🌊 Is Big Avocado Toast?

Plus: Millionaires fleeing China and the UK

We lost a Giant yesterday.

Willie Mays, arguably the greatest baseball player of all time, died on Tuesday afternoon at the age of 93. The Say Hey Kid slugged 660 home runs in his 20-year career and recorded one of the most iconic plays in sports history with “The Catch” in the 1954 World Series. Mays, by the way, missed most of the previous two seasons because of military service. RIP, Willie Mays.

🥑 Houston, we have an avocado problem

💰 Millionaires fleeing China and the UK

🚔 Justin Timberlake arrested

–Max and Max


US Undermined China’s Vax?

The US military conducted a secret program to undermine China’s Covid vaccine, Reuters reported

  • The China-developed Sinovac Covid vaccine became one of the world’s most widely administered, particularly in the developing world

  • According to a new Reuters investigative report, though, the US military conducted a covert operation to seed doubt about the vaccine in various countries, including by creating social media accounts that alleged the vaccine was fake

  • The scheme reportedly started under the Trump administration and lasted for the first several months of Biden’s

Dig Deeper

  • Reuters identified hundreds of social media accounts that were created in 2020 and promoted anti-Sinovac content, often in the Philippines – a long-term US ally that China has courted

  • One representative tweet in a Philippines language says, “COVID came from China and the VACCINE also came from China, don’t trust China!”; another says, “From China – PPE, Face Mask, Vaccine: FAKE”


Richest Family on Trial

Britain’s richest family is on trial in Switzerland

  • The Hinduja family owns Hinduja Group, an Indian conglomerate that produces vehicles, chemicals, IT services, and more. With a net worth of $20B+, the family is often cited as Britain’s richest

  • Hinduja family members are on trial in Switzerland, where they are accused of importing house staff from India, confiscating their passports, and forcing them to work 18-hour days for as little as $7.84 a day

  • Prosecutors want jail time; the defense claims the staff came voluntarily, received free room and board, and were paid better than they’d have been in India

Dig Deeper

  • The staff received no payments within Switzerland, as all their wages were paid in India, and they couldn’t leave home without their employers’ permission

  • In testimony this week, a budget document showed that the family spent more on its pets than on the house staff: “They spent more for one dog than one of their servants,” a prosecutor said

  • The Hinduja’s lawyers, meanwhile, have said, “The salary can’t simply be reduced to what they were paid in cash,”adding that “breaking the rich to make the poor less poor” may appeal to the court but doesn’t justify a guilty verdict


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!


Avocado Crisis

The USDA halted Mexican avocado and mango inspections

  • Mexico is the US’ largest supplier of avocados and mangos. USDA inspectors must inspect the fruits, but the Mexican state of Michoacan – one of the largest producers of the crops – suffers from rampant insecurity and cartel violence. Last week, Michoacan “vigilantes” detained 2 USDA inspectors

  • While they were released, the US responded by suspending inspections of US-bound mangos and avocados. An extended suspension could cause shortages and price increases

Dig Deeper

  • The US did something similar in 2022 when threats were made against USDA inspectors

  • That ban was lifted days later, though, when Mexico’s government promised to take additional security precautions

  • While already-approved produce will still hit the US market, an extended ban could prompt shortages and higher prices for the affected crops


Legal Status for Spouses

President Biden announced a policy to put 500,000 illegal immigrants on a path to US citizenship.

  • Tuesday marked the 12th anniversary of DACA, an Obama-era policy that shields people who illegally came to the US as children from deportation. At an event honoring that, Biden announced a new policy that may be the most protective for illegal immigrants since DACA.

  • It says that illegal immigrants who have lived in the US for 10 years, are married to Americans, and don’t have a criminal record will be protected from deportation, allowed to work, and put on the path to get a green card.

  • Those immigrants’ children will also qualify.

Dig Deeper

  • The policy comes weeks after Biden announced one that mimics a Trump-era one and would shut down the southern border if too many illegal immigrants cross in a given day.

  • While that was billed as an attempt to woo voters worried about illegal immigration, this one is apparently an attempt to win Hispanic voters in swing states.

  • Accompanying the policy, a Democratic Nevada Senator wrote in Univision, “The road to the White House runs through Nevada, and people in my state are paying attention”.

Some Quick Stories for the Office

In a PBS interview, Rep. Cori Bush (D. - MO) claimed to have cured a woman’s tumors with her touch

More millionaires will move away from China and the UK than any other country this year. A projected 15,200 millionaires will leave China and 9,500 the UK – more than twice that of the next-closest country (India)

A Boeing quality inspector claimed that the company lost track of hundreds of faulty parts, some of which may have been installed on 737 Max jets

Nvidia leapfrogged Apple and Microsoft to become the world’s most valuable company. Its market cap is now $3.3T – more than 10x what it was when ChatGPT launched


Yesterday’s question: Has the opioid/fentanyl crisis affected your town? If so, how?

I live 30 minutes from Philadelphia. In Kensington we have one of the worst examples of the drug epidemic. You drive down the street under the L Train and see clusters of people nodding off, roaming, begging, and wasting away. It looks like a horror film with zombies.

Except these people are not zombies. They were once someone’s child, brother, sister, or friend, wife, husband. They are human beings, not junkies. The label distances us from the person. Even though this seems like a hopeless situation there is always hope. The drug problem should be treated like the epidemic that it is once and for all.

Joi from Pennsylvania

I live in West Virginia. It has wrecked so many places. I just found out one of my best friends from high school OD'd a few days ago, he was an addict. One of many people I know who have died from drug abuse. There is a 7-11 across from my office. I see tweakers outside of it daily. If I would drive around my office neighborhood before 5-6AM, they would be all over the place, passed out on sidewalks, roving in gangs on stolen kids bikes. they destroy property, leave trash/needles/piss/shit. i do not have much compassion for them.

Zach from West Virginia

Yes, the opioid crisis has greatly affected our City and surrounding areas creating greater numbers of homeless citizens and taking way too many of them from us. Luckily, we have a local organization, SOS, working very hard to assist those needing help and meeting them “where they are at.” SOS continues to create innovative programs for peer-to-peer recovery and we are very grateful for their work. But, much more needs to be done including creating residential space for those in recovery, making sure there is a good plan for anyone coming out of a recovery organization and back into the world, and financial resources need to be increased. Support and stigma needs to change if we are going to address this major issue in our country.

Chuck from New Hampshire

Today’s Question: Has the opioid/fentanyl crisis affected your town? If so, how?

Some Quick Stories for Happy Hour

🚔 Cry me a river: Police arrested pop superstar Justin Timberlake for allegedly driving drunk in the Hamptons, New York, after he ran a stop sign and swerved out of his lane around midnight on Tuesday

💦 House of Rapscallions: Vermont House Rep. Mary Morrissey (R) apologized to Rep. Jim Carroll (D) after being caught on video pouring water into his bag multiple times over five months

🐐 Time for a goat convo: Goats escaped a petting zoo at Ohio’s Cedar Point amusement park and roamed freely on a public walkway. The incident follows two camels escaping the park’s petting zoo last week

⚾️ America’s pastime and present: The MLB announced that an average of 37,527 fans attended the 45 games between this past Friday and Sunday, marking the highest weekend attendance since 2007

⚽️ “You should see the ball”: A German soccer fan missed the team’s Euro 2024 tournament opener on Friday after a wayward shot from Germany striker Niclas Füllkrug during warmups broke the fan’s left hand

The Other War: Part 1

After 16 months, the war in Sudan may soon become one of the most devastating conflicts of the century.

Sudan was at war when it gained independence from the British in 1956. The new country’s south, predominantly inhabited by black, non-Arab, and Christian people, felt marginalized by the Arab-dominated, overwhelmingly Muslim north. A civil war broke out between the halves in 1955 and lasted until 1972, when a peace treaty granted the south autonomy.

Barely a decade later, war resumed: In 1983, Sudan’s president imposed Sharia law across the country, reigniting tensions with the south and sparking another conflict that lasted until 2005. For some of that time, the northern Arab government also waged war against black African rebels in Darfur, in Sudan’s west. A peace deal ended the war in the south and paved the way for South Sudan to gain independence in 2011. Darfur remained under Khartoum’s grip.

South Sudan’s departure left Sudan facing major economic and political challenges. Having lost the South’s substantial oil reserves and facing sanctions, bread prices tripled and people began protesting the regime of Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s dictator since 1989. Protests expanded until April 2019, when the military overthrew al-Bashir.

While protesters hoped they would get a say in Sudan’s new government, a Transitional Military Council (TMC) – composed of senior military officers with deep ties to al-Bashir's regime – took power. The TMC then negotiated with the protesters and parliament, ostensibly to pave the way for a democratic government.

But in October 2021, the military – led by senior officers General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti – executed a coup, dissolved the civilian council it had been negotiating with, and arrested civilian leaders.

The civilians were thus sidelined, but the question remained: Which of the generals would emerge on top? 

This is part one of a two-part series on the war in Sudan.

Final Thoughts

We had to double check the Willie Mays news because earlier in the day multiple outlets reported that Noam Chomsky died. It turns out, however, the famed intellectual is still alive. And this comes a week after Jimmy Carter’s grandson said he’s not awake most days, prompting false death rumors as well. Maybe we try the whole “check the pulse” thing again, folks?

To all those who get a holiday, enjoy your Juneteenth! To everyone else, sorry your bosses hate you.

–Max and Max