Plus: Are burritos sandwiches? A judge rules

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In today's edition:

🏥 Slovakia's prime minister shot

🌯 Are burritos sandwiches? A judge rules

🏙️ M23 preparing to attack

–Max, Max, and Alex


Biden Will Debate – Without Audience

Joe Biden and Donald Trump agreed to debate one another in late June and early September

  • The Commission on Presidential Debates has organized decades of debates and scheduled three for this fall. Biden had repeatedly dodged the question of whether he would participate in those

  • On Wednesday, Biden’s campaign said he would not, but proposed two alternate debates – with no audiences – to be hosted by major news networks in June and September

  • Trump confirmed he would debate Biden but said “for excitement purposes,” the debates should be held in “a very large venue”

Dig Deeper

  • The debates will be hosted by CNN and ABC, respectively

  • In a video on X, Biden said, “Now [Trump] is acting like he wants to debate me again. Well make my day, pal.” He accepted both debates

  • Trump wrote on Truth Social that he had accepted invitations for the two debates but added that he also accepted a debate offer from FoxNews on October 2. Biden has not responded to that

  • On X, independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote, I’m happy to report that I will meet the criteria to participate in the @CNN debate”


French Colony or Territory?

At least four have died in anti-France unrest in New Caledonia (NC)

  • France has controlled NC – a dozen tropical islands ~930 miles (~1,500 kms) east of Australia – since 1853

  • In the 1970s and 80s, NC was a hotbed for violence as the local Kanak indigenous group lost their majority to French and other immigrants. That unrest was resolved by a French law that restricted the right to vote to Kanaks and some other citizens

    France is now revising that law to give all long-term citizens local voting rights. That’s sparked deadly riots, but France’s government has vowed to proceed with the reforms

Dig Deeper

  • The riots have claimed at least four lives despite a high police presence and curfew

  • French President Emmanuel Macron has said he would consider canceling the bill if the pro- and anti-independence Caledonian populations can reach a new citizenship agreement


A Concrete-Based Tech Company

One of the coolest startups we’ve come across at Roca is AquiPor, a company that is solving the problem of urban flooding.

  • Traditional concrete doesn’t absorb water – that’s why rain often causes cities to flood

  • AquiPor has solved that problem by creating porous concrete that captures stormwater where it falls. It then filters that water and allows it to naturally return to the ground

  • The Spokane-based company’s patented distributed water system is game-changing in scope and potential – especially given the US’ massive investments in making cities more resilient to climate change

  • AquiPor is currently fundraising. You can learn more and invest at the link here!


Slovak PM Shot

Slovakia’s prime minister was shot in an apparent assassination attempt

  • Slovakia is an EU and NATO member. Its prime minister, Robert Fico, has dominated the country’s politics for decades and won a third term last year in part by strongly opposing aid to Ukraine

  • On Wednesday, after Fico attended a meeting in a Slovak city, an assailant fired five shots at him. He was airlifted to a trauma center and was “fighting for his life,” Slovakia’s defense minister said

  • A 71-year-old former security guard is in custody on suspicion of being the shooter. A motive is unclear, but Slovakia’s interior minister said the shooting was “politically motivated”

Dig Deeper

  • The director of the hospital where Fico is staying said his condition is “stable, but very serious.” Slovakia’s defense minister said he “isn’t out of the woods yet”

  • Slovakia’s president called the shooting an “attack on democracy” while President Biden called it a “horrific act of violence”


$1.3B to Israel

The Biden administration notified Congress that it plans to send a $1.3B aid package to Israel

  • Last week, the Biden administration blocked a shipment of bombs to Israel, citing its opposition to them being used in Rafah

  • The decision prompted Israel’s prime minister to vow that Israel “will stand alone”

  • Nonetheless, on Tuesday, the Biden administration said it would send Israel a $1.3B aid package, including tank ammunition, tactical vehicles, and mortar rounds. The supplies likely won’t arrive for years, meaning they won’t factor into Israel’s short-term Gaza plans

Dig Deeper

  • Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign aid since World War II, having received $158B in non-inflation-adjusted aid and missile defense funding from the US

  • Last month, the US approved $26B in aid to Israel, which includes $9B in humanitarian assistance, including for civilians in Gaza

  • Many analysts interpreted the Biden administration’s advancement of the $1.3B aid package as a softening of Biden’s stance on Israel

Some Quick Stories for the Office

🖥️ OpenAI’s chief scientist – Ilya Sutskever, one of the company’s co-founders – announced his departure from the company. Sutskever said on Tuesday he will leave for another project. He didn’t say what or why

📉 New data showed that US inflation over the year to April was 3.4%, which economists had predicted

🏢 Driven by that inflation data, the three major US stock indexes – Nasdaq, S&P 500, and Dow Jones – finished Wednesday at record highs. Investors had dialed back their bets after successive reports showed the economy remained hot. Wednesday’s figure countered that – and their pessimism

🎮 The stock prices of GameStop and AMC fell 19% and 20% on Wednesday, respectively, snapping two-day rallies for both stocks

🏈 Netflix announced that it will host two Christmas Day NFL games in 2024, followed by at least one holiday game in both 2025 and 2026

🐇 Sixteen women have accused magician David Copperfield of sexual misconduct, an investigation by The Guardian revealed. Three of the women claimed Copperfield drugged them before sex; four said he groped them or made them touch him sexually during performances on stage. Copperfield’s lawyers said the allegations “are the ​​exact opposite of who David is” and claimed that many of them had been brought previously


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.

Given the US Congress is considering a bill that would define “antisemitism,” this week we asked if it should do so.

While I feel that antisemitism is rising in the US, especially on college campuses, I do not think that defining antisemitism helps anything. At the end of the day, giving the government a definition of antisemitism to prosecute people just becomes another club used to keep people down.  

Jack from Madison

Free speech is free speech even when it is offensive. I believe Americans, for the most part, know what is wrong to say. We do not need definition for it. Those who attack others for who they are by birth are ignorant and will be seen as such. America will ostracize them and they will get what they deserve by being fired or they will no longer be supported by the public or party they belong to. I have faith in moral America even though it is hanging by a thread.

Cheryal from Arizona

I certainly think we should take measures to protect our Jewish citizens, but defining anti-semitism in this way is an overstep. If we define anti-semitism, where do we draw the line? Sarah mentioned defining Islamophobia or anti-blackness. What about “abled privilege” or “white privilege”? Can we define sexism anymore when everyone is advocating for trans rights? It’s a slippery slope to start down and I think if we keep going we’re going to evolve into an extremely censored and totalitarian society (with clear bias.) There are better ways to protect people without infringing upon our first amendment rights.


Some Quick Stories for Happy Hour

👊 Justice for Mr. Pink: The New York police department said it identified the suspect who allegedly sucker-punched actor Steve Buscemi in Manhattan last Wednesday

😳 Fired Nights at Freddy’s: Chuck E. Cheese’s furry robotic band — “Munch’s Make Believe Band” will be removed from all but two of the chain’s locations as part of the chain’s modernization bid

🍔 App trap: A police officer in Canada pulled over an 18-year-old driver and gave him a $580 ticket for using the McDonald’s app while going through the drive-thru

🌯 Sandwiches (Mexico’s version): An Indiana judge ruled that tacos and burritos are sandwiches. The dispute arose over a commitment that a strip mall’s new restaurant would serve sandwiches

🏊‍♂️ Oh no, Mayor Adams…: NYC Mayor Eric Adams said immigrants’ “excellent” swimming skills mean they can solve the city’s lifeguard shortage

Cornered in the Congo

Twenty kilometers outside the city of Goma, M23 is preparing to attack.

It’s been almost three decades since the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has experienced peace. In fact, there hasn’t been peace there since the Rwandan Genocide 30 years ago

In 1994, Rwandan Hutus massacred 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis. The Tutsi rebels fought back and seized power, with the Tutsi rebel leader Paul Kagame becoming Rwanda’s president.

Anticipating reprisals, 1M+ Hutus fled Rwanda into the eastern DRC.

What ensued became known as Africa’s World War: Supposedly to chase down those responsible for the genocide, Rwanda twice invaded DRC, sparking wars that drew in nine countries, led to the overthrow of DRC’s president, and the assassination of his replacement.

Amid this chaos, armed groups formed and carved out slices of eastern Congo.

The DRC’s neighbors supported the groups they thought would protect their interests or oppose their enemies’. The militias battled for control while a UN peacekeeping mission tried to protect the civilians.

Many unsuccessful attempts were made to disarm the groups. One such agreement – signed on March 23, 2009 – sought to integrate a Tutsi rebel group into the DRC’s military. Yet those Tutsi fighters alleged mistreatment and formed their own militia, the M23 (“March 23”), which went on the offensive in 2012.

M23 seized the largest regional city, Goma, and other nearby towns. In the following months, UN forces helped push M23 back into the hills that form the DRC-Rwanda border.

The M23 lost relevance for nine years before resurfacing in 2022 and seizing towns in eastern Congo. Repeated attempts to stop the group have failed: It has been on the march since, sowing what the UN calls “terror” as it displaces thousands of people, rapes women, and enlists child soldiers.

The UN, US, and EU all accuse Rwanda of supporting the M23 – including with advanced weaponry, such as anti-aircraft missiles – and allege it does so to protect its interests in DRC and secure access to precious minerals,

Despite substantial evidence, Rwanda calls claims that it supports the M23 “absurd.”

The M23 is now once again within 20 kilometers of Goma – home to 2M people – and controls all supply routes into the city. Millions of people are displaced in the area, with hundreds of thousands living in squalid refugee camps near Goma.

As people wait for an invasion, diseases like cholera and measles are spreading widely.

Analysts say there are steps the US and Europe could take to combat the crisis, namely pressuring Paul Kagame – still Rwanda’s president after 30 years – to cut support for the M23.

Rwanda is one of the world’s most aid-supported countries, with some $1B in annual foreign aid accounting for 40% of its national budget.

Yet despite accusing Kagame of enabling the conflict in eastern Congo, donor countries have been unwilling to cut the aid that funds his government. Last week, at a US-Africa conference, Kagame called the situation “Congo’s problem.”

There’s no telling what will happen if the conflict continues: The M23 could advance past Goma and seize a broad swath of the eastern DRC.

If it does so, eastern DRC’s 30-year war could reach a new crisis point.

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

Final Thoughts

We received a couple emails about the Seinfeld finale intro this week. Yes, it’s crazy to think back on a time when 76M Americans would watch the same TV show at once. But what’s crazier is that three shows drew even larger audiences for their finales than Seinfeld.

  1. M*A*S*H (1983, 106M viewers)

  2. Cheers (1993, 80M viewers)

  3. The Fugitive (1967, 78M viewers)

    — Max, Max, and Alex