Kreminna, Uranus, and the National Teacher of the Year Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Wednesday, April 20, and we're covering the battle for Ukraine's Donbas region, NASA's (potential) next big mission, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].



Russia Seizes Kreminna

Russian forces have captured the city of Kreminna in eastern Ukraine, causing Ukrainian troops to withdraw from the city. Kreminna, which once had a population of 18,000 before the war, appears to be the first city Russia has seized since it launched a new offensive Monday focusing on Ukraine's Donbas region. The area includes two Russian-backed separatist cities, Luhansk and Donetsk, which have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.


Donbas is a heavily industrialized region and includes coal mines, metal plants, and machine-building factories. Gaining full control of the region could allow Russia to create a land bridge to Crimea, which it invaded and annexed in 2014. To do so, Russia would need to capture Mariupol—a southern port city that has been encircled by Russian forces.


Separately, missiles hit the city of Kharkiv and an explosion occurred in Kramatorsk. Both cities lie northwest of the Donbas region.


See updates on the conflict here.

NASA Eyes Ice Giant

One of NASA's next major missions may focus on sending a dedicated craft to study Uranus, a $4B endeavor that would provide the first up-close view of a so-called "ice giant." The news followed the release of a highly influential, once-in-a-decade report by a scientific panel generally viewed as a prioritization list for the agency. The mission would launch early next decade and take roughly 13 years to reach its target.  


The seventh planet from the sun, Uranus has only been studied once—Voyager 2 made a brief flyby in 1986. A dedicated orbital probe would provide scientists insight into the Uranian atmosphere, while filling in gaps in the understanding of how medium-size planets form. Check out this interactive overview of Earth's icy distant neighbor.


Other priorities included studying the interior ocean of Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, for signs of life. Explore the 780-page report here.

Explosions in Kabul

At least six people, including children, have been killed and more than a dozen injured after explosions hit educational institutions in Afghanistan's capital yesterday. The blasts happened in the mostly Shiite Hazara neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi in western Kabul. Hazaras are an ethnic and religious minority historically targeted by Sunni militant groups. No group has claimed responsibility for yesterday's attack.


An Islamic State affiliate, known as IS in Khorasan Province or IS-K, has targeted the area in the past. It bombed a girls' school in May last year, killing at least 90 people. The IS-K has presented a security challenge for the Taliban, which reclaimed power in Afghanistan in August after US troops withdrew. During that time, the IS-K bombed Kabul's airport, killing at least 170 Afghans and 13 US service members. 


The Taliban and the IS-K have clashed since the latter's emergence in 2015. See background on their rivalry here. See a history of the Taliban here.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> The New York Times taps its managing editor, Joseph Kahn, to replace Dean Baquet as executive editor beginning June 14 (More)


> Drug dealer sentenced to 11 years in prison for supplying rapper Mac Miller with fentanyl-laced drugs that led to his 2018 fatal overdose (More) | The 2022 Tribeca Film Festival (June 8-19) announces full lineup of 110 feature films (More)


> Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) calls on state Legislature to end Walt Disney World's special status that allows it to self-govern inside the park's borders (More)

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Science & Technology

> First open-air test of releasing genetically modified mosquitoes to fight diseases shows positive results; study releases male mosquitoes with genes that kill female offspring (More) | The science of why only female mosquitoes bite (More)


> Laser-based technique allows 3D-printing of glass structures in seconds; may accelerate the development of highly specialized optics applications (More)


> Engineers demonstrate miniature camera with record-breaking depth of field; device is able to simultaneously image objects at distances from 1 inch to 1 mile away (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets up (S&P 500 +1.6%, Dow +1.5%, Nasdaq +2.2%) as investors continue to weigh earnings season results (More) | Netflix shares fall over 25% in after-hours trading after company announces it lost subscribers for the first time in over a decade (More)


> International Monetary Fund reduces 2022 and 2023 global growth forecasts due to Russia-Ukraine war (More)


> Biden administration to erase 40,000 student loans, while 3.6 million others may receive credit toward eventual debt forgiveness (More) | Blackstone to acquire student housing company American Campus Communities for $12.8B (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> Justice Department defers decision to appeal court ruling striking mask mandates on public transportation to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; mandate was set to expire May 3 (More) | See US COVID-19 stats (More)


> Belgian trial begins for 14 people accused of being accomplices in 2015 Paris terror attacks that left 130 dead and more than 400 injured (More)


> Autopsy results released in police shooting of Patrick Lyoya; the 26-year-old Congolese refugee was killed after struggling with a Grand Rapids, Michigan, police officer April 4 (More) | See video of the incident (More, warning—sensitive content) 



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Meet Kurt Russell, the National Teacher of the Year. (w/video)


Shrekapo, the escaped sheep, sheds 40 pounds of wool.


Intel's AI claims to read students' emotions (critics disagree).


A stunning shot of five galaxies merging.


These flowers dazzle under ultraviolet light.


Taking spongecake too literally. (via Instagram)


Kentucky man awarded $450K over an unwanted birthday party.


New York City's worst sketch artist.


Clickbait: Electric chopsticks deliver a salty surprise.


Historybook: Thirteen people murdered in Columbine High School mass shooting (1999); Danica Patrick is first woman to win IndyCar race (2008); RIP Dorothy Height, civil and women’s rights activist (2010); Deepwater Horizon oil rig explodes, killing 11 and starting monthslong oil spill (2010).


"You never teach a subject; you always teach a child."

- Dorothy Height

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