🌊 Campus Chaos

Plus: Does society run on hardship?

In partnership with

“Oh yeah? Well, my leader is older than yours!”

Pew just released a graph of world leaders by age. The median age of world leaders is 62. Interestingly, if you were to separate male and female leaders, the median age for both groups would also be 62. The youngest national leader is Burkina Faso’s Ibrahim Traoré, who is 36, and the oldest is President Paul Biya of Cameroon, who is 91. Biden, by comparison, is a spring chicken at 81. If you hear the sound of distant laughter, it’s Punxsutawney Phil, who at 138 puts all of them to shame.

✈️ New Boeing Rival?

💰 Trump's $1.8B Day

🌭 Hotdog Attack

–Max, Max, and Alex

KEY STORY

Campus Chaos

Tensions remain high across US campuses after hundreds of arrests and violence at UCLA

  • At New York City’s Columbia and City College, police arrested nearly 300 protesters on Tuesday night

  • Hours later, pro- and anti-Israel protesters clashed at UCLA, where fighting broke out and fireworks were launched into the anti-Israel tent encampment

  • Early Thursday, police cleared out the UCLA encampment, however encampments remain on campuses across the US

  • Separately, on Wednesday, a bipartisan group in the US House approved a bill to establish “a clear definition of antisemitism” so the Education Department could cut funding to universities that tolerate it

Dig Deeper

  • The proposed bill would define antisemitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.” That definition would also encompass the “targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity”

  • President Biden hasn’t commented on the protests since last week, when he both condemned “antisemitic protests” and “those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians.” He is expected to comment next week, when he is scheduled to speak at the Holocaust Museum’s yearly Holocaust remembrance event

  • Donald Trump called the arrests at Columbia a “beautiful thing”

KEY STORY

J&J Cancer Settlement

Johnson & Johnson proposed paying $6.5B to settle claims that its baby powder caused ovarian cancer

  • 50,000+ people have sued J&J – the world’s largest pharmaceutical company by revenue – for allegedly selling baby powder that caused their cancer. J&J discontinued the product in 2022 but claims it was safe and has alleged a “misinformation” campaign

  • J&J has been pursuing ways to limit the impact of the lawsuits, including via unsuccessful attempts to spin off part of the company and have it declare bankruptcy. On Tuesday, it said it would pay claimants $6.5B over 25 years to have the lawsuits dropped

Dig Deeper

  • 75% of claimants now must vote to accept the deal

  • J&J faces further accusations that its talc products were tainted with asbestos and caused mesothelioma. Those claims are not included in this settlement

  • J&J has budgeted $11B to resolve all cancer allegations against it

ROCA PARTNER

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Their expert research team spends all day learning what’s new in AI and gives you ‘the rundown’ of the most important developments in one free email every morning.

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KEY STORY

New Boeing Rival?

Amid Boeing’s troubles, Brazil’s Embraer is considering creating a plane to rival the Boeing 737

  • The commercial airline market is a duopoly dominated by EU-based Airbus and US-based Boeing. Brazil’s Embraer is in a distant third

  • On Tuesday, though, The Wall Street Journal reported that a group at Embraer is considering producing a larger jet to rival the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 – the world’s top-selling commercial planes

  • The decision to do so would be a massive bet – in the tens of billions of dollars – that, if successful, could shake up the industry

Dig Deeper

  • Last year, Embraer delivered 181 aircraft, versus Boeing’s 528 and Airbus’s 735. Yet Embraer leads in the production of regional jets, which typically have ~120 seats and are smaller than those made by Boeing and Airbus. The largest Airbus jet holds 500+ passengers; the largest Embraer, 146

  • While it’s unclear how likely Embraer is to pursue the plan, the company is confirmed to have approached potential financial partners and believes it has the know-how and capacity needed

KEY STORY

Society Runs on Hardship

A study published in the journal Nature found that “frequent disturbances” make societies more resilient

  • An international team of researchers examined 16 societies across 30,000 years’ worth of archaeological data to spot downturns, which could be related to hardships such as wars, climate change, or natural disasters. They then compared how societies rebounded from their respective struggles to measure resilience

  • The paper concluded that having overcome hardship before led societies to recover from future hardship faster

Dig Deeper

  • Another finding was that “land-use practices associated with food production” – i.e., farming or herding – are “positively correlated with the frequency of downturns”

  • The researchers hypothesized that humans with greater dependence on domesticated species or farm production are more vulnerable to hardship. Given that humans became more dependent on land-based food production over time, that suggests they also become more vulnerable to downturns

RUNDOWN
Some Quick Stories for the Office

💰 Truth Social’s parent company, TMTG, disclosed that it gave Donald Trump a bonus worth $1.8B. Trump, who owns a majority of TMTG, was eligible for the bonus because TMTG’s share price stayed above $17.50 for 20 consecutive trading days. Trump’s cumulative shares are valued at ~$5.7B

💰 Amazon disclosed that it earned a record $143B in Q1 of 2024 – 13% higher than that same quarter a year prior. The boom was largely driven by growth in advertising and AI-related demand for Amazon’s cloud services

🏛 Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said she will move to oust Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), who she accuses of selling to the Democrats by passing aid to Ukraine. Democrats have vowed to keep Johnson in power 

📈 The US Federal Reserve decided to hold interest rates steady. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said that there is a “lack of further progress” in bringing it down to the 2% target, but hopes that will change by Labor Day

🫃 A small group of Republicans joined with Democrats in Arizona’s legislatures to repeal a near-total abortion ban that dated to 1864

🌿 A week after Harvey Weinstein had a rape conviction overturned, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office asked to retry the former Hollywood producer in September. A New York court had convicted Weinstein of sexual assault and rape, but the ruling was overturned after the judge was found to have biased the jury against Weinstein

COMMUNITY

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.

This week’s Roca Votes Wrap asked: How should Columbia respond to a student who said “Zionists… need to not exist?” Our Wrap has the full context.

Robert has provided EXACTLY, to the letter in fact, my opinion of the situation. I appreciate his lengthy answer because the situation is nuanced and can't be reduced to sound bites or short answers. The situation is complex and ancient and deserves the time/effort he put into his comment. Thanks to him!!

Renae

Robert for President!

Colleen

Universities are there to educate and not indoctrinate. Our constitution grants you the right to feel and believe what you want, but the laws based on that constitution ensure that as the same way you have your rights and those could not be hindered by anyone you can not and must not hinder anyone else's rights expressing your views and beliefs, period. By braking the rules/laws you are violating others rights and thus it negates your efforts for your ideal/ideas.

Miguel

Nice response on the Columbia Protests, Robert! I agree 100% with your statements! I don’t feel it’s riding the fence at all. It’s distinguishing boundaries for each side. Based on the rules we agree to, both as a country, private institution and individual. With freedom comes responsibility.

Pandora

Reply to this email to keep the conversation going!

POPCORN
Some Quick Stories for Happy Hour

🎭 Best Supporting Nurse goes to…: An investigation revealed that staff at an Australian health clinic impersonated patients to make the clinic appear busier during a health minister’s visit

🍺 Don’t Drink & Kick Bison, Kids: Yellowstone National Park rangers arrested and jailed a 40-year-old man who injured himself by kicking a bison while drunk

🌭 Hot dog fight: During $1 hot dog night at the Mets’ Citi Field, security escorted a fan out of the stadium after fans began pelting him with extra hot dogs in the ninth inning

😵‍💫 NB-Ayo! In the last two weeks, Denver Nuggets star Michael Porter Jr.’s three brothers have gotten into trouble: One received a lifetime ban from the NBA for betting on games, another was arrested for a DWI, and the other was sentenced to six years in prison for a fatal drunk-driving crash

🤑 Based luck: An Oregon man who’s battled cancer for eight years and underwent chemotherapy just last week won this month’s $1.3B Powerball jackpot, the fourth-largest in history

ROCA WRAP
Uncensored Library

In 2019, a group of reporters had an idea.

They were from Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a non-profit that draws attention to media repression, and had noticed that in many countries, governments were blocking young people from accessing information freely.

While those young people were being “forced to grow up in systems where their opinion is heavily manipulated by governmental disinformation campaigns,” RSF claimed, they still had access to Minecraft, the best-selling video game of all time.

Even in the world’s most repressive countries, Minecraft wasn’t banned. And because the game is based around building worlds, RSF set out to build an uncensored world.

In 2019, they partnered with Minecraft building team Blockworks. After eight months, the 24-person virtual construction team had finished the Uncensored Library.

The Library is a virtual world where players can access information. Nine countries where journalism is repressed have their own rooms where people can access forbidden articles.

Those rooms include the work of independent journalists who have been jailed, exiled, or killed in countries like Russia, Egypt, and Vietnam; a Saudi room contains writings by Jamal Khashoggi (killed 2018).

The library’s central room contains the Press Freedom Index, which ranks the press freedoms of every country in the world: Norway ranks 1/180, the US 45/180, and North Korea 180/180.

Made of 12.8M blocks, the library is a massive structure and a wonder of the Minecraft world. Over 25M players have visited it, which RSF says has resulted in a 60% increase in donations to the organization.

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

EDITOR’S NOTE
Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed today’s installment of RocaNews. We’ll be back tomorrow with both another episode of our podcast, We the 66, and 20 Questions. We hope you have great Thursdays.

— Max, Max, and Alex