3.8.2023

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Good morning. It's Wednesday, March 8, and we're covering progress in the US' first nuclear reactor in three decades, an antitrust lawsuit against JetBlue, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Kidnapped Americans (Cont.) 

Two of the four Americans kidnapped last week amid a cartel-related shootout in the Mexican border city Matamoros were found dead yesterday in a field outside the town. The two survivors, one of whom is wounded, were discovered inside a house near the field and brought quickly back to Brownsville, Texas, across the border.

 

Authorities said the Americans were kidnapped—and possibly mistaken for Haitian drug smugglers—amid a shootout between factions of the Gulf cartel, who operates in the area; one of the victims reportedly died from gunshot wounds at the scene. The group traveled from South Carolina to legally enter Tamaulipas province for a health procedure, which is generally less expensive than in neighboring Texas. The State Department warns Americans not to travel to the province due to the risk of kidnapping; estimates suggest hundreds of Americans are kidnapped in Mexico every year. 

 

Mexico's president announced the country's security ministry, as well as the American FBI, had detained a suspect in the kidnapping yesterday.

 

Criticality in Georgia

The US is one step closer to commercial operation of the first nuclear reactor built in the country in three decades after a Georgia power plant announced it had achieved

self-sustaining fission in one of its new units. 

 

The reactor is one of two that began construction in 2009 at Plant Vogtle, near the city of Augusta, which has had two operating reactors since 1989. The two new units would produce around 2,250 megawatts combined—roughly equal to three natural gas plants, and enough to power more than 1.5 million homes. 

 

Commercial operation of the new reactors would also mark a significant milestone for the country's nuclear industry. Advocates have hailed nuclear as an efficient source of clean energy, while construction costs, environmental concerns and regulations, and dropping cost of renewables have made traditional nuclear power less attractive.

 

Nuclear energy accounts for around 18% of US power generation; see a breakdown here.

 

JetBlue Antitrust Lawsuit 

The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit to block JetBlue Airway’s $3.8B proposed merger with Spirit Airlines yesterday, claiming the consolidation would result in higher fares and reduced travel choices for many passengers.

 

JetBlue launched a takeover bid for Spirit in May, with shareholders rejecting an earlier agreement to merge with Frontier Airlines. Shareholders agreed to the Spirit merger in October (see background). Opponents of the merger, which would make the airline the fifth largest in the US, contend it violates parts of the federal Clayton Act, prohibiting mergers and acquisitions that could lessen competition or result in monopolies. JetBlue claims the merger would make the newly combined airline more competitive against the other four airlines, which comprise over 80% of the market share.

 

JetBlue is also the subject of a separate DOJ lawsuit seeking to stop its alliance with American Airlines, which allows the airlines to coordinate schedules and share revenue.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> New York Jets and Green Bay Packers in talks about possible trade for four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers (More) | Amazon Prime Video to stream NFL matchup for free on Black Friday (More)

> "Avatar: The Way of Water" sets March 28 digital release date on Prime Video and Apple TV (More) | Two dead, eight injured following stampede at rapper GloRilla's concert in Rochester, New York (More)

> "Boy Meets World" star Ben Savage announces congressional bid to fill seat currently occupied by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who will be running for Senate (More)

 

Science & Technology

In partnership with Apollo

> Salesforce becomes next large enterprise to incorporate technology powered by OpenAI's ChatGPT into its products and tools (More) | What is ChatGPT? (More)

> Scientists develop shot that helps drunk mice sober up twice as fast; injection uses a liver-derived hormone that helps reverse the cognitive effects of alcohol on the brain, but doesn't alter blood alcohol levels (More)

> Bumblebees can learn to solve puzzles by observing the actions of other bees, new study suggests; findings support other research pointing to higher cognitive functioning in the insects (More)

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Business & Markets

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -1.5%, Dow -1.7%, Nasdaq -1.3%) after comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell suggest rates may stay higher than previously anticipated (More)

> Weight Watchers shares up 79% after announcing acquisition of telehealth startup that offers antiobesity medication (More) | Rivian shares fall 14% after electric vehicle maker announces plans to raise $1.3B in convertible notes (More)

> Starbucks founder and interim CEO Howard Schultz to testify before a Senate committee regarding the company’s labor practices (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> At least 17 people dead and more than 100 injured after an explosion in a seven-story commercial building in Bangladesh's capital of Dhaka (More) | Norfolk Southern Railway employee dies in Cleveland, Ohio, collision involving dump truck and train (More)

> President Joe Biden to host South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol April 26 in administration's second state visit (More) | US Capitol Police say they had requested a prior review of all clips from the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the US Capitol that Fox News host Tucker Carlson aired, but were only given one clip (More)

> Nationwide protests against French government's plan to raise the pension age from 62 to 64 disrupt fuel delivers, schools, and travel for sixth time (More)

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Etcetera
 

Archaeologists unearth smiling sphinx of Roman emperor.

 

How Instagram sparked the clear ice trend.

 

Mapping countries by the number of paid vacation days.

 

Notre Dame Cathedral set to reopen in December 2024

 

A $1.7M wine theft from a Michelin-starred restaurant

 

KitKat cereal is coming to the UK

 

... and Hershey's debuts plant-based chocolates.

 

When you live in a dumpster for art.

 

Clickbait: Introducing a PC powered by mushrooms.

 

Historybook: First stock car race held in Daytona Beach (1936); International Women's Day recognized by United Nations (1977); Baseball player Joe DiMaggio dies (1999); Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared en route to Beijing (2014); Sam Simon, director and codeveloper of "The Simpsons," dies (2015).

“A person always doing his or her best becomes a natural leader, just by example.”

- Joe DiMaggio

Why 1440? The printing press was invented around the year 1440, spreading knowledge to the masses and changing the course of history. More facts: In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. We’re here to make each one count.

 

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