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Vox Sentences: Monsanto and Bayer to form GMO (Ginormous Merged Organization)

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Monsanto and Bayer want to merge (but regulators might not be so keen); Obama promises to lift the last remaining sanctions on Myanmar; Colin Powell's emails got hacked.


Frankenbusiness!

Bayer and Monsanto signs Patrik Stollarz, John Thys/AFP/Getty Images
  • Agribusiness giant Monsanto accepted an offer from agribusiness giant Bayer to acquire the company for $56 billion — a merger that would create an agribusiness supergiant. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
  • It's just the latest in a string of mergers and proposed mergers among the six remaining heavyweights in agribusiness, as companies have responded to a rough business patch by trying to consolidate. [Grist / Nathanael Johnson]
  • What businesses call "consolidation" regulators call "antitrust violation." Regulators are wary of approving agriculture mergers in general, and they're likely to be particularly skeptical of the Bayer/Monsanto merger, which would bring a whole lot of the US's seed market under the control of one company. [WSJ / Jacob Bunge]
  • One example: The combined Bayersanto giant would almost certainly have to spin off some of its cottonseed products — otherwise, it would control 70 percent of the cottonseed market. [Bloomberg / Jack Kaskey]
  • The acquisition could be an opportunity for Monsanto to rebrand. The company has become a liberal target for its use of GMOs (among other things), though it's worth noting that many farmers themselves don't mind it. [Prairie Farmer / Holly Spangler]
  • Farmers are, however, beginning to question whether GMO seeds are worth the high prices they command — another obstacle to agribusiness that has helped spur mergers like this. [WSJ / Jacob Bunge]

Ready or not...

  • President Obama said the US was ready to lift its remaining sanctions against the government of Myanmar Wednesday, after meeting with the country's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. [NPR / Merrit Kennedy]
  • The Obama administration hasn't yet removed the sanctions. But it did announce before the meeting that it's restored Myanmar to a list of poor and developing countries whose exports to the US are exempted from tariffs. [Reuters / Jeff Mason and Timothy Mclaughlin]
  • Some sanctions against Myanmar had already been removed after 2011, when the country's military junta formally dissolved. The rest are sanctions on selling to the country's military (which, arguably, don't need to be lifted for the country to develop economically). [LAT]
  • The moves are an acknowledgment not just of the changes at the head of the Burmese government since 2011 but in inter-ethnic relations. Suu Kyi held a summit last month with the country's remaining insurgent groups. [NYT / Stephanie Giry and Wai Moe]
  • And more importantly, she's asked ex-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to chair a panel on the treatment of the country's badly mistreated Rohingya Muslim minority — which might have been a political ploy before her US visit, but might be an indication that she knows something needs to be done. [BBC / Jonah Fisher]
  • But the path won't be easy. Anti-Muslim violence has risen in Myanmar in recent months, and hundreds of protesters (many of them Buddhist monks) greeted Annan's arrival. [Reuters / Simon Lewis and Wa Lone]

Colin Powell is just like us (an email kvetch)

Colin Powell William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images
  • Colin Powell's personal email account was hacked into, and the contents were posted by the hacker outfit DCLeaks on Tuesday night. [The Intercept / Lee Fang and Naomi LaChance]
  • To be clear: These emails were hacked, criminally, not leaked. And DCLeaks may be tied to the Russian government. [ThreatConnect]
  • That hasn't stopped anyone from dishing over their contents.
  • Powell (unsurprisingly, given his endorsement of Obama in 2008 and criticism of the GOP) thinks very little of Donald Trump, calling him a "national disgrace." [BuzzFeed / Andrew Kaczynski, Talal Ansari, and Nathan McDermott]
  • But he also doesn't think much of Hillary Clinton, calling her "greedy, not transformational, with a husband still dicking bimbos at home." [Will Rahn via Twitter]
  • That said, Powell also also doesn't think much of Republicans attacking Clinton over Benghazi, calling the scandal a "stupid witch hunt" — something more than a few elite Republicans believe but none will admit publicly. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • Basically, Powell doesn't think much of a lot of people. Which, in fairness, is probably what a hacked email inbox would reveal about many of us. [Washington Examiner / Ashe Schow]

Miscellaneous

  • Meet Diego, the Galapagos giant tortoise whose mad game with the ladies has almost singlehandedly saved his species. [AFP / Santiago Piedra Silva]
  • A lead paint company gave $750,000 to an independent group backing Scott Walker — around the same time that he signed new laws limiting lawsuits from lead paint victims. [The Guardian / Ed Pilkington]
  • I (Dylan) have apparently played 70 hours of Stardew Valley over the past two weeks, or so my computer tells me. Here's why you should too. [Autostraddle / Heather Hogan]
  • The world's oldest man is celebrating his 113th birthday by having his bar mitzvah, which he couldn't celebrate at 13 because of World War I. [Haaretz / Stefanie Järkel]
  • Self-driving Ubers are now a thing in Pittsburgh. Here's what it's like to take one. [Vice / Noah Kulwin]

Verbatim

  • "Relief supplies have reached five Russian scientists besieged by polar bears for nearly two weeks at a remote weather station on Troynoy Island in the Arctic. … The animals could have been attracted by the smell of leftovers." [BBC]
  • "I hate palm trees." [Harry Reid to Washington Post / Ben Terris]
  • "I strapped on a Samsung Gear VR and returned to my darkest hours, this time in full, immersive virtual reality." [BuzzFeed / Matt Zeitlin]
  • "It is easy to ask, as many do, whether Hillary Clinton would ever have had a shot at being the first female president if she wasn’t married to Bill Clinton. … But maybe the real question is whether Bill Clinton, who had already lost one election by the time of his marriage, would have succeeded in becoming America’s youngest governor and one of the country’s most popular presidents without Hillary Clinton by his side? Maybe Bill Clinton held her back – and Hillary Clinton would have got there any way, or even sooner." [The Guardian / Suzanne Goldenberg]
  • "Democracy's primary excellence is that it rules out the mirage of violent revolution as a chiliastic solution to current disappointments." [Brad DeLong]

Watch this: The Oxford comma's unlikely origin

Oxford commas are the world's most controversial punctuation mark — but where did they come from? Vox's Phil Edwards explores the history. [YouTube / Phil Edwards]