⭐️ Premium Content Alert: Would you like to access newsmaker interviews and extra editions every week? Sign up for our 14-day free trial to the premium newsletter today. We are also currently offering 20% off on annual memberships. Your support will help us grow the newsletter and expand to more platforms.
Happy Earth Day! Here's today's rundown:
Disney has lost its self-governing status in Florida as Republicans take aim at the company. What does it mean?
The CNN+ streaming service is shutting down less than a month after it launched. We'll look at why.
President Biden is pledging more help for Ukraine, as Russia test fires a new intercontinental ballistic missile.
This Earth Day, a status update on where things stand when it comes to climate change and our planet. And we'll tell you how you can do your part and which places in the US are considered "climate havens."
A new timeline for Covid vaccines for kids under the age of 5: Why you might have to wait longer.
Elon Musk says he's got the money lined up to fund his Twitter bid.
And as always, what we're watching, reading and eating this weekend.
Florida's Republican-led legislature voted to revoke Disney World's designation as a special tax district. Created back in 1967, the Reedy Creek Improvement District has enabled Disney to "self-govern" its 25,000-acre theme park complex, with the power to build roads, levy tax, operate its own fire department, sewer services, etc. for more than 50 years ~ NY Times
The Backstory: The move is retaliation by Gov. Ron Desantis after Disney came out against Florida's new Parental Rights in Education law, dubbed by opponents as the "Don't Say Gay" law. The legislation bans discussion about sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida classrooms from kindergarten until 3rd grade.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek originally stayed quiet about the bill, but got tons of backlash from employees. Once the law officially passed, Disney said it would push to have it repealed and would pause all political donations in the state. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said Disney's criticism "crossed the line."
"What has changed is by trying to bring California values to Florida, Floridians said 'alright, you're a guest in our state, maybe you don't deserve these special privileges anymore.'" - Florida State Republican Representative Randy Fine. He noted that Disney’s competition--Universal, SeaWorld and Legoland--do not have special districts to operate in.
What Opponents Said: Democratic State Senator Loranne Ausley said: “We are adding insult to injury by voting on something today that was proposed yesterday going after a private business that has literally made our state what it is, all because they have taken a position that the governor disagrees with.”
How did Disney originally land this benefit? It was established by the Florida legislature in the 1960s so Disney could develop the infrastructure for Walt Disney World at no cost to Florida taxpayers AND do so with little oversight. Disney became the largest single-site employer of Florida residents and helped the Orlando area become one of the largest hubs for tourism in the nation. ~CNBC
What's Next: The law doesn’t take effect until June 2023, giving the state and local governments more than a year to figure out how to manage and pay for the huge property’s public services, such as road maintenance and sewage treatment. Disney has issued $1 billion in bonds and Florida law currently says that if a special tax district is dissolved, the responsibility to pay those bonds is taken on by local governments. ~Newsweek
Mountain Disneyland? The legislation is inspiring other state leaders, including Colorado Governor Jared Polis, to try to sway Disney to move their amusement park. Though I wouldn't count on Mickey and Minnie building a new house anytime soon.
CNN+ is shutting down on April 30, just one month after its launch. This is one of the first big decisions by Warner Bros. Discovery, which completed its merger just two weeks ago and now runs CNN, among other networks. The company's new CEO, David Zaslav, was reportedly never a fan of the project and the fact that it launched just weeks before the merger was complete. ~ Variety
The Strategy: Warner Bros. Discovery is looking to build one massive combined streaming service, which would include HBO Max and Discovery Plus. For that reason, "CNN Plus likely makes more sense as a feature than a standalone service." ~Verge
Chris Licht, the incoming CEO of CNN, released a statement echoing that sentiment: "In a complex streaming market, consumers want simplicity and an all-in service, which provides a better experience and more value than stand-alone offerings.” He added during a meeting with hundreds of employees that this was a "uniquely shitty situation." ~Daily Beast
CNN+ offered lifestyle and documentary-style programming featuring hosts like Chris Wallace, Scott Galloway, Eva Longoria and Alison Roman--as opposed to CNN's traditional breaking news shows--for $5.99 a month. Analysts are comparing the failed service to other short-lived streaming flops like Quibi and Verizon's Go90 service.
The Employees: CNN+ employees will be paid and receive benefits for the next 90 days and can explore other positions around the company. At the end of that period, departing CNN+ employees will receive a minimum of six-month severance (depending on length of service at CNN).”
By The Numbers: CNN had already reportedly spent between $100-300 million on CNN+, and had plans to spend about $1 billion over the next few years. As for subscribers, Axios reported that only about 150,000 people had signed up for the service, while CNBC reported that fewer than 10,000 people were using it on a daily basis.
Bottom line: CNN executives went ahead with a hugely expensive launch without the approval of their new bosses, who had a different business strategy. And they also decided to offer a paid product that didn't adhere to their core brand--breaking news and analysis--to consumers already drowning in paid streaming services.
President Biden pledged another $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine, including heavy artillery weapons, tactical drones, howitzers and ammunition. He said additional aid will require Congressional approval, and that he plans to ask Congress for more money next week. ~ NPR
Support Continues: The US has already provided more than $2.5 billion in military assistance and $1 billion in economic assistance.
With the war now entering its third month, Biden said, "Putin is banking on us losing interest. Once again, we're going to prove him wrong."
Refugee Help: President Biden also announced a new program that would allow the US to accept tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees. Beginning Monday, American individuals and companies can apply to the Department of Homeland Security to sponsor Ukrainian citizens. There is no limit on how many Ukrainians a person or entity can sponsor. ~ABC News
He said/He said: Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin says Russia is now in control of the strategically important port city of Mariupol. President Biden and Ukrainian officials say that's not true. That also comes as there is new evidence the Russians are digging mass graves to try to cover up war crimes in the city. ~Washington Post
Warning Shots: Russia tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile this week, which Putin says "would give the U.S. and its allies something to think about." ~ Bloomberg
In Case You Missed It: I spoke to CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward this week for our premium edition. She discussed how this war might finally come to an end, why Ukrainians have defied expectations, how she is covering war crimes and why so many residents have decided NOT to evacuate. We also delved into how she manages fear and emotion in the war zone. It was a fascinating conversation. Full Interview
On this Earth Day, we wanted to get a status update on where things stand in terms of the environment. Bottom line: the world is running out of time to prevent the worst effects of climate change-- massive floods, droughts, wildfires and storms.
A recent report from the UN says that countries must drastically speed up efforts to cut emissions from coal, oil and natural gas in order to limit global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) by the end of this decade.
Humans have already heated the planet by an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius since the 19th century. Scientists say the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will likely be out of reach within 8 years (by 2030). After that, the dangers to the planet--including the food supply and temperature extremes--grow considerably. ~ NY Times
Glimmer of Hope: Thanks to many countries' ambitious climate policies, the rate at which fossil fuel emissions are growing has slowed down a bit in the past decade: "Humanity now has a much better shot at avoiding some of the worst-case global warming scenarios once widely feared by scientists." ~NY Times
Here is a helpful guide for what you can do to help combat climate change. Yes, there are options beyond becoming a vegetarian or installing solar panels. ~VOX
Climate Havens: Still, many Americans are living in areas that have precarious climate threats. The answer for some: move to a "climate haven." According to CNBC, climate havens or climate destinations are located in areas that will likely avoid the worst effects of natural disasters. Here's a look at some of those cities. ~CNBC
Elon Musk said he has lined up $46.5 billion to fund his bid for Twitter, answering the biggest question that had loomed over his takeover offer. In a regulatory filing, Musk also said he was considering taking his offer straight to Twitter shareholders, bypassing a board that appears dug in. Twitter said Thursday it was reviewing the newly detailed proposal. (WSJ)
The Biden administration may now wait until as late as June to authorize a coronavirus vaccine for the nation’s youngest children as it awaits both Moderna and Pfizer's options. The move marks yet another delay in the government’s effort to vaccinate children under the age of five. They had hoped to have a vaccine approved by January, but scientific setbacks and broader practical concerns within the FDA have slowed progress. (Politico)
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Congress may continue excluding residents of Puerto Rico from a federal program that aids low-income elderly, disabled and blind people. The decision was 8 to 1, the lone dissenter being Justice Sonia Sotomayor, whose parents were born on the island. (Washington Post)
The U.S. Postal Service currently considers a first-class package to be late if it's delivered more than three days after it was sent. But under new standards that take effect next month, more than 30% of first-class packages will be seen as delivered on time if they arrive within four or five days. (NPR)
In Feb. 2022, Elizabeth became the first British monarch to serve 70 years on the throne. The Barbie's gown is inspired by one of the queen's most iconic looks. The collectible doll wears an ivory gown, blue riband with decorations of order and a stunning tiara based on Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara. (USA Today)
⭐️ Premium Content: Enjoying Mo News? Want access to newsmaker interviews, extra editions every week, additional content in an exclusive Facebook group and an opportunity to ask me questions directly? Sign Up for our premium newsletter subscription. It will help us grow the newsletter and continue to expand to multiple platforms.