Don't Call, Don't Text

Nancy finds her beach, SBF says he's almost broke, and the final installment of the Colombia Roca Roadtrip series

Believe it or not, Coca-Cola is not the oldest major soda in the US. That title belongs to Dr. Pepper, which was first served on this day in 1885 at a drug store in Waco, TX. Nobody knows why Charles Alderton named his drink Dr. Pepper. One theory is that adding "Dr." to the front made it sound healthy; another is that he named it after his first boss. Either way, Dr. Pepper had to walk so that Mello Yello could run.

In today's edition:

  • Nancy finds her beach

  • SBF says he's almost broke

  • Colombia Roadtrip: The End

🔑 Key Stories

Pelosi

Jeffries to Replace Pelosi

House Democrats elected Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) to replace Nancy Pelosi as their party’s House leader

  • Pelosi (D-CA), 82, has served as the Democrats’ House leader for 19 years. She recently announced that she will step down from her leadership position

  • On Wedesday, Jeffries, 52, won the Democrats’ top House position in an uncontested election. Since Democrats lost their House majority in this month’s midterm elections, he will become minority leader

  • Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is the Republican nominee for House Speaker. A House-wide vote in early January will decide if he gets the spot

Dig Deeper

  • Jeffries' fellow New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the shift, “The most significant generational change that we have seen in House Democrats in several decades"

China's Nuclear Arsenal Growing

China is accelerating its nuclear arms buildup and will have 1,500 warheads by 2035, a US report claims

  • China detonated its first nuclear weapon in 1964. US intelligence sources believe China currently possesses ~400 warheads, compared to Russia’s 5,977 and the US’ 5,428

  • China is currently spending heavily to modernize its military, which is generally seen as inferior to the US’. US officials believe China is also expanding its arsenal and testing new, advanced missile systems

  • Russia and the US renewed a treaty last year that limits the size of their arsenals; China has rejected requests to join that, citing its much smaller arsenal

Dig Deeper

  • The report also warned that by 2027, China's military will be capable of successfully invading Taiwan, a prospect Chinese officials have repeatedly threatened and that some fear could spark a war with the US

EU: Twitter Could Be Banned

Per the Financial Times, the EU is threatening to ban Twitter unless it changes its content guidelines

  • The EU, an organization of 27 European countries, recently passed a strict online content moderation law that requires companies to proactively moderate content and filter out misinformation

  • Since acquiring Twitter last month, Musk has relaxed guidelines on online speech and reinstated some banned accounts, including Donald Trump’s

  • On Wednesday, the EU threatened to ban Twitter unless it ends “arbitrary” reinstatements, “aggressively” combats misinformation, and agrees to an audit

Dig Deeper

  • Musk called the EU's regulations "very sensible" and said he intends to follow existing laws; however, some EU officials reportedly doubt that Twitter — which has fired most of its workforce — has enough staff to meet the EU's requirements

Airbnb Launching Rental Service

  • ~⅓ of US households rent their home, but rented apartments account for only 14% of Airbnb listings. Many landlords prohibit renters from hosting Airbnb guests, citing risks posed by strangers and the inconvenience to other tenants

  • Airbnb is now partnering with landlords to list apartments, all of which will have to allow Airbnb rentals. The landlords will receive a 20% cut of revenue when the tenant sublets out the apartment to an Airbnb guest

  • Airbnb says this will make it easier for renters to find apartments, sublets, and apartments that let them sublet

Dig Deeper

  • "Airbnb was founded during the Great Recession when Brian and Joe needed help affording their rent, and now Airbnb-friendly apartments build on that founding story by making it easier for people to reap the economic benefits of hosting," an Airbnb executive said

Do You Like Point-Less Rent?

Sponsored by BiltIf you enjoy paying rent without earning rewards, the Bilt Mastercard is not for you. If you do want to earn points when paying rent, though, keep on reading...

  • You can use those points on travel (they transfer to major airlines), fitness, Amazon, and more

  • Beyond rent, the Bilt card lets you earn points on dining and whatever else you spend money on

  • You may have paid rent with a credit card before, but Bilt is the first card that lets you do so with no transaction fees. Other cards’ fees often outweigh their benefits, but Bilt is totally fee-less (which also means no annual fee!)

Dig Deeper

  • Bilt has partnered with thousands of properties' landlords to let you pay rent through the Bilt app. And even if you have a small or private landlord, you can still earn points paying your rent with the Bilt card. Card application here.

📊 Chart of the Day

YouTube, I'm 8

American children are ~2.6x more likely to want to be a YouTuber than an astronaut; Chinese children are ~3.1x more likely to want to be an astronaut

  • Most believe a person will reach Mars in their lives

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • SB-Full of S? FTX founder and ex-CEO Sam Bankman-Fried told the New York Times that he "did not try to commit fraud" and "has almost nothing left"

  • Primetime with Chris Licht: CNN CEO Chris Licht announced a wave of layoffs this week as it tries to cut costs and re-position itself post-Discovery takeover

  • Fentanyl deaths have soared by 1,280% in Los Angeles County from 2016 to 2021. Over 1,500 LA residents died of fentanyl overdoses in 2021

Wildcard

  • How 'bout them apples: Last week, an SUV crashed into an Apple Store. The victims are now suing Apple, calling the crash "100% preventable"

  • But first, let me take a selfie: Thousands have flocked to Mauna Loa, the world's largest volcano, days after it erupted to snap pictures and see the aftermath in person

  • Killer robots to the rescue! The city of San Francisco passed a motion that allows the San Francisco Police to deploy "killer robots"

  • Wine about it: 30% Off Stunning Wines From Award-Winning Vineyards with Wander + Ivy. *This is a sponsored post

👇🏻 What do you think?

Today's Poll:

Better Christmas movie: Home Alone or Elf?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Today's Question:

Do you get excited or creeped out thinking about the future of artificial intelligence?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

end of journey

Roca co-founder Max Frost just spent 10 days in Colombia, learning about the Venezuelan migrant crisis. He’s writing about the experience here in the coming newsletters.

The Colombia trip came to an abrupt end.

We had planned to take a boat from Necoclí, a Caribbean town where the migrant road ends, to Capurgana, a jungle town from where migrants begin their walk through the Darién Gap, the roadless rainforest that leads to Central America.

But while we were out conducting interviews, we met a few people who gave us a bad feeling. They were asking too many questions, seemed too eager to help, and had too many ties to local politicians and police. Our translator told me he didn’t trust them; I was thinking the same. In a border town like this – where organized crime is common – we weren’t going to take a chance.

After one final sketchy encounter, we grabbed our bags, tossed them in the car, and told our driver to take us out of Necoclí. We drove through the night for 7 hours until we reached Cartagena, a major city. We spent a day there, then headed back to our respective homes.

***

I’m always happy to return to the US after a trip abroad. This time, though, hit different.

We interviewed dozens of people who were literally selling everything they had, leaving their families, walking through gang-controlled jungles, and sacrificing their lives, just to live in the United States as undocumented immigrants.

For the people we met on Necoclí’s migrant beach, reaching the United States would take weeks or months; require them to leave everything they had; and potentially cost them their lives. For me, it took $200, a 5-hour flight, and a passport. I’ve never felt luckier.

***

In South America, the peak of the Venezuelan exodus was around 2018-2019. Meanwhile in the US, authorities encountered fewer than 100 Venezuelans at the US-Mexico border in 2018. A few thousand came in the following years; then in 2021, it jumped to 49,000. This September alone, at least 34,000 did.

What changed?

Different people gave us different explanations, but chief among them was Title 42.

Typically, if authorities arrest an undocumented immigrant, they prepare them for deportation then deport them, unless they claim asylum. If someone claims asylum – i.e., asks to become a refugee because of dangers in their home country – they would go through a separate process that would keep them in the US until resolved.

In 2020, the Trump administration enacted Title 42, which says that during a public health emergency, everyone can be deported, including asylum seekers, which most Venezuelan migrants are.

In 2021, the Biden administration relaxed this policy, allowing them to await asylum hearings in the US. Undocumented Venezuelan migrants would cross the border, get detained, apply for asylum, then be released into the US to await a decision.

Venezuelans referred to that period as “when the border was open.” As thousands of Venezuelans safely reached the US, they encouraged their friends and family to come too. Soon, tens of thousands were coming. By earlier this year, so many were arriving each day that politicians near the border began busing them to cities in the north. The mayors of those cities – including New York and Washington, DC – began calling for a change to immigration policy.

In September, President Biden responded by expanding Title 42 deportations, and saying asylum benefits would only be extended to Venezuelans who enter the country legally. Word spread in South America, and the numbers of migrants fell dramatically. Venezuelans would say “the border is closed.”

But 2 weeks ago, things changed again: A federal judge struck down Biden’s use of Title 42, giving the administration until December 21 to stop it. I sent an article about that to a Venezuelan migrant I met. “We know,” he said. “Great news.”

***

A final note: All the migrants I met were headed to either New York City or Washington, DC, for which they gave 2 reasons: That’s where their friends and family are, and those cities don’t deport undocumented migrants.

One migrant told me, “I’m going to Washington, DC, because it is a sanctuary city.”

Another added, “No deportations.”

***

All the US-bound migrants I met remain in Colombia, still saving up money for the trip. The family of 11, whose interviews we featured the last 2 days, has been telling me weekly for a month that they will finally leave this week.

But they still remain in Necoclí, sleeping in their 3 tents by the sea, waiting to risk their lives for their American dream.

If you have thoughts, let us know at [email protected]!

🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

How do you feel about people vaping in indoor venues?Cool with it: 5.8%Hate it: 69.7%Don't care: 24.5%

Yesterday's Question:

When should a parent tell their kid(s) that Santa isn’t real?

Steph from Boston: "I don’t think parents should lie to their kids. I grew up with the idea that Santa is “the spirit of Christmas” but isn’t necessarily a real person. It didn’t spoil the fun for any of my friends who did believe in Santa, and I could still celebrate the holiday without my parents having to come up with elaborate lies. Plus we didn’t have a ton of money growing up so I never felt bad that “Santa” treated other kids better than me if they got expensive gifts."

Terry from California: "They have the internet now, they can look it up, or somebody will probably tell them early on. If not let them ride it out for a good long while. Magic is good for their souls and hope and dreams are a beautiful thing, they are adults longer than they are kids. They won’t ever get this innocent belief again safely."

Bill from Delaware: "Kids usually figure it out for themselves. But parents may be asked for their input. I think parents should answer that question by asking for the child’s opinion. if the child says no, then confirm. Otherwise, stay vague."

🧠 Final Thoughts

And that ends our latest Roca Roadtrip. We hope you learned something new from it. Send us your thoughts for where we should do the next one, or what topics you would like covered more in depth!

Enjoy the first day of December, and stay warm!

Max and Max