Disney, CNN+ Gets Axed, and Operation Mincemeat Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Friday, April 22, and we're covering a potential end to Disney's special status in Florida, an abrupt end to a cable news streaming venture, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].



Putin Claims Success

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed success in capturing the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol yesterday. The statement came despite a few thousand Ukrainian forces holding out in the city's massive Azovstal steel plant.


Putin ordered Russian troops not to storm the complex, but to create a blockade around the facility. The mill spans nearly 4 square miles and contains an underground labyrinth of tunnels connecting its various buildings; officials say a full-on assault may last months. An estimated 1,000 civilians are also believed to have taken shelter in the plant.   


Separately, Russia has been accused of burying civilian victims in mass graves outside Mariupol. Officials say it may represent an effort to hide evidence of war crimes.


In related news, the Biden administration announced another $1.3B in support for Ukraine—$500M for government operations and $800M for military aid. Meanwhile, officials are searching for US sponsors to house up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.


See updates on the war here.

Disney District Ditched

Florida lawmakers approved yesterday a bill that would dissolve a special tax district, which allows The Walt Disney Co. to effectively govern the land hosting its theme parks outside Orlando. The move came after the company publicly criticized a recently passed bill limiting instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, among other provisions (see overview). 


The Reedy Creek Improvement District, established in 1967, allows Disney to have near full control over its land use, regulations, codes, and more, while the company operates municipal services within the district. Its dissolution would likely shift the district's debts and obligations to neighboring Orange and Osceola counties. Disney employs roughly 80,000 workers in the state, with tourism to its parks generating an estimated $5.8B annually. 


The legislation now heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for signature. The law would take effect—and the district dissolved—June 1 of next year.

CNN+ Axed 

CNN+ will cease operations April 30, just four weeks after its launch, the network reported Thursday. The streaming service featured a library of CNN’s original series and new personality-driven shows from veteran CNN stars and others poached from competing networks, including Fox News’ Chris Wallace and NBC News’ Kasie Hunt. Sources say many of the anchors had contracts that were not explicitly contingent on working with CNN+, and the projects would likely be moved to other services.


The news came shortly after CNN’s parent company, WarnerMedia, merged with Discovery. David Zaslav, CEO of WB Discovery, said he wants all brands, including HBO Max and Discovery Plus, on one streaming service.


CNN had spent almost $300M to date on the service, with plans to spend $1B over four years. The service reportedly had about 150,000 subscribers, and fewer than 10,000 were using it on a daily basis.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Serena Williams and Lewis Hamilton join group of investors looking to purchase Chelsea Football Club from Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich (More)


> Robert Morse, two-time Tony Award-winning actor also known for his five-time Emmy-nominated role in "Mad Men," dies at 90 (More)


> Thirteen Larry Nassar victims file lawsuit against FBI for $130M, alleging the law enforcement agency is responsible for assaults that occurred after July 2015 (More)

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Science & Technology

> Natural immunity from symptomatic COVID-19 infections may be nearly as effective as vaccines in preventing reinfection and hospitalization, study suggests; findings came before the more elusive omicron variant (More) | See US COVID-19 stats (More)


> Analysis of tumor genomes adds dozens of previously unknown mutation patterns to the list of genetic indicators; involving 12,000 separate tumors, study is the largest of its kind to date (More)


> Microbiome composition may influence what you choose to eat; study is the first to link bacteria in the gut with specific food cravings (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets fall (S&P 500 -1.5%, Dow -1.1%, Nasdaq -2.1%) as Chairman Jerome Powell signals the Federal Reserve may raise rates by 0.50% in May (More)


> Elon Musk states he’s lined up $46.5B in financing for proposed Twitter acquisition composed of $21B of equity and $25.5B of debt (More) | Elon Musk’s Boring Company raises $675M financing at $5.7B valuation (More)


> Video game maker Activision Blizzard to add two female executives to its board amid allegations of a toxic culture (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> Islamic State launches bomb attacks across Afghanistan, killing at least 31 people and injuring at least 87 (More) | Israel and Gaza trade rocket fire as clashes between Israel and Palestine continue (More


> US Supreme Court rules Congress can deny disability benefits to US citizens in Puerto Rico because they are exempt from most federal taxes (More)


> Former Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández extradited to the US on drug trafficking and weapons charges; Hernández is the first Latin American leader to be tried in the US (More



Operation Mincemeat 

BBC | Natasha Tripney. Inside the elaborate plan that fooled Hitler, a tale now adapted to both the stage and the big screen. (Read)

The End of Alcohol

WIRED | Virginia Heffernan. Sober influencers, mocktails, and nonalcoholic bars—abstention has become its own cottage industry. (Read, paywall)

The Untold 

ESPN | Tom Junod, Paula Lavigne. Before Jerry Sandusky, there was Todd Hodne, an unheralded Penn State football player who carried out a string of sexual assaults—and eventually, murder—in the late '70s. (Read)

Fires and Floods

SparkGeo | Staff. An interactive visualization explaining the link between devastating wildfires and the increased risk of floods. (Explore)



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Google celebrates Earth Day with time-lapse photos


China censors its own national anthem.


Whatever happened to world's fairs?


Architects propose floating, lighter-than-air buildings.


BeReal is the newest social media craze.


A mesmerizing feather star undulates through the sea.


Florida bride charged with lacing wedding dishes with weed.


Daredevil cousins to attempt midair plane swap.


Clickbait: Don't pick a fight with Mike Tyson.


Historybook: Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Ellen Glasgow born (1873); Earth Day first celebrated in the US (1970); RIP photographer Ansel Adams (1984); RIP President Richard Nixon (1994); Former NFL football player Pat Tillman killed during the war in Afghanistan (2004). 


"Passion is what makes life interesting."

- Pat Tillman

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