🌊 Antarctic Oil Boom?

Plus: Netanyahu to cross Biden's line in the sand

Happy Monday, Roca Nation.

We loved going through your responses to Friday’s regions-themed 20 Questions. Apologies to all those who felt we disrespected Whataburger, Memphis BBQ, and the Eagles fan base with their omissions.

Also, this rap beef is getting out of control. My grandma just asked if I was Team Drake or Kendrick…

🐧 Penguins hiding a vast fortune in Antarctica?

🇵🇸 UN revises its Gaza death toll

🗳️ Haley not VP candidate?

–Max, Max, and Alex


Oil in the Antarctic

Russia has discovered vast amounts of oil and gas in the Antarctic, per evidence viewed by the UK government

  • Since 1961, the Antarctic Treaty – signed by most world powers, including Russia – has banned “mineral resource activities” in Antarctica

  • For years, though, Rosgeo – a Russian agency tasked with finding oil and gas – has mounted expeditions to the continent, supposedly for research purposes

  • Per new evidence seen by the UK, Rosgeo has discovered 511B barrels of oil – more than 10x the US’ total proven oil reserves. The UK has said it trusts that Russia will not try to extract the resources

Dig Deeper

  • Rosgeo reportedly found the reserves in the British Antarctic Territory (BAT), a region of the continent claimed by the UK

  • The UK Foreign Office, which oversees the BAT, has repeatedly downplayed Russia’s interests in drilling for oil and gas in the region. The new report has caused controversy, though, with some politicians accusing the government of failing to counter Russian intentions in the Antarctic. The issue is expected to be a major one at a meeting for Antarctic Treaty signatories later this month


Cult Leader Trial Underway

The trial is underway for a Kenyan preacher accused of having led a mass starvation cult

  • Kenyan preacher Paul Mackenzie, formerly a cab driver, led the Good News International church. In 2019, amid legal troubles, he closed his main congregation and moved to a secluded forest

  • Last year, Kenyan police revealed that Mackenzie had instructed his followers to starve themselves in that forest to “meet Jesus.” Police found dozens of mass graves, ultimately retrieving 400+ bodies

    Mackenzie is now on trial for murder, terrorism, and torture charges, all of which he denies

Dig Deeper

  • Publicity surrounding the cult is driving calls for broader reforms of Kenya’s system for establishing new churches

  • While a government committee has recommended tightening restrictions on new organizations, church groups have pushed back, arguing that Mackenzie’s actions were isolated and extreme


A Family’s Opioid Substitute

When Roca Reader Paul Murdoch fell off a roof in 2012 and shattered his tibia, he was left in “excruciating pain.” 20 surgeries and opioids did little to help 

  • Then his wife Whitney created a CBD concentrate: The all-natural product worked wonders and helped Paul get back on his feet. Paul, Whitney, and their kids were so impressed that they decided to turn CBD into a business

  • Today, four generations of the Murdoch family run Horn Creek Hemp, the US’ most awarded CBD hemp farm, selling chocolates, gummies, flowers, and more. Their mission is to bring the healing power of nature to you

Dig Deeper


Russia Launches Offensive

Russia launched an offensive on Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, opening a new front in the war

  • Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second largest city – is 16 miles from Ukraine’s border with Russia. On Friday, after months of sustained rocket attacks on the area around the city, Russian troops entered the region from Russia and began seizing villages near the border

  • By Sunday, Russian artillery and rockets had hit 30+ towns and villages in the Kharkiv region. Russia claimed to have seized five villages, while Ukrainian authorities said the offensive had been contained

Dig Deeper

  • Russia is trying to establish a “buffer zone,” where it controls the initial territory on the Ukrainian side of the border, and to draw forces away from eastern Ukraine, where brutal fighting has been constant – and yielded limited results – over two years

  • A lack of arms has enabled Russia to make consistent gains in recent months, though, and Russia reportedly timed this offensive to preempt the imminent arrival of new American aid


Eurovision Controversy

Switzerland won the Eurovision final amid mass protests against the Israeli contestant

  • Eurovision is an annual singing contest between European countries, 37 of whom participated this year. The finals were held last week in Sweden

  • 10,000+ people protested ahead of the final, demanding the exclusion of Israel’s contestant. Dozens were detained, including Greta Thunberg. During the final, the Israeli contestant was met with loud cheers and boos

  • She ended up coming in fifth – but second in public voting – while a non-binary Swiss contestant won

Dig Deeper

  • Fueling further controversy, the Netherlands’ contestant was disqualified after criticizing Israel’s appearance in the competition and supporting a journalist who had asked Israel’s contestant if her presence endangered the other acts and attending fans

  • Officials said that contestant was disqualified over an unrelated “incident” regarding a female crew member

  • While the winner won no money, Eurovision has helped launch the careers of Abba, Celine Dion, and other superstars

Some Quick Stories for the Office

🗳️ A day after Axios reported that Donald Trump was actively considering choosing Nikki Haley as his running mate, Trump ruled out the idea: “Nikki Haley is not under consideration for the V.P. slot, but I wish her well!” he wrote on Truth Social

🇮🇱 Israel’s military ordered tens of thousands more people to evacuate Rafah while saying that its “operations against Hamas in Rafah remain limited in scope

🇺🇳 The UN released revised data suggesting that the proportion of women and children killed in Gaza is lower than the previously-reported 70%. Per the data, of 24,686 identified fatalities, 40% were men, 32% were children, 20% were women, and 8% were elderly

🐖 The first living person to receive a pig kidney transplant died nearly two months after the procedure. Doctors said his transplant was successful and that there is no evidence he died because of it

🇷🇺 Vladimir Putin replaced Russia’s defense minister, marking the biggest reshuffling of his security team in 15+ years. While the Kremlin painted his and other officials’ firings as intended to reduce military spending, analysts said they suggest discontent with the war in Ukraine

🐘 Days after the Florida Republican Party’s chair said Barron Trump – at 18, Donald Trump’s youngest son – will serve as a Florida delegate to the Republican National Convention, Melania Trump’s office said he will not. Baron graduates from high school this month

Weekly Discussion

🧠 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 “Roca Votes” each week, where we summarize a hot topic and hear Roca Nation’s thoughts about it.

Read today’s Wrap below and let us know: Should governments define antisemitism? Please read the full story below and reply to this email to let us know what you think!

Some Quick Stories for Happy Hour

🐖 First-degree hamicide: A mobile butcher confused a Washington state family’s home with a different address and slaughtered their two pet pigs, Betty and Patty

🚓 Lawn cop: A Wisconsin police officer sat in a lawn chair on the side of a road with a radar gun and clocked 14 drivers for speeding

🤽‍♀️ Flavor Flav’s in Paris: Rapper Flavor Flav, 65, is finalizing a deal to sponsor USA Water Polo and become the official hype man for the women’s team, which is seeking a fourth consecutive gold medal

😴 Sleeping on cloud nine: A Southwest Airlines passenger went viral for climbing into a plane’s overhead bin and sleeping in it. Another passenger caught the incident on video and shared it on TikTok

👮🏻‍♀️ Karma is a DUI: A Honolulu police officer – known for wrongfully arresting former State Representative Matt LoPresti in the summer of 2022 – will go on trial next week after authorities arrested her for a DUI

Roca Wrap
Roca Votes: Define Antisemitism?

Congress may define antisemitism – but should it?

Earlier this month, the House voted 320-91 to codify the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA’s) definition of antisemitism into Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

It’s unclear if the Senate will pass the bill, but if it does – and the president signs it – it will become law.

That would mean that any organization receiving federal money would not be able to discriminate on the basis of antisemitism, as defined by the IHRA.

The IHRA is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1998 to promote Holocaust education, research, and remembrance. It has 34 member countries, including most of Europe and the United States.

In 2016, the IHRA adopted the following definition of antisemitism: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The IHRA provides 11 illustrative examples, which include:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.

  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective.

  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people…during World War II (the Holocaust).

  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

  • Claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

  • Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

The antisemitism bill would not criminalize antisemitism. Rather, it would provide a standardized definition of it that the federal government could then use to withhold funding or bring legal action against places that tolerate or practice antisemitic discrimination.

The bill’s backers say an agreed-upon definition is needed to prevent discrimination and withhold funding from, for example, universities that tolerate it. Its critics say the definition goes beyond policing discrimination and effectively polices speech.

In a recent We the 66 interview, we asked Greg Lukianoff – CEO of FIRE, the US’ leading campus free speech organization – his thoughts.

“If you give me a law that basically says, ‘Severe, persistent, pervasive discrimination against Jews is harassment, is discriminatory harassment, and should not be protected,’ I am with you 100%,” Lukianoff said. “Because patterns of behavior directed at people on the basis of protected characteristics generally are not protected.”

“But,” he continued: “I do think that it was foolish to include actual opinions about Israel in it…because it's something that means that this could be struck down in court. By adding opinions to it, you make it viewpoint discrimination, and therefore you open up to First Amendment challenges.”

He continued: “When someone is chanting ‘Intifada’ or ‘From the river to the sea,’ I find that offensive as well. At the same time, is it protected speech? Absolutely.”

“Can it be, however, part of a pattern of discriminatory behavior that's harassment? Absolutely, it can be.”

So now we leave it up to you: Should governments define antisemitism?

That question is the subject of this week’s Roca debate. We’re curious and excited to hear your thoughts. Send that by replying to this email!

Final Thoughts

That’s a wrap. We’re very curious to hear your thoughts on this week’s Roca Votes. Send them over, and enjoy your Monday!

–Max, Max, and Alex