Madeleine Albright, 'The Godfather,' and the Myth of Agent 355 Everything you need to know for the day in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Thursday, March 24, and we're covering the death of a groundbreaking diplomat, a big anniversary for an iconic film, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].



Madeleine Albright Dies

Madeleine Albright, the first female US secretary of state, passed away yesterday at the age of 84 from cancer. Albright, who served in the post from 1997 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton, was born in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia before her family fled to Great Britain and eventually emigrated to the US. A specialist in international affairs (see bio), she served as an adviser to a number of top officials before being nominated as the US ambassador to the United Nations in 1993.


Known for her support of NATO, Albright was vocal about the continuation of the alliance despite the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, a position she maintained following her departure from the State Department. See her life in photos here.


Separately, President Joe Biden traveled to Brussels yesterday for an emergency meeting of NATO as Russia's invasion of Ukraine entered its fourth week. Ahead of the trip, the US publicly accused Russia of war crimes; in particular, indiscriminately firing on civilian targets.


See map updates of the war in Ukraine here, along with photos from the ground.   

'The Godfather' Turns 50

Today marks 50 years since Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather" debuted in theaters, becoming the highest-earning film in 1972 and winning an Oscar for best picture. Based on the bestselling book by Mario Puzo, the three-hour mafia family drama grossed $244M worldwide. The film also won other accolades from the Academy Awards, the Grammys, the Golden Globes, and more. 


Regarded as one of the greatest American classics, "The Godfather" propelled the careers of leading cast members who were relatively inexperienced at the time, including Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, and Talia Shire. It also revived the career of Marlon Brando, who played the patriarch of the Italian American Corleone family. The film was pivotal for Coppola, who began working on the project at 29 as an up-and-coming director.


"The Godfather" has been rereleased in theaters for a limited time for its 50th anniversary. Watch the updated trailer, and see a visual deep dive into the film here.

Barty's Surprise Announcement

World No. 1 women’s tennis star Ashleigh Barty announced her retirement at the age of 25, with the news breaking overnight Tuesday. Barty, considered to be at the peak of her game having spent 121 total weeks at No. 1, delivered the news via Instagram and cited physical and emotional exhaustion from the tour and the desire to pursue other dreams. Barty is not the first to retire at the top; Justine Henin also retired at age 25 in 2008 while ranked No. 1.


The announcement marks the second time Barty has walked away from tennis, following a two-year absence in 2014 due to burnout. She retires with 15 singles titles, including three Grand Slam wins, and 12 doubles titles. Her singles career record was 305-102, with total prize earnings of more than $23M. See career stats here.


Barty has dabbled in professional cricket and amateur golf, leading to speculation

she could pursue other sports careers.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with CARIUMA

> State Department official visits Brittney Griner, reports the WNBA star in "good condition" while in detainment in Russia (More)


> Iris Knobloch elected first female president of Cannes Film Festival (More) | YouTube adds 4,000 free TV episodes in effort to compete with other video-on-demand streamers (More)


> Men's NCAA tourney Sweet 16 begins tonight; see matchup previews and predictions (More) | US men's national soccer team faces Mexico in 2022 World Cup qualifying tonight (10 pm ET, Univision, CBS Sports Network) from Mexico City (More)

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Science & Technology

> The 2022 Abel Prize, one of the most prestigious honors in mathematics, awarded to Stony Brook University professor Dennis Sullivan for his work in topology (More) | Topology 101 (More, w/video)


> Study suggests dopamine, typically associated with reward behavior, plays a key role in telling the brain to trigger muscle movement; results fill a key gap in understanding the link between neural activity and physical movement (More)


> Geoscientists reveal first detailed imaging of the subsurface plumbing connecting thermal vents in Yellowstone National Park (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets fall (S&P 500 -1.2%, Dow -1.3%, Nasdaq -1.3%) as oil prices increase to $115 per barrel (More) | Average 2021 Wall Street bonus hits record-high $257,500, up 20% over 2020 (More)


> Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott announces another round of gifts; has awarded over $3.8B to 465 organizations (More)


> Cresco Labs to acquire fellow cannabis producer Columbia Care in all-stock deal; would form largest US cannabis company (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> Moderna to request emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine in children aged 6 months to 6 years old, releases preliminary results suggesting a strong immune response in the age group (More) | See US COVID-19 stats (More)


> The Taliban to prohibit schooling for girls beyond sixth grade until further notice; decision reverses a previous pledge to further education for women and girls (More)


> Former President Donald Trump pulls endorsement from Rep. Mo Brooks (R, AL-5) in race to replace retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R) (More) | Jan. 6 suspect reportedly granted asylum in Belarus; Evan Neumann faced six charges, including assaulting police officers (More)



The Myth of Agent 355

Smithsonian | Bill Bleyer. An anonymous female spy, known as Agent 355, supposedly helped George Washington win the Revolutionary War—except there's no proof. (Read)

Humpback Comeback

Nautilus | Veronika Meduna. Humpback whales are returning to prewhaling populations. But will changes to the climate and other threats outpace their recovery? (Read)



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An in-depth analysis of the doomed flight of MU5735


Visualizing global happiness.


Jupiter and two moons in a single shot.


This Chinese tea costs $90K per pound.


Turkey unveils the world's longest suspension bridge


What Philadelphians mean when they say "jawn."


Los Angeles gives every first grader a bank account.


A squeaky baby penguin.


Clickbait: Has this cat owner gone too far?


Historybook: World famous magician Harry Houdini born (1874); RIP author Jules Verne (1905); Dorothy Height, civil and women’s rights activist, born (1912); Happy 70th, 1440 reader Bill Shotto (1952); Exxon Valdez oil tanker runs aground, eventually spills 11 million gallons of oil (1989). 


"Greatness is not measured by what a man or woman accomplishes, but by the opposition, he or she has overcome to reach his goals."

- Dorothy Height

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