The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

The middle of summer is when the surprises in publishing turn up. I'm talking about those quietly commanding books that publishers tend to put out now, because fall and winter are focused on big books by established authors. Which brings us to The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and '70s around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

Pages

Mavericks, Hot Documents And Beer

Feb 14, 2013
Originally published on February 15, 2013 3:05 am

The boards of American Airlines and US Airways just approved a merger of the two airlines. But the deal still has to win the approval of antitrust regulators at the Justice Department — regulators who last month sued to stop a merger between the beer giants Anheuser-Busch InBev and Grupo Modelo, which brews Corona.

The antitrust division has dozens of economists on staff. Their job, essentially, is to figure out whether a merger would reduce competition so much that a company could raise prices without losing business to competitors.

Sometimes, a company's own documents point the way. The antitrust division can request that companies turn over things like emails, internal company memos, strategic plans and competitor reviews.

Occasionally, regulators turn over what they call a "hot document," says Joseph Wayland, former head of the antitrust division.

"A very hot document would be executives at a company analyzing a potential merger and saying, 'If this happens, we will be able to raise our prices 10 percent because our principal competitor has been eliminated,' " Wayland says. "We've seen documents like that in the government."

Antitrust enforcers look at more than just price when they are deciding whether to block a deal. They blocked H&R Block's acquisition of a company that made TaxACT tax software.

"This TaxACT story is really what we call a maverick story," says Fiona Scott Morton, another former antitrust regulator.

Like H&R Block and Intuit, TaxACT had free software you could use to file your federal tax return. Unlike H&R Block and Intuit, the Justice Department argued, TaxACT made a real effort to make its free version a product customers would really want to use.

Aggressively giving away a product that other companies are charging for makes a company a maverick. That's good for competition, Morton says.

"The maverick is helping consumers by disrupting this tacit understanding and coordination among the big firms not to compete too hard," she says. "The maverick is breaking that up and really benefiting consumers."

The Justice Department won't comment on its pending case against the beer merger.

But the complaint regulators filed in court suggests the department may see Grupo Modelo as something of a maverick. It says Modelo has "disrupted ABI's pricing strategy by declining to match many of the price increases that were led by ABI and frequently joined by MillerCoors."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The boards of American Airlines and US Airways have approved a merger of the two airlines. The deal will need to be reviewed by antitrust regulators at the Justice Department. The same regulators, last month, filed suit to prevent a different merger - the marriage of two beer giants, Anheuser-Busch InBev, which brews Budweiser; and Grupo Modelo, which brews Corona.

Planet Money's Caitlin Kenney explains how the antitrust division decides which mergers are good for the USA and which should be stopped.

CAITLYN KENNEY, BYLINE: When you want to build a murder case, you get ballistic experts and medical examiners. If you're trying to determine whether an economic crime has been committed, you need economists. The antitrust division has about 50 of them on staff.

CARL SHAPIRO: We all believe in a competitive economy, I think. That requires a cop on the beat.

KENNEY: Carl Shapiro used to be one of them. He headed a team of economists there. Competition enforcers on the lookout for public enemy number one - monopolists, companies so large and powerful they can just jack up prices anytime they want.

Figuring out whether a merger would create a dangerous monopoly seems like an easy thing to do, but in practice, it's a lot more difficult. Carl Shapiro offers an example from the 1990s.

SHAPIRO: Boeing and McDonnell Douglas wanted to merge, and they were two of the only three companies that made large commercial aircraft, the other is Airbus.

KENNEY: So three companies shrinking out to two. That sounds bad. Less choices for consumers. Less competition. But authorities looking at this deal - in this case the Federal Trade Commission, another agency on the lookout for monopolies - they decided it wasn't that bad.

SHAPIRO: The FTC looked at it more closely and was convinced that McDonnell Douglas was not doing very well. They probably weren't going to keep investing. There would be some additional technology that could be usefully shared between the two companies.

KENNEY: The deal went through. The job of these economists and lawyers is to predict the future, to figure out what life will be like for consumers if a merger happens, to answer the question: Will the new merged raise prices. And the answer to that question sometimes lies in the company's own documents. The antitrust division can request that companies turn over millions of pieces of paper, emails, internal company memos, strategic plans, competitor reviews.

And occasionally, says Joseph Wayland who used to be head of the antitrust division, you turn up what they call a hot document.

JOSEPH WAYLAND: In a merger, a very hot document would be executives at a company analyzing a potential merger and say, if this happens, we'll be able to raise our prices 10 percent because our principal competitor has been eliminated. That would be very hot document, and we've seen documents like that in the government.

KENNEY: Antitrust enforcers look at more than just price when they're deciding whether to block a deal. Fiona Scott Morton is another former chief economist of the antitrust division. During her time there, the division stopped H&R Block's acquisition of a smaller rival, the makers of TaxACT. In the eyes of Fiona Scott Morton and the Justice Department, TaxACT was special.

FIONA SCOTT MORTON: This TaxACT story is really what we call a maverick story.

KENNEY: Like H&R Block and Intuit, TaxACT had free software you could use to file your federal tax return. Unlike H&R Block and Intuit, the Justice Department argued, TaxACT made a real effort to make their free version better, a product that consumers would really want to use.

Aggressively giving away something for free that other people are charging for, that makes you a maverick.

MORTON: The maverick is helping consumers by disrupting this tacit understanding and coordination among the big firms not to compete too hard. And the maverick is breaking that up and really benefiting consumers. And you don't want the maverick to be bought up by one of these big firms.

KENNEY: The Justice Department won't comment on the potential danger of mixing Budweiser and Corona's parent companies, ABI and Grupo Modelo, but the court complaint suggests that department may see Grupo Modelo as something of a maverick. It says Modelo has, quote, "disrupted ABI's pricing strategy by declining to match many of the price increases that were led by ABI and frequently joined by MillerCoors."

Caitlyn Kenney, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.