World leaders, friends and family of Madeleine Albright came together to celebrate the life of the nation’s first woman secretary of state. A history-making Black woman astronaut is headed to the International Space Station. And a city in Texas is embracing bitcoin with a mine of its very own.
👋 Laura here, it’s Wednesday, here’s all the news you need to know.
But first, later, gator? 🐊 Say it ain’t so. According to a new study, one-fifth of all reptile species are under threat of extinction.
The MLB’s major baseball problem
why is everybody furious about MLB’s baseballs? There’s only one thing certain about the baseballs trotted out through nearly one month of Major League Baseball games this season. Everybody hates them. Hitters hate them: With offense once again reaching historic lows, sluggers insist the MLB is still using two balls and overcorrecting for the juiced-ball season of 2019. Pitchers hate them: With “sticky substances” banned and frigid weather from coast to coast, gripping the newer, slicker ball has proven challenging and at times dangerous. Just ask the New York Mets: All-Stars Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso were struck in the face by pitches two games into the season (their protective flaps preventing serious injury) and Alonso was hit again, up and in, on Tuesday night, leading pitcher Chris Bassitt to rail against the inconsistencies and unreliabilities of MLB’s most essential product. More about what to make of it all.
‘Her story was America’s story’
On Wednesday, the nation’s most powerful Democrats for the past quarter-century, world leaders, friends and family of Albright celebrated the life of the nation’s first woman secretary of state, who arrived in the US as a young girl from war-torn Czechoslovakia before becoming a trailblazing diplomat and icon. “In the 20th and 21st century, freedom had no greater champion than Madeleine Korbel Albright,” said President Joe Biden, eulogizing Albright at her funeral at Washington National Cathedral. “Madeline understood her story was America’s story,” Biden said. More than 1,400 people, each wearing face masks at the request of the Albright family, packed the cathedral. Biden sat in the front row next to Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and Al Gore. Albright died on March 23 at 84 years old after a fight with cancer, leaving a legacy as a defender of democracy, human rights and peace.
What everyone’s talking about
The Short List is free, but several stories we link to are subscriber-only. Consider supporting our journalism and become a USA TODAY digital subscriber today.
Silenced by Putin
During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rise to power and fortune, he and his associates are suspected of silencing some of those who raised questions about the source of his apparent wealth. Potentially dozens of people have been killed or survived poisonings and other assassination attempts or have had their investigations blocked or shut down, according to USA TODAY interviews and a review of documents and reports. Untold numbers of others have long looked the other way for fear of similar retribution. Read more.
👉 News from Ukraine: Russia imposed sanctions on 287 British lawmakers, claiming they “demonize” Russia. Moscow cuts off gas to Poland, Bulgaria. Wednesday’s latest updates.
NASA crew headed to space station with a history-maker aboard
Jessica Watkins made history on Wednesday by becoming the first Black woman launched into space for an extended mission on the International Space Station. Watkins, 33, and three other astronauts rocketed into space from the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, at 3:52 am EDT. The assignment meant she would be the first Black woman to join a space station crew for scientific research, station maintenance, training and more over a six-month period. Wednesday’s flight sent NASA’s Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren and the European Space Agency’s Samantha Cristoforetti to orbit, and they’re expected to dock at the space station by Wednesday evening if schedules hold.
Fort Worth becomes first city to mine crypto
In a project Mayor Mattie Parker hopes will catch on across the nation, Fort Worth, Texas, will become the first city government in the United States to mine bitcoin. The small-scale pilot project, which was approved unanimously by a city council vote, will be primarily experimental while determining whether to dedicate significant funding. Bitcoin operates on a proof-of-work mining model, with miners around the world running high-powered computers to create new bitcoin and validate transactions. Fort Worth will have a small but mighty three-rig mine that will require professional-grade equipment, technical savviness and electricity. Bitcoin mining has major potential in the US, with a worldwide void after the Chinese government banned cryptocurrency mining in June 2021.
A break from the news
This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Want this news roundup in your inbox every night? Sign up for The Short List newsletter here.