2.8.2022

Peng Shuai, Spinal Surgery Breakthrough, and the Search for Shackleton Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Tuesday, Feb. 8, and we're covering an appearance by Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, a breakthrough spinal surgery, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

NEED TO KNOW

 

Warner Bros. Lawsuit

Warner Bros. has been sued for releasing "The Matrix Resurrections" simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters. The suit filed in a Los Angeles court yesterday by the movie’s coproducer, Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, alleges the same-day release breached the contract and cut into box office ticket sales.
 

"The Matrix Resurrections" grossed about $37M domestically and $153M worldwide—a fraction of the revenues the original trilogy garnered. Because the ticket sales were lower than expected, Village Roadshow argued it could lose the rights to the film as it can’t fulfill contractual payments to Warner Bros. 
 

This isn’t the first time a movie studio has been sued over simultaneous releases. Last year, actress Scarlett Johansson settled a lawsuit with Disney, after alleging her contract for "Black Widow" was breached when the film was released on Disney+ and in theaters at the same time, costing her millions of dollars in performance bonuses.

Peng Shuai Speaks

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai announced her retirement and called her former allegations of sexual assault a misunderstanding during an interview with French newspaper L'Équipe. The interview marked the second time she has retracted her earlier comments, and the first time with Western media. It was delivered in front of a Chinese Olympic official, who acted as a translator. The questions were received in advance, and her answers were printed verbatim.

 

Peng disappeared from public view in November after accusing former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault in a now-deleted social media post. Her disappearance raised international concern about her well-being and Chinese censorship. The 36-year-old Peng reemerged weeks later, claiming she was safe and denying having made the allegations.

 

Separately, the tennis star will attend several events at the ongoing Olympics after meeting with IOC president Thomas Bach. See updated medal count from the Games here.

Spinal Implant Breakthrough

A British man who had his spinal cord severed following a vehicle accident five years ago has regained the ability to walk due to a groundbreaking new implant, researchers reported yesterday. It marks the first time a patient with such an injury—which involves loss of motor and sensory function—has recuperated to the point where they may walk. Two other patients saw similar results.

 

In addition to vertebrae, the spinal column includes a large number of nerve fibers that communicate signals between the brain and the rest of the body (see more). A complete break in the spine effectively cuts communication across large parts of the central nervous system. The prototype device connects to patients' severed nerve endings, transmitting and amplifying the signal from the brain. 

 

Scientists said the next step toward widespread adoption is longer-term trials that monitor the device's effect on wider body function, including blood pressure. 

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Spotify CEO Daniel Ek apologizes to staff in wake of Joe Rogan controversy; Spotify has removed over 100 episodes of Rogan's podcast (More)

 

> The Netherlands’ Ireen Wüst wins women's 1500 meters speedskating event, becomes first person to win individual gold medals at five straight Olympics (More)

 

> The 2022 Academy Award nominations to be revealed this morning (8:30 am ET, ABC); see predictions for each category (More) | Lionsgate to distribute upcoming Michael Jackson biopic (More)

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Science & Technology

> Eric Lander, the former founding director of the MIT-Harvard Broad Institute, resigns as head of Biden administration's Office of Science and Technology Policy over allegations of workplace abuse (More)

 

> Scientists show first use of gelatin and sugar to 3D print biodegradable materials for use in soft robots (More)

 

> Engineers demonstrate a traditional silicon-based computer chip capable of integrating with a quantum-based chip (More) | What are qubits? (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -0.4%, Dow 0.0%, Nasdaq -0.6%) in another choppy trading session (More) | Shares of Tyson Foods up over 10% to all-time high as company nearly doubles quarterly profits as meat prices soar (More)

 

> Discount airline Frontier to acquire Spirit Airlines in $2.9B cash and stock deal, which will create fifth-largest US carrier (More)

 

> Investor Peter Thiel to step down from Meta (Facebook) board to spend more time on politics (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> New Jersey, three other states to end mask mandates in schools by March 7 as omicron-fueled COVID-19 surge subsides (More) | See current US COVID-19 stats here (More)

 

> President Joe Biden threatens Germany's Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, which import gas from Russia, if Russia were to invade Ukraine (More) | Background on the project (More)

 

> US officials identify Navy SEAL candidate who died during training as 24-year-old seaman Kyle Mullen; a second sailor is reportedly hospitalized in stable condition (More)

IN-DEPTH

 

The Search for Shackleton

NYT | Henry Fountain. A 64-person expedition team departed Saturday from Cape Town, South Africa, headed to Antarctica to search for the remains of the Endurance, a vessel locked in an ice pack more than a century ago. (Read, paywall)

The Book Thief 

New Republic | Alex Shepard. Arrested by the FBI earlier this year, Filippo Bernardini carried out one of the most brazen cases of intellectual property theft in the history of publishing. (Read)

SHOES FOR ALL WINTERS

 

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ETCETERA

 

The best photos from the Winter Olympics (so far).

 

Scottish mansion receives rain-protecting chainmail armor

 

Ben Affleck lands a Razzie nomination (and see everyone else).

 

How to act like Christopher Walken. (paywall, NYT)

 

A visual breakdown of bubble tea.

 

Researchers unveil insect-sized flying microrobots.

 

Build-a-Bear introduces an "after dark" collection.

 

A Hogwarts clone is for sale.

 

Clickbait: When your slot machine malfunctions.

 

Historybook: Author Jules Verne born (1828); Boy Scouts of America is founded (1910); Hollywood legend Lana Turner born (1921); Actor James Dean born (1931); Nasdaq stock market index opens (1971).

 

"Gratification comes in the doing, not in the results."

- James Dean

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