🌊 Florida's Fairytale Ending

Plus: Volvo is ending diesel vehicle production

Happy Respect Your Cat Day.

Today is the 45th anniversary of the worst nuclear power plant disaster in US history, Three Mile Island. Just weeks before the nuclear meltdown, a movie came out in theaters with an eerily similar plot. The China Syndrome starring Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon predicted a radioactive spill that would melt into the ground, traveling "all the way to China."

Fortunately, the Three Mile Island disaster never quite reached China. But we learned a lesson: Pay attention to what’s in theaters. You may be laughing at Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire now, but in three weeks…

In today's edition:

💰 Mickey and Ron to live happily ever after

🌭 Is a hot dog a... seltzer?

💣 MOVE bombing

And so much more!

–Max, Max, Jen, and Alex

KEY STORY

Volvo Ends Diesel

Volvo became the first major car manufacturer to end diesel vehicle production

  • In 2017, the Sweden-based company promised to phase out all gas-powered vehicles. It said last year that eliminating diesel-powered products would be a first step toward doing so

  • The company achieved that on Tuesday when its final diesel-powered car rolled off the assembly line, bound for a Swedish Volvo museum

  • While the electric vehicle (EV) industry has been facing lower-than-expected demand, Volvo has said it plans to produce only EVs by 2030

Dig Deeper

  • Volvo said in a statement that just five years ago, diesel engines had been “our bread and butter in Europe”

  • Today, most of Volvo’s European sales – and 34% globally – are of EVs

KEY STORY

Baltimore Bridge Fallout

Details emerged about the ship that struck Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge

  • As of Wednesday evening, authorities were analyzing the ship’s “black box” to determine the crash’s exact cause. The Singapore-flagged container ship had been leaving the Port of Baltimore when it apparently lost power, causing it to issue a mayday call. Two minutes after it experienced power loss, it struck the bridge

  • The ship remains pinned under the bridge debris and unable to move. Traffic across the bridge and through the port is being redirected indefinitely, damaging the local economy

Dig Deeper

  • Reports emerged that the ship had undergone 27 inspections since 2015, including one in Belgium in 2016 that found damage to the hull “impairing seaworthiness” after it struck a stone berth wall

  • Questions were also raised about the vessel last June, when inspectors in Chile found issues related to its propulsion

  • Six men are presumed dead from the bridge collapse. Authorities said they were Mexican and Central American construction workers who had been working the night shift filling potholes on the bridge

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Dig Deeper

KEY STORY

Disney, Florida Settle

After a years-long legal battle, Disney agreed to settle its disputes with Florida

  • In 2022, Disney’s CEO criticized a Florida state law banning classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation through the 3rd grade. In response, Florida passed laws seizing control of the special tax district that contains Walt Disney World

  • The state-appointed board of that tax district threatened to raise costs on Disney and allow others to develop the land around its resort. In response, Disney sued the state and district, initiating a legal battle

  • On Wednesday, both sides reached a settlement wherein Disney agreed to drop some of its lawsuits and settle the matter out of court

Dig Deeper

  • Following news of the settlement, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) – an outspoken critic of Disney – said, “A year ago people were trying to act like all these legal maneuverings were all going to succeed against the state of Florida and the reality is here we are a year later and not one of them has succeeded”

KEY STORY

Russia Accuses Ukraine

Russian authorities continue to claim that Ukraine was behind the terror attack that killed 140 in Moscow

  • ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. The four alleged attackers were from Tajikistan, while other accused conspirators were from Russia and Kyrgyzstan

  • This week, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service told state television that “Islamists couldn’t prepare such an action alone” and that they had coordinated with Ukraine to flee there

  • Russia’s largest weekly newspaper reiterated those allegations with a cover that read, “We know the architects of the Crocus terrorist act. We hope they burn in hell.” It showed Western leaders in flames and said, “They can tell lies about ISIS to each other”

Dig Deeper

  • Ukrainian officials, meanwhile, have suggested that Russian authorities coordinated the attack as a false flag so it could expand its war efforts or galvanize support for the war in Ukraine

  • Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said after the attack that “there are no red lines for Putin’s dictatorship” and that “it is ready to kill its own citizens for political purposes”

RUNDOWN
Some Quick Stories for the Office

💰 Amazon.com announced a $2.75B investment in AI startup Anthropic, bringing its investment in the company to $4B

📈 Trump Media & Technology Group stock (TMTG) climbed another 14% on Wednesday, pushing the company’s market cap to $9.4B

🇵🇷 Puerto Rico’s health secretary declared a state of emergency amid a surge in cases of dengue, a mosquito-borne illness

🇺🇸 Michael Pratt, the founder of the now-defunct website GirlsDoPorn, was extradited to the United States to face sex trafficking charges. The FBI had placed him on its 10 Most Wanted list after he fled the country

🇮🇱 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that an Israeli delegation would visit Washington, DC, reversing a prior cancelation. US and Israeli officials will meet to discuss Israel’s offensive against Rafah

🚓 Massachusetts police credited a robotic police dog with potentially preventing a fatal confrontation after it identified a barricaded suspect, allowing police to arrest him without incident. The suspect – who had shot at police – shot the robodog three times during the interaction

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COMMUNITY

Weekly Debate

Most news companies repress ideas they don’t agree with. We are different. To prove it, we’re making this a place where people can have a free and open debate. Each week we lay out a debate on Monday and feature responses below, replies to those the following day, and so on.

This week’s Roca Votes Wrap asks:  Can Artificial Intelligence create art? If yes, who is the author of AI-generated art: The algorithm itself or the team behind it?

To say AI art is not art is to say the electric guitar can't play music. AI is a tool wielded by the artist, the output is certainly Art.

Doc Connor from Weston, Florida

Real art is made by a person, not a machine. Fake art is made by a robot or a hand-held device. Fake art will have its heroes, but is obvious in not being made by a real person. Ahhhhh he future

Ron from West Florida

Not art. But IF it was it shouldn't belong to anyone. The only reason for art ownership is to (1) acknowledge the artist, (2) restrict use and (3) generate money from either (a) licensing or (b) lawsuits for infringement. A computer needs none of these things. AI art should accessible and usable by anyone. 

Expat Canadian from “living in Idaho”

POPCORN
Some Quick Stories for Happy Hour

🦔 Sirs, that’s a pom-pom: A British wildlife rescue mistook a hat bobble for a baby hedgehog and took it in

🏀 Nice Cube: Ice Cube revealed that his BIG3 basketball league made an offer of up to $5M to Iowa Hawkeyes women’s college basketball star Caitlin Clark to join the league

🍌 This s**t is bananas: A Pittsburgh gas station customer attacked a customer with a PVC pipe after the customer threw bananas at him

🌭 Is a hot dog a seltzer?: 7-Eleven announced a new line of sparkling waters flavors featuring Lemon Lime, Green Apple, Sweet Orange, and Hot Dog

🦝 Congratulations, Louie: The Hershey Company announced that Louie the Raccoon, a two-year-old from Miami, won the sixth annual Cadbury Bunny tryouts, earning $7,000 in the process

🥣 Unsweet revenge: Authorities arrested a Nigerian woman for criticizing a local tomato puree brand online, claiming it was too sweet. She faces cybercrime charges and a $3M+ lawsuit

ROCA WRAP
MOVE Bombing

On May 13, 1985, Philadelphia became “the city that bombed itself.” 

In 1972, John Africa – real name Vincent Leaphart – founded MOVE, a Philadelphia-based black liberation movement. MOVE mixed themes of religion, black nationalism, and conservationism, advocating for a return to hunter-gatherer rituals and respect for all living things. Initially, many journalists referred to the group as a cult; later, many called it a terrorist group.

Followers of MOVE changed their last name to “Africa” out of solidarity with the continent, which they considered their motherland. John Africa had long dreadlocks, and many of his teachings closely mirrored that of Rastafarianism, which also preaches a return to Africa. In 1978, the organization moved to West Philadelphia – and its legal troubles began.

MOVE established a compound in Powelton Village, a West Philadelphia neighborhood, but soon attracted negative attention from neighbors due to its loud protests and demonstrations. By 1977, a series of complaints led police to obtain a court order forcing the group to relocate; they refused, though, and the following year, police attempted to enforce the order with force. An ensuing shootout left a Philadelphia police officer dead and five firefighters, seven police officers, and three bystanders injured.

While seven MOVE members were later sentenced to up to 100 years in jail over the incident, the defendants alleged the trial was unfair and that police used excessive force against them. The remainder of the group relocated to Osage Avenue, a middle-class West Philadelphia neighborhood.

Once again, though, neighbors complained of the group’s noise, trash, and hostility, and in 1985, Mayor Wilson Goode – the city’s first black mayor – ordered police to arrest the house’s inhabitants.

Police Commissioner Gregore Sambor arrived on the scene and delivered a speech that began, “Attention MOVE: This is America. You have to abide by the laws of the United States.” The group refused to surrender, though, and police responded with tear gas and water cannons. Shooting broke out, and over the following 90 minutes, both sides traded gunfire. Amid the confrontation, Sambor ordered a helicopter to drop explosives on the house.

From a police helicopter, an officer dropped two “entry devices” – satchel bombs containing FBI-supplied C-4 – onto the roof of the building, targeting a fortified bunker that police believed posed a threat to them.

The bombs exploded and ignited fuel from a gasoline-powered generator, causing a raging fire. Police decided to allow the fire to burn for roughly 30 minutes before sending firefighters in to contain it, although they quickly retreated due to gunfire and other factors.

The fire ultimately killed 11 of the building’s inhabitants, including founder John Africa and five children, and destroyed 65 West Philadelphia row houses, displacing ~250 people who had been evacuated ahead of time.

The bombing made national headlines, leading to accusations that police used excessive force and giving Philadelphia the nickname, “The city that bombed itself.” Mayor Goode appointed a commission to investigate the incident, and amid scrutiny, Sambor resigned. He denied at the time that Goode’s administration had pressured him to do so, although he said the following year that the mayor had treated him as “expendable.”

The commission released a report in 1986 that strongly criticized the city’s decision to use explosives: “Dropping a bomb on an occupied row house was unconscionable,” it said. Goode apologized, although nobody related to the incident ever faced criminal charges.

The bombing’s sole adult survivor served seven years in prison but was later awarded $500,000 for “pain, suffering, and physical harm” done by the fire. In 2005, a federal judge ordered the city to pay $12.8M to residents displaced by the bombing.

The MOVE incident was thrust back into the national spotlight in 2021, when a radio station reported that the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school located in Philadelphia, possessed the remains of two children killed in the house fire.

Further investigations revealed that the bones had been presented during video lectures for a class named, “Real Bones: Adventures in Forensic Anthropology.” The revelation sparked campus protests, leading UPenn to return the bones to the Africa family.

Reply to this email to let us know what you think!

EDITOR’S NOTE
Final Thoughts

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the Volvo story. Do you drive an electric vehicle or plan to?

Happy Thursday!

— Max, Max, Alex and Jen