🌊 Campaign Dropout

PLUS: Red Card on Racism

Happy National Hot Sauce Day.

On this day in 1943, the South Dakota town of Spearfish experienced a 49-degree temperature swing over the span of two minutes. From 7:32 AM to 7:34 AM, the temperature soared from -4°F to 45°F. The rollercoaster wasn’t over yet: By 9 AM, it hit 54° and then 27 minutes later it was -4° again. The culprit behind the record-setting temperature change was a particularly brutal Chinook wind, which is a warm type of North American wind.

You have to feel a little bit for the early risers who ducked their heads outside to dress for the day and then were stunned to be sweating in their parkas, fleeces, and wool socks just a few minutes later.

In today's edition:

🗞️ Key Stories: RIP, Ron DeSantis for Prez

🍔 Happy Hour: Burger not well-done? Sign this waiver!

🌎 Roca Reports: President Dodik

🔑 Key Story

FIFA’s Racism Forfeit

FIFA’s president called for “automatic forfeits” for teams whose fans use racial slurs

  • On Saturday, the goalkeeper of Italian club AC Milan, who is black, walked off the pitch during a match after fans allegedly made monkey noises at him. He returned minutes later

  • Also on Saturday, a midfielder for England’s Coventry City club accused fans of an opposing team of directing racial slurs at him, causing a short delay as officials spoke with managers of both clubs

  • Following those incidents, FIFA’s president called for an “automatic forfeit” rule for teams whose fans exhibit racist behavior

🔑 Key Story

Protests Against AfD

Hundreds of thousands of Germans protested over speculation that a right-wing party is considering mass deportations of foreign-born citizens

  • The AfD (“Alternative for Germany”) is a party on the far right of Germany’s political spectrum. Earlier this month, reports emerged that AfD members had met with an Austrian nationalist who advocates for deporting foreign-born citizens

  • News of the meeting sparked outrage, and over the weekend, hundreds of thousands of Germans protested

  • Some AfD leaders publicly opposed deporting foreign-born citizens; others backed the idea

Roca’s Saltiest Readers

Together with LMNT

LMNT really made a splash with Roca last year, hydrating our way into the hearts of all you Roca Riders! We're thrilled to continue our journey together into 2024, helping the Roca Riders achieve their hydration goals. This year, we want to shine the spotlight on different readers who have fueled their bodies with LMNT’s salty flavors. Today is Roca Reader Lara

  • “In April of 2021, I was diagnosed with Addison's Disease. Addison's Disease is an autoimmune disease in which your body attacks and destroys your adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands provide the life-sustaining cortisol hormone to your organs, and they also hold on to your body's salt. Since mine don't function, I have to take steroids to replace the cortisol my body is unable to produce, and I have to take in a LOT of salt since it doesn't stay in my system,” Lara wrote us

  • “Many people with Addison's Disease also have to take an additional prescription to manage their body's sodium levels, but LMNT has been huge in helping me do that on my own without taking additional meds. I love that it gives me 1000 mg of sodium without any of the junk that so many other electrolyte replacements have”

  • “Addison's Disease is a life-altering diagnosis, and it can be debilitating if you let it. My husband, kids, and I lead a very active lifestyle, from scuba diving to snow skiing, and just in general, keeping up with my teenagers' crazy sports and social schedules. I was/am determined to not let it control me and deprive me of being able to do the things I love to do with my family. I am grateful I found a healthy way to get the electrolytes my body needs! I never leave home without several packets of LMNT and my steroids, of course!”

 
As always, Roca Riders can enjoy a FREE sample pack of all eight LMNT flavors with any order – plus a no-questions-asked, risk-free refund policy.

PS – If you have also enjoyed LMNT, send us your story to feature next!

🔑 Key Story

Punishments for Israel?

EU ministers are meeting on Monday to discuss “consequences” they may impose on Israel for “non-engagement” with their proposed peace plan

  • Per the Financial Times, the EU’s Israel-Gaze peace proposal includes “an independent Palestinian State”, “mutual diplomatic recognition,” and the “development of security and economic cooperation”

  • The EU doesn’t have as much diplomatic power over Israel as the US does, but it is one of Israel’s largest trade partners

  • Over the weekend, Israel’s prime minister rejected calls for the creation of an independent Palestine, calling such a state a threat

🔑 Key Story

Ronto the Next One

Florida governor Ron DeSantis dropped out of the presidential race, whittling the Republican field down to just two candidates. He endorsed Trump

  • During last week’s Iowa Caucus, DeSantis – formerly seen as Donald Trump’s top challenger – finished in second place with 21% of the vote, trailing Trump by 30 percentage points

  • On Sunday, two days before the New Hampshire primary, DeSantis announced he would drop out of the race. “We don’t have a clear path to victory,” he said. He endorsed Trump and criticized Nikki Haley, who he accused of promoting “corporatism”

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⚓ Dive Deeper

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Daily Poll

Today's Poll:

Who do you think will win the Republican primary race?

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Yesterday’s Poll: Chuck E. Cheese is

Creepy: 80%
Adorable: 20%

🍿 Happy Hour

🏈 And then there were four: The NFL conference championships are set: In the NFC, the Detroit Lions will play the San Francisco 49ers, and in the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs will take on the Baltimore Ravens

🟨🧊 Don’t pee and Zamboni: A longtime Detroit Red Wings driver – fired for urinating in a drain between two Zambonisfiled a lawsuit for age and disability discrimination 

It was… a rough night for Bills fans. “Wide right” strikes again

🪳 They’re baaaack: This spring, two cicada broods will simultaneously emerge from underground for the first time since 1803. Billions will appear across the Midwest and Southeast 

🐟🏧 FishTM: A Utah 17-year-old allegedly taped fish to ATMs and documented the pranks on social media. Police reported ~13 incidents where he taped fish to ATMs and other objects

👵🏻 “I swear I’m alive”: An 85-year-old retired British teacher has repeatedly struggled to prove she is alive after her pension provider mistakenly identified her as deceased and halted her payments

🍔 This is inspiring…: An American customer ordered a medium-cooked burger at a Toronto hotel and began eating before the server handed the customer a waiver since it wasn’t cooked well done

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🌯 Deep Dive

Roca Wrap

An alleged Yemeni militant is TikTok’s latest heartthrob.

Yemen is a country of 33M on the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. It is in part ruled by the Houthis, a militant group that originated in northern Yemen in the 1990s.

The Houthis began as a theological movement preaching revivalist Shia Islam and a political movement claiming that Shia Muslims were marginalized economically and politically in majority-Sunni Islam Yemen. It gradually evolved into a political rebellion against the Yemeni government.

In 2015, the Houthis seized large swaths of Yemen, including its capital city and surrounding areas.

Seeing the Houthis as a threat, majority-Sunni countries – including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – began a years-long bombing campaign against them to restore the ousted Sunni government. Meanwhile, Iran began arming the Houthis. The ensuing civil war remains ongoing today.

The Houthis control Yemen's capital region, while a Saudi-backed government controls the east.

Today, the Houthis are part of the “Axis of Resistance,” an Iran-led alliance of countries and armed groups that oppose Israel and the US. Like other Axis members, since October 7, the Houthis have fired missiles at Israel and the US military. They have also pledged to seize Israeli-linked ships that pass Yemen, causing major disruptions to global shipping through the Suez Canal.

Thanks to TikTok, though, 19-year-old Rashid Al Haddad has stolen the spotlight.

Haddad has been posting pictures and videos of himself aboard the seized container ship Galaxy Leader, which the Houthis stormed on November 19.

“Free Palestine We will bomb all Israeli ship,” one of Haddad’s posts read. “The ship is now our right, don’t turn it around,” read another. His posts have gone viral, especially on TikTok, with people dubbing him the “hot Yemeni TikTok Pirate” or simply, “TimHouthi Chalamet.”

Popular streamer Hasan Piker interviewed Haddad last week, although it is not clear if Haddad is an actual member of the Houthis or a pirate.

Last Friday, TikTok reportedly banned him from the platform for violating hate promotion policies.

Will that be the end to TimHouthi’s unexpected rise to fame?

***

Should TikTok have banned Rashid Al Haddad? Let us know what you think by replying to this email!

🌎 On-the-Ground

Roca Reports

In Bosnia, there is one politician whose name you hear often: Milorad Dodik.

The peace treaty that ended the Bosnian War structured Bosnia as a country with a weak federal government. Three presidents – one from each religious group – would cycle as leaders, and the groups would share power at lower levels. The system left the federal government weak and put power in the hands of the country’s two regions, the Federation and Republika Srpska. 

Dodik has led the Republika Srpska for 25 years. Technically a president, critics say he’s a dictator. While the US and other Western countries once considered him an influential moderate who could help keep the peace in Bosnia, many now see him as the man most likely to reignite a war. The US and UK have also sanctioned him and his associates for corruption.

Dodik derives support from nationalist Serbs. In line with that, he often says Bosnia shouldn’t even exist. His government has passed laws to expand Republika Srpska’s autonomy and directly overrule the federal government. He also threatens to declare independence. Doing so would violate the peace treaty that ended the Bosnian war, possibly igniting a new one.

As Dodik has become more isolated from the West, he has drawn closer to Russia and Vladimir Putin. Western analysts consider Dodik to be a Russian tool: If Putin were to support him in declaring independence, a conflict could start in Bosnia, suck in the West, and divert its attention from other issues. 

But people in Republika Srpska told me the opposite. “He’s the US’ guy,” one said, saying that despite the sanctions, the US controls him and will not let him do anything they don’t want. Others think he is beholden to no one and is playing both sides off each other to build up his own power and money.

To learn more about Dodik, I met with Alexander Trifunovic, the editor of an independent Republika Srpska news outlet. To Trifunovic, corruption drives Republika Srpska politics. 

“Dodik is the owner of Republika Srpska,” he said. While Dodik could push for independence, “he wouldn’t know what to do with it.” The current situation has made Dodik extremely wealthy and it’s unclear why he would change it. 

Regarding the country’s consistent instability, Trifunovic said, “The best definition of this country is a never-ending status quo.” Politicians maintain a situation that keeps them wealthy. Outside powers with the ability to change things, like the US, don’t, because they “don’t care.”

“‘Don’t start a new war please.’ That’s the US’ main concern,” Trifunovic said. “‘We don’t want a new crisis. We don’t want a refugee crisis. If you kill each other, that’s fine – so long as it doesn’t spill over.’”

Trifunovic says the biggest threat to the status quo may be the media.

“We try to show the level of political manipulation,” he said. “We try to expose how our people struggle while the politicians get richer and richer.”

Because the media is a threat, Trifunovic says Dodik has moved to silence it. 

“70% of the media is ‘covered,’” he said, meaning either owned or controlled by those close to the government. The Republika Srpska government is currently taking steps to silence the remaining 30%, Trifunovic says, citing three laws in particular. 

The first criminalizes defamation, enabling the government to both punish journalists and those who talk to them. The second says that any group supported by a foreign organization will have to register as a “foreign agent,” opening them up to charges of being controlled from abroad. The third, still a proposal, would force media outlets to register so the government can deem them legal or not. 

“It’s a copy of the Russian model,” he said. 

It’s clear to Trifunovic that in Republika Srpska, Dodik will try to decide what news his outlet can report on.

Let us know what you think at [email protected]!

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The Clubhouse

Question of the Day: Should TikTok have banned Rashid Al Haddad.(“TimHouthi Chamalet”)?

Yesterday’s Question: Just 20 Questions!

🧠 Editor’s Note

Final Thoughts

Listen, when one of the Maxes is from Bills nation, you come to expect heartbreak in January every year. That’s just what it is at this point. And also heartbreak in February because the other Max hasn’t had Valentine’s Day plans since the 2010s. He’s learning you can only eat cold pizza and watch Trailer Park Boys so many consecutive February 14’s in a row.

Have a great Monday, and thank you for reading the full newsletter!


—Max and Max