🌊 From Cannes to Canned

Spicy new movie on Trump banned from US theaters...

Let the (drinking) games begin!

Roca Nation, we’ve made it to yet another “most important election of our lifetime.” Congrats to all of us for setting another high mark. You all know we like to stay nonpartisan, but we hereby vow to endorse the next presidential candidate who declares an election “ehh, pretty important.” Or if we make it long enough to see a Gen Z candidate, “Nah this election mid fr.”

Looking forward to seeing you responses to today’s Question of the Day.

🎥 Donald Trump movie scandal

💸 Another UK betting scandal

🏀 Colorado's best job now open

–Max and Max


Ban the Masks?

Some US states are considering banning facemasks amid a spate of anti-Israel harassment cases

  • Earlier this month, a masked protester boarded a subway in New York City and said, “Raise your hands if you’re a Zionist. This is your chance to get out.” Hours later, a group of masked protesters gathered outside an exhibit in the city commemorating the victims of the October 7 music festival massacre, holding a sign that read, “Long live October 7”

  • New York’s Democratic governor is now considering a facemask ban, while North Carolina’s legislature is poised to enact one

Dig Deeper

  • At least 18 states and DC already ban public masking

  • New York's governor said she felt a need to act after “a group donning masks took over a subway car, scaring riders and chanting things about Hitler and wiping out Jews”

  • Yet groups including libertarians, protesters, and people with health concerns have criticized the laws as violating their liberties


Trump Movie Scandal

A Donald Trump biopic isn’t being released in the US

  • “The Apprentice” debuted at the Cannes Film Festival on May 20 and earned an eight-minute standing ovation. It ostensibly tells the story of how lawyer Roy Cohn (played by Jeremy Strong) guided Donald Trump (Sebastian Stan) to become a real estate mogul in the 1980s

  • It reportedly portrays Trump in a terrible light: Among other things, it features a graphic scene in which he rapes Ivana, his first wife

  • Companies have bought the rights to distribute the movie globally, yet no such deal has been reached for the US, fueling questions as to why

Dig Deeper

  • Kinematics, a company financed primarily by Dan Snyder – a Washington, DC, area billionaire who has given over $1M to Trump – put up roughly half of the movie’s budget. Media analysts say Snyder is using his leverage to block the movie’s American distribution to avoid angering Trump or because he opposes it politically

  • Various outlets have run stories that say people “close to” the movie 100% blame Snyder. “He flipped out and went to war against us [after seeing the movie],” the Washington Post quoted one as saying

  • Kinematics says it’s a money matter and that it hasn’t yet received an attractive enough offer to sell the distribution rights. The company is also reportedly concerned about legal exposure from the rape scene


Beating Big Fashion

  • Most fashionable clothes are designed for taller or larger women, not for those who are “petite,” defined as being 5’4” or under

  • That meant they didn’t fit Anh, an Australian fashion designer (and Roca reader), so she and her boyfriend decided to solve it

  • This month, they launched their company – Sylphic – which provides high-quality, fashionable clothing to women who are neglected by Big Fashion

Dig Deeper

  • Sylphic is the product of years of Anh’s work and passion, which began when her parents were working in a Vietnamese clothing factory

  • Support the Roca community and check them out!


SCOTUS Rulings

SCOTUS rejected an effort to restrict White House contact with social media companies

  • A group of social media users and Republican attorneys general from Missouri and Louisiana had sued the Biden Administration, alleging that during the pandemic, it had pressured social media companies to censor content violating the Constitution

  • On Wednesday, SCOTUS rejected the suit, ruling that the plaintiffs lacked the “standing” – the justification – to have a court hear their case because they failed to prove the government influenced the companies’ decisions and to show how it harmed them

Dig Deeper

  • The case was decided 6-3, with three conservatives and three liberals in the majority, and three conservatives dissenting

  • Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote for the majority that the plaintiffs struggled to show how they were harmed and failed “to link their past social-media restrictions and the defendants’ communications with the platforms”

  • Justice Samuel Alito dissented, writing, “For months, high-ranking Government officials placed unrelenting pressure on Facebook to suppress Americans’ free speech. Because the Court unjustifiably refuses to address this serious threat to the First Amendment, I respectfully dissent”


UK Betting Scandal

A UK Labour candidate bet against himself, expanding a scandal engulfing numerous UK politicians

  • Last month, UK PM Rishi Sunak announced that parliamentary elections would take place on July 4, months earlier than had been expected

  • Various members of Sunak’s Conservative party – including candidates and the party’s director of campaigning – have since been accused of betting on the election date

  • Then on Tuesday, a Labour candidate admitted to having bet on himself to lose his race. While he claimed it was a joke, the party suspended him

Dig Deeper

  • “A few weeks ago when I thought I would never win this seat I put a bet on the Tories to win here with the intention of giving any winnings to local charities,” the Labour candidate said

  • The betting allegations have added to the Conservatives' woes: The party is poised for its worst-ever election performance and Labour for its best in a century. Since Sunak announced the elections, the Conservatives’ popularity has dipped from an already dismal 23% to 20%

Some Quick Stories for the Office

🇰🇪Kenya’s president withdrew the bill that sparked deadly protests. The bill – which would raise taxes on everyday items – had led to unrest that culminated in protesters breaching the capital and police opening fire

🇧🇴A coup attempt failed in Bolivia on Wednesday. After the general who led it was defeated, he claimed the president had put him up to it

😲Georgia defeated Portugal in a shock victory to advance in the Euro Cup. It’s Georgia’s first time in the tournament and despite being outplayed for most of the game, they topped Spain 2-0

💸 YouTube is negotiating with record labels to use their music to train song-generating AI models. Record labels have been hesitant to let AI models train on their music, but Google-owned YouTube is reportedly offering them a lot of cash

⚖️ The US Supreme Court accidentally published a draft decision on Wednesday. It was quickly taken down, but suggests the court will rule that states must allow emergency abortions


🧠 Yesterday’s question: Where is free speech most under threat today?

Colleges--when the mob gathers because they don't even want a guest speaker to appear, that shows they are afraid of his/her ideas, and that's very telling.

Social media: The government comes down hard on Facebook and Twitter for allowing users to question govt policies (example: Covid-related mandates). If the companies buckle under the pressure, then that is, by definition, government censorship. Additionally, Youtube simply deletes the videos that express the "wrong" opinions (Dennis Prager and Jordan Peterson are two examples)

All of us should be frightened that it's happening.

James from Texas

Honestly I’d say the “West” (Europe and North America). All the countries normally talked about in the suppression of free speech discussion openly suppress it and it’s common knowledge. As a Canadian, it’s much more insidious here. Freedom of speech and internet freedom are all being restricted under the guise of not offending anyone. Disgusting and dangerous.

Adrian from Canada

Many people seem to misunderstand the concept of free speech in the USA. They believe it grants them the freedom to express themselves without facing any repercussions, especially on social media. In reality, our protected right ensures that we can articulate opinions and ideas without government interference, retaliation, or punishment. This protection does not extend to social media or other platforms. Certainly, individuals are free to speak their minds, but they must also be prepared to face the consequences of their words.

Becky from Kansas

🤔 Today’s Question: Predictions for tonight’s debate?

Some Quick Stories for Happy Hour

🤦 Average typo in Ohio: A typo caused jailers to mistakenly release an Ohio inmate accused of aggravated murder after they mixed up his docket number with that of a man whose case was just thrown out

🕷 Spider tuah: Minnesota police arrested Marisa Simonetti, a county board candidate, for allegedly tossing a live tarantula at an accused squatter during a fight

🏀 The perfect job doesn’t ex-: The Denver Nuggets are looking to hire the next “SuperMascot Rocky,” one of basketball’s most iconic mascot roles. The new mascot will earn between $70k and $130k per year

“Hey, honey, I brought you some stuff from work!”

🏍 Hells Inmates: Authorities arrested the entire Bakersfield, California, chapter of the Hells Angels outlaw motorcycle club on various violent charges

🎹 “Why does that guy look familiar?” BBC news presenter Ros Atkins will perform a drum’n’bass DJ set at the UK’s Glastonbury Festival, one of the world’s largest music festivals, on Saturday


Bleeding in the King’s Court

Roca co-founder Max Frost recently took a report to western Africa. The full series is available in our app or in our premium We the 66 newsletter, but we are also running excerpts here. 

“The King is Ready for You.”

Many places in Africa have parallel authorities: The government and a traditional authority, like a chief or a king. That’s particularly true in places where the government has little credibility – places like Casamance, in southern Senegal.

“People go to the king when they need solutions,” my local guide Charles said. “The king is the big person responsible for the kingdom of Diola.”

“We go to the king before the justice [the courts] because the justice is very complicated. Because we are animists, we need justice locally. If we kill someone, then yes – we have to go to justice. But we animists go to the king because we have good collaboration, and the good collaboration means that I have a problem, I go to the king.”

“If I have a problem with my neighbor and it’s simple, I go to the king,” he said. “And if it’s, say, ‘I killed my neighbor,’ then we go to the justice.”

“Everybody respects the king,” he said. “The president even respects the king.”

Charles was a relative of the king, so he was able to facilitate a meeting with him. On the approach to his meeting area, a woman came running up behind us: She wanted to see the king, she said, but was too nervous to go alone. Could she go with us? 

At the king’s court – a shady area under a row of palm trees – we were told to wait until he called us. Several minutes later he did so. 

But then I felt the drip.

As we walked into the king’s court, I kept sniffling. Then I wiped my nose with my wrist: A streak of blood. Covering my face, I told Charles that I couldn’t go in.

“We have to, it’s the king,” he said.

“I can’t, my nose is bleeding.”

“It’s fine, it’s fine, let’s go.”

But I was starting to bleed a lot. I asked for tissues and toilet paper, but there were none. “It’s fine, it’s fine!” He kept saying.

But the blood picked up – and just as the king entered his court and saw me, I backed out.

Charles and I – with blood all over my face and hand – ended up running up the street, going into shop after shop until we found someone selling tissues. Then we went back to the king’s court, where we were told the king may no longer be able to see us. Charles told me to wait and that he would try to get us in. So I sat there, bleeding in the king’s waiting area.

The nosebleed went on for over a half hour. As this happened, people came in and out of the king’s court. One man sat a few feet down from me, waiting to see the king. When my nosebleed finally stopped, I started talking to him and asked why he was seeing the king.

He was visibly shook up: “My son had an accident,” he said. “He’s drives jakarta [a motorcycle taxi] and got in an accident.”

“Is he okay?”

“He survived. He is injured. His jaw…” he gestured as though it had been shattered. “But the passenger…” he struggled to get it out. “The passenger died.”

He now had to inform the king and get his advice for how to right the situation.

Then it was my turn. I entered the king’s court – an open square on the edge of the forest shaded by palm trees – and took a seat while I waited for the king to come out. When he did, I stood up to shake his hand. Charles gestured at me to say something.

I said a few pleasantries about his kingdom, which Charles translated. Then Charles asked me if I wanted the king’s advice on anything.

“Well, I have a great staff at my company, but sometimes I wish they would put more attention to their work. They are such hard workers, but sometimes they make mistakes that I wish they wouldn’t.”

Charles translated this to the king, who then spoke at length in the Diola language. Charles turned to me: “Your company, it’s Canadian or American?”

“American,” I said. Charles expressed that to the king, who nodded.

The king spoke for a while longer, at which point Charles turned to me.

Any thoughts? Reply to this email to share them!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed reading about Frost’s poorly-timed nosebleed.

To wash over it with some Thursday inspiration, think of Joshua Slocum, who completed the first solo circumnavigation of the globe on this day in 1898. One crazy fact about the famed mariner is that he never... learned how to swim. In 1909, he disappeared in the Atlantic Ocean, never to be seen again.

We’d much prefer a nosebleed in front of a king.

–Max and Max