2.21.2024

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Good morning. It's Wednesday, Feb. 21, and we're covering a Virginia high school's admissions criteria, a criminal trial over an Eagles manuscript, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

Admissions Policy Challenge 

The US Supreme Court yesterday declined to review a case challenging the use of socioeconomic factors in the admissions criteria at a prestigious northern Virginia high school. A group of parents claims the policy discriminates against Asian Americans. 

 

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia—often named among the best US high schools—overhauled its admissions policy in 2020 to increase diversity without explicitly considering race. The changes included nixing an entrance exam and prioritizing the top 1.5% of the eighth grade class at each of the district's middle schools.

 

Under the new system, the freshman class in 2021 included 54% Asian American students (down from 73%), 7% Black students (up from 1%), and 11% Hispanic students (up from 3%). In the current school year, those offered admissions include 61.6% Asian American students, 6.7% Black students, and 6% Hispanic students.

 

The Supreme Court's action leaves in place an appeals court ruling that found the new policy didn't show a racially disparate effect on Asian American students.

 

Walmart Buys Vizio

Retail giant Walmart is set to purchase TV maker Vizio for $2.3B in a bid to expand its advertising business, according to the two companies yesterday. The move is expected to allow the worldwide operator of 11,000 department stores to better compete with Amazon's and Google's ad businesses.

 

The acquisition comes as similar retailers like Target and Kroger look to leverage their broad reach to diversify revenues via digital ad sales and their historically high margins (70% on average). Walmart has significantly increased the number of ads its 139 million weekly customers see in stores since last year, deploying over 170,000 screens in the US in addition to in-house radio spots and product samples. The retailer also plans to sell ads on Vizio's existing SmartCast operating system, a free ad-supported service on its TVs, which currently has 18 million active accounts. See how retail media works here.

 

The announcement came alongside a better-than-expected earnings report, with Walmart's revenue rising 6% last quarter. Walmart's shares closed up 3%.

 

'Hotel California' Trial

Three men accused of attempting to sell hand-written lyrics from the Eagles' album, “Hotel California,” begin a criminal trial in New York today. Rare book dealer Glenn Horowitz, former Rock & Roll Hall of Fame curator Craig Inciardi, and memorabilia seller Edward Kosinski face charges of conspiracy and criminal possession of stolen property. Horowitz faces two additional charges of hindering prosecution.

 

The nonjury trial involves over 80 pages of lyrics—worth over $1M—including "Hotel California" and “Life in the Fast Lane.” A biographer of the band allegedly stole the manuscripts in the 1970s and sold them to Horowitz in 2005, who then sold them to Inciardi and Kosinski.

 

The defendants are accused of lying to authorities about the origins of ownership and attempting to sell the content without permission from Eagles' founding member Don Henley. No one is charged with stealing the documents; however, prosecutors must establish the documents were stolen. Henley claims the manuscripts should be returned to him; the defendants argue they acquired them legally. 

 

“Hotel California” remains an all-time bestselling album, with over 26 million copies sold in the US. See how the title track was written here.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> The 2024 MLS regular season kicks off tonight with Lionel Messi's Inter Miami taking on Real Salt Lake (8 pm ET, Apple TV and Fox Sports US); see season preview for all 29 teams (More) | Andreas Brehme, German soccer star and World Cup winner, dies at 63 (More)

> Universal Music Group purchases $240M stake in Chord Music, who owns music from artists like The Weeknd, John Legend, and David Guetta; purchase values the artist catalog company at $1.85B (More

> Each of the four Beatles to get their own Sam Mendes-directed biopic film slated for 2027 release (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Astronomers discover the Milky Way's Radcliffe Wave—a 9,000-light-year-long gas structure actively birthing new stars—is itself oscillating back and forth in space (More) | See the wave's location relative to Earth (More, w/video)

> Genetic analysis of remains found at ancient burial sites across Europe reveals at least six infants exhibiting Down syndrome; findings suggest infants with the condition were well cared for (More)

> International sting seizes assets of LockBit, the world's most prolific ransomware ring; group is responsible for more than 40% of global ransomware attacks, has extorted more than $120M (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with Pernas Research

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -0.6%, Dow -0.2%, Nasdaq -1.0%); stocks dragged down by Nvidia, which fell 4.4% and is set to report earnings after the bell today (More) | Amazon to replace Walgreens in Dow Jones Industrial Average Feb. 26 (More

> FuboTV files $1B lawsuit seeking to block sports-streaming venture between Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Fox, alleging it violates antitrust law (More)

> Ford Motor Co. slashes price of 2023 Mustang Mach-E by up to $8,100; company reports US sales fell 51% in January after the Mach-E became ineligible for a federal tax credit (More

From our partners: Actionable stock research, proven to outperform the market. A recent audit revealed that Pernas Research’s portfolio outperforms the S&P by 13% per year on average, thanks to an investment strategy built from experience managing a $3.5B fund. For a limited time, you can access their best ideas at no cost. Sign up to get their top stock picks in your inbox.

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Two men charged with murder in Kansas City mass shooting during the Chiefs' Super Bowl victory parade that left one dead, 22 others wounded; officials say more people may be charged (More) | See previous write-up (More)

> White House to reveal expanded sanctions package against Russia in wake of death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny; details expected Friday (More) | Defected Russian pilot found shot to death in Spain (More)

> US vetoes resolution from United Nations Security Council calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip; vote was 13-1, with the UK abstaining (More) | See updates on the war (More)

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Etcetera
 

Odysseus lunar lander snaps selfies with Earth.

 

... and NASA seeks volunteers for simulated Mars mission.

 

... plus Delta offers flight to view total solar eclipse

 

Whale bones top underwater photography contest.

 

Visualizing countries with the largest gold reserves.

 

Detect which research paper title is real or AI-generated.

 

Why some people have a better sense of direction.

 

Student rides modified toy car, breaking speed record

 

Clickbait: Stop closing your iPhone's background apps.

 

Historybook: "The Communist Manifesto" published by Karl Marx (1848); Musician Nina Simone born (1933); NASCAR founded (1948); Malcolm X assassinated (1965); Rev. Billy Graham dies (2018).

"This is the world you have made yourself; now you have to live in it."

- Nina Simone

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