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🌊 Aaron Rodgers, Second-String President?

Plus: Boeing whistleblower found dead

We still love you, Pluto.

If you're anything like us, you still haven't emotionally recovered from the reclassification of Pluto as a dwarf planet in 2006. In what may have been the start of cancel culture, the scientific establishment took Pluto out of every textbook and TV show in existence because it didn’t meet its “planet” criteria.

Pluto’s on our minds today because it’s the 93rd anniversary of its discovery. It also holds a special place in Roca history since our very first name was Pluto News. If a lawyer didn’t tell us we’d have trademark issues, you’d be reading Pluto News today. Long live, Pluto!

In today's edition:

🇺🇸 Vice President Aaron Rodgers?

🎸 Attempted assassin turned musician

🕵🏽 The Mississippi Jail Mystery

And so much more!

–Max, Max, Jen, and Alex


Boeing Whistleblower Dead

A whistleblower actively testifying against Boeing was found dead of an apparent suicide

  • John Barnett worked at Boeing for 32 years and spent his last 7 years as a quality manager at a South Carolina plant. After retiring in 2017, he alleged dangerous practices at the factory, such as the use of faulty parts and poorly functioning emergency systems

  • Last week, Boeing’s lawyers questioned Barnett as part of a related lawsuit. His own lawyers were cross-examining him when they found him dead on Saturday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot 

Dig Deeper

  • Barnett had accused Boeing of sabotaging his career and tarnishing his reputation in retaliation for his claims

  • Boeing said it was saddened by his death; his lawyer called it “tragic” and added, “The defense examined him for their allowed seven hours under the rules on Thursday. I cross examined him all day yesterday (Friday) and did not finish”


Tates Detained

Romanian authorities detained the Tate brothers and ruled they could be extradited to the UK

  • Andrew Tate built a 10M+ social media following by criticizing feminism, wokeism, and other progressive ideas. He and his brother Tristan are currently on a soft house arrest in Romania, where they face charges of having coerced women into making pornography

  • On Tuesday, UK authorities issued an arrest warrant for the brothers in relation to sexual abuse accusations from 2012-2015. A Romanian court ruled they could be extradited once their Romanian case is resolved

Dig Deeper

  • The Tates have continued to expand their social media presence from house arrest, alleging that the charges against them are part of an effort by progressive elites to silence them

  • Lawyers representing alleged victims said “four British women…accuse Andrew Tate of rape and serious physical and sexual assaults” and that they requested the Tates' arrests after learning they planned to “flee Romania”

  • A representative for the Tates called the British arrest warrant a "bewildering revival of decade-old accusations" that left the brothers "dismayed and deeply troubled"


VP Aaron Rodgers?

RFK Jr. announced Tuesday that Aaron Rodgers and Jesse Ventura are at the top of his running mate list

  • Rodgers is one of the all-time great NFL QBs and the New York Jets’ starting QB. He was the highest-profile NFL player not to get vaccinated and is an outspoken critic of politicians, Big News, and Big Pharma

  • Ventura is a former WWE wrestler and actor. He served as Minnesota’s governor from 1999-2003 and is similarly anti-establishment, having said in 2013 that the US allowed 9/11 to happen: “Every war starts with a false flag operation”

  • Both are reportedly open to the idea of running on RFK Jr.’s ticket

Dig Deeper

  • RFK Jr., an independent, said that he has been talking “pretty continuously” with Aaron Rodgers over the past month

  • The same is true with Ventura, who introduced him at a recent campaign event

  • The NYT reported that RFK Jr.  also approached former representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky; and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang – all anti-establishment politicians who the NYT says are not interested in running with RFK


Terror Plots Foiled

Italian police arrested 3 Palestinians and accused them of planning a terror attack, the latest in a series of allegedly foiled plots in Europe

  • The men reportedly belonged to the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, considered a Palestinian terror group by the US and EU. Italy said they were preparing suicide attacks

  • Since December, German, Austrian, and Dutch police claim to have foiled attacks targeting Jewish and tourist sites across Western Europe. The accused have come from Syria, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and elsewhere, sometimes as refugees

Dig Deeper

  • The higher terror threat and risk of refugees posing as terrorists has drawn comparisons to 2015/16, when Europe experienced several high-profile terror attacks. Many of those attackers – including a majority involved with the Paris Attack that killed 130 – had arrived in Europe as refugees

  • Over 1M people arrived in the EU as refugees last year, the most since the 2015-16 migrant crisis


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Some Quick Stories for the Office

⚖️ Robert Hur, the special counsel who criticized Joe Biden’s memory in a recent report, testified before Congress. He defended his actions, saying that he couldn’t determine if Biden “wilfully” mishandled classified documents “without assessing Biden’s state of mind”

📈 US inflation rose to 3.2% in February, above economists’ expected 3.1% and the second consecutive month of higher-than-expected inflation

🚢 The first waterborne aid shipment left for Gaza on Tuesday with 200 tons of food. The US is leading construction of a floating pier for Gaza to receive aid by sea that will take up to 60 days to complete

💰 The US announced it would send $300M worth of military aid to Ukraine. The money comes from savings on defense contracts

🇺🇸 A round of primaries on Tuesday appears to have given Biden and Trump enough delegates to finalize their presidential nominations


Weekly Debate

Most news companies repress ideas they don’t agree with. We are different. To prove it, we’re making this a place where people can have a free and open debate. Each week we lay out a debate on Monday and feature responses below, replies to those the following day, and so on.

This week’s Roca Votes Wrap asked: What’s a bigger threat to democracy: The new book “White Rural Rage” – which argues that white rural Americans pose the greatest threat to American democracy – or white rural rage?

Rural white americans are the threat? Maybe the author should walk down any city street at 10:00PM and update this story.


This book is accurate and says what everyone else is afraid to say. Rural, white America is the greatest threat to the united country that we should be. Take example one: Immigrants make this country’s farming industry work, yet middle America screams for closing the border???? Thank you to the authors for forming a cohesive argument around this.

Susan from LA

This is a perfect example of “the costal/urban elitism” referenced by some other readers. Not only does Susan imply that immigrants are just a cheap labor force for agriculture, but she does not even try to address any arguments against immigration. Shouting down at people saying they are a problem for having a differing opinion just causes resentment (white rural rage) to fester

Jack from Madison Wisconsin replies to Susan

In the world there are two kinds of people, doers and watchers.  Doers build, grow, create, and produce things we all want to purchase. Watchers do nothing but observe others, while measuring, opining, and criticizing the doers.  Currently it seems the watchers are in charge. Rural Americans (with skin of any color) are “doers”;  they are the soul and the heartbeat of America. Elitist “watchers” are the greatest threat to America. They should begin actually DOING something useful.

Mike from Texas

Reply to this email with replies and addition thoughts!

Some Quick Stories for Happy Hour

🧠 Are you smarter than a zucchini? The French government plans to increase home economics education following a study revealing that one in five young French people cannot identify a zucchini

😳 Music to impress Jodie Foster? The now-free John Hinckley, who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981, is scheduled to perform a concert in Connecticut

🐢 Teenage Mutant Knitted Turtles: US authorities charged a 53-year-old Chinese man with smuggling protected turtles inside socks through a California mail facility

⚽️ Hand of Fraud: Cameroon’s soccer federation has suspended 62 players for allegedly using false names and birthdates to compete in an African tournament

💄 Breaking Blush: A 53-year-old mother-of-three from California is accused of leading an organized crime ring that stole nearly $8M in makeup from stores like Ulta and TJ Maxx to resell online

🍔 At BK, divorce your way: A Texas scam artist tricked one person out of $6,300 for a false divorce proceeding after meeting him at a Burger King, authorities say

The Mississippi Jail Mystery


This Wrap comes after many readers have asked us to cover the story of the bodies found behind a Mississippi jail.

On March 5, 2023, 37-year-old Dexter Wade left his home in Jackson, Mississippi. Seven months later, his body turned up in an unmarked grave.

When Dexter didn’t return, his mother, Bettersten, reported him missing.

While Dexter had been troubled – he had done two stints in prison and been diagnosed with schizophrenia – Bettersten suspected something unusual had happened.

She conducted her own searches while providing photos to police, requesting they put his photo on TV, and asking for regular updates. Whenever she called, the police said they had no update.

Bettersten continued to contact investigators, post on Facebook, and reach out to police through August. That month, the lead investigator on the case retired and a new one took over.

Within two weeks, he called Bettersten to inform her that Dexter was dead – and had been buried in an unmarked grave behind a jail.

Police had actually known Dexter was dead since the night he left home.

An hour after doing so, an off-duty police officer’s car struck and killed Dexter while he walked down the highway. Police quickly identified him through a wallet and prescription found on his body. One investigator said he called Bettersten to notify her but got her voicemail.

While Bettersten made repeated calls to the police in the following months, police never told her that they knew her son had died.

On July 14, the county buried Dexter in an unmarked grave behind a prison with other unclaimed bodies. A month later, Bettersten was informed that Dexter had died.

After paying $250 for a death certificate, she was shown to a section of the field where a stick labeled “No. 672” poked out of the ground. Bettersten’s case made headlines and a well-known civil rights attorney took it up.

In the aftermath, the coroner said the police were responsible for notifying a dead person’s relatives, while the police said the opposite.

Mississippi law says coroners are required to “make reasonable efforts” to contact the family of a dead person and can bury that person if the body remains unclaimed after five days.

A spokesperson for Jackson’s mayor said, “There was miscommunication but there was no malicious intent anywhere in this whole situation.”

But Dexter’s case would prove the first of several.

In October, the family of Marrio Moore learned that he had been murdered in February.

An investigator told his family that police should have contacted them, and said Marrio was now “buried in a massive grave” in “an undisclosed location.”

A similar situation happened two months later, when another man’s family learned that their loved one had been buried in an unmarked grave after police failed to contact them.

Bettersten’s attorney also took up the cases of those other two families.

In January, he said, "We know, based on the records from the coroner's office, that, since 2016, in the last eight years, we can identify 215 individuals that were buried behind that jail, and their families have not been notified.”

City authorities and police have denied any wrongdoing.

"It is not a secret burial ground," Jackson’s communications director said in January.

"In those graves are the bodies of those who went unclaimed by family when they died. These persons are either homeless people, inmates from local jails who died but relatives never claimed their bodies, unidentified persons who officials were never able to connect with family, or even persons who died" whose families couldn't afford to retrieve the bodies.

At least some of the bodies were likely people with no kin to notify, but it’s unclear why police didn’t notify the families of those who did have kin, such as Dexter and Bettersten.

Bettersten has suggested it was revenge for a past run-in with the police: In 2019, her 62-year-old brother died after a Jackson officer slammed him to the ground.

Bettersten’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit and the officer was convicted of manslaughter.

Until now, Jackson’s investigations have found no wrongdoing by the police.

Yet not all are convinced, leaving it unclear how many of the bodies behind the Mississippi jail are there because of malice, incompetence, or because they truly had no one to tell.

Reply to this email to let us know what you think!

Roca in Serbia

We send our co-founder Max Frost to investigate topics around the world and he writes about them here. He’s currently writing from Serbia. Subscribers receive the full stories.

The morning after my Serbian-Chinese experience, I ended up back at the intersection where I had dinner. Standing on the side of the road, I put my thumb up and started hitchhiking. 

Until now, I had not experienced the Serbian countryside. I had passed through it on buses, but I hadn’t been in it. My goal for the day was to change that. 

In the 25 minutes it took to get a ride, most of the cars that passed me were full of Chinese people. The car that picked me up, though, was driven by a Serbian truck driver, Igor. Igor dropped me off in a small town around 20 miles away, where I walked to a highway on-ramp and waited for another ride. 

My next driver came shortly: A young Serbian guy named Mirko who didn’t speak a word of English. He was blasting a type of Middle Eastern-sounding music I had never heard before and kept saying, “Vlach, Vlach.” That term refers to all Balkan people who speak Romance languages.

With this screeching clarinet music and the changing landscape, the Serbia of Belgrade felt like a different country. There were nightclubs and Starbucks; here, we were weaving through mountains and passing dirt-road villages where mud-walled homes were collapsing on top of themselves. Some of the villages looked uninhabited and likely were: This region of Serbia has experienced rapid depopulation and some villages have literally no one left. 

Eventually, the road forked: The main road we were on continued south, while two other roads entered a village on the left. Mirko dropped me off here and continued ahead. Standing there at the empty intersection, I started walking up the other village road. 

As I walked up the badly potholed path, it was silent except for the noise of the countryside. I kept following the road – passing a group of sheep and several barns – until I reached a collection of small homes on the hilltop. An elderly couple stood in the garden of one home and stared; I kept walking. 

Eventually, I reached the end of the road and decided there was nothing to see in the village. I began the walk back, only to find the elderly couple still staring at me. Then they waved and shouted something that I couldn’t understand. I waved and kept walking. 

Then I heard them shout again, so I turned around and tried to convey that I couldn’t understand them. 

“Parlez-vous français?” the man said. I took years of French in school, although I hadn’t spoken it in four years. 

“Un peu,” I said. He gestured for me to come into his garden, where he introduced himself as Sloboden and picked me three green peppers. His wife, Dragica, came out moments later and insisted I stay for a snack. We moved to a plastic table, where she brought out various homemade juices and cookies. 

Sloboden and Dragica had lived most of their lives in Bor, the mining town, where Dragica was a heavy machinery mechanic. He retired in the mid-2000s, but then was recruited to go work on mining projects in Algeria. There, he lived in a shipping container in the Sahara and learned the French he was speaking to me now. Upon returning to Serbia, he and Dragica settled in this village, where they had land and could grow their own food. Their kids moved away, one to Bor and one to the United States. 

Sitting under a blue sky in their yard, feeling the breeze, eating fresh vegetables, and drinking homemade juice, the village took on a different character. No longer desolate and poor, it felt serene, ideal. 

Sloboden and Dragica insisted I stay, but I told them I had to leave. Before I left, they packed me a bag of cookies and two bottles of juice for the road. 

As soon as I stepped into the street, a sputtering car with two teenagers pulled over. They were headed to the next town, did I want a ride? I climbed in and set off to my last destination in Serbia, thankful for the rural hospitality. 

Reply to this email to let us know what you think!

💰 Treasure Hunt

Welcome to the weekly Roca treasure hunt! The rules are simple:

  • Every day we give a hint. You get one guess, which you submit by emailing [email protected] with a Google street view screenshot

  • Unlock an extra hint each Thursday once you refer five friends

  • The first person to guess the answer wins this week’s prize: A free year of Roca premium!

Clue 1: It takes two hands

Clue 2: A quarter for the first

Clue 3: Not a question - it’s family

Know the answer? Send the Google street view screenshot to [email protected].

Final Thoughts

Happy Hump Day Roca! See you tomorrow!

Enjoy your day!

— Max, Max, Alex and Jen