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Recode Daily: AT&T’s $80 billion-plus takeover of Time Warner gets the green light — again

Plus: Presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar is critical of big tech, but she’ll raise money there anyway; US Cyber Command “basically took the IRA offline” during the 2018 midterms; finding the “oddly satisfying” on the internet.

AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson.
AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson provides an overview of developments in the AT&T and Time Warner merger on November 20, 2017, in New York City.
Amir Levy / Getty Images

A US court has ruled that AT&T’s $80 billion-plus takeover of Time Warner can proceed — for the second time this year. Antitrust enforcers at the US Department of Justice tried to stop the deal last year; yesterday, a US District Court denied the agency’s appeal to challenge the acquisition. The question now is who is going to manage the giant entertainment company once AT&T is in full control. “AT&T executives have been acting for a long time as though this was a done deal. They’ve spent months telling Wall Street — and their own employees — about some of the company’s plans to overhaul Time Warner assets like HBO.” [Peter Kafka / Recode]

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More than a dozen House Republicans joined Democrats in voting to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the Mexican border. The resolution of disapproval — part of an attempt to block Trump’s plan to divert funding to a border wall without approval from a recalcitrant Congress — passed 245-182. “Is your oath of office to Donald Trump or is it to the Constitution of the United States?” Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked Republican colleagues in a speech preceding the vote. Now the resolution must be taken up by the Senate; successful passage might occasion Trump’s first veto. [Emily Cochrane / The New York Times]

During the 2018 midterm elections, the US military blocked internet access to the Russia-backed Internet Research Agency, which was attempting to interfere with the elections. The operation was the first instance of offensive action by US Cyber Command, with help from the National Security Agency, since additional powers were granted the government last year. One source said the military group “basically took the IRA offline.” The Russian agency is funded by a Putin ally, who was among the 16 Russian individuals and companies indicted by a grand jury a year ago as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s continuing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. [Ellen Nakashima / The Washington Post]

Twitter permanently suspended Jacob Wohl, a 21-year-old internet hoaxer and supporter of President Trump, after he boasted in a USA Today article about using Twitter and Facebook to spread lies and disinformation, including a false claim that presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris wasn’t eligible because she had immigrant parents and spent part of her childhood in Canada. Meanwhile, Facebook and Instagram banned Tommy Robinson, the far-right founder of the English Defence League, for repeatedly breaking policies on hate speech; Robinson is already banned from Twitter. [Gus Garcia-Roberts / USA Today]

Spotify officially launches in India today; yesterday, some local users reported that they could already access the streaming music service on their devices. Pricing for the service in India is far below what it charges elsewhere: Premium service is free for 30 days, and then goes up to 119 rupees (roughly $1.67) per month. Spotify was able to secure direct licensing agreements with Sony Music and Universal for the Indian market, but Warner Music remains a holdout. [Janko Roettgers / Variety]

Top stories from Recode

Amy Klobuchar, a critic of big tech, will be raising money for her presidential campaign in San Francisco next month. Tickets to the Klobuchar event range from $1,000 to $5,600 a seat. [Theodore Schleifer]

Innovative sex toys aren’t a joke, says Lora DiCarlo CEO Lora Haddock on the latest Recode Decode. Haddock’s company won an innovation award from CES — but then the trade group decided that her work was “profane.” [Kara Swisher]

This is cool

The most effective form of exercise isn’t “exercise” at all.

Finding what’s “oddly satisfying” on the internet.

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