2.13.2024

 

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, Feb. 13, and we're covering a special election in New York, the return of Mardi Gras celebrations, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Race to Replace Santos

A special election takes place today in New York's 3rd Congressional District in which Republican Nassau County legislator Mazi Pilip will face off against former Democratic congressman Tom Suozzi to replace former Rep. George Santos (R), who was expelled from Congress. The winner will serve the remaining 11 months of Santos' two-year term. 

 

Ethiopian-born Pilip, who served in the Israeli Defense Forces before becoming a US citizen in 2009, has promised to address illegal immigration and tackle the district's high cost of living. Suozzi represented the district for three terms before stepping aside in 2022 for an unsuccessful campaign for governor. He is running as a moderate legislator willing to break with his party. See where the candidates stand on issues here.

 

The district, which covers parts of Queens and Nassau County, Long Island, encompasses a socially and economically diverse group of voters, with some experts seeing it as an important bellwether for this year's general elections. Republicans currently hold a 219-212 majority in the House, meaning they can afford to lose only three votes on any partisan bill. If Democrats secure the empty seat, it would narrow the lead.

 

Permian Rivals to Merge

Oil producer Diamondback Energy announced yesterday it will acquire Endeavor Energy Resources in a $26B cash-and-stock deal expected by the end of the year. The merger, which creates the third largest oil producer in the shale-rich Permian Basin, follows similar acquisitions from energy giants Chevron and ExxonMobil last year.

 

The 86,000-square-mile basin straddling West Texas and southeast New Mexico is the largest oil reserve in the US, with an estimated 46 billion barrels of oil equivalent (see overview). Although conventional drilling since the 1920s had mostly exhausted easy-to-access oil in the region, recent developments in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the basin (how it works) have helped make the US the world's top oil producer since 2018. The Permian derives its name from the geologic period during which its hydrocarbon-rich sediments were deposited (roughly 300 million years ago). 

 

The gush of acquisitions comes amid predictions global oil demand will peak by 2030 as the adoption of renewable energy accelerates.

 

Fat Tuesday Arrives

Cities around the world are set to celebrate Mardi Gras today, the final day before the Christian fasting and religious observance period of Lent begins. Mardi Gras is the culmination of Carnival season, which officially begins Jan. 6 every year—the 12th day after Christmas—and ends the day before Ash Wednesday. 

 

New Orleans is considered the home to the best-known Fat Tuesday festivities in the US, with at least 1 million visitors typically flocking to the city and helping to bring in up to $1B in revenue. (Although Mobile, Alabama, claims to have hosted the first Mardi Gras celebrations in the US.) The revelries also generate thousands of pounds of discarded beads; in 2018, New Orleans said it had found over 92,000 pounds of beads in its storm drains along five blocks of a parade route.

 

New Orleans' Mardi Gras-focused social clubs, known as krewes (see overview), will culminate Carnival season today with several parades featuring elaborate floats, including by the famous krewes of Rex and Zulu. Watch a livestream of the event here (10 am ET). See how some of the floats are made here

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Tiger Woods unveils "Sun Day Red" clothing brand partnership with TaylorMade Golf; Woods left Nike in 2023 after 27 years with the brand (More)

> Bob Edwards, National Radio Hall of Famer and longtime host of NPR's "Morning Edition," dies at 76 (More)

> Beyoncé's "Act II" album to be released March 29; the country-themed album is a sequel to 2022's "Renaissance" (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Scientists discover a universal set of roughly 20 microbes responsible for the decomposition of dead bodies, regardless of location or environmental factors (More)

> Risk of dementia linked to elevated levels of four specific proteins in the blood, new study finds; results may allow early diagnosis up to 15 years in advance of noticeable symptoms (More)

> First-ever report on the state of migratory animals finds more than 40% of protected species show population decline; one in five is threatened with extinction (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 -0.1%, Dow +0.3%, Nasdaq -0.3%); Dow notches record close (More) | Bitcoin surpasses $50K for first time in two years on rising demand for bitcoin exchange-traded funds (More)

> Judge orders Elon Musk to testify for third time in US Securities and Exchange Commission probe of his $44B purchase of Twitter (now X) in 2022 (More) | Build-A-Bear and Jazwares, Berkshire Hathaway-owned maker of popular Squishmallows plush toys, sue each other over intellectual property rights (More)

> General Motors' autonomous vehicle unit Cruise names former Ford and Apple executive as safety chief; move comes as US regulators investigate Cruise over October collision with pedestrian (More) | Uber, Lyft, DoorDash drivers to strike nationwide tomorrow over fair pay (More)

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Politics & World Affairs

> President Joe Biden hosts Jordan's King Abdullah II for talks on Israel-Hamas war (More) | Dutch appeals court orders Netherlands to halt exports of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel, citing risk of violating international law (More) | See war updates (More

> Former President Donald Trump asks Supreme Court to delay federal election interference trial, appeals lower court's ruling on presidential immunity claim (More) | Child injured in Sunday shooting at celebrity pastor Joel Osteen's Houston church identified as son of shooter, who police say had history of mental illness; motive remains unclear (More

> Winter Storm Lorraine to transition to nor'easter, bringing heavy snowfall and rain to northeastern US through today, with up to 12 inches of snow and wind gusts of up to 40 mph in some areas (More) | What is a nor'easter? (More

 

In-Depth

> The First Canarians

Science | Warren Cornwall. Recent archaeological studies shed light on how the first human settlers of the Canary Islands survived 100 years of isolation. (Read)

 

> When Death Becomes Clickbait

The Verge | Mia Sato. A look at the rise of AI-generated obituary spam that litters search results and how the search engine optimization game can cause real-life harm. (Read)

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Etcetera
 

Scientists find 1,700-year-old intact chicken egg.

 

Watch how photos were transmitted by wire in 1937

 

See stunning shots from 27 US national parks.

 

Jazz up your home with a glow-in-the-dark plant.

 

Late President George HW Bush's speedboat heads to auction.

 

Meet Disney's newest robotic character: Duke Weaselton

 

... and students build the world's tiniest humanoid robot.

 

Bathroom remodel uncovers decades-old love letters.

 

Clickbait: "lol hey guys": President Biden joins TikTok

 

Historybook: Chuck Yeager, first pilot to break sound barrier, born (1923); Talk show host and politician Jerry Springer born (1944); Nashville sit-ins begin (1960); French opera singer Lily Pons dies (1976).

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