🌊 You Up, China?

US and China return to talking stage, new member of smartest animal club and end of the Year 20 Questions!

If you’re not happy with your Christmas bonus, be grateful that it wasn’t a potato. A hospital worker shared on Twitter that her Christmas bonus came in the form of a “free” loaded potato buffet. “Free” is in quotation marks because her employer also notified her that its $15 value would be taxed on her next paycheck. Does anyone know if extra sour cream is deductible?

We wish the merriest Christmas to all of you who celebrate and a merry long weekend to those of you who don’t. We’ll be back on Tuesday — hopefully wearing the new “CNN and Fox are alarmist and biased!” socks we asked for.

In today's edition:

 🔑 Key Stories

Dialogue Restored

The US and China restored direct military-to-military talks for the first time since August 2022

  • In August 2022, then-House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan; in response, China severed direct military-to-military talks with the US

  • Last month, President Biden and Xi Jinping met near San Francisco. During that, the sides agreed to restart military-to-military talks

  • On Thursday, General Charles Brown – the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – held a call with his Chinese counterpart, during which they discussed “the importance of working together”

Super League Revived?

The EU’s top court ruled that world soccer’s governing bodies broke EU law by blocking the formation of a Super League (SL)

  • In April 2021, news broke that 12 of Europe’s richest soccer clubs planned to join a breakaway “Super League.” UEFA – Europe’s soccer governing body – and FIFA – the world soccer federation – threatened sanctions against clubs that joined the new league

  • A22 – the league’s organizer – sued, alleging UEFA and FIFA monopolized soccer. On Thursday, the EU’s top court agreed, ruling they had unfairly squashed competition. A22 celebrated the ruling; UEFA and several soccer clubs denounced the Super League

Giuliani Goes Bankrupt

Rudy Giuliani filed for bankruptcy after a court ordered him to pay $146M to election workers

  • Giuliani, 79, was NYC’s mayor during 9/11 and became known as “America’s Mayor.” He later joined Trump’s legal team and was involved in lawsuits alleging that the 2020 election was stolen

  • Last week, a judge ordered Giuliani to pay $146M to two Georgia election workers whom he accused of helping to steal the election

  • On Thursday, Giuliani – who called the penalty “absurd” – filed for bankruptcy. The filing shows he expects to pay up to $500M in election-related lawsuits

GTA 6 Hacker Hospitalized 

18-year-old UK hacker Arion Kurtaj was sentenced to indefinite hospitalization after leaking clips from the new Grand Theft Auto (GTA)

  • Kurtaj was a member of a hacking group behind several cyberattacks. Last September, while on bail, he used a cellphone, Firestick, and TV to hack into GTA-maker Rockstar Games and steal 70 clips from the upcoming GTA 6. After, he said he would continue hacking if free

  • On Thursday, a judge sentenced Kurtaj – who has severe autism – to indefinite hospitalization, i.e., for the rest of his life or until a doctor rules he no longer poses a threat to society

Santa’s the Only One You Should Be Sharing Cookies With!

The holidays can be a hectic time of year — making travel plans, buying gifts, giving back to charitable donations — but it is also a busy time for cybercriminals who are trying to take advantage of you and your information based on your online activity

  • With Surfshark, you can fight back against cyber thieves and better protect your personal information (hands-off my cyber cookies!) Surfshark offers Roca readers 82% OFF + 4 Months Free for any bundle

  • Surfshark is a cybersecurity company that develops humanized privacy and security solutions to safeguard your data and privacy online. Simply create an account, download the Surfshark app, connect to the VPN server, and browse

  • Millions of people worldwide trust Surfshark for the security solutions that safeguard their data and privacy online. Plus, you can set up one account and use it on unlimited devices! Enhance your security with Surfshark, or give a friend a gift of online privacy. Use the link below to explore the Holiday deals. Secure yourself today with 82% OFF and four months free! 

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Dodgers’ mid-franchise crisis: The LA Dodgers signed Japanese star pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a 12-year, $325M contract, bringing their offseason spending to over $1B

  • Are you smarter than a chimp? Apes can remember friends they met up to 26 years ago, per a new study. Only two other animals – humans and dolphins – have a demonstrated such memory

  • Look out, Magnus: Eight-year-old British chess phenom Bodhana Sivanandan won the women’s first prize at a European chess championship. She finished 73rd place overall, ahead of several grandmasters

Wildcard

  • First rule of fight club...: Officials at a Maryland high school are investigating after 10 student fights broke out on Tuesday, including a large brawl captured in a viral video

  • Where debts come true: Two Illinois grandparents mistakenly bought $10K worth of Disney+ streaming service gift cards instead of Disney Parks gift cards for a family trip

  • Tastes like crack: Ohio health inspectors closed a McDonald’s after a customer claimed to find a crack pipe in his drive-thru breakfast order. The customer declined a refund

👇🏻 What do you think?

Today's Poll:

Do you have a family member that belongs on the ‘naughty’ list?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Today’s poll is sponsored by Surfshark, a leading virtual private network (VPN) provider. Block those annoying pop-up ads with Surfshark!

Today's Question:

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🗣 20 Questions

20 questions logo

It's not often that we get to ask you all 20 Questions. Well, technically it's every week, but how often do we get to ask you a "Year in Review" 20 Questions? Our intern just did the math and that can only happen every 365 days.

So, let's cherish the moment and have some fun with the second-to-last 20 Questions of the year. Thank you for a 20 Questions year filled laughter, tears, and enlightenment.

Here’s the link to this week’s 20 Questions. Merry Christmas!

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Do you think the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling helps or hurts Trump?

Helps: 53%
Hurts: 40%
No opinion: 7%

Yesterday's Question:

Yesterday’s question was related to our Wrap about Holocaust denial. Should Holocaust denial be a crime? Do these trends alarm you? What do you think explains them?

Robert from Richmond: “Holocaust denial is protected free speech. Whether you agree or disagree with protected free speech is determined by your stance on your belief of others not allowing you to voice your craziest belief/opinion.”

Rhonda: “Holocaust denial should be a crime.  At the very least the Holocaust was conducted as a hate crime and to deny that it happened is to support the crime. These trends alarm me because supporting them points to the possibility of something similar happening again.”

Anna from the US: “It is very problematic that Holocaust Denial is being used to excuse antisemitism and violence against both individuals and a nation. This was foreseen by many, even General Eisenhower. He ordered that as many photographs and videos be made as possible, predicting that in 70 years there would be those who would deny it ever really happened. Despite evidence that it actually did happen, people are denying it, just as predicted.  Many countries were created/redrawn after WWI, WWII, Korea, and during the 1960s and 1970s. None of these have had ongoing conflicts, calls for extermination, and so called justification for extermination as has Israel. Denial is not justification.”

Paul from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: “Holocaust denial should not be a crime.  Freedom of speech is a right for all US citizens - even idiots.”

Last Week's 20 Qs Responses:

Last week we ran a Would You Rather version of 20 Questions. The winning choice for each prompt is bolded below.

  1. Listen to only Taylor Swift music the rest of your life, or watch only The Office on TV the rest of your life?

    Taylor Swift

    The Office

  2. Eat a tablespoon of mayonnaise or moisturize your face with Frank's red hot?

    Mayo

    Frank's

  3. Be an ugly genius, or a beautiful imbecile?

    Ugly genius

    Beautiful imbecile

  4. Go barefoot for a month or only eat bananas for 30 days?

    Barefoot

    Bananas

  5. Eat 50 wings in a sitting or sit in traffic for 6 hours?

    50 wings

    Traffic

  6. Have a tail or have no taste?

    Tail

    No taste

  7. Fight a chimpanzee once a year (you have a machete) or have to kill a chicken every time you get in your car?

    Chimp

    Chicken

  8. 24 hours of listening to Baby Shark or swim in Lake Michigan for 30 minutes right now?

    Baby Shark

    Lake Michigan

  9. Spend one month in 1880 America or one month in 2080 America?

    1880

    2080

  10. Be able to instantly cook any food to perfection, or change what food is the moment it hits your stomach?
    Cook to perfection

    Change food

  11. Replace your skin with sandpaper or replace your hair with spaghetti?

    Sandpaper skin

    Spaghetti hair

  12. Be a Barbie/Ken in Barbie world or a wizard/witch in Harry Potter world?

    Barbie/Ken

    Wizard/witch

  13. Get slapped by a different random 12 year old every morning at 7 AM, or slap a random 7 year old every night at 11 PM?
    Get slapped

    Slap

  14. Drink a Red Bull at 10 pm every day for a month or live in Dave & Buster's for a month?

    Red Bull

    Dave & Buster's

  15. Shadow Paul Blart for a day as a mall cop or shadow Ron Burgundy for a day as a TV anchor?
    Paul Blart

    Ron Burgundy

  16. Wear a CNN hoodie for a week or use syrup as shampoo for a week?

    CNN hoodie

    Syrup shampoo

  17. Receive $5M now, or wait ten years for $30M?

    $5M now

    $30M in ten years

  18.  Eat Gordon Ramsay's cooking every day or receive a motivational talk from David Goggins every day?

    Gordon Ramsay's cooking

    David Goggins talk

  19. Eat a piece of paper right now or sing "All I Want for Christmas Is You" in front of your dentist?

    Piece of paper

    Dentist serenade

  20. Have a good weekend or have a great weekend?

    Good weekend

    Great weekend

🧠 Intermission

We wish you all wonderful Christmas weekends. Hopefully there are no meltdowns (either at airports or the dinner table), you can get some time off, and can enjoy relaxing with your loved ones. Thank you for riding the Roca wave into the holiday season. We’ll be back with a special edition on December 26.

For premium subscribers, our next on-the-ground trip starts on Wednesday. Until then, we’re running a series of special feature articles we think you’ll enjoy. Today’s is a deep-dive into one of the most interesting jobs we’ve ever come across.

–Max and Max

🌎 Roca Reports

This week we concluded Roca Reports series in Finland where we tried to answer the pivotal question: Is it truly the world’s happiest country? Start your 14-day free trial here to catch up! We’ll be launching the next road trip next week. In the meantime, enjoy the first of a new series about odd jobs in the Roca community.

Dog bites led Erik Swanson to his dream job.

Erik’s journey began as a rebellious kid in Staten Island, where he threw a rock through a police officer’s window. “He was pissed off,” Erik told Roca of his younger self. His father proposed a punishment: Serving as dog bait.

Subscribe to Roca Premium to read the rest.

Become a paying subscriber of Roca Premium to get access to this post and other subscriber-only content.

Already a paying subscriber? Sign In

A subscription gets you:
Subscriber community access
On-the-ground investigations of stories no one else is covering
Exclusive deep dives and interviews