🌊 #SaltBaeGate

New mineral just dropped, Pilot adopts abandoned pup, and Most popular Wraps of 2022, Pt. 1

Neil deGrasse Tyson really put his astrophysicist mind to work this weekend. While pivotal questions like "What is the meaning of quantum entanglement?" and "How much of our universe is dark matter?" remain unanswered, Tyson tweeted this, "In case you were wondering, for Santa, in a single 24-hr Earth-night, to deliver presents to all those who celebrate Christmas, he must visit 25,000 homes per second."

As scientists worldwide lay their Santa hats to rest with droopy eyes, we would like to say that we hope you had a great Christmas, Hanukkah, or just plain weekend!

In today's edition:

  • New mineral just dropped

  • Pilot adopts abandoned pup

  • Most popular Wraps of 2022, Pt. 1

🔑 Key Stories

Space Minerals Found on Earth

Scientists identified 2 minerals on a meteorite that had never been seen on Earth

  • The meteorite — a solid piece of debris from space — was discovered in Somalia in 2020. It was the 9th-largest ever discovered, and weighed 15 tons

  • Researchers from Canada’s University of Alberta took a slice of the space rock and ran it under a microscope. They were unable to identify 2 parts of the rock; this November, the International Mineralogical Association confirmed that the unidentifiable parts were minerals that had never been seen before

  • Rocks are made up of 1 or more minerals

Dig Deeper

  • Although the substances had previously been synthesized in a lab, they aren't officially called a "mineral" or named until they're discovered in nature. The meteorite is reportedly now for sale in China

China's Covid-19 Explosion

China dropped many Covid-19 restrictions amid a historic case surge

Dig Deeper

Deadly Blizzard Blasts Buffalo

A blizzard in Buffalo, NY killed 27+ people

  • Over the weekend, Buffalo received ~4 feet of snow, with temperatures near 0ºF and 70+ MPH winds

  • Officials have said 14 of the deceased were found outside; 3 had heart attacks while removing snow; 3 were found in vehicles; 4 were in homes without heat; and 3 died because of delayed emergency services

  • Elsewhere in the US, winter storms killed 13+ over the weekend

  • 3,000+ US flights were canceled on both Sunday and Monday

Dig Deeper

Fifa Investigates Salt Bae

FIFA is investigating how Salt Bae accessed the pitch after the World Cup championship

  • Salt Bae — a Turkish celebrity chef whose real name is Nusret Gökçe — was celebrating on the field with Argentina’s players and following some around

  • He also held the World Cup trophy, which FIFA says only a “very select group of people,” including former champions and heads of state, can do

  • FIFA said it “has been establishing how individuals gained undue access to the pitch after the closing ceremony.” The U.S. Open Cup, a major US soccer competition, also banned Bae from its 2023 final

Dig Deeper

  • Salt Bae owns a luxury steakhouse chain. His method for preparing and salting meat went viral in 2017, propelling him to international fame and earning him his nickname

Traveling in the New Year?

Sponsored by Faye

If you're traveling for the holidays, make sure Faye is on board.

  • Faye is custom travel insurance. On their website, it takes less than a minute to get a custom quote covering all aspects of your trip. You can even file claims digitally in the Faye app for fast reimbursement

  • It's all covered: Whether your plans change before leaving or you experience in-trip hiccups like medical emergencies, lost luggage or flight delays, Faye takes care of travelers with real-time, 24/7 customer support

  • Plus, the easy-to-use app provides flight alerts, weather updates, COVID-19 destination info, and more

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Economy minus: Per FlightAware, airlines have canceled 17,000+ flights since Wednesday

  • See *this* coming? A University of Idaho professor sued a self-proclaimed psychic on TikTok for defamation, after he linked her to the murders of 4 students

  • Beast Begins: Legendary film composer Hans Zimmer scored a video of Mr. Beast in Antarctica. Beast is most popular YouTuber

Wildcard

  • Tesla-ing my spirit: A Tesla owner was reportedly unable to drive to his Christmas destination after Tesla superchargers failed to work in the cold weather

  • Hills are alive: Austrian authorities found all the skiers that went missing after an avalanche swept across the slopes. 10 skiers had been feared buried

  • Feliz Navi-dog: A United Airlines pilot adopted a dog that a traveler had left at San Francisco International Airport this fall

👇🏻 What do you think?

Today's Poll

Are New Year's resolutions valuable?

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Today's Question:

What is something you’re leaving in 2022?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

Ukraine Church

This week, we're featuring our 4 most popular Roca Wraps of the year. Wrap 1 is a dispatch from Ukraine this February. Enjoy!

"Is it peaceful there?” I asked the truck driver I was riding with in Slovakia to the Ukrainian border.

“Peaceful? How can it be peaceful?” He returned to the thought a minute later: “It can’t be peaceful until Putin is dead.”

That was Vasya, a Ukrainian who was picking up his 5th humanitarian shipment from Slovakia in 5 days. “For those of us who can’t fight, we must help in other ways,” he explained. I had waved him down on the Slovak highway asking for a ride to the border where I wanted to meet more refugees. When he told me he was going into Ukraine, just over the border, I couldn’t resist. I asked if I could tag along for the day, then exit the country with him at night.

I ended up staying 4 days and going far deeper into the country than I planned.

I had to go without Vasya, though, because after 3 hours of waiting, Slovak customs rejected his truck for lack of an itemized list of the goods on board. A border guard told me I could ask any other driver for a lift, “but you really shouldn’t. It’s not safe.”

I knocked on the doors of 4 or 5 vehicles before I met Ivan, who was transporting a moving van of mattresses, food, and other humanitarian goods. I told him I was an American journalist; he had a daughter in America. He’d be happy to take me, he said. Then as we waited at customs, he told me he’d be going 100km past the border. “Don’t worry,” he said in Russian, “you can stay with my family for a day, 2, 3 — however long you want.” I insisted I had to go back to the border that night. I was worried about getting trapped in a conflict. “As you wish!” he said.

From where we were headed, the nearest war activity had been a rocket attack about 200 miles away on the first day of the war. Since then, nothing had happened for 100+ miles further. Yet it was a bit nerve racking, mainly because as an independent journalist, if the war came to us I would be stuck. Border waits were days-long.

The first city over the border was Uzhorod. Normally home to 110,000 people, displaced Ukrainians have caused its population to swell. The main sign of anything being off was how lively it was: Provincial Ukrainian cities are normally quiet and empty seeming. These streets were packed, though, with people holding hands out on the street, walking their dogs, just living normally. “See, everything is normal here,” Ivan said, gesturing at the streets.

I did run into one issue with an AK-47-toting soldier when I tried to discreetly take a picture of a line of refugees at the border. He waved us over and ran up screaming. “What are you doing? Delete that! Delete that!”

We continued on, weaving through the Carpathian mountains through villages and towns. After 2 hours or so, we reached our destination – Khust, a town of 25,000 people. We first stopped at the church and unloaded our shipment – mattresses, rice, canned meats, baby food, clothes. A dozen beds had replaced pews in the main room of the church. There were currently 9 displaced Ukrainians staying there.

Unlike the refugees I met in Slovakia and Poland, this group included men, whom the Ukrainian government has forbidden from leaving the country. One guy, Vlad, was about my age and spoke good English. He told me that he had run a music studio in Kyiv. He fled before he could bring his gear. Other young men told me similar stories. Some were there with families; others were alone after their families had fled abroad.

There were volunteers at the church, mostly locals who were members there. One man, Roman, had arrived in Khust 8 years ago after being displaced by the war against separatists in Ukraine’s east. “I can’t explain to you the generosity of the people here,” he told me, tears in his eyes. He said the church community had saved his family, which has since made the town their home: “When I arrived here, I was like a drug addict. You know, from the adrenaline, from the shootings, the explosions.”

The generosity became evident while I was there. By the time I left, there were 30 people staying at the church and dozens more at the homes of people in the community.

It was dark when we arrived at Ivan’s, so I decided to stay another night. Ivan’s family welcomed me at the door: His wife Nina, his son Sergei, his other son Vlad; Vlad’s wife Dvora and their daughter Sarah; and Yurii, a family friend who had fled from his city in northern Ukraine and come to Khust after sending his family abroad.

They greeted me with a bowl of soup, bread, and tea. “Make yourself at home,” they said, “and tell your parents not to worry."

🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

I prefer…

Christmas Eve 46.78%

Christmas Day 53.22%

Yesterday's Question:

Just 20 Qs!

🧠 Final Thoughts

We hope you all had wonderful Christmas weekends. To our readers in Buffalo: We hope you are all okay. Just as we root for the Bills, we root for all of Buffalo!

Max and Max