🌊 We Have a Deal?

PLUS: Neuralink chips approved for humans, waters in Venice turn bright green, and Kissinger at 100

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In today's edition:

  • Neuralink chips approved for humans

  • Waters in Venice turn bright green

  • Kissinger at 100

 🔑 Key Stories

Neuralink Receives FDA Approval

Elon Musk’s Neuralink received FDA approval to test its brain chips in humans

  • Neuralink, co-founded by Musk in 2016, seeks to use brain implants, known as brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), to treat a range of physical and cognitive disabilities

  • Neuralink has tested its BCIs on animals for years but hadn’t received permission to test on humans. It applied for that last December, but per Reuters, that had been rejected due to numerous issues

  • On Thursday, though, Neuralink announced it had received permission to test on humans. It hasn’t said when those trials will begin

Dig Deeper

  • Neuralink is one of several startups seeking to use BCIs to solve medical issues. Synchron, another BCI company that seeks to treat disabilities, received FDA approval in 2021 to test its chips on humans. A BCI designed by Austin-based Paradromics recently received a “breakthrough” designation from the FDA

Debt Ceiling Deal Proposed

President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy struck a deal to raise the debt ceiling

  • The “debt ceiling” is a limit on how much the US can borrow. The US hit it in January and has since been using “extraordinary” means to continue paying its debt. The US may default (miss a payment) within days

  • Republicans and Democrats have been negotiating a deal: Republicans want spending cuts; Democrats don’t

  • On Saturday, Biden and McCarthy announced a deal that limits some spending and imposes new work requirements on people with food stamps. A House vote to approve it is scheduled for Wednesday

Dig Deeper

  • The House is split 222-213 in favor of Republicans. 218 votes are needed to pass the deal

  • 6+ Republicans have already said they won’t support it, meaning its approval will have to be bipartisan. Moderate politicians from both parties have signaled support for the deal

Ramaswamy’s LinkedIn Suspended

LinkedIn suspended and then reinstated Vivek Ramaswamy, a Republican presidential candidate

  • Ramaswamy is “anti-woke” and has promised “to take America First further than Trump.” The latest FiveThirtyEight poll average shows Ramswamy polling at 3.8% among Republicans nationally

  • LinkedIn restricted Ramaswamy’s account last week. He later posted screenshots showing that it was due to 3 posts, including one in which he said that the “climate agenda is a lie” and another in which he said China is weaponizing the pandemic

  • LinkedIn first said he violated the platform’s misinformation policies, then said it was a mistake

Erdogan Re-Elected

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won re-election for his third 5-year term

  • Erdogan has served as Turkey’s president since 2014. His supporters credit him with growing Turkey’s economy and strengthening Turkey geopolitically. Others criticize him for high inflation, jailing opponents and journalists, and Islamifying society

  • For the first time since taking power, Erdogan faced a serious challenger in this month’s presidential elections. A first-round vote led to a “runoff,” which took place this weekend

  • Erdogan was declared the winner with 52.1% of the vote

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • The Lucrative Mermaid: Disney's live-action remake of The Little Mermaid splashed to the 5th biggest Memorial Day weekend debut in box office history. It made $118M in the US alone

  • One great leap forward...: China plans to put astronauts on the moon by 2030, a government official said

  • Godfellas: After meeting with the Pope, movie director Martin Scorsese announced that he's going to make a movie about Jesus. "And I’m about to start making it,” he added

Wildcard

  • Bear with a sweet tooth: A black bear barged into the garage of a Connecticut bakery and ate 60 cupcakes. The workers were loading the treats into vans for delivery at the time

  • Venice the Menace: A stretch of water in Venice's Grand Canal has turned fluorescent green, sparking an investigation from police and environmental officials

  • The Realty Bunch: The Brady Bunch house in Los Angeles is for sale for $5.5M. HGTV bought the house in 2018 for $3.5M to film a show around its renovation and is now flipping it

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🌯 Roca Wrap

Henry Kissinger could easily have been murdered. Instead, he became one of the most controversial people in history. On Saturday, he turned 100.

Kissinger was born in Germany in 1923 with the first name “Heinz.” His family was Jewish, and Kissinger was 9 when Hitler took power. In 1938 – months before World War II began – Kissinger’s family fled to the US, where he changed his name to “Henry.”

Kissinger’s family settled in New York City, but he would soon return to Germany. He was drafted into the US Army in 1942 and participated in the campaign to liberate Europe, concluding with the liberation of a concentration camp in 1945.

Kissinger enrolled at Harvard after the war, where he spent 7 years and received undergraduate, master’s, and doctorate degrees. In 1957, he published a book that advised the US to prepare for nuclear war. If the US saved nuclear weapons for doomsday scenarios, he wrote, it would be too late. That book brought Kissinger to prominence.

Kissinger believed the Vietnam War jeopardized the US’ status as a great power. He soon linked up with Richard Nixon, who felt similarly. Nixon promised “an honorable end to the war.”

After he was elected in 1968, he made Kissinger his national security adviser.

When Nixon took office in January 1969, the US had been engaged in Vietnam for 14 years, with the war having intensified during the presidencies of JFK (1961-63) and LBJ (1963-1968).

Nixon and Kissinger sought to pull the US out while putting pressure on the communists in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese communists were operating out of Cambodia, a neighboring country. So in March 1969, the US began secretly bombing Cambodia. By 1973, more bombs had fallen on Cambodia than on Japan during World War II.

Beginning with the Cambodian bombing campaign, Kissinger practiced a foreign policy that sought to aggressively pursue US interests, regardless of morality. He believed in “realpolitik”: Pursuing policies out of circumstances and self-interest, rather than morals or ideology. His goal was to empower the US and weaken the USSR during the Cold War.

In 1970, a socialist – Salvador Allende – was elected president of Chile, becoming the first democratically elected socialist president in Latin America.

Kissinger and the CIA backed a coup in which a pro-US general, Augusto Pinochet, overthrew and killed him, then held power for 17 years.

In 1971, a genocide began in Pakistan – a US ally – as West Pakistanis (in modern-day Pakistan) slaughtered East Pakistanis (in modern-day Bangladesh). Despite the human rights concerns, the US stood firmly with West Pakistan.

In 1976, Argentina’s military overthrew the country’s leader with US backing and proceeded to create a dictatorship. A decade later, it emerged that Kissinger had given a “green light” to the coup.

Diplomacy was equally vital to Kissinger’s strategy. In 1973, Nixon made Kissinger his secretary of state in addition to national security adviser, making him the first person ever to hold both the US’ top 2 foreign policy roles.

When Israel and a group of Arab countries went to war in 1973, Kissinger acted as an intermediary, traveling between the opponents and mediating. That became known as “shuttle diplomacy” and a feature of international relations ever since.

Kissinger also oversaw détente: A period of relaxed relations between the US and USSR.

The policy led to the signing of several treaties and the installation of a “red telephone” between Washington and Moscow through which the countries’ leaders could communicate during a crisis.

Most famously, beginning in 1970, Kissinger wanted to establish relations between the US and China, which was ruled by a US enemy and communist revolutionary, Mao Zedong. Kissinger thought establishing ties with China would isolate the Soviet Union and help the US. He made a secret trip to China in 1971; a year later, in one of the most momentous events of the Cold War, Nixon visited the country and reestablished US-China ties.

The China situation highlights the Kissinger debate.

The US sided with Pakistan despite its genocide in 1971 because Kissinger saw Pakistan as the link between US and China. By establishing ties with China, Kissinger believed the US was isolating the USSR and gaining an edge in the Cold War.

Kissinger became one of the most polarizing officials in US history. Critics saw a war criminal who violated human rights and destroyed the US’ image. Supporters saw a brilliant strategist who skillfully pursued US interests during the Cold War.

After Nixon resigned in 1974, Kissinger remained secretary of state under his replacement, Gerald Ford. He subsequently founded a consultancy, wrote numerous books, and remained a prominent commentator on world affairs.

Earlier this month, Kissinger warned that the US is “on the path” to war with China.

“Both sides have convinced themselves that the other represents a strategic danger,” he said.

He advised “reintroducing Russia to Europe,” and ending the war in Ukraine. Achieving peace “is the duty of the leaders that now exist,” he said. “We are at the beginning of the challenge but are not living up to it right now.”

After reading this story, what side do you take? Do you think that Kissinger was a war criminal, or brilliant strategist? Let us know by replying to this email!

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Would you rather speak all languages, or speak to animals?

All languages: 49%
Speak to animals: 51%

Yesterday's Question:

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🧠 Final Thoughts

We hope all of our US readers enjoyed a lovely Memorial Day. Thank you to all who served.

See you tomorrow!

—Max and Max