3.22.2024

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Good morning. It's Friday, March 22, and we're covering an effort by US officials to delete green bubbles, a breakthrough in brain-computer interfaces, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

US Sues Apple

The US Department of Justice yesterday filed a suit against Apple, alleging the tech giant violated antitrust laws in the smartphone market by making it exceedingly challenging for third parties to integrate with iPhones. The company has argued the policies are needed to maintain a high-quality user experience for their software. 

 

The lawsuit is separate from a recent challenge against Apple's App Store, which requires up to 30% commission for any payment made via any downloaded app. Roughly 65% of US smartphone users own an iPhone. Shares of Apple dropped 4% on the news yesterday.

 

Among other issues, prosecutors noted the "green bubble issue," where texts from non-iPhone users appear as green bubbles while all others are blue. Such users suffer from poor video and photo transmission, as well as lacking end-to-end encryption.

 

The suit included a mention of a viral clip of Apple CEO Tim Cook urging a questioner to purchase his mother an iPhone to send high-quality videos. 

 

Neuralink Checkmate

Brain-computer interface company Neuralink released a video yesterday purporting to show a quadriplegic patient who had received one of its implants playing a game of online chess with his mind. The nine-minute video features 29-year-old Nolan Arbaugh, who was paralyzed from the shoulders down in 2015 after a diving accident. Arbaugh became the first human patient to undergo the implant trial with Neuralink in January.

 

Founded in 2016 by Elon Musk (see deep dive), Neuralink develops invisible, wireless brain implants designed to restore control and movement to people with limited mobility due to brain-related issues. The procedure involves the use of a proprietary robot surgically implanting a coin-sized transponder underneath the skull. The Food and Drug Administration authorized Neuralink to conduct human trials in May.

 

The company also plans to offer the implant to healthy people to allow bodily integration with computers. Neuralink has faced scrutiny for its trials on monkeys, which reportedly required many to be euthanized. 

 

Truth Social Merger

Shareholders are expected to vote today on whether to merge publicly traded shell company Digital World Acquisition with Trump Media and Technology Group, the owner of former President Donald Trump's Truth Social platform. If approved, Trump Media could go public as soon as next week, more than doubling Trump's $2.6B net worth.

 

Digital World Acquisition is a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, valued at $1.6B. It proposed merging with Trump Media in October 2021, four months before Truth Social launched. DWA's shares have climbed 145% to $43 this year, with Trump's supporters bolstering its status as a meme stock—an equity that gains popularity through social media.

 

The deal values Truth Social at $6B despite its financial performance. Truth Social generated about $5M in sales and lost roughly $32M since launching. Trump would own nearly 60% of the combined entity; his wealth is projected to rise by $3.5B at current share prices, though he's restricted from selling shares for six months post-merger per deal provisions.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> NCAA women's basketball tournament first round tips off today as men's first round continues (More) | See latest women's bracket (More) | ... and men's bracket (More)

> Global music revenue hit $28.6B in 2023, a 10% rise from 2022 and the highest sales figure since 1999, unadjusted for inflation (More)

> Warner Bros Discovery to launch Max streaming service in 25 European countries beginning in May (More) | M. Emmet Walsh, character actor known for roles in "Blade Runner" and "Knives Out," dies at 88 (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Scientists perform first successful transplant of a genetically edited pig organ into a living human recipient; operation was the first to be carried out in person, not in a coma (More)

> Analysis of recovered documents suggests that religious text previously attributed to William Shakespeare's father was written by the famous playwright's sister, Joan (More)

> Researchers develop method to create artificial chromosomes, a potential breakthrough in delivering gene therapy treatments (More) | What are chromosomes? (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.3%, Dow +0.7%, Nasdaq +0.2%), reaching new record closing levels (More) | Reddit shares soar 70% intraday in Wall Street debut before closing up 48% at $50.44 per share, from initial public offering price of $34 per share (More)

> US existing home sales unexpectedly rise 9.5% month-over-month in February, the largest monthly gain in a year; median home price of $384,500 is up 5.7% from a year ago, marking highest median home price for any February on record (More)

> Swiss National Bank becomes first major bank to cut interest rates, moving ahead of the European Central Bank and US Federal Reserve (More) | Turkey's central bank raises key interest rate to 50% to curb annual inflation of 67% (More

From our partners: People won't stop talking about these 2 bonus offers worth up to $750, so we won't stop telling 1440 readers about them. These cards are truly a reward-seeker's dream. After 30 years in the finance space, it is safe to say our experts have seen it all. See their top picks for a great sign-up bonus in 2024.

 

Politics & World Affairs

> House to vote on $1.2T federal funding package; deal would head to the Senate ahead of tonight's midnight deadline (More) | See what is in the bill here (More) | Sen. Bill Menendez (D-NJ) to resign after current term ends in 2024; Menendez under indictment for bribery charges (More)

> US CIA Director William Burns heads back to the Middle East to join Israel-Gaza cease-fire talks (More) | See updates on the war here (More)

> Two suspects remain at large following escape from Idaho prison after shooting and injuring two officers; state officials issued a $2M bond for the primary assailant (More)

 

In-Depth

> Is Social Media a Trap?

Freakonomics | Stephen Dubner. (Podcast) Economists have quantified the much-acknowledged FOMO—or fear of missing out—which drives platform users to maintain a social media account despite its noted costs. (Listen)

 

> Cancer in Space

BBC News | Staff. The lack of gravity in space facilitates rapid cell growth in tumors, so researchers are using space-based experiments to expedite development of a cellular "kill-switch" therapy. (Watch)

> Kissing Cousins

Atlantic | Sarah Zhang. The widespread collection of genetic data via consumer ancestry products has revealed an unsettling reality—far more individuals are born of familial relations than previously believed. (Read)

 

> The Forgotten Home of the Future

Hustle | Mark Dent. The failed 1940s plan to mass-produce modest, steel modular homes to allow "every Joe" to own a home—and lessons for our own affordable housing crisis. (Read)

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Infinity Fuel Cell & Hydrogen, Inc. was able to triple their revenue in the last three years—but their growth is far from over.

 

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Etcetera
 

Time-lapse footage of leaf-cutter ants simply doing their jobs

 

A drone photographer saves a capsized kayaker

 

The saga of a seized pet alligator

 

Buckingham Palace is looking for a new communications assistant

 

How millions celebrate the Persian holiday of Nowruz.

 

Cyclist recounts near-death experience with an angry cougar.

 

How to destroy space trash via lasers. (via YouTube)

 

Food startup debuts vegan octopus.

 

Clickbait: Say hello to the beetle mistaken for bird poo.  

 

Historybook: First Stanley Cup championship played (1894); Legendary musical theater composer Andrew Lloyd Webber born (1948); Sports broadcaster Bob Costas born (1952); Reese Witherspoon born (1976); Terrorist drives car into crowd in London, killing five and injuring 50 (2017).

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*Disclosure: This is a paid advertisement for Global Air Cylinder Wheels, Inc. Reg CF offering. Please read the offering circular at invest.globalaircylinderwheels.com.

 

*Disclosure: This is a paid advertisement for Infinity Fuel Cell and Hydrogen, Inc. Reg CF offering. Please read the offering circular at https://invest.infinityfuel.com/.

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