🌊 Air(ball) Jordan
Another day… another failed vote. Tweet tax comes into effect, and the billionaire who gave it all away
A new Gallup poll finds that trust in the media has fallen back to the historical low set in 2016. Only 32% of Americans have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in news reporting. Even worse, a record-high 39% say they have “none at all.” For context, roughly 40% of Americans believe in ghosts, and a majority believe that advanced ancient civilizations like Atlantis existed. The fact that levels of belief in the media and Atlantis are similar is insulting... to Atlantis.
We thank you for trusting us — it’s a responsibility we don’t take lightly.
In today's edition:
Another day… another failed vote
Tweet tax comes into effect
The billionaire who gave it all away
🔑 Key Stories
Jordan’s Bid Failing?
Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) lost a second speaker vote on Wednesday by a larger margin than the day prior
Last Friday, House Republicans nominated Jordan – the chair of the House Judiciary Committee and a strong Trump supporter – as speaker. In a vote held immediately after that, though, 55 Republicans indicated they would not vote to elect Jordan in a full House vote. For reference, he needs all but several Republican votes to be elected
On Tuesday, Jordan lost the first vote to elect him by a wide margin. Despite the defeat, Jordan called another full House vote on Wednesday. During that, he received 199 votes – less than the day prior and the lowest amount in a House speaker vote since 1923
Wednesday marked the 15th day without an acting speaker. Amid that ongoing battle, the House remains unable to debate or pass legislation, including support for Israel. The House must also pass spending bills by mid-November to avert a government shutdown
Following the second failure, Jordan told CBS News that he is “right where Speaker McCarthy was in this process,” alluding to the former speaker’s record 15 rounds of voting prior to his eventual victory. “We're going to keep talking to members,” he said, adding that he may call a third House vote on Thursday
Israel, Egypt Agree on Aid to Gaza
President Biden said he received Israel’s consent to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza through Egypt
Israel declared a “total siege” of Gaza on October 7, cutting off supplies of water, electricity, and fuel to the territory. Israel says it will lift the siege if Hamas frees its hostages
On Wednesday, after meeting with President Biden, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to allow aid into Gaza. “Israel will not prevent humanitarian assistance from Egypt as long as it is only food, water and medicine for the civilian population located in the southern Gaza Strip or [those] evacuating to there, as long as these supplies do not reach Hamas,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement
On Wednesday, President Biden also said that Egypt’s president agreed to initially allow 20 trucks worth of humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. He reportedly warned Biden that if Hamas seizes the aid, “[the aid deliveries] will end”
The Biden administration also pledged $100M in humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank
Also on Wednesday, US officials doubled down on the claim that an explosion that hit a Gaza hospital on Tuesday was caused by a Palestinian rocket that misfired. “Our current assessment, based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open source information, is that Israel is not responsible for the explosion,” a top US defense official said. Several other independent research organizations have come to similar conclusions
Catalytic Converter Theft
Three members of a California family pleaded guilty over their role in a $600M catalytic converter ring
Catalytic converters are devices attached to the underside of cars that convert harmful gases into less harmful ones. They are relatively easy to steal and can be resold on the black market for $1,000+ each
Last November, the Justice Department (DoJ) charged 21 people nationwide for their alleged role in a $600M converter ring. Among those charged were three members of a California household
On Monday, the DoJ announced all three – two brothers and their mother – have pleaded guilty
A lawyer for the mother told reporters that the woman – originally from Laos – “does not speak English and played virtually no role in this scheme.” A lawyer for the brother who pleaded guilty to money laundering – who faces up to 20 years in jail – said he did so to win “beneficial agreements” with prosecutors for his brother and mother
Venezuela Strikes Deal
Venezuela’s government signed a deal with opposition leaders to allow elections next year
Venezuela has been in an economic and political crisis for years, the latter of which was caused by allegations of widespread fraud during the 2018 presidential election. Since then, opposition politicians have been jailed, exiled, or disqualified from running for office
The US has imposed heavy sanctions on Venezuela, most prominently under former President Trump, who instituted a “maximum pressure” campaign against it. In 2021, the Venezuelan government began talks with opposition politicians, and in response, the Biden administration loosened sanctions against Venezuela’s oil exports last year
On Tuesday, Venezuela’s government and opposition leaders signed a deal laying the groundwork for an election next year. The deal reportedly will allow international monitors to oversee the election and will grant all candidates access to the media. The deal did not, however, resolve other major points of contention, such as the release of political prisoners
Per confidential sources who spoke to The Washington Post, following the deal, the US is now expected to lift many of its sanctions against Venezuela, which could allow it to export oil again
Opposition parties are expected to hold a vote on Sunday to elect a candidate to oppose the current president next year. The current administration has disqualified the opposition’s front-runner from seeking election, and the deal signed on Tuesday does not appear to address that issue.
Erase Yourself from the Web
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Goodell show goes on: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell agreed to a three-year contract extension through March 2027. He started his NFL career as an administrative intern in 1982 and has served as commissioner since 2006
Netflix 1, moochers 0: Netflix announced its recent password-sharing crackdown has proven effective. The streamer added a better-than-expected 8.8M new subscribers over the last three months
Tweet tax: X will start charging users in the Philippines and New Zealand a $1 annual fee to use the platform as part of a bid to curb bot activity
Tarps on, boss: AirAsia’s CEO deleted a LinkedIn post showing him receiving a shirtless massage during a meeting and praising his company culture for allowing him to do so
Defending me softly with AI: The defense lawyer for Pras Michel, a member of the hip-hop group Fugees, used a generative AI program to draft his closing argument, according to a newly filed brief
“He’s wired in”: Police say a North Carolina groundskeeper, mowing an abandoned cabin’s lawn used for law enforcement training, mistook a dead body for a prop dummy. He continued mowing without reporting it
👇 What do you think?
Do you think artificial intelligence has made spam calling worse?
Today’s poll is sponsored by Incogni. Use code ‘ROCA10’ to help scrub your personal info from data brokers with the help of Incogni
How would you define unethical leadership?
Reply to this email with your answers!
See yesterday's results below the Wrap!
🌯 Roca Wrap
Charles Feeney was a self-made billionaire – until he secretly gave it all away.
Charles "Chuck" Feeney was born on April 23, 1931 in Elizabeth, New Jersey to a blue-collar Irish-American family. His father was an insurance underwriter who attended Mass daily; his mother was a nurse.
Growing up in the Great Depression, his parents struggled to pay a $32 monthly mortgage and support their family. Feeney later said that instilled in him the values of frugality and humility.
Feeney served as a radio operator in the US Air Force during the Korean War before taking advantage of the GI Bill to study at Cornell. He moved to Europe after graduation, where he made a fateful connection.
In 1947, an Irish businessman had conceived of a store inside an international airport where people could shop during connections. Because the store was in an international zone – the guests were just passing through the airport or had already had their passports stamped out of the country – goods could be sold without many taxes. The resulting “duty-free” store sold high-tax goods, including liquor, cigarettes, and perfume, at far lower prices than elsewhere.
In Barcelona, Feeney met a fellow Cornell alum, Robert Miller, with whom he conceived of the idea for a store that sold duty-free goods to homeward-bound US servicemen. Starting in Hong Kong, they later secured the rights to sell duty-free in Hawaii, which proved a boon. Both Japanese tourists and returning US soldiers frequently stopped there to shop.
As international tourism burgeoned in the following decades, so too did Feeney and Miller’s business, which they named Duty Free Shoppers (DFS). They grew DFS into a global enterprise and the world's largest luxury goods retailer.
By the early 1980s, Feeney began investing tax-free annual dividends of $35 million into hotels, land deals, retail shops, and clothing companies. DFS was generating billions in annual revenues – making Feeney a billionaire.
Feeney later invested in tech start-ups and increased his assets exponentially. In 1959, he married a French citizen and by the 1980s, the couple and their five children split time between seven homes in New York, London, Paris, Honolulu, San Francisco, Aspen, and on the French Riviera.
But in the 1990s, he started to feel troubled by his opulent lifestyle, especially compared to those of his family and friends in New Jersey. When asked many years later if he was rich at this point in his life, he replied: “How much is rich? Beyond all expectations. Beyond all deserving, so to speak. I just reached the conclusion with myself that money, buying boats and all the trimmings didn’t appeal to me.”
So Feeney decided to give it all up.
He quit wealthy social groups, flew economy class, and bought his clothing off the rack. He sold his limousines, took subways or cabs and stopped eating at fancy restaurants. He divorced his wife and gave her all seven homes and a substantial settlement.
He also built a secret identity: Anonymous philanthropist.
In 1982, in near-total secrecy, he formed a collection of foundations – later The Atlantic Philanthropies – dedicated to health, social, and left-leaning public policy causes worldwide. In 1984, he transferred to the The Atlantic Philanthropies his 38.75% stake in DFS. The company’s value was largely speculative, but estimates place its value at over $500M.
He donated in secret until 1997.
That year, he and his co-founder sold their interest in DFS to Louis Vuitton, and legal filings – which put the value of his share at $1.6B – revealed the proceeds belonged not to Feeney, but to a philanthropic entity that had been making huge anonymous donations for 15 years. By that time, Feeney had already given away hundreds of millions.
By 2012, he had given away 375,000% more money than his current net worth.
Feeney's giving was guided by the philosophy of "Giving While Living," which holds that wealthy individuals should use their resources to address urgent needs today rather than amassing wealth or setting up perpetual endowments.
Feeney hunted for causes where he could have a dramatic impact and went all-in. Feeney's philanthropy influenced other billionaires, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, and played a role in the genesis of the Giving Pledge, where billionaires commit to giving away the majority of their wealth.
In 2016, Feeney finally achieved his goal of giving away almost all of his fortune, marking the official conclusion of The Atlantic Philanthropies' grantmaking. By that time, he had donated more than $8B to charities, universities, and foundations worldwide.
Causes he donated to include educational institutions; health initiatives, including $176M to global anti-tobacco efforts; and over $700M million to public health projects in Vietnam. His aid to political parties in Northern Ireland helped secure the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Yet his name appeared on none of the 1,000 buildings across five continents that he gave $2.7B to fund.
Feeney died last week at age 92 from natural causes. “It's much more fun to give while you are alive than to give when you are dead,” he had said in a biography.
If you have thoughts, let us know at [email protected]!
🌊 Roca Clubhouse
Is it appropriate for a CEO to moonlight as a DJ?
What is your favorite planet and why?
Susan from Lafayette, Colorado: “Venus because it’s so bright !”
Gary from Cave Junction, Oregon: “Mars- as it seems to be the one planet that could be fitted to Earthlike operations. I think it would evolve to be a military base giving the opportunity. But also Mercury- a long ago sci-fi book sketched it as having a thin habitable space between its too hot and too cold side as it faces the sun with no rotation. Is so, it would be ideal in being the planet to send communications and news as it’s fast revolutions puts it in constant contact by radio more frequently than other planets”
JL from Washington, DC: “Anyone of them, as long as there are no politicians!”
“Danielle, aka Pluto's biggest fan even though I can't really tell you many details about it”: “Pluto. Because it's tiny and always seems overlooked. And before anyone gets their panties in a twist, it is a planet. Mostly because I refuse to allow my entire k-12 school experience to be wrong. I will die on this unimportant hill.”
Anne from Richland Hills, Texas: “My favorite planet is Earth, because it's my home, and it is beautiful!”
🧠 Final Thoughts
That’s all for today. Happy Thursdays and see you tomorrow!