3.31.2022

Crypto Heist, Bruce Willis Retires, and America's Most Stressful States Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Thursday, March 31, and we're covering the largest known crypto heist, the retirement of an action movie star, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

NEED TO KNOW

 

Kyiv Shelling Continues

Russia continued to shell the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and the northern city Chernihiv yesterday, targeting civilian areas, despite pledging to scale back military operations in the region following cease-fire negotiations. The Pentagon said less than 20% of forces had left Kyiv, as Russia repositioned to focus on the eastern Donbas region.

 

The US announced it will provide an additional $500M to Ukraine in budgetary aid for expenses such as government services, as part of the $13.6B Congress approved earlier this month. 

 

In related news, US intelligence suggests Russian President Vladimir Putin was misled by advisers about the military's struggles in the country, as well as the potential impact of economic sanctions. 

 

In Europe, Poland has taken steps to end all Russian oil imports by 2023, while Germany has urged residents to ration natural gas consumption. Russia has appeared to soften its stance after a payments standoff in which it demanded EU countries pay in rubles, stating yesterday they will continue to allow euros for now.

 

See map updates on the conflict here, along with photos from the ground.

Largest-Ever Crypto Heist

Hackers have stolen more than $600M worth of cryptocurrency from the Ronin blockchain underlying a popular play-to-earn online game, “Axie Infinity.” The heist is believed to be the biggest cryptocurrency theft in history and raises questions about security.


Sky Mavis, the gaming company operating Ronin and “Axie Infinity,” said the attackers took advantage of a security flaw in what's known as a bridge—a connection between two blockchains that enables transfers of cryptocurrency. The hackers gained control of five validation nodes required to recognize the transfers to and from the Ronin blockchain. 

 

The attackers then created two fraudulent withdrawals March 23, stealing 173,600 ether tokens and 25.5 million USD Coin tokens. Ether is the second most popular cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin (see 101), while USD Coin is a cryptocurrency tied to the US dollar. Sky Mavis discovered the breach Tuesday after a user was unable to withdraw 5,000 ether from the bridge. 

 

See other big cryptocurrency heists here.

Bruce Willis Retires

Award-winning actor Bruce Willis announced he would retire from the profession after being diagnosed with a neurological disorder that affects a person's ability to communicate effectively with others. The decision caps a four-decade career that included films like "Die Hard," "Pulp Fiction," "Armageddon," "The Sixth Sense," and more. 

 

The 67-year-old Willis was diagnosed with aphasia, a disorder resulting from damage to the region of the brain responsible for language control and comprehension (see overview). Such damage may result from physical injury, dementia, infection, or other cause—though it is unclear what triggered Willis' condition.  

 

The actor had taken on a prolific spree of B-list roles in recent years, with at least 10 films slated for a 2022 release or in postproduction. See Willis' career in photos here

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> US men's national team falls to Costa Rica 2-0; still qualifies for 2022 FIFA World Cup after missing out in 2018 (More) | Full list of teams that have qualified (More)

 

> Oscars officials say Will Smith was asked to leave awards show but refused after slapping Chris Rock on stage; committee considering disciplinary action (More) | Marvin J. Chomsky, four-time Emmy-winning director known for "Roots" and "Star Trek," dies at 92 (More) | Tom Parker, singer for British boy band The Wanted, dies at 33 of brain cancer (More)

 

> Boston Red Sox, in a Major League Baseball first, announce games played at Fenway Park will be carbon neutral (More)

Science & Technology

> Farthest star ever detected observed by NASA's Hubble Telescope; star is believed to have existed within the first billion years of the universe's existence (More) | Astronaut Mark Vande Hei returns to Earth after a US record 355 days (More)

 

> Waymo to roll out fully self-driving cars without human safety drivers in San Francisco test (More) | Facebook paid to place negative news stories about rival TikTok in various news outlets, reports say (More)

 

> Oxytocin treatment found to increase sociability in lions; study may advance conservation efforts where separate prides must live together (More)

Business & Markets

In partnership with Graze

> US stock markets fall (S&P 500 -0.6%, Dow -0.2%, Nasdaq -1.2%) as oil prices increase (More)

 

> State of Florida reaches $878M opioid settlement with CVS and others to settle claims their marketing practices fueled the crisis (More)

 

> Securities and Exchange Commission proposes new rules for SPACs which would impose new disclosure requirements in effort to address concerns around investor protections (More)

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Politics & World Affairs

> Biden administration to end border policy that allowed for rapid expulsion of migrants to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (More) | More than 1 million migrants were expelled under the Title 42 policy in FY21; see data (More)

 

> Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first GOP senator to publicly back the Supreme Court nominee (More)

 

> Sandy Hook families reject settlement offer from Infowars host Alex Jones, who was found liable for damages after claiming the 2012 mass school shooting was a hoax; trial will be held to determine amount (More)

IN-DEPTH

 

Unstoppable Drive

ESPN | Dan Hajducky. The story of Chris Wright, a former Georgetown University basketball standout, who became the first athlete diagnosed with multiple sclerosis to play in the NBA. (Read)

Britain's Worst Cyberstalker

Guardian | Sirin Kale. Having victimized at least 62 women over the span of more than a decade, how did Matthew Hardy evade justice for so long? (Read)

FLAVORFUL FUEL

 

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ETCETERA

 

America's most stressful states.

 

Time's 100 most influential companies of 2022.

 

Young women outearn men in 16 metropolitan areas.

 

What the White House's new tax plan means for billionaires.

 

How Nike created its first-ever 3D billboard ad in Tokyo.

 

Netflix is proud of its Skip Intro button.

 

A group of border collies has the time of their lives.

 

When your chicken wings can fly ... to you.

 

Clickbait: Country star cancels concert to watch Final Four game.

 

Historybook: Eiffel Tower opens in Paris (1889); Workers’ rights leader Cesar Chavez born (1927); RIP American track legend Jesse Owens (1980); Singer-songwriter Selena killed (1995); Rapper Nipsey Hussle killed (2019).

 

"Find the good. It's all around you. Find it, showcase it, and you'll start believing in it."

- Jesse Owens

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