Today is the 157th birthday of the US nickel. You can tell it’s getting up there in age because it now costs 2x more money to make a nickel than the coin itself is worth. Now you can debate whether that’s a necessary cost of our monetary system. To us, it doesn’t make a whole lot of cents.
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In today's edition:
Vice is officially bankrupt
Morgan Wallen makes history
🔑 Key Stories
Chocolate Milk Ban Forthcoming?
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering banning flavored milk in public schools
Per current USDA rules, public schools must offer at least 2 milk options to students, one of which must be plain milk and the other of which can be flavored
Per new rule proposals, the USDA is considering limiting flavored milk to no more than 10 grams of added sugar per 8 ounces and potentially banning it for elementary and/or middle schoolers
Proponents of that say flavored milk is unhealthy; others say doing so will discourage milk drinking
The USDA expects to finalize the rules by early 2024 and implement them over a 7 years, starting in the 2025-26 school year. The decision will affect public schools and charter schools that receive school lunch funding
Debt Ceiling Negotiations
The White House press secretary said talks to raise the debt ceiling are “going in the right direction”
The debt ceiling limits how much debt the US can accumulate. The US surpassed it in January, and has since been using extraordinary measures to keep paying its bills. Analysts believe the US may stop being able to do so – i.e. default – next month
Biden is in a standoff with House Republicans over raising the ceiling before then. Republicans demand spending cuts; Biden demands no strings attached
Both sides are talking, though, and on Sunday, Biden said he and House Republicans have a mutual desire to reach a deal. Related meetings will convene later this week
Biden has reportedly agreed in principle to some spending limits. He’s refused, however, to allow cuts to his student debt relief program or climate-related initiatives, or to add work requirements to certain types of anti-poverty welfare programs
Airport Facial Recognition?
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is testing facial recognition software at airports
TSA usually verifies travelers’ identities by manually comparing their ID pictures to their faces. In recent years, though, the TSA has piloted facial recognition in 16 US airports that verifies IDs automatically
The tech requires travelers to scan their IDs, then look at a camera that captures and compares their image to their ID. It is currently voluntary, and TSA says it doesn’t save data except for training reasons
Some politicians want a pause on the tech; a TSA official said in March it may become mandatory
TSA says the pilot aims to improve the accuracy and speed of screening ~2.4M daily travelers. It’s currently installed in 16 airports, including in Boston, Las Vegas, Dallas, Los Angeles
Vice Files for Bankruptcy
Vice – once valued at $5.7B – filed for bankruptcy
Vice was founded in Montreal in 1994. It relocated to Brooklyn and became known for reporting on drugs, crime, and partying
Vice raised $1.6B in funding and attained a peak valuation of $5.7B in 2017. It soon had its own TV network, HBO shows, and social media channels. In recent years, though, Vice missed many revenue targets and became heavily indebted. On Monday, it declared bankruptcy
A group of Vice lenders and investors, including firms Fortress and Soros Fund Management, has offered $225M for it
Insider modeling: Martha Stewart, 81, became Sports Illustrated’s oldest swimsuit cover model in magazine history. The previous record-holder was Maye Musk, Elon’s mom
King Morgan: Morgan Wallen’s new album “One Thing at a Time” has spent its 10th consecutive week at #1 on the albums chart. He’s the first solo male artist to have back-to-back albums do so
Sale. For Sale: An island in the Bahamas that was featured in Casino Royale — the 2006 Bond movie — and Pirates of the Caribbean has hit the market for $100M
Roar in Peace: A Kenyan lion considered the oldest in the world was speared to death by a group of tribal warriors. The lion, named Loonkito, is 19 years old
Swift justice: A members-only hotel in New York City has reportedly expelled 3 members for taking pictures of Taylor Swift and her new boyfriend last week
Michigan kid W: A 13-year-old Michigan boy may have saved his sister from a kidnapper by shooting him with a slingshot, per Michigan state police
👇 What do you think?
Do you agree with the saying “health is wealth”?
Reply to this email with your answers!
See yesterday's results below the Wrap!
🌯 Roca Wrap
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dominated Turkey’s politics for 20 years. His rule could end this month.
Turkey has the world’s 18th-largest population and 19th-largest economy. It’s a NATO ally that also has ties with Russia. As the country that separates Europe from the Middle East, it helps control migrant flows.
Erdogan – pronounced Erdowan – was born into a devout Muslim family. He rose through a religious political organization, then entered local politics. In 1994, age 40, he was elected mayor of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city.
Erdogan oversaw the construction of roads and bridges; improvements to the city’s water and waste systems; and more. But in 1999, he was convicted of inciting religious hatred over an Islamic poetry verse he recited.
The conviction resulted in Erdogan spending 4 months in jail and a ban on his running for office. The day Erdogan went to jail, he released an album that featured 7 poems. The album went on to sell a million copies and become Turkey’s best-selling of the year (1999).
After his release from jail, Erdogan founded and led a new political party, the AKP. The party took power in 2002, and its prime minister waived the ban on Erdogan holding office.
Erdogan became Turkey’s prime minister in 2003 and president in 2014. In 2017, he merged the positions and became the country’s sole leader.
Turkey initially boomed under Erdogan, with average incomes more than doubling in his first 10 years. But critics accused him of Islamifying Turkish society and eroding Turkey’s democracy, including by jailing journalists.
In 2016, the military tried to conduct a coup against Erdogan. That failed, though, and he responded by purging institutions – the government, academia, the military – of opponents.
In the following years, critics accused Erdogan of staffing the government with his cronies and becoming a dictator. His main claim – good management of the economy – also fell apart.
Erdogan doesn’t believe in standard economic theory, i.e. that higher interest rates lower inflation. Instead, as inflation rose in 2021, he pushed the government to cut interest rates.
The Turkish currency lost most of its value, and inflation accelerated, peaking at 86% last October.
Then this February, an earthquake struck southern Turkey, killing over 50,000 people. Some perceived the government’s reaction as slow and incompetent; others blamed corruption for enabling shoddy construction.
Turkey held elections on Sunday, and for the first time in years, an Erdogan victory wasn’t certain.
He needed to win 50%+ votes to become president. If no candidate won a majority, the top 2 vote-getters would go head-to-head in a second round.
Erdogan came up just short of the 50% he needed to avoid a runoff.
In December, courts convicted Erdogan’s main opponent, Istanbul’s mayor, of insulting election officials, which bans him from holding office. But the opposition has united around a new leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who polls had a few points ahead of Erdogan.
Kilicdaroglu has promised to restore the economy and democracy. “My main task is to unite,” he recently said.
He faced an uphill battle.
Last month, state television gave him 32 minutes of coverage – versus 32 hours for Erdogan. Last week, in an effort to win their votes, Erdogan gave public workers a 45% pay increase.
With almost 97% of ballot boxes counted, Erdogan led with 49.39% of votes and Kilicdaroglu had 44.92%, according to state-owned news agency Anadolu.
Now Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu go head-to-head in a second round on May 28.
Will Erdogan remain on top, or has his time come to an end?
If you have thoughts, let us know at [email protected]!
🌊 Roca Clubhouse
Which are you picking for game night?
Do you have a special family recipe? Is there a story behind it?
Margie from Pennsylvania: “Cassata (an Italian cream cake). Has to appear every holiday -- all families bring and argue loudly over who's is best.”
Michael from Texas: “Jalapeño Corn Casserole passed down through the generations. People love it. Corn, jalapeños, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, sour cream and a little garlic salt.”
AG from Georgia: “My great grandmother made these cookies that are now affectionately called “G.G. Cookies.” They’re just Ritz cracker with peanut butter between them dipped in chocolate. They’ve become a family tradition passed down from one generation to the next.”
🧠 Final Thoughts
If chocolate milk gets banned in schools, the Roca office will happily take in any unused supplies. Even though we’re pretty sure our office already has the highest-per-capita consumption of Yoo-Hoo chocolate milk…
— Max and Max