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Priceline.com agrees to buy kayak for $1.8 billion

Just months after going public, Kayak Software has been snapped up by a rival.

Priceline.com, a travel company from an earlier Internet age, is buying Kayak, its younger rival, for $40 a share, Kayak announced Thursday. The cash-and-stock deal values Kayak at about $1.8 billion.

The price represents a 29 percent premium over Kayak’s closing price of $31 a share Thursday. The transaction, which is subject to shareholder approval, has been approved by both boards, Kayak said.

“We’re excited to join the world’s premier online travel company,” Steve Hafner, Kayak’s chief executive, said in a statement.

Kayak announced the deal as it reported earnings Thursday.

The company said it generated revenue of $78.6 million in the third quarter, an increase of 29 percent from the period a year earlier. Its net income rose 14 percent to $8 million.

—William Alden, The New York Times

Obama to visit Myanmar as part of first postelection trip

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will make Asia his first overseas destination since his re-election, with a trip this month that is to include a historic visit to Myanmar and underscore his desire to reorient U.S. foreign policy more toward the Pacific during his second term.

The White House announced Thursday that the newly re-elected Obama would head to an annual international economic summit meeting in Cambodia and stop in Thailand and Myanmar. No sitting U.S. president has visited either Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, or Cambodia, allowing Obama to reinforce his commitment to the region.

The trip fits into a larger geopolitical chess game by the Obama administration, which has sought to counter rising Chinese assertiveness by engaging its neighbors. But the planned trip drew criticism from human rights advocates who worried that a presidential visit to Myanmar as it moves toward democracy was premature.

The most symbolically potent part of the trip from Nov. 17 to 20 will be the stop in Yangon, where Obama will meet with the two driving forces behind Myanmar’s dramatic emergence from decades of military dictatorship — President Thein Sein, who came to power last year, and Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning opposition leader.

—Peter Baker, The New York Times

Yale names insider Peter Salovey

Yale University announced Thursday that Peter Salovey, a celebrated scholar of psychology who has for the past four years been Yale’s provost, will be its new president. The appointment comes less than three months after Richard Levin announced that he would be stepping down as president at the end of the academic year, after 20 years in the job.

A search committee considered more than 150 candidates before selecting Salovey.

“Peter brings a profound understanding of Yale, and great ambitions for advancing the university in the years ahead,” Edward P. Bass, senior fellow of the Yale Corp., the university’s board, said in a statement.

“The trustees were inspired by Peter’s impeccable integrity and character, and by his unwavering commitment to excellence,” the statement continued. “These personal qualities, combined with his significant leadership experience, his stature as a scholar and his deep knowledge of and devotion to Yale make him the best person to lead Yale well into the 21st century.”

—Ariel Kaminer, The New York Times

Rebels’ missteps weaken support among Syrian public

BEIRUT — Syria’s rebel fighters — who have long staked claim to the moral high ground for battling dictatorship — are losing crucial support from a public increasingly disgusted by the actions of some rebels, including poorly planned missions, senseless destruction, criminal behavior and the coldblooded killing of prisoners.

The shift in mood presents more than just a public relations problem for the loosely knit militants of the Free Syrian Army, who rely on their supporters to survive the government’s superior firepower. A dampening of that support undermines the rebels’ ability to fight and win what has become a devastating war of attrition, perpetuating the violence that has left nearly 40,000 dead, hundreds of thousands in refugee camps and more than 1 million forced from their homes.

The rebel shortcomings have been compounded by changes in the opposition, from a force of civilians and defected soldiers who took up arms after the government used lethal force on peaceful protesters to one that is increasingly seeded with extremist jihadis. That radicalization has divided the fighters’ supporters and made Western nations more reluctant to give rebels the arms that might help break the intensifying deadlock. Instead, foreign leaders are struggling to find indirect ways to help oust Syria’s president, Bashar Assad.

And now arrogance and missteps are draining enthusiasm from some of the fighters’ core supporters.

“They were supposed to be the people on whom we depend to build a civil society,” lamented a civilian activist in Saraqib, a northern town where rebels were videotaped executing a group of unarmed Syrian soldiers, an act the United Nations has declared a likely war crime.

An activist in Aleppo, Ahmed, who like some of the others who were interviewed gave only one name for security reasons, said he had begged rebels not to camp in a neighborhood telecommunications office. But they did, and government attacks knocked out phone service.

—Anne Barnard, The New York Times