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Why AT&T wants Time Warner

Why does AT&T, a wireless phone company, want to own CNN, HBO and Warner Bros.?

The answer has something to do with the ways that phones have changed our lives.

There are also practical corporate concerns. AT&T thinks it needs to diversify; wants to own programming; and wants to keep Time Warner out of the hands of its huge rivals. Owning brands like HBO would give AT&T a lot more leverage.

The answer to what's in it for Time Warner is fairly obvious: Billions of dollars. Analysts have long believed that Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has been preparing the company -- a collection of businesses that make TV shows, movies and web sites, including CNNMoney -- for a sale.

What's in it for AT&T? Growth and power. The constant connectivity provided by the likes of AT&T is powerful and profitable, but so is content.

Think about the way you use your phone. Even in the age of Snapchat, you spend a lot more time watching media than you spend making it. And if you're anything like me, you're increasingly watching that media right on your smart phone and other mobile devices.

These changes have meant the introduction of new ways to pay for entertainment; new ways to interact with sports; new ways to distribute news.

That's where Time Warner comes in.

Owning valuable programming -- in this case everything from "Game of Thrones" to "The Big Bang Theory" -- gives AT&T more power. It gives AT&T more influence over what the "future of media" looks like.

Other companies will have to negotiate with AT&T to gain long-term licenses for channels like TNT and the Cartoon Network, the same way they negotiate with Time Warner now.

As evidenced by our consumption patterns, it is clear that the future centers around mobile viewing of TV, movies and other forms of video. AT&T's slogan is "mobilizing your world." Soon it could add "mobilizing your media."

To be sure, synergy talk during a merger is sometimes overstated. The promised synergies during the disastrous AOL-Time Warner merger of the early 2000s failed to materialize.

But it is easy to imagine connections between the distribution side and the programming side of the house AT&T would be building with this deal. Subscriptions to HBO and news apps from CNN could be sold right alongside wireless service -- all bundled as a part of a customer's monthly bill.

AT&T already sells a combo package of wireless plus DirecTV satellite TV. And the company is preparing to launch a streaming version of cable, called DirecTV Now, that will let people stream dozens of TV channels for a monthly fee.

Owning Time Warner could help AT&T with those ambitions. AT&T would also gain Time Warner's 10% stake in Hulu, the streaming video service.

A deal would also elevate AT&T into rarefied air -- right alongside Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal.

"AT&T acquiring Time Warner makes a great deal of sense, and it gives Comcast a real competitor with content and lots of conduit," cable industry consultant Paul Maxwell told CNNMoney.

"But any real outcome depends upon government OK," he emphasized.

The addition of Time Warner could also give AT&T a big advantage over Verizon, its primary wireless competitor.

Both companies are running out of ways to grow in wireless, since most households have all the phones they need, and are already tethered to some company for service to those phones.

Programming and advertising present new ways to grow -- though, given the problems the media industry is having, which are part of the reason that Time Warner is up for sale in the first place, they are not sure things.

Verizon has shown interest in owning both content and the technology that controls digital advertising, as reflected by Verizon's purchase of AOL and its pending purchase of Yahoo.

Both those deals are a fraction of the size of AT&T-Time Warner.

Somali pirates free 26 hostages after nearly 5 years in captivity

Somali pirates have released 26 hostages after nearly five years in captivity, according to an organization involved in mediation efforts.

The dozens of hostages freed were in a ship hijacked south of the Seychelles in March 2012.

Of the 29 crew members seized, one died during the hijacking and two died from illness while in captivity, according to the organization, Oceans Beyond Piracy.

The hostages were all men from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, it said. They were aboard the Omani-flagged fishing vessel Naham 3 when they were captured.

Hostages malnourished

John Steed of Oceans Beyond Piracy said the crew of Naham 3 was released Saturday. He did not provide specifics on the terms or conditions of their release, or whether any ransom was paid.

They will be repatriated using a UN flight and sent to their home countries, he said in a statement.

"They are reported to be in reasonable condition considering their ordeal," Steed said. "They are all malnourished. Four are currently receiving medical treatment."

Second longest- held hostages

The Naham 3 crew members are the second longest- held hostages by Somali pirates, Steed said.

The longest-held hostages are four crew members of the FV Prantalay 12 vessel who were released two months shy of five years in captivity. Somali pirates seized them at sea in April 2010 and released them in February 2015.

Somali pirates and their peers have made millions in ransom money hijacking vessels in the region.

Although piracy off the coast of Somalia has plummeted in recent years, it was an international nightmare at its height, hurting economies and sending the cost of living soaring.

At the time, it cost the global economy $18 billion a year in increased trade expenses, according to a UN study released in 2013. It decreased maritime activity in affected waters and drastically reduced tourism in surrounding nations.

Mosul offensive: ISIS kills hundreds of men and boys, Iraqi source says

ISIS rounded up and killed 284 men and boys as Iraqi-led coalition forces closed in on Mosul, the terror group's last major stronghold in Iraq, an Iraqi intelligence source told CNN.

Those killed Thursday and Friday were used as human shields against attacks forcing ISIS out of southern parts of Mosul, the source said.

ISIS dumped the corpses in a mass grave at the defunct College of Agriculture in northern Mosul, the intelligence source said.

The victims -- including children -- were all shot, said the source, who asked for anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media. CNN could not independently confirm the killings.

Latest developments

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in Erbil on Sunday, after commenting that the Mosul operation was going to plan Peshmerga forces started an offensive from two fronts in Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul, the Peshmerga General Command said Sunday Prime Minister Abadi reiterated his view that Iraq does not need Turkey's assistance in the battle Kurdish officials accused Sunni Arabs in Kirkuk of supporting ISIS a day after attacks killed dozens Iraqis displaced by the Mosul offensive are seeking shelter in camps, the UN refugee agency said

Freeing a Christian town

The Iraqi military intensified its offensive Saturday to retake Hamdaniya -- also known as Qaraqosh -- from ISIS, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command center said. Iraqi forces and a Christian paramilitary group entered the town Wednesday, but face fierce resistance from ISIS fighters, 200 of whom were killed in one day of clashes.

The city is about 15 kilometers (nine miles) southeast of Mosul.

Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga -- as the Kurdish fighters are known -- have made progress and isolated Hamdaniya, a US military official said in Baghdad, speaking on background.

Iraqi troops on Saturday entered the al-Askary neighborhood and liberated the mayor's building and the main hospital, raising the Iraqi flag over those buildings, Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Maliky said.

At least 60 ISIS fighters have been killed since Friday when Iraqi security forces launched an attack on the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, Gov. Najmaldin Karim said.

"Life will be restored to normal in the next few hours" Karim said Sunday, adding that security checkpoints in the city would be reopened. He did not mention how many security forces and civilians were killed in the ISIS offensive.

Tal Kayf is next target

Iraqi troops are also advancing toward Tal Kayf and plan on storming the Chaldean town, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said Saturday.

Tal Kayf is about 10 kilometers (six miles) north of Mosul.

It's the closest Iraqi security forces have come to Mosul, a CNN analysis indicates.

The US military official said US and coalition aircraft were providing air support as needed Saturday. The official said land forces were working through "a hard outer crust," and resistance would intensify as the offensive neared Mosul.

The official said ISIS fighters have infiltrated towns cleared earlier, including Bartella, requiring renewed efforts to combat them.

Clashes in Kirkuk, Laylan

Kurdish security forces were going house to house Saturday in Kirkuk following a major ISIS attack a day earlier. Kirkuk is 175 kilometers (109 miles) southeast of Mosul.

Kirkuk's police chief said 48 ISIS militants were killed during hours of clashes.

Security officials told CNN that at least 40 others were killed and 76 wounded in the attack, the majority of them Kurdish Peshmerga.

The ISIS attacks continued in the area Saturday, with an attempt to infiltrate the town of Laylan, 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Kirkuk. Nine militants were killed, according to the mayor of Laylan, Mohammed Wais, and some security force members were injured.

Kurdish President Masoud Barzani described ISIS' attack on Kirkuk as "a failed attempt by terrorists to make up for the defeats they have suffered at the hands of the Peshmerga on the front line."

Previous attacks by ISIS militants on Kirkuk have been attempts either to capture the city from the Peshmerga or divert Kurdish troops from the fight in Mosul.

Kurdish officials accuse local Arabs of helping ISIS

In the wake of the Kirkuk attack, Kurdish officials accused local Arabs and some displaced in camps around the city of helping ISIS.

Kirkuk's police chief, Brig. Gen. Khatab Omar, said the militants had probably infiltrated the 600,000 internally displaced in and around the city.

Gen. Hallo Najat, another police official, told local media to expect further fighting because 30% of the Arabs there supported ISIS rather than the government or Kurdish authorities.

Najmaldin Karim, Kirkuk's governor, said: "We have prior knowledge that an operation like this could happen; we were preparing for it, but the timing was not known exactly."

He said a curfew would remain in force for another day and urged the internally displaced community in Kirkuk to help track down militants.

US defense chief briefed on Mosul operation

Carter, the US defense secretary, paid an unannounced visit Saturday to Baghdad, where he was briefed on the Mosul offensive and met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Carter then addressed about 50 US service members at Baghdad International Airport, recalling the US naval officer killed this week in northern Iraq and the risks taken by all those serving.

The defense chief told the crowd he was encouraged by what he has seen so far in the fight to retake Mosul.

"So far it is proceeding according to our plan," Carter said. "We've got tough fighting ahead and the US will continue to play its part."

US forces in Iraq are providing air support for the Mosul operation as part of an international coalition. US special operations forces are also advising Iraqi and Kurdish units on the ground.

After meeting with Carter, Abadi repeated his view that Iraq does not need Turkey's assistance in the battle for Mosul, while acknowledging the importance of maintaining good relations with its northern neighbor. "If we (need) help, we will ask for it from Turkey or from other regional countries," he said.

The Turkish leadership has expressed a desire to join the push to oust ISIS.

UN 'gravely worried' over human shield use

The United Nations expressed concern Friday that ISIS has taken 550 families from villages around Mosul to use as human shields.

Two hundred families from Samalia village and 350 families from Najafia were forced out Monday and taken to Mosul in "an apparent policy by ISIS to prevent civilians escaping," Ravina Shamdasani, deputy spokeswoman for the UN Human Rights Office, told CNN.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said, "We are gravely worried by reports that (ISIS) is using civilians in and around Mosul as human shields as the Iraqi forces advance, keeping civilians close to their offices or places where fighters are located, which may result in civilian casualties."

Iraqis flee violence

The first influx of Iraqis -- 144 people -- arrived at a new camp, Zelikan, set up to shelter what is expected to become a flood of families displaced by the Mosul offensive, the UN refugee agency said Saturday.

UN data indicate some 3,900 people -- or 650 families -- have so far been forced from Mosul and Hamdaniya districts, agency spokesman Adrian Edwards told a news briefing Friday in Geneva, Switzerland.

The UN refugee agency is working to establish 11 camps, five of which are already in place, to house those forced from their homes by the battle. The camps will have capacity for about 120,000 people, the agency said.

As many as 600,000 could be helped if the refugee agency obtained sufficient funding, it said. Mosul is believed currently to have a population of about 1.5 million people, it added.

The charity Oxfam warned Saturday that more must be done to provide safe routes for those fleeing the conflict.

People who escaped from Hawd, 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) south of Mosul, told Oxfam that many civilians had been injured.

A woman told Oxfam her children had respiratory issues after breathing in thick smoke from oil wells that ISIS militants set afire to provide cover from coalition air attacks.

The smoke also concerned US and coalition troops at an airfield near Qayyara, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Mosul. Forces were assessing Saturday whether the smoke was putting them at risk, and troops have been told to limit their outdoor activity, the US military said.

83 arrested at Dakota Access Pipeline protest

Eighty-three people were arrested Saturday at a protest against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, authorities in North Dakota said.

The Morton County Sheriff's Department said 300 protesters trespassed on private property and "engaged in escalated unlawful tactics and behavior" at a spot three miles west of State Highway 1806, along the pipeline right-of-way.

The suspects were charged with criminal trespass and engaging in a riot, the sheriff's department said.

Construction equipment has been damaged at previous protests. About 20 protesters, including actress Shailene Woodley of the movies "Snowden" and "Divergent," were arrested October 10 in the same area.

The 1,172-mile pipeline would stretch from the oil-rich Bakken Formation -- a vast underground deposit where Montana and North Dakota meet Canada -- southeast into South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

After the pipeline is completed, it would shuttle 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day, according to the developer, Energy Access Partners. From Illinois, the oil could go to markets and refineries across the Midwest, East Coast and Gulf Coast.

Protesters say the pipeline will damage the environment and affect historically significant Native American tribal lands. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation in North Dakota is near the pipeline route, and other tribes oppose the project.

Standing Rock Chairman Paul Archambault issued a statement Saturday saying, "The intimidation by militarized police in riot gear and unlawful arrests are an attack on the First Amendment rights of the protectors, and we again ask the Department of Justice to send observers to the area to ensure that constitutional rights are protected.

"Police are also routinely strip searching protesters, even when they have only been charged with a misdemeanor offense. Like days of old, this is a thinly veiled attempt to dehumanize and degrade Native people. Thousands of people have come to Standing Rock in prayerful protest of the pipeline and millions more support the Tribe in our efforts to protect our sacred places and water."

Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said the Saturday protest was not peaceful or lawful.

"It was obvious to our officers who responded that the protesters engaged in escalated unlawful tactics and behavior during this event," he said. "This protest was intentionally coordinated and planned by agitators with the specific intent to engage in illegal activities."

Representatives for the protesters could not immediately be reached for comment.

Other celebrities arrested at pipeline protests include "Democracy Now!" host Amy Goodman and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.

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