Mariupol Falls, Twitter Bots, and a Martian 'Doorway' Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Wednesday, May 18, and we're covering the fall of Mariupol, an ultimatum in Elon Musk's Twitter bid, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].



Mariupol Falls to Russia

The last Ukrainian soldiers defending the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol yielded to Russian forces yesterday after months of heavy fighting in the southern port city. More than 260 Ukrainian soldiers were transferred to Russian-controlled territory after surrendering. Ukrainian officials hope the soldiers can be swapped as part of a prisoner exchange, though some Russian officials said they would be tried and executed. 


Meanwhile, Finland and Sweden submitted applications to join NATO, the Western-backed alliance originally established to provide security against the Soviet Union. The move is historic for the two countries that have traditionally held a neutral position. See the next steps for NATO membership here.


In other news, the US Senate is poised to vote this week on a $40B aid package for Ukraine after the House passed the bill last week.  


See updates on the war here

Musk's Twitter Ultimatum

Elon Musk said yesterday his $44B deal to buy Twitter can’t move forward unless the company proves that fewer than 5% of total users are fake. The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX has been vocal about wanting to clean up spam bots and estimates at least 20% of Twitter's 229 million daily active users are spam. Musk, who said his offer is contingent on evidence backing the claim, has also indicated he may eye a lower price for the potential acquisition. 


The issue over spam bots began Friday, when Musk tweeted the deal was temporarily on hold until Twitter explains how it calculates fake accounts. Twitter made the 5% claim in quarterly filings this month, acknowledging the figure may be higher. On Monday, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal explained the company's approach to fake accounts, reaffirming spam accounts make up fewer than 5% of active users each quarter.  


Separately, Twitter is losing three more senior employees after two product executives left last week.

Cannes Kicks Off

The 75th Cannes Film Festival kicked off yesterday following two years of disruptions amid the pandemic, with 21 films competing for the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or. This year's event opened with the premiere of zombie comedy "Final Cut" and will feature films such as the Elvis Presley biopic "Elvis" and Tom Cruise's "Top Gun: Maverick." In addition, actor Forest Whitaker was presented with an honorary Palme d'Or at the opening ceremony as a lifetime achievement award. See a preview of films here.


Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a former actor, addressed the opening ceremony via satellite in attempt to garner support for his country's efforts in the war against Russia. The festival will screen the final film from a Lithuanian filmmaker killed in Mariupol in April.


The festival will run through May 28. See highlights from the red carpet here.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Netflix lays off 150 employees, roughly 2% of its workforce; move follows April layoffs of editorial staff and a loss of 200,000 subscribers (More)


> New Disney+ ad-supported tier won't feature commercials for alcohol or politics (More) | Maggie Peterson, actress known for "The Andy Griffith Show," dies at 81 (More)


> Orlando Magic wins No. 1 pick at NBA draft lottery; Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets get second and third picks (More) | Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappé reportedly to leave the French soccer club for Real Madrid (More)

Science & Technology

> Mastercard begins pilot of its facial recognition payment system in Brazil; technology would allow customers to check out with a smile or glance (More)


> Exercise stimulates brain cell growth, promotes up to 40% higher levels of dopamine in mouse study; chemical boost lasted for a week after exercise regimen (More)


> Study suggests large bone injuries trigger a repair process similar to skeletal formation in embryos (More)

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets up (S&P 500 +2.0%, Dow +1.3%, Nasdaq +2.8%) on reports US retail sales increased 0.9% in April (More)


> Walmart misses earnings expectations on higher costs; shares fall 11%, marking the lowest single-day drop since 1987 (More) | Home Depot increases full year guidance and surpasses earnings expectations; shares up 2% (More)


> Nestle flying baby formula from Europe into the US amid shortage (More)

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Politics & World Affairs

> Dr. Mehmet Oz has 0.2% lead in hotly contested GOP Senate primary in Pennsylvania; race too close to call as of this morning (More) | Rep Madison Cawthorn (R, NC-11) loses in primary (More) | See all results (More)


> Food and Drug Administration approves Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot for children aged 5 to 11; an estimated 30% of children in the age group have received the initial two-shot regimen (More)


> President Joe Biden visits site of the Buffalo, New York, mass shooting that left 10 dead Saturday (More) | Black box data suggest Chinese airliner crash in March may have been intentional (More) | US traffic deaths hit 16 year high (More)



In partnership with NowRx


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Astrophotographers share their best Milky Way photos.


Explore the ancient Kush Kingdom's pyramids.


Vogue Magazine issues cease and desist letter for Cornish pub.


Photographer captures shockwave lines around a Navy jet.


Why female octopuses self-destruct after laying eggs.


Explaining that Martian "doorway."


The world's largest airplane graveyard.


Clickbait: In defense of jumping into the monkey enclosure.


Historybook: Pope John Paul II is born (1920); Jacqueline Cochran is first woman to break sound barrier (1953); HBD actress Tina Fey (1970); Mount St. Helens erupts, killing 57 (1980); Facebook raises $16B; largest initial public offering for a tech company at the time (2012).


"Say 'yes,' and you'll figure it out later."

- Tina Fey

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