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Good morning. It's Saturday, May 11, and in this weekend edition, we're covering an extreme solar storm hitting Earth, a new front in the Russia-Ukraine war, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.


PS—We wish our readers a happy Mother's Day tomorrow!


You share. We listen. As always, send us feedback at [email protected].

One Big Headline

Geomagnetic Storm

An extreme G5 geomagnetic storm reached Earth last night, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The G5 storm is the strongest (see scale) to hit Earth since October 2003. The storm triggered the aurora borealis, commonly known as the northern lights, in many parts of the US and around the world (see photos). Geomagnetic conditions could persist through this weekend and potentially disrupt some telecommunications and power grids.


A geomagnetic storm is a temporary disturbance to Earth's magnetosphere (the region of the planet dominated by its magnetic field) caused by solar flares and coronal mass ejections. Solar flares are bursts of radiation coming from sunspots, while coronal mass ejections are bursts of plasma and magnetic field lines coming from the sun's corona (see overview). NOAA has observed a series of solar flares and coronal mass ejections since Wednesday. This week's solar flares have been associated with a sunspot cluster that is 17 times the diameter of the Earth; the Earth's diameter is roughly 7,926 miles. 


An average of four G5 geomagnetic storms occur every solar cycle—the 11-year cycle of the sun's magnetic field. The current solar cycle began in December 2019.

Quick Hits

Russia attacks Ukraine's Kharkiv region, opening up new front.

Russian forces on Friday launched a ground operation in the second-largest city in Ukraine and targeted the northeastern area with shelling and aerial strikes. Ukraine said its forces had repelled Russia's attacks and deployed reserve units along the front, where fighting is ongoing. Until now, fighting was primarily centered in Ukraine's southern and eastern regions. See war updates here


UN General Assembly backs bid for Palestinian membership. 

The 193-member body voted 143-9, with 25 abstentions, to approve a resolution recognizing Palestine as qualified to join the United Nations. The resolution does not grant full membership and is largely symbolic. Under UN rules, the more exclusive UN Security Council (see overview) would need to back new membership for final approval. The US, which is part of the UN Security Council, was among the nine UN General Assembly members to vote against the resolution (see why).  


Appeals court upholds Steve Bannon's contempt of Congress conviction.

Bannon was sentenced to four months in prison in 2022 but had been allowed to remain free until the appeals process concluded. He was convicted of contempt of Congress for ignoring a deposition request and for refusing to hand over documents related to former President Donald Trump's alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Bannon is one of two former Trump advisers convicted of contempt of Congress; Peter Navarro began serving his four-month sentence in March. 


Novavax shares double on Sanofi deal to commercialize COVID-19 vaccine. 

Biotechnology firm Novavax announced Friday it has struck a $1.2B licensing deal with French drugmaker Sanofi. Under the deal, Sanofi will have a nearly 5% stake in Novavax and would be able to use Novavax's COVID-19 shot and vaccine technology to develop a combined vaccine that targets both the flu and COVID-19. Shares of Novavax closed up 98% Friday.


UK exits technical recession as economy grows faster than expected.

Britain's gross domestic product—the total value of goods and services produced—rose 0.6% in the first quarter of 2024, according to latest government data. The figure marks the strongest growth since a 1.5% increase in the fourth quarter of 2021 (see chart). The UK economy had shrunk in the previous two quarters in 2023, signaling a technical recession.  


World's largest carbon capture facility begins operating in Iceland.

Swiss startup Climeworks opened a carbon capture and storage facility, dubbed "mammoth," this week. The facility, situated on a dormant volcano in Hellisheidi, Iceland, aims to remove 36,000 metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere annually. Mammoth works similarly to an air filter, using fans to pull carbon dioxide from the air. The carbon dioxide is eventually dissolved in water and pumped into the ground. See an overview on carbon capture here.

In partnership with Pendulum

Why Is Everyone Talking About GLP-1?


If you’re like us, you struggle with cravings for sweets, salty snacks, and carbs. Resisting these urges is a challenge, but health experts may have finally found a solution.


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Wisconsin eighth-grader honored for grabbing the wheel of a school bus after the driver lost consciousness. (More)


Unexpected 911 call leads to Boston police officers appearing at the caller's house with special treats for his birthday. (More, w/video)


A 100-year-old veteran and former pilot finally receives his college diploma. (More)


Texas postal worker discovers undelivered letters from a World War II veteran, personally travels to Arkansas to return the letters to the veteran's family. (More


... and an Arkansas family that won a new truck through a fundraiser decides to gift the truck to a graduating high school senior. (More

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Today, we're sharing a story from reader Talia S. from Westfield, Massachusetts.


"Last week on a 4+ hour flight from Hartford to Denver, a stranger voluntarily switched seats with my fiancé so we could sit next to each other. She gave up her window seat for a middle seat without even thinking about it. I was 11 weeks pregnant and extremely nauseous. Being able to sit next to my fiancé made the flight bearable and her unexpected kind gesture truly warmed my heart. The same woman found my fiancé's wallet in his former seat and returned it."


What act(s) of kindness did you experience this week? Tell us here.



> High-end fitness chain Equinox launches $40,000-per-year membership plan

> New York City has more millionaires than any city in the world, with one in every 24 residents, or nearly 350,000 people, being millionaires



> Wrinkle the duck has run four marathons

Why most maple syrup bottles have a tiny handle

> Ranking the greatest diss tracks of all time

> Portland artist creates cozy miniature fireplace mugs.

> A woman is found living inside a grocery store's rooftop sign.



> Why America rarely uses medications for overdrinking



Meet the cochineal: the bug you didn't know you were eating

> Why does a forest in the middle of Uruguay look like a fingerprint

Cosmic Crisps, Ruby Roman Grapes, and Golden Kiwis: How eight fruits from around the world were designed and bred to be perfect.


Long Read 

> The inside story of the first untethered spacewalk in 1984

> How Sicily's plan to sell homes for one euro helped revive the island


Most Clicked This Week: The most common last name in every country.


Historybook: Composer and songwriter Irving Berlin born (1888); Salvador Dalí born (1904); Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is founded (1927); Bob Marley dies (1981); Deep Blue becomes the first computer to defeat a world champion in chess (1997).

"The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively."

- Bob Marley

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