Better Call Harvey!

If you want a lesson on how not to deal with a snoring roommate, talk to gunslinger John Wesley Hardin. On this day in 1894, he was pardoned after serving a 15-year sentence for firing a gun multiple times through a hotel wall at a loud snorer. In fairness to Hardin, what are you supposed to do if loud snoring persists?... lie there?!

In today's edition:

  • Big News hits a new low 😬

  • Spielberg on turning down Harry Potter

  • Ethiopia: Camping goes wrong...

🔑 Key Stories

UK: 97% of Russian Army Deployed

UK defense secretary Ben Wallace told the BBC that 97% of Russia’s army is currently fighting in Ukraine

  • Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Since then, it’s failed to seize much of the territory it intended to, and has suffered battlefield setbacks

  • For weeks, Ukrainian officials have claimed Russia is pouring troops to the front to try to break its line

  • Because of that, UK intelligence now estimates that “97% of the whole Russian army is in Ukraine,” Wallace said, facing “First World War… attrition.” Analysts say that likely means Russia won’t be able to break Ukraine’s line without a mass draft

Dig Deeper

  • According to an unrelated Associated Press (AP) poll, 48% of Americans support arming Ukraine, while 29% oppose it and 22% have no opinion. That's down from an AP poll in May that found 60% supported arming Ukraine

Poll: Americans Don’t Like Big News

A Gallup/Knight poll found that a record-low 26% of Americans have a favorable opinion of news media

  • The annual poll was based on a Gallup survey of 5,593 randomly selected Americans aged 18+

  • It found that 53% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the media, vs. 26% with a favorable view. Only 14% of Gen-Z (18-26) had a favorable opinion

  • 55% of Americans believe there’s a “great deal” of bias in news, including 79% of Republicans and 50% of Democrats

  • 61% of Americans say the amount of information available makes getting informed difficult

Dig Deeper

  • 72% said big news companies have the resources to report accurately, but only 35% say they trust them to do so. Trust in local news is higher, but fewer people (65%) think they have sufficient resources to be accurate

Albanian Police Dismantle Cameras

Albanian police dismantled a national network of 500+ security cameras allegedly set up by gangs to monitor citizens, rivals, and police

  • Albania is one of Europe’s poorest countries. It’s in NATO, the US-led military alliance, but not the EU

  • Albanian Gangs, called the “Albanian Mafia,” play a major role in trafficking drugs into Europe. They’re also blamed for frequent shootings and bombings

  • Following a recent bombing that targeted police, authorities discovered and dismantled 500+ security cameras. They were installed on electricity poles, streets, and other public places

Dig Deeper

  • Albania’s prime minister said the operation is proof that he is “keen and focused on fighting organized crime," but per one poll, 90% of Albanians think the government is corrupt. Some rivals have accused the prime minister of working with the gangs

I Plead the 5th Update

A prestigious London law firm introduced an AI chatbot to help its lawyers write legal documents

  • The tool – Harvey – was created by a company of that name that ChatGPT creator OpenAI invested in

  • The firm, Allen & Overy, told the Financial Times that 3,500 of its employees have access to Harvey. They claim it won’t replace workers or cut costs, but will likely save lawyers “a couple hours a week-plus”

  • “I think over time it will be a serious competitive disadvantage [to not adapt such AI],” one executive said. Harvey warned the program can still “hallucinate,” or makes mistakes, and should always be verified

A New Kind of Soda

Together with OLIPOP

Have you heard of OLIPOP, one of the fastest-growing beverage companies in the United States?

  • You may have noticed OLIPOP on the shelves, seen a friend drink it, or maybe even drank it yourself!

  • It tastes like the soda we all grew up drinking – except it’s healthy

  • Most popular Root Beer brands have anywhere from 43 to 45 grams of added sugar, 160 to 230 calories, and 0 grams of dietary fiber per can. That is 20X the sugar in an OLIPOP

  • OLIPOP’s Root Beer has just 2 grams of sugar and 35 calories. Plus it contains 9 grams of dietary fiber and tastes better (it’s their best seller!)

  • Fun fact: Super Bowl Champions Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes are both investors in OLIPOP. Drink OLIPOP, win championships; simple as that

Dig Deeper

  • Can’t decide which OLIPOP to try first? Check out their Best Sellers pack and get 20% off with code ‘RocaNews’

🍿 Popcorn


  • Bless them kids: Michael Jordan announced the largest individual gift in the history of Make-A-Wish on his 60th birthday. He is donating $10M

  • Farewell to Raquel: 1960s movie star Raquel Welch died in Los Angeles at 82. The One Million Years B.C. star was widely considered a "sex symbol" of that era

  • Will guac be extra? Chipotle is launching a spinoff restaurant in California called "Farmesa." It plans to provide healthier options than Chipotle


  • Saving Private Potter: Steven Spielberg says he does not regret turning down the opportunity to direct the first Harry Potter movie to spend time with his family

  • Money's least favorite cookie: Oreo unveiled a new lineup of NBA-themed cookies with an eyebrow-raising price: ~$40 for a box of 12

  • We the scrollers: US daily digital video viewing will soon surpass traditional TV viewing per day for the first time, research from Insider Intelligence found

👇 What do you think?

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See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

Roca co-founder Max Frost and writer Alex Norris spent 2.5 weeks in Ethiopia last month. Frost will be writing about it here in the coming newsletters.

It all started as a peaceful morning.

After the bull jumping ceremony, we camped out in a different village of the Hamer tribe that consisted of several huts scattered a few hundred feet apart. We set up our tents next to one of the huts.

Our campsite

Our campsite

While we sat there, the woman whose hut we were staying nearby received a call on her 1990s-style cell phone. Our guide said that it was her son calling, who was a shepherd. He had taken the family’s animals out to graze. Sometimes, people take their animals away for up to 6 months at a time. Until the recent introduction of cell phones, it was only by word of mouth that people could convey their whereabouts to family back home.

In the distance, we could see a fire and hear people singing and chanting. The stars were incredible. It was easy to fall asleep.

Not to stay asleep, though.

Baa-ing goats kept us up most of the night, and between them and the roosters, we were up at sunrise for good. The family that was hosting us invited us into their hut.

While we were in there, quietly sitting by the fire, a group of men holding whipping sticks approached the door. They said something in the local Hamer language, and clearly told our host’s 2 daughters – both around 20 – to come outside. Another man came in and searched the hut, apparently for other women.

Walking away from the hut after the whipping

Walking away from the hut after the whipping

Up to 2 dozen men were now standing outside the hut. All at once, they began whipping our host’s 2 daughters. As they did that, our host – the whipping victims’ mother – whooped and clapped, cheering on the men. After a minute, the men stopped and walked away; the women came back in and sat down for their coffee.

The men continued on to the next hut, although there, a woman ran out and tried to escape. The mob gave chase before giving up and moving on to the next hut.

The whipping crew goes hut to hut

The whipping crew goes hut to hut

Our guide told us that he had never seen this happen, and was just as confused as we were. He took us to the mob and we asked them what they were doing.

They said that too many women and girls were wearing western clothes, moving to the town, and getting educated. They were forgetting their traditional values, and the whipping was a punishment and a warning not to do so. A man said they do this once a year, coming from all the neighboring villages and going hut-to-hut to instill their message into the women.

2 of the whippers who explained the practice to us

2 of the whippers who explained the practice to us

The behavior shouldn’t have come as a surprise, given the other things we had heard.

We asked several tribes what happens if a woman cheats on her husband. They all told us some variation of “she better not.”

One tribe told us that the husband has the right to kill the man with whom she has an affair, then do what he pleases with the woman; another said the man has the right to kill them both.

We also asked what happens if a woman gets pregnant outside of marriage. All the tribes told us some variation of “that can’t happen.”

“It would be very bad,” one said.

“Impossible,” said another.

The whipping crew at our car

The whipping crew at our car

One person told us that a woman who gets pregnant outside of marriage would be kicked out of the village, as would her child. Another man insisted that all village women perfectly know their menstrual cycles, so they could never get pregnant accidentally. Some people – all men – insisted that it was simply unheard of for unmarried village couples to have sex.

Similar attitudes applied to other crimes. Theft? Cut off the hands. Stealing livestock? Shot. If you described the laws and asked me to guess the place, I’d have said “Taliban Afghanistan.”

But the difference here is that these are not laws – they are tribal customs, and the government is trying to stop them. That’s the ongoing debate: Does the government, consisting of educated people in cities hundreds of miles away, have the right to interfere with these practices that have existed for centuries and which many tribespeople view as core to their tribe's existence?

Whenever we questioned the people in the tribes on these practices, they said it was their “culture.”

“You can’t change the culture,” “it’s our culture.”

But where is the line drawn?

There is at least one place, as our guide told us when we asked for his thoughts on the whipping.

The government has already made the tribes “end the worst traditions,” he said, explaining why it may be right for the tribes to keep the ones that aren’t “that bad.”

What were the worst traditions?

“Until recently, when a chief in the Hamer tribe died, the people would take a boy from the next tribe over.”

“They’d bring him back and bury him alive.”

The government forced that practice to stop. So there is a line, and that is where it’s drawn.

If you have thoughts, let us know at [email protected]!

🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Do you believe a college education is necessary for success?

Yes: 11%No: 89%

Yesterday's Question:

What traits do you associate with people who live in your area?

Julie from New Mexico: “Friendly, accepting of people, multi-cultural, food-loving, green and red chile addicted, appreciative of the outdoors, history, art and music.”

Brandon from Chicago: “Normally rude but mean well, fast-moving, Irish/Italian descent, and extremely passionate about pizza, hot dogs, and sports.”

🧠 Final Thoughts

Yesterday was the most response-provoking wrap yet of this roadtrip series. Thank you all for writing in.

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, however one reader submitted this:

“I have unsubscribed as the story about whipping women was not appropriate to show with images of the women who endure this abuse even though it is part of their culture.

“It is Black History month and this does nothing to raise the voices of Black women across the globe.”

Our job as writers is to shed light on what’s happening in the world and let readers take away their own conclusions. That applies whether what we’re shedding light on is pleasant or disturbing. And while these practices don’t happen in most of Africa, they do happen in various tribes of Ethiopia, and that’s what we’re shedding light on right now.

Thank you all for reading, and keep the feedback coming – positive or critical!

–Max and Max