• The Current
  • Posts
  • 🌊 "Grandpa, What Was the Great Zyn Shortage Like?"

🌊 "Grandpa, What Was the Great Zyn Shortage Like?"

Plus: Israeli hostages begin to share stories...

Even amid the great Zyn shortage, some good news.

RocaNews received the award for “Small Digital Publisher of the Year” at the Association of Online Publishers’ annual awards ceremony in London yesterday. We went up to get the award (pics forthcoming) amid rumblings of “What’s Roca?,” “I’ve never heard of Roca?,” and “Hah, their flies are down.” On a serious note, we would like to thank you for your support because without you we would still be twiddling our thumbs in our parents’ basements. Thank you, Roca Nation. And count your days, Legacy News.

P.S. An award we probably won’t be nominated for is Best Arithmetic. We apologize for saying it was the 27th and not the 37th anniversary of Reagan’s “Tear down this wall” speech. We have fired our newsletter quant.

😩 The great Zyn shortage of 2024

🤰 Mom gives birth at Golden Corral

🤫 Elon Musk makes Twitter likes private

–Max and Max

KEY STORY

Zyn Shortage

The US is facing a Zyn shortage

  • Zyns are tobacco-free nicotine pouches, likened to being for chewing tobacco what vapes are to cigarettes. They originated in Sweden and reached the US in 2014, but have exploded in popularity since 2022: By late 2023, they controlled 76% of the US nicotine pouch market

  • Zyn-maker Philip Morris – which owns Marlboro – has been unable to keep up with soaring demand, prompting shortages

  • This week, the company announced that while it is bringing more production online, shortages may persist until the end of 2024

Dig Deeper

  • The Zyn shortage is creating opportunities for rivals as shoppers who can’t find Zyns and turn to rivals, like Velo and On!

  • Zyn is also coming under government scrutiny: Earlier this year, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for a federal investigation into Zyn

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R. - GA) responded to that by tweeting, “This calls for a Zynsurrection!”

KEY STORY

Bandits & Miners

Bandits have trapped 20 miners in Nigeria

  • Last week, a mine accident trapped at least 27 miners underground in central Nigeria, a region where armed men often raid villages, kidnap residents, and steal valuable items and animals

  • Last year, Nigeria’s government ordered people not to mine in the area because of the risk of banditry

  • After rescuing seven, Nigerian authorities warned that bandits were blocking their efforts to reach the rest of the miners. This week, an official said that because of security threats, “All hope is lost of finding the miners alive”

Dig Deeper

  • Immediately after this collapse, local authorities said that security threats would prevent rescuers from reaching the mining site: “Our deployment to the area was halted by security personnel due to bandit threats,” one official noted

  • This week an official said, “Eight days have elapsed since they were buried inside the pit...The rescue operation has not been officially called off but families of the trapped miners who are Muslims have already offered the seventh day prayer for the repose of the souls of their relations who they considered dead”

ROCA PARTNER

Last Chance to Invest

  • What if you could invest in the biggest electronics products as they launched into big-box retail? Would you?

  • Ring changed doorbells, and Nest changed thermostats. Early investors in these smart-home companies earned massive returns, but the opportunity to invest was limited to a wealthy, select few

  • Not anymore. RYSE has just launched in 100+ Best Buy stores, and you are in luck. You can still invest at only $1.50/share before their name becomes known nationwide. But hurry, their share price has already grown 20% from their last round!

Dig Deeper

KEY STORY

Hostage Stories

The four Israeli hostages rescued from Gaza on Saturday have begun to share details about their captivity

  • The hostages had all been taken from the Nova Music Festival on October 7. Three men were held in one place; a lone woman in another. All were held in residential buildings

  • The trio of men passed the time by teaching each other Arabic and Russian, playing cards, and writing in journals. They were frequently threatened with death and kept by captors that included a Palestinian journalist who wrote for al-Jazeera

  • The female hostage was moved between apartments and kept with two other male hostages, both of whom she said were killed. She had to cook and clean for her captors, which included a family

Dig Deeper

  • When Israeli troops rescued the hostages, a gun battle erupted outside the apartment buildings in which they were held

  • Israel responded with airstrikes before evacuating the hostages on a helicopter

  • Palestinian authorities have said that 274 Palestinians were killed during the operation; an Israeli spokesman said, “We know about under 100 [Palestinian] casualties. I don’t know how many of them are terrorists”

KEY STORY

Lia Thomas Blocked

A court blocked Lia Thomas from swimming in the Olympics

  • While a student-athlete at the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas transitioned from man to woman. She then set seven university women's swim team records. In 2022 – after she beat an Olympic silver medalist by 1.75 seconds to win NCAA gold – the World Aquatics governing body ruled that anyone who underwent puberty as a man couldn’t compete in women’s race

  • Thomas challenged that rule as discriminatory. On Wednesday, the sports court ruled against Thomas, saying that because she is no longer part of US Swimming, she lacks standing to challenge the rule

Dig Deeper

  • The court did not rule on the merits of prohibiting trans athletes from competing, rather it only addressed Thomas’ right to challenge the rule

  • Thomas had characterized the rule as “invalid and unlawful,” while World Aquatics called Wednesday’s decision a “major step to protect women’s sport”

RUNDOWN
Some Quick Stories for the Office

💰️ New data showed that inflation remained steady in April, with prices up 3.3% from a year prior. Core inflation – which excludes volatile food and energy prices – was up 3.4%, the lowest rate since 2021

🏀 NBA icon Jerry West – whose silhouette is the NBA logo – passed away at 86. The 14-time All-Star, Hall of Famer, and Olympic gold medalist played for and coached the Los Angeles Lakers between 1960 and 1979

🪖 Germany’s government unveiled a controversial new military service plan to boost expansion. It will require 18-year-old men to fill out a form about their willingness and ability to serve, later selecting some for a medical assessment to determine potential recruitment

🔥 Hezbollah fired a rocket barrage at northern Israel shortly after an Israeli strike killed one of the group’s top-ranking commanders. The sides have been engaged in a low-level war since October, with attacks calibrated to avoid sparking a full-blown war

👍️ Elon Musk appeared to confirm that X will let users keep their likes private. A top X engineer recently said the public “likes” feature made “many people feel discouraged” from liking “edgy” posts

🚢 Russian Navy ships, including a nuclear-powered submarine, arrived in Cuba on Wednesday, following the US’ decision to allow Ukraine to use American weapons to strike targets inside Russia

COMMUNITY

Yesterday’s question: Who’s someone we should invite onto our podcast? Why?

Jack Antonoff! Bc he is a genius and produces/collaborate on so much mainstream artists’ music, and creates his own amazing work!

Eloise from North Carolina

Jason and Travis Kelce...epic especially for all of us 92%ers!

Becky from Kansas

Thomas Massey (represents Kentucky's 4th Congressional District). He is hated by most Republicans and Democrats in Congress - which means he is doing a lot of things right.

Griffin from Alabama

Today’s Question: If you could choose anyone(s) to moderate one of this year’s presidential debates who would you choose?

POPCORN
Some Quick Stories for Happy Hour

👑 American baby: An Arkansas woman gave birth at a Golden Corral and named the baby after the restaurant chain. She didn’t realize she was 37 weeks pregnant when she went into labor

🌶 Can’t take the heat? Get out (of Denmark): Denmark’s food safety agency recalled three instant noodle products from the South Korean company Samyang because they’re “too spicy”

Danish authorities calling the poison hotline after eating noodles

🚀 Safer than Boeing: In just 72 hours, Indian startup Agnikul printed the world’s first single-piece 3D-printed rocket engine. The company launched a test rocket powered by the engine last month

🏥 Four Tops, one lawsuit: The lead singer of the Four Tops, a famous Motown group, filed a lawsuit against a Michigan hospital for racial discrimination, alleging they doubted his claim of being in Four Tops and treated him as “mentally ill”

👩‍🏫 #FreeOptimusPrime: Austin, Texas, police arrested Optimus Prime Blakely (legal name) for allegedly stealing a vehicle. Optimus Prime is the protagonist of the “Transformers” franchise — and also now a car thief

ROCA WRAP
Nicaragua

One morning, my host in Dakar took me to a filthy beach near the city center.

Plastic and trash covered the sand. Nearby, women were drying fish out in the 90º sun. Further down the beach, fishermen were wading through the water, carrying fish from their boats to buyers on the coast.

“The story of immigration by boat begins here,” my guide, Massiga, said.

Once upon a time, Massiga told me, “A fisherman went 15 days.” Eventually, he saw lights in the distance: “He could see the lights of Spain.” The fisherman returned and told people what he had seen. Soon, the youth were piling aboard the rickety wooden boats in droves and sailing into the Atlantic toward Europe. This was where the “boat people” came from, Massiga said.

Many stories about migrants have a mythical quality, making it impossible to tell if they’re true. One famous story was about an old man who was leaving the mosque and saw a group of guys going to Spain. The migrants kidnapped him and took him with them because they thought he’d go to the police if they didn’t.

Another story was about a man who forced his three daughters to go to Spain. “They all drowned,” a man told me. “All died! The most famous case is a guy who owned a bunch of electronics shops,” someone else claimed. “He died in the jungle on his way to America, bit by a snake.”

Poverty and social pressures drive emigration. “People think that if they don’t go to Europe or to US their life is not really complete,” a Dakar man who knew many emigrants told me. Someone else said their parents pressure kids to leave: “People see their neighbor’s son goes to Europe and then he builds good houses, he makes money, he sends his parents to Mecca,” he explained.

“So other parents say to their sons ‘Why don’t you go?’ When the son says, ‘I don’t have money,’ the parents say, ‘We’ll sell our cows and goats. Then you go.’”

Migrants with means board flights out of the country; those without them – the overwhelming majority – climb on rickety wooden boats. The beaches around Dakar are lined with such boats, some big enough for just a few fishermen; and others for dozens. Yet none look capable of handling the massive swells off the coast.

At one beach, kids did pull-ups on the bow of a boat while a group played soccer. “Every couple months they come here and find eight immigrants died and washed up here. They bring the cameras,” Massiga said.

Increasingly, though, the boats are out of fashion. People no longer want to go to Europe: They want to go to “Nicaragua.”

Nicaragua is the only Northern Hemisphere country that accepts Senegalese without a visa. Early last year, that knowledge started to spread across TikTok and other social media. Travel agencies responded by selling packages to facilitate the journey.

Today, the word “Nicaragua” is synonymous with going to the United States. Mention “Nicaragua” to anyone and they’ll know exactly what you’re referring to. Locals told me it costs $10,000 to make the trip, which typically involves traveling from Morocco to Spain and flying to Central America, where the Senegalese join the same migrant trail as the hundreds of thousands of people traveling from South America to the US.

Once in the US, they turn themselves over to border authorities and claim asylum. While US government data show that only one in four Senegalese who claimed asylum last year received it, the asylum process takes years and enables migrants to slip into the country.

In the final three months of 2023, American authorities detained Senegalese migrants 20,231 times – up 10 times from the same period a year prior. So many people were coming that in October, El Salvador began charging $1,130 for citizens of 57 mainly African countries to transit the country’s airport. The country’s government said most migrants were bound for Nicaragua.

Many of the Senegalese settle in New York City, where 116th Street in Harlem – known as “Le Petit Senegal” – is full of arrivals from the country. Ask someone how they got to the US and there’s a good chance they’ll say, “Nicaragua.”

EDITOR’S NOTE
Final Thoughts

Here’s a picture of the award we won.

Please keep telling your friends about Roca so that next year it’s the “No Longer Small Publisher of the Year” award. Have a great day!

–Max and Max