Russian Pullback, Pluto's Ice Volcanoes, and the Wrong Will Smith Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Wednesday, March 30, and we're covering a step forward toward a cease-fire in Ukraine, a discovery on Pluto, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].



Russia Pulls Back

Russia said yesterday it would scale back military activity around the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv amid ongoing cease-fire talks. The talks, mediated by NATO-member Turkey in Istanbul, were the first face-to-face discussions in more than two weeks. If Russia follows through on the pledge, it would mark the biggest step toward peace during the monthlong conflict.


Analysts noted Russian forces have been stymied outside several Ukrainian cities for weeks, with Ukrainian troops retaking a number of areas outside Kyiv in recent days. Russian officials over the weekend suggested a shift in focus to the contested eastern Donbas region (see 101).


Separately, reports suggested Russian Roman Abramovich and two Ukrainian negotiators suffered symptoms of poisoning following early rounds of talks. The claims have not been corroborated. 


Almost 4 million Ukrainians have fled the country amid the fighting. See a deep dive visualization of the rapidly escalating refugee crisis. 

Ex-Honduran President Extradited

Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández will face extradition to the US over drug trafficking charges after Honduras' top court upheld the extradition yesterday. US prosecutors allege Hernández took bribes in exchange for protecting drug traffickers and facilitating shipments of more than 1 million pounds of cocaine to the US since 2004. He has denied any involvement. 


Hernández will likely stand trial in the US on charges of drug trafficking, using weapons for drug trafficking, and conspiracy to use weapons in drug trafficking. He faces a minimum sentence of 40 years on each of the three charges.


His brother, Juan Antonio "Tony" Hernández, was sentenced to life in a US prison last year after being convicted of importing more than 407,000 pounds of cocaine in 2019. Geovanny Fuentes Ramírez, another convicted cocaine trafficker, also implicated the former president earlier this year.


The former president is the first Latin American leader to face extradition to the US on drug trafficking charges. See other world leaders who have faced trials here.

Pluto's Ice Volcanoes 

The previously mysterious peaks and valleys characterizing the surface of Pluto are likely recently active ice volcanoes, according to a new study. The conclusion was drawn from images sent back from NASA's New Horizons space probe, which flew past the dwarf planet nearly seven years ago (see current location).  


Analysis suggests Pluto's core was warm enough to sustain an underground liquid reservoir much more recently than previously believed. Scientists say rather than eruptions, the geologic features oozed a slushy mixture, which spread and formed glacial fields across part of Pluto's surface. The discovery left researchers puzzled, as current understanding of the dwarf planet suggests it should have lost its internal heat early in its evolution. 


Check out an interactive visualization of Pluto here.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Queen Elizabeth II, in her first public appearance in five months, attends memorial service for her late husband, Prince Philip (More)


> NFL alters postseason rules, allowing both teams to have possession of the ball in overtime (More) | NFL to require teams to hire female or minority coaches beginning with 2022 season (More)


> US men's national soccer team looks to qualify for 2022 World Cup tonight (9 pm ET) in matchup with Costa Rica (More) | Boston Pride tops Connecticut Whale to win second straight Premier Hockey Federation (women's pro hockey) title (More)

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Science & Technology

> Study suggests 40% of horseshoe bat species in Asia have not been identified yet; may provide large reservoir for previously undiscovered animal-to-human viruses (More)


> Manufacturing time to produce engineered immune cells for cancer immunotherapy shortened to one day, down from two weeks, with new technique (More) | How CAR-T works (More, w/video)


> Ancient reptilian fossil may represent a transitional species between land vertebrates and snakes; the 300-million-year-old specimen had legs, but no arms (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets up (S&P 500 +1.2%, Dow +1.0%, Nasdaq +1.8%) for fourth consecutive day as investors weigh Ukraine talks (More) | Shares of free stock trading service Robinhood up 24% as company extends trading window by four hours (More)


> Record high 4.4 million Americans voluntarily left their jobs in February; job openings of 11.3 million just below December 2021 record, per the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report (More)


> Media measurement giant Nielsen agrees to $16B takeover from private equity firms, after turning down a $15B bid last week (More) | Goldman Sachs to acquire robo-adviser NextCapital for undisclosed sum (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> US health officials to make available second COVID-19 booster shot for those aged 50 and older (More) | BA.2 omicron variant becomes dominant strain in the US; see variant overview (More


> President Joe Biden signs Emmett Till anti-lynching bill into law, designating such killings as a federal hate crime (More)


> Gunman kills five in mass shooting in city east of Tel Aviv, Israel, police identify suspect as 27-year-old Palestinian male; shooting comes one day after Israel concluded historic summit with four Arab countries (More)



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Clickbait: Y'all got the wrong Will Smith.


Historybook: Vincent van Gogh born (1853); Treaty of Paris ends Crimean War (1856); HBD Celine Dion (1968); President Ronald Reagan survives assassination attempt (1981); RIP American musician Bill Withers (2020).


"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together."

- Vincent van Gogh

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