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  • 🌊 47 Reasons Why Vivek Just Bought BuzzFeed

🌊 47 Reasons Why Vivek Just Bought BuzzFeed

Plus: Closing arguments heard in Trump case

“Press 1 for homicide, 2 for robbery…”

RoboCop could be coming soon to a city near you. In the latest robo-fication of city police forces, Denver announced that drones will soon be answering 911 calls. The announcement follows the Mile High City’s decision to slash its police funding by $8.4M.

Well, I thought robo service at airlines was bad enough. Can you imagine being cornered in your house and hearing “Hi, please listen closely to the following menu…”? Can they at least make its voice sound like Liam Neeson?

💰 Vivek buys BuzzFeed

🤖 Musk's new AI company raises $6B

🤿 Another submersible to the Titanic?

–Max and Max


Vivek Bolsters BuzzFeed Stake

Vivek Ramaswamy bought 8.3% of BuzzFeed

  • Last week, Ramaswamy – a successful biotech entrepreneur who ran on an anti-woke platform for this year’s Republican presidential nomination – disclosed that he had acquired 2.7M BuzzFeed shares, bringing his stake in the company to 8.3%

  • On Tuesday, Ramaswamy accused BuzzFeed of driving public distrust in media and called on it to “[admit] past journalistic failures and redefine BuzzFeed’s brand” by hiring voices like Tucker Carlson

  • BuzzFeed’s CEO said Vivek doesn’t understand the company’s business, values, or audience

Dig Deeper

  • “While your competitors focus on racial and gender diversity in the boardroom, you can become the first media company to expressly select for a diversity of viewpoints in your ranks,” Ramasawamy wrote

  • A BuzzFeed spokesperson said the company is “always open to hearing ideas from our shareholders” but “purposely structured to protect its editorial integrity”


Closing Arguments

Lawyers presented closing arguments in Donald Trump’s New York “hush money” trial

  • The defense used its time to cast doubt on the testimony of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and the prosecution’s star witness. Trump’s lawyer called Cohen the “MVP of liars,” citing his past conviction for lying under oath

  • For its part, the prosecution restated its core argument: That Trump falsified business records for the purpose of interfering in the 2016 election

  • The jury will now deliberate. It is unclear how long that will take

Dig Deeper

  • “The defendant’s primary concern was not his family but the election,” a prosecutor argued, countering Trump’s position that he paid for Daniel’s silence to protect his family from her claims

  • If the jurors don't reach a unanimous verdict, the jury would be classified as "hung," which usually leads to a retrial


More Sweat, Less Problems

Memorial Day typically marks the start of the unofficial summer season (at least for us US-based Roca Readers)

  • As we head into summer, we’re trying to make sure we’re properly hydrated to enjoy the outside – and keep the hangovers at bay

  • The “drink eight 8-oz glasses of water per day” rule seems to have originated with Irwin Stillman, a doctor from the 1960s

  • But does science today support this target? Not at all! Rules like these completely neglect the other pillar of hydration: Electrolytes

Dig Deeper

  • That’s why we stocked up on LMNT’s packets for the holiday weekend

  • Each one has the essential electrolytes you need to stay hydrated and healthy each day

  • LMNT is also throwing in a free 8-count sample pack for any Roca reader on their next drink mix order


xAI Raised $6B

xAI, Elon Musk’s AI company, disclosed a $6B fundraise

  • Musk – who co-founded OpenAI in 2015 before leaving the company in 2018 – launched xAI a year ago to rival existing AI companies that he has accused of being overly focused on profits and political-correctness

  • This weekend, xAI disclosed that it had raised $6B, valuing the company at $24B. The $6B figure marks one of the largest-ever investments for such a young startup. For comparison, Anthropic, a leading AI company, has raised $8B total; OpenAI has raised $13B

Dig Deeper

  • The money came from a group of Middle Eastern and Silicon Valley investors who regularly back Musk, including his acquisition of Twitter

  • xAI said it will use the funds to “take xAI’s first products to market, build advanced infrastructure, and accelerate the research and development of future technologies”

  • It’s racing to do so against OpenAI/Microsoft, Google, Meta, and a number of other billion-dollar startups


Tanks in Rafah

Israeli armored vehicles entered central Rafah, eyewitnesses said, marking the furthest advance of Israeli troops into the city yet

  • Israeli military vehicles were spotted in Rafah’s downtown, signifying an escalation of its offensive on the city. Israel troops also now control much of the Philadelphi Corridor, a strip of land separating Gaza from Egypt

  • Also Tuesday, Palestinian officials claimed that Israeli tanks fired on tents in an evacuation zone, killing 21. Israel firmly denied those reports, saying its military “did not strike in the humanitarian area”

Dig Deeper

  • Meanwhile, Israel’s military is investigating a fire on Sunday that killed 45+ Palestinians in a different evacuation zone

  • Israel previously acknowledged that it conducted an airstrike against Hamas officials in the area, and Israel’s prime minister called the civilian deaths a “tragic mistake”

  • However, a military spokesperson walked back some of Israel’s responsibility, saying, “Our munition alone could not have ignited a fire of this size.” He said “another something” caused the fire, suggesting it may have been an ammunition depot

Some Quick Stories for the Office

🛫 The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened 2.95M people on Friday, breaking last November’s single-day record of 2.91M

🌊 Part of a pier constructed by the US military off the coast of Gaza broke off due to heavy seas, the Pentagon said. ​​“Sections of the pier need rebuilding and repairing,” a spokesperson said, which will take over a week

🎤 Following months of campus protests, Harvard said it will refrain from taking official stances on issues that don’t affect its “core functions”

🏛️ The White House said it doesn’t support sanctioning the International Criminal Court over its prosecutor’s decision to seek a warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggested the White House would cooperate with Congress to do so; the new statement indicates it is now walking that back

🍋 Chinese leader Xi Jinping ordered China’s government to prioritize “the employment of college graduates and other youth groups.” Last June, China reported that the unemployment rate for those aged 16-24 was 21%; the government has since stopped reporting the stat. Xi’s comments contrasted with those from last year, when he told recent graduates to “eat bitterness,” an expression meaning endure hardship

⚔️ Researchers announced they found charcoal sketches, likely made by a child, of gladiators among Pompeii’s ruins. Excavations of Pompeii – a Roman town buried under volcanic ash in 79 AD – are still ongoing


We founded RocaNews because we wanted news companies to give us just the facts – not tell us what to think. That inspires us to do the “Roca Votes” story each week, in which we summarize a controversial topic and see how Roca Nation feels about it.

This week’s question: What’s a question we should ask the Roca audience?

What is the meaning of life?

Joi from Pennsylvania

Are you excited for a world with artificial intelligence? Why are we allowing it if most seem terrified of it?

Noah from Brooklyn

What gives you the most hope for society? In a world where we read news that is often so dark and twisted, I think we lose sight of the good happening, too.

Max from Illinois

Some Quick Stories for Happy Hour

☠️ OceanGate 2.0? Larry Connor, a luxury real estate billionaire from Ohio, plans to take a deep-sea submersible to Titanic depths to prove the industry’s safety

🪨 RIP, “Serial Slingshot Shooter”: Police reported the arrest of an 81-year-old man who investigators say terrorized a southern California neighborhood for years with a slingshot

Holed out: Lexi Thompson, a 29-year-old star in women’s professional golf, announced her retirement from full-time competition on the LPGA Tour after this season

✈️ Flight and a show: A naked “disruptive passenger” aboard a Virgin Australia flight reportedly ran through the aisle and knocked a crew member to the floor, forcing the plane to turn back to Perth

🙏 L: Mike Tyson, 57, provided a health update after his “medical event” on a Miami-to-Los Angeles flight. “Now feeling 100% even though I don’t need to be to beat Jake Paul,” Tyson posted on X

Revolution From Above

After toppling Mohammed Mosaddegh in 1953, the Shah needed to transform his country.

Iran remained impoverished: More than 80% of Iranians were illiterate villagers who worked on massive estates owned by some 1,000 landowners.

Deeply conservative Islamic leaders controlled much of the country, while communism was popular in the cities. Amid that backdrop, the Shah sought to fend off Islamism and communism and become a modernizing king. He viewed his job as “saving” Iran.

Yet to do so, he consolidated power, restricted democracy, and deployed secret police, known as the SAVAK, who arrested, tortured, and killed many of his opponents. The Shah also drew close to the West: He struck deals that granted American, British, and French companies access to Iranian oil in exchange for their money, arms, and expertise.

The Shah’s efforts began to pay dividends in the late 1950s, when oil production started to soar and the country’s GDP growth rate neared double-digits. As the economy grew, the Shah set out to remake its society: Between 1961 and 1963, he dissolved parliament, ordered the redistribution of land to farmers, and then declared the White Revolution.

The White Revolution sought to rapidly modernize Iranian society by promoting literacy and farming and creating a health corps, which sent vast numbers of people to the countryside to teach basic medicine, agriculture, and literacy.

He also decreed that companies share profits with their workers; ordered the protection of forests and water resources; and gave voting rights to women and minorities.

As the White Revolution progressed, exploding oil production sent Iran into a world-leading economic boom: Between 1959 and 1974, Iran’s oil production increased sixfold. Over that period the economy grew at 9.8% annually – comparable to China’s recent boom.

Flush with cash, the Shah spent lavishly on weapons, becoming the largest buyer of US arms. Celebrities, businesspeople, and tourists flocked to Iran, which appeared to be transforming before the world’s eyes.

Iran’s boom relied on no country more than the US. The Shah built universities modeled after the best in the US; brought American engineers to develop infrastructure; and sent tens of thousands of Iranians to study in the US.

By the mid-1970s, 60,000+ Iranians were living or studying in the US and 50,000+ Americans worked in Iran.

Yet while the White Revolution transformed Iran, it also led to inflation and mass migration to cities, where many young people ending up poor, isolated, and packed into rundown neighborhoods.

As people on the left grew angry about inequality and a lack of political rights, the Shah’s social reforms eroded Islamic leaders’ power, sparking a backlash among conservatives.

Meanwhile, the Shah lived like a king, hosting lavish banquets, naming himself the “King of Kings,” and repressing those who challenged him – including one prominent Muslim cleric, Ruhollah Khomeini, who was forced into exile abroad.

As Iran transformed, millions of discontented Iranians turned toward Islamism or communism. Many directed their anger toward the Shah and his closest ally: The United States.


The White Revolution – intended to rapidly modernize Iran – made the Shah a prominent global leader. Yet within Iran, it provided fodder for his longtime opponents: Communists and Islamists.

Iran’s communists considered the revolution a superficial attempt by the Shah to consolidate power and avoid real socialist reforms. The Islamists, by contrast, saw it as too progressive: By seeking to secularize and Westernize the country, reform traditional social structures, and empower women and religious minorities, it provoked a backlash among conservatives – including Ruhollah Khomeini.

Khomeini had begun studying the Quran as a young child after his father’s assassination and mother’s illness left him an orphan.

Studying in Iran’s main religious centers, he cultivated a devout following through his teachings on Islam, philosophy, and justice.

Khomeini became one of the White Revolution’s most prominent critics: “I have repeatedly pointed out that the government has evil intentions and is opposed to the ordinances of Islam,” he said as the reforms began.

“The Ministry of Justice has made clear its opposition to the ordinances of Islam by various measures like the abolition of the requirement that judges be Muslim and male.”

Khomeini’s continued criticism sparked riots and led to his exile later that year. From exile – mainly in Iraq – Khomeini smuggled his teachings and recorded lectures into Iran.

He also honed his political theories and in 1970 published an influential book that advocated for sharia (Islamic) law and a political system underneath a Shia Muslim Supreme Ruler.

Throughout the 1970s, inflation, inequality, and the perceived erosion of traditional values caused discontent to grow, particularly among religious leaders, intellectuals, students, and workers.

This fueled support for Islamists and communists, and led to increasingly violent unrest.

Communists and Islamists had opposite goals, yet both hated the Shah and came together to protest. When protesters were killed, others would respond with a 40-day mourning period, per Shia Muslim tradition, fueling a constant cycle of protest and repression.

The crisis came to a head in 1978: That January, a newspaper – at the Shah’s urging – ran a front-page story attacking Khomeini. Widespread protests followed and grew over the following year, forcing the Shah’s government to declare martial law.

In September, his forces killed 64+ protesters, and the situation unraveled.

Meanwhile, Khomeini relocated from Iraq to France, where he could speak freely to international media. Protests spread across the country as millions took to the streets and by January, the Shah’s collapse seemed imminent.

He left the country, allegedly for vacation and medical treatment; on February 1, 1979, the 78-year-old Khomeini returned to an audience of millions.

“The imperialist shah regime is all in the past and cannot be brought back again,” he declared.

“We are succeeding, but this is only the first stage!”

This is part 2 of 3 of a Roca deep-dive into US-Iran relations. If you have questions or comments, reply to this email!

Final Thoughts

Happy Put a Pillow on Your Fridge Day, Roca Nation!

I know we’re not the first to wish you that today.

–Max and Max