Why is Pennsylvania so haunted' asks Google autocomplete

Type "Why is Pennsylvania so" into Google, and you might be surprised by the results: haunted, conservative, good at wrestling, weird.

We are a nation, in other words, of curious people. And our curiosity can lead us to weird places (those places including, apparently, states that are haunted). We know all this in part because of the good folks at@Amazing_maps, who ran Autocomplete searches for each of the 50 states in our Union, tracking the top search returns (as they stand as of January 2014). They then mapped those results. Those results are ... revealing.

Original source: @Amazing_maps via The Atlantic
Check out the whole post here.



PA wind and snow create rare 'snow roller' phenomenon

All the recent horrid weather has had one exciting side effect: the creation of beautiful "snow rollers" in Western PA.

According to the National Weather Service, a snow roller is a rare meteorological phenomenon in which large snowballs are formed naturally when chunks of snow are blown along the ground by wind.

The shapes are often hollow, and the conditions need to be precisely right for them to form, according to the weather service. For example, wind must be strong enough to move the snow rollers, but not so strong they're blown too fast.
Weather service records from various states note that snow rollers can be as small as a golf ball or as large as a 30 gallon drum, but typically average 10 to 12 inches in diameter.

The area where the phenomenon was spotted Monday is about 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Some residents said the shapes resembled bowling balls, while Charles Keith of Franklin described "500 Tootsie Roll-like" forms in an empty field nearby.


Original source: Christian Science Monitor
Read the complete story (and check out the pictures) here.

PA voter ID law struck down

A judge has issued a ruling striking down our state's controversial voter ID law. The decision could have impact nationwide.

The judge, Bernard L. McGinley of Commonwealth Court, ruled that the law hampered the ability of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to cast their ballots, with the burden falling most heavily on elderly, disabled and low-income residents, and that the state’s reason for the law — that it was needed to combat voter fraud — was not supported by the facts.

"Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election," the judge wrote in his 103-page decision. "The voter ID law does not further this goal."


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

'Slightly haunted' home listed in PA, nation takes notice

A couple in Dunmore, PA, listed their "slightly haunted" Victorian and the listing went viral. Now they just need a buyer...

"Slightly haunted. Nothing serious, though," says the listing on Zillow's real-estate site. It goes on to describe 3:13 a.m. screams and "the occasional ghastly visage" in the bathroom mirror.

The listing attracted local and national media attention. Now the Leesons just need an actual buyer for the four-bedroom home, on the market for $144,000.

"I tried to word it with a little bit of a sense of humor," says Greg Leeson, a 35-year-old who works in information technology, but "I don't think it has helped with marketing. We're not really getting very many interested buyers. We're getting a lot of nonsense people."


Original source: The Associated Press
Read the complete story here.


Ohio-PA cross-border beer collaboration coming soon

Cleveland's Buckeye Brewing and Pittsburgh's Rivertowne Brewing Co.  have teamed up to create OH-PA, an India Pale Ale.

Ed Thompkins, beer and wine buyer for Heinen's, came up with the idea and – as is his nature – acted as an intermediary of sorts between the brewers.

While the cities' football fans often are at odds, the brewers had no problem showing a congenial spirit of détente.

"Everything was great," Buckeye Brewing's Garin Wright said. "They have a kick-ass (brewing) system. It's much more automated. It was fun being there and being a part of collaborating on the recipe design. ... And they're great people. The city is cool and everyone in that brewery is kind of down to earth."

The joint-effort beer, Thompkins said, is a 4.8 percent alcohol sessionable IPA. Wright describes it as "unfiltered – we're going to try to keep all that hop character in the can. It's pretty much coming out of the tank fresh and into the can, and it will be dry-hopped twice." Dry hopping is a process where certain hops are added at varying times during fermentation to enhance a beer's aroma.

Wright said he hopes to start selling the beer at Buckeye Brewing on Tuesday, Feb. 18.


Original source: The Plain Dealer
Read the complete story here.

Shining a light on PA textile manufacturing

A photo essay in the New York Times Magazine highlights the remnants of our country's textile industry, including Langhorne Carpet Company in Penndel, PA.

Langhorne Carpet Company, in Penndel, Pa., used to share its building with a hosier, but that business closed long ago. The building, from 1907, is a technological innovation: among the first mills to have a free-standing roof, leaving floor space without the obstruction of supporting beams. The building now houses 10 broad looms and eight narrow ones. On the day I visited, a young man in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans was making a five-color runner on one of the narrow looms, while an older man in a denim smock was restringing a broad one; 5,040 spools of yarn needed to be knotted on.

“We’ve stayed in business because we’ll take a 20-yard order, that’s our niche,” said Langhorne’s president, Bill Morrow, whose grandfather and great-grandfather founded the company in 1930. “Henry Ford had some looms he wanted to get rid of, and my great-grandfather went and bought them, and that’s how we got started. Ford had wanted to make all the parts of a car, even the textiles for the interior, but I guess he gave up on making the textiles.” Langhorne has made reproductions of historic carpets for the Frederick Douglass house in Washington; the Congress Hall of Philadelphia; and the Rutherford B. Hayes home in Fremont, Ohio. It also makes carpets for individual homes: “We recently did a family crest. That’s an example of the kind of thing we like about being a small-batch mill.”


Original source: New York Times Magazine
Check out the slideshow here.

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