🌊 City That Sometimes Sues

A new antibiotic to beat all superbugs? Hollywood star wants to become a deacon and 20 Questions!

I don’t think there’s a statue in the world that’s had a worse 60-year run than the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen. Today is the 26-year anniversary of its second decapitation, hence why we’re telling you this. The statue, which was unveiled in 1913, has had the following things happen to it in the last 60 years: Two decapitations, one partial beheading, one arm sawed off, and a detonation that led to it falling off its base. After each beheading, someone anonymously returned the Little Mermaid’s head.

As terrible as we feel for the Little Mermaid statue, she did ask to be a part of our world. Thank you, Disney Adults, for hopefully chuckling at that.

In today's edition:

  • A new antibiotic to beat all superbugs?

  • Hollywood star wants to become a deacon

  • 20 Questions!

 🔑 Key Stories

Oklahoma Teen First to Beat Tetris

A 13-year-old Tetris phenom became the first human to beat the game

  • Tetris challenges users to arrange blocks that travel at increasingly faster speeds. The speed maxes out at level 29, long considered as far as a player could go

  • Since the 2010s, though, advances in Tetris techniques have enabled players to surpass level 29. In 2020, a player became the first to reach level 35; by August 2022, another had reached level 146

  • Last month, 13-year-old Willis Gibson reached level 157, generating a “kill screen,” or the point at which a game exceeds its programmed limit and crashes

  • “I’m going to pass out, I can’t feel my fingers,” he said after his victory

Watch Reflection Saves Fisherman

A New Zealand fisherman survived ~24 hours in the ocean before rescuers spotted the glint off his watch

  • Will Fransen, 61, set off on Tuesday on a solo fishing expedition. On his first day, he hooked a marlin, but just before releasing it lost his balance and fell overboard 

  • Fransen’s boat – engine still running – left him stranded in the ocean. He tried to swim to nearby islands but eventually gave up and tried to float

  • Despite circling sharks, Fransen survived the night. The following day, a passing boat rescued him after seeing the glint off his watch. Fransen – suffering from hypothermia – is now recovering on shore

Beating the Superbug

For the first time in half a century, researchers identified a new class of antibiotics that appears effective at killing a deadly superbug 

  • Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (CRAB) is a highly drug-resistant pathogen that can cause severe infections. It primarily infects hospitalized patients and has a 40-60% fatality rate

  • Per a new study published in the journal Nature, a newly-discovered antibiotic has proved effective at treating CRAB. The drug – effective in mouse trials – is now in a Phase 1 clinical trial. Researchers called it the first new class of drugs for CRAB in 50+ years

NYC Suing Migrant Buses

New York City sued 17 bus companies for allegedly violating state laws by transporting migrants there from Texas

  • 170,000+ migrants have arrived in NYC since 2022, 33,600 of whom have been bussed there from Texas

  • Buses have recently been dropping migrants in New Jersey and instructing them to take public transportation into the city to sidestep restrictions

  • On Thursday, Adams announced NYC had sued 17 bus companies for $700M. The suit cites a 19th-century law requiring those who transport “a needy person” into New York to cover their expenses

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Now I am become sweat: “Oppenheimer” director Christopher Nolan said that a Peloton instructor once criticized one of his movies mid-ride, saying “that’s a couple hours of my life I’ll never get back”

  • Adíos, La Pistola: NBA guard Ricky Rubio – who stepped away from the Cleveland Cavaliers to address his mental health – has decided to retire after a 12-year career

  • Once baptized and twice Shia: Actor Shia LaBeouf is reportedly considering becoming a deacon in the Catholic Church after receiving the sacrament of confirmation

Wildcard

  • Florida Man v. Florida Toilet: A customer at a Florida Dunkin’ location filed a negligence lawsuit against the company, claiming an exploding toilet covered in human feces, urine, and debris

  • Introducing…GrubGate! Former Republican congresswoman Mayra Flores faces accusations of stealing pictures of food and playing them off as her own cooking in a scandal dubbed “GrubGate”

  • No more TikTok tunnels! A popular TikTok user known as “Kala” has garnered millions of views for her underground tunnel project beneath her Virginia home. Authorities have ordered her to stop

👇🏻 What do you think?

Today's Question:

Today's Poll:

Have you ever played Tetris?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🗣 20 Questions

20 questions logo

It's been a long time since we've done a "This or That" music edition. We are going to give you a matchup of songs and artists on Rolling Stone's Top 500 Songs of All Time. Given the age and geographic diversity of our readers, we imagine some of these will be divisive.

The fact that "Play That Funky Music" didn't crack the top 10 is beyond us. Here’s a link, and have a great weekend!

🌯 Roca Wrap

This week we began a new Roca Reports series with on-the-ground reports from Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo. That continues today. Enjoy!

Before people knew what was happening, Sarajevo found itself under siege.  

Sarajevo is situated in a valley surrounded by mountains on all sides. After Bosnia’s government declared independence from Yugoslavia on March 3, 1992, Serb forces began taking up positions in those mountains. By April, Sarajevo was surrounded.

What ensued was the longest siege in modern history. From April 1992 until February 1996, Sarajevo’s people were unable to leave and forced to rely on only what they could make themselves or smuggle in. On a daily basis, the Serb forces rained artillery down upon the city and shot civilians at random. 

The main road through the city became known as “sniper alley” and people commuted by sprinting behind a tram as snipers aimed at them from the mountains above. Too dangerous to go outside, schools moved into apartment buildings while basements became bomb shelters. 

One Sarajevan I met, a man in his 40s named Adis, was 13 when the war started. On the street, he pointed out an intersection: “This is where the first two women were killed, Suada and Olga. Suada was a Muslim, Olga was Orthodox.” 

Further up the street, he pointed to another spot. “Do you know about the Sarajevo Romeo and Juliet? This is where they were killed.”

Adis told me he lost cousins in the war. “We went to school in basements because we had to stay close at home,” he said. “Of course, many kids snuck out from home to go play.” That’s when the snipers would get them or they’d get hit by artillery. “I lost many friends that way.”

Even today, many Sarajevo buildings still have bullet holes and pockmarks from artillery shells. 

Another man I met, Ibrahim, was a teenager when the siege began. 

“I was saved by a cigarette,” he told me. Shelling had started and he went to his neighbor’s basement. After 30 minutes, he went to leave, but his neighbor convinced him to stay for another smoke. Seconds later, a mortar struck where he would have been exiting. 

“It makes you think about life,” he told me.

His cousin was similarly lucky: A grenade had gone off feet away from her, but she happened to be wearing three shirts because of the cold. The shrapnel sliced through each of her layers, but just “kissed” her stomach. Millimeters saved her life. 

Other of Ibrahim’s relatives weren’t so lucky. He lost seven cousins and his brother during the war. He drove me to a lookout point, where he pointed to the cemetery where his brother is buried. 

Weeks before the war ended, Ibrahim’s brother went with four of his best friends to counterattack a Serb position. Led by a guide, they trekked out of Sarajevo and into the mountains. For weeks, Ibrahim’s family heard nothing – only a report that the group’s local guide had abandoned them after they came under attack. Rumors spread that the group had become lost or been taken prisoner. 30 days after Ibrahim’s brother left, they received confirmation: The whole group had been killed, his brother by a sniper.

Everyone in Sarajevo has stories like this. The siege resulted in around 14,000 deaths, including roughly 5,400 civilians, 6,100 Bosnian troops, and 2,200 Serb troops. After it ended, an international court convicted four Serb officials for crimes during the siege. 

Serbs widely consider those trials to be a sham, though, and say the siege was the reality of a war where all sides committed crimes. Several also claimed that the most egregious events during the siege – including two bombings of a crowded market that killed over 180 civilians – were false-flag attacks conducted by Bosniaks to secure NATO assistance.

The second of those bombings happened on August 28, 1995. As Sarajevo’s residents picked over what remained at an outdoor market, five mortar shells crashed into the crowd. 43 people were killed and 75 wounded. 

Two days later, US-led NATO forces began bombing Serb positions across Bosnia. Between August 30 and September 20, NATO aircraft dropped 1,026 bombs on 338 Bosnian Serb targets, turning the tides of the war. As the Bosnians counterattacked, NATO convened the sides and pushed through a peace deal that ended the war that December. 

The question many (non-Serb) Bosnians have is why NATO waited so long to intervene. After three years of massacres, starvation, and war crimes, it took four weeks for NATO to end the war. A common theory among Bosniaks is that the US didn’t want to help Muslims, so it let them die.  

Many Serbs, meanwhile, allege that NATO intervened not for humanitarian purposes, but as part of a larger anti-Serb conspiracy and plot to expand American power in the Balkans. Pointing out the thousands of Sarajevo tombstones dated to 1993, 94, and 95 does little to change those minds.

🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

When it comes to technology trends, do you consider yourself a(n):

Innovator: 5%
Early Adopter: 10%
Early Majority: 30%
Late majority: 35%
Laggard: 20%

Yesterday's Question:

Do you swear by any unusual food combinations?

Connie: “Franco-American Spaghetti-O’s, with hot dogs, and dill pickles”

Tim and Diane from Sevierville, Tennessee: “Pizza with Catalina (French) Dressing.  Something my wife and I started doing at the Pizza Hut in Biloxi, MS when we were dating in high school.  45 years later we still have to have it that way!”

Jeevan from Glasgow, United Kingdom: “Guacamole & Hummus sandwich is delicious. Load it up with extra salad for a bit of extra crunch.”

Erica from Florida: “Tunafish and sweet corn on pizza. I first had it when living in Scotland in the early 2000s. People ridicule me all the time, but those who actually try it tend to agree with me.”

Last Week's 20 Qs Responses:

Last week we ran a "This or That" edition of 2023's biggest topics and debates. The top choice for each prompt is bolded below.

  1. Barbie or Oppenheimer
    Barbie

    Oppenheimer

  2. Do you feel bad for the Titanic submersible passengers?

    Yes

    No

  3. Travis Kelce or Taylor Swift?

    Travis Kelce

    Taylor Swift

  4. Alabama or FSU?

    Alabama

    Florida State

  5. George Santos or not George Santos?

    George Santos

    Not George Santos

  6. Sadder celebrity death scare: Jeremy Renner or Damar Hamlin?

    Jeremy Renner

    Damar Hamlin

  7. Kevin James meme or Vince McMahon crying meme?

    Kevin James

    Vince McMahon

  8. Try That in a Small Town or Rich Men North of Richmond?

    Try That in a Small Town

    Rich Men North of Richmond

  9. Twitter or X?

    Twitter

    X

  10. The Last of Us or Succession?

    The Last of Us

    Succession

  11. Gen Z slang: Rizz or mid?

    Rizz

    Mid

  12. 2024 prediction: Trump or Biden?

    Trump

    Biden

    Other

  13. Worse trend: iPad tipping culture or robocalls?

    iPad tipping

    Robocalls

  14. Hollywood strikes or UPS strike?

    Hollywood

    UPS

  15. Who will you miss more: Jerry Springer or Tina Turner?

    Jerry Springer

    Tina Turner

  16. Who will you miss more: Matthew Perry or Sinéad O'Connor?

    Matthew Perry

    Sinéad O'Connor

  17. ChatGPT or not ChatGPT?

    ChatGPT

    Not ChatGPT

  18. Grimace shake or Panera Bread charged lemonade?

    Grimace shake

    Panera Bread charged lemonade

  19. Worse year: Bud Light or Harvard

    Bud Light

    Harvard

  20. Name a woman. (It's a TikTok trend...)

    Me

    Karen

    Nikki Haley

    Mom

    Your mom

    That’s stupid!

🧠 Final Thoughts

Congrats, you made it through this newsletter and week one of 2024. We won't ask which was more painful.

If you're looking for a movie to watch this weekend, we suggest the Danish movie "Another Round." It's a fascinating movie and might also help you through dry January. We'll leave it at that. Have a great weekend!

—Max and Max