1.17.2024

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Good morning. It's Wednesday, Jan. 17, and we're covering a squashed airline merger, a milestone in cloning primates, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

JetBlue-Spirit Deal Foiled

A federal judge yesterday blocked JetBlue Airways from acquiring Spirit Airlines, ruling the $3.8B deal would have driven up fares for price-conscious travelers and hurt competition. Spirit's shares closed down 47% yesterday; JetBlue shares closed up 4.9%. 

 

At trial, the US Justice Department had argued the merger would have limited flight options as well as the "Spirit effect," in which industrywide price reductions of 17% on average are triggered when Spirit reduces fares on specific routes. A JetBlue-Spirit merger would have created the fifth-largest airline in the US, giving the combined entity control of roughly 10% of the domestic market (see data). The four largest carriers—United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Southwest Airlines—control two-thirds of the US market. JetBlue and Spirit said they disagree with the ruling and are assessing next steps.

 

The DOJ previously forced JetBlue to dissolve a Northeast partnership with American Airlines that had allowed the two carriers to coordinate schedules and share revenue. 

 

Cloned Rhesus Monkey

A genetically cloned rhesus monkey has survived into adulthood for the first time, according to new research published yesterday. The healthy 3-year-old named Retro is just the third instance of a cloned primate to reach maturity after two 6-year-old long-tailed macaques born in 2018. 

 

The achievement marks a rare success in a complex procedure—known as somatic cell nuclear transfer—which sees the vast majority of implanted primate embryos fail to reach birth. Researchers tweaked the process—the same used to produce Dolly the Sheep in 1996, the first cloned adult mammal—to prevent developmental defects associated with the cloned embryo's placenta. Some medical researchers believe cloned primates could prove more effective than commonly used mice in lab settings, while animal advocates argue the procedures cause undue stress to intelligent primates.

 

Thousands of animals—including carp, horses, wolves, and more—are cloned each year for agriculture and research, as well as for the preservation of personal pets.

 

Gilgo Beach Suspect Charged

Long Island murder suspect Rex Heuermann was charged in connection with a fourth murder yesterday for the 2007 killing of Maureen Brainard-Barnes. Prosecutors charged Heuermann with second-degree murder, citing DNA evidence linking the 60-year-old former Manhattan architect to the crime scene. He was previously charged with murder in July for the deaths of three other victims.

 

Brainard-Barnes was one of four women found buried in the same 500-foot area of Gilgo Beach in December 2010. In total, 11 bodies—nine women, one man, and a toddler—have been found around Gilgo Beach in Long Island between 2010 and 2011. Heuermann was allegedly linked to the four murders by DNA evidence found at the scene, as well as the use of burner phones, which were used to arrange meetings with the victims. Prosecutors have not directly connected Heuermann to the other murders.

 

Heuermann pleaded not guilty and is due back in court Feb. 6. Read more about the murders here.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> The 75th Primetime Emmy Awards draws 4.3 million viewers, a 27% drop from the previous Emmys held in September 2022; the lowest TV ratings ever for the awards show (More)

> New York Knicks owner James Dolan accused in lawsuit of sexual assault and trafficking alongside Harvey Weinstein (More)

> Mallory Swanson signs with Chicago Red Stars for a National Women's Soccer League record of $2M total (More) | 22-year-old British rugby star Louis Rees-Zammit quits rugby to pursue career in NFL via the league's international player pathway (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Apple overtakes Samsung for first time in global smartphone market share, around 19% to 20%; Samsung has led global sales since 2011 (More)

> Researchers wrap yearlong experiment successfully demonstrating the ability to harvest solar energy in space, transform it into microwaves beamed to the Earth's surface (More)

> Breast cancer cells can consume their surroundings, known as the extracellular matrix, when starved of energy; findings suggest a route for potential new anticancer drugs (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -0.4%, Dow -0.6%, Nasdaq -0.2%) as Wall Street sifts through latest batch of fourth-quarter earnings (More) | Nvidia shares hit new record high; AMD shares rise to highest level in more than two years (More)

> Washington state sues to block Kroger from buying rival grocer Albertsons in $24.6B deal (More) | Synopsys to acquire graphics software maker Ansys in $35B deal (More) | Burger King owner Restaurant Brands International Inc. to buy chain's largest US franchisee for $1B (More)

> Goldman Sachs beats Q4 revenue estimates, reports 51% rise in profits (More) | Morgan Stanley tops Q4 revenue estimates, misses earnings expectations (More

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Politics & World Affairs

> US renews strikes against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, following more attacks on Red Sea commercial vessels (More) | US forces intercept Iranian missiles heading to Yemen; two Navy SEALs reportedly lost at sea during mission (More)

> Supreme Court to hear arguments today challenging 40-year-old ruling that says courts should defer to agencies' "reasonable" interpretations of ambiguous statutes (More) | Case overview (More) | Defamation case against former President Donald Trump brought by E. Jean Carroll begins (More)

> Congressional leaders reach deal on bipartisan tax package, including a temporary expansion of the Child Tax Credit; unclear whether bill can pass House and Senate (More)

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Etcetera
 

Holoportation, robot romances top futurist's predictions.

 

Winter storms expose 112-year-old shipwreck.

 

IMF says AI will affect 40% of jobs, worsen inequality

 

How lightning flashes help forecast storms.

 

See the moon, a mountain, and a basilica in one photo.  

 

Nevada's Route 50: America's loneliest road.

 

World's oldest dog, Bobi, loses title amid investigation.

 

Toddler's underwear drawer holds a venomous surprise.

 

Clickbait: Do you speak chicken? 

 

Historybook: Benjamin Franklin born (1706); Actress Betty White born (1922); Muhammad Ali born (1942); UN Security Council holds its first meeting (1946); Former first lady Michelle Obama born (1964).

"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."

- Muhammad Ali

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