Grant Wahl Dead

Wishing everyone a happy National Ding-a-Ling Day. This holiday encourages you to dial up a friend or family member that you haven't talked to in a while. Evidently, sharing a Spotify Wrapped on social media isn't sufficient communication for a calendar year. So dial up that old friend, cousin, parole officer, whoever — and have a great day.

In today's edition:

  • Zantac suit dismissed

  • World's largest furry convention

  • US reporter Grant Wahl's death

🔑 Key Stories

Top Journalist Dies in Qatar

American soccer journalist Grant Wahl died on Friday while covering the World Cup in Qatar

  • Wahl, 48, was widely considered one of the US’ top soccer analysts. He became sick while covering the World Cup in Qatar, and Friday, he collapsed at the Argentina-Netherlands match and died soon after

  • A day before his death, Wahl had posted an article criticizing Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers; he also said Qatari authorities had briefly detained him for wearing a rainbow-colored t-shirt to a match

  • Wahl’s brother said he believes Wahl was killed and has called for an investigation

Dig Deeper

  • This story is the subject of today's Roca Wrap. Read it below

Sinema Leaves the Democratic Party

Senator Kyrsten Sinema left the Democratic party

  • Sinema, 46, has served as a Democratic senator from Arizona since 2019. She is a moderate who has occasionally opposed Democrats’ proposed laws

  • On Friday, Sinema said she will leave the Democratic party, citing concerns about the border and a desire not to be “tethered… by partisanship”

  • Sinema is now the 3rd independent senator. The other 2 both vote Democratic, which gives Democrats a majority despite now having 48 official senators. She said the way she votes will not change, implying the move won’t alter Democrats’ effective 51-49 majority

Dig Deeper

  • "The national political parties have pulled our politics farther to the edges than I have ever seen. I want to remove some of that kind of that poison from our politics," Sinema said in a recent interview. While she hasn't confirmed that she will run for re-election, political analysts say it may be easier for her to win as an independent

Judge: Zantac Scare Was Bad Science

A judge dismissed 50k lawsuits against drugmakers claiming that heartburn drug Zantac causes cancer

  • Zantac is a common brand name for ranitidine, a drug that treats heartburn. First sold in 1983, it is one of the best-selling drugs ever

  • In 2019, a lab claimed it found unacceptably high levels of a cancer-causing substance in some ranitidine samples. That prompted its removal from the market and tens of thousands of lawsuits

  • Last Tuesday, a judge dismissed ~50k such lawsuits, claiming that the Zantac-cancer theory was unreliable, unsubstantiated, and biased science

Dig Deeper

  • Analysts had previously projected that Zantac-related lawsuits could cost pharmaceutical companies up to $45B; this judge's decision averts much of that. Other lawsuits remain, though, and the plaintiffs say they will appeal

Arizona Governor Candidate Challenges Election

Kari Lake, a Republican who lost Arizona’s governor's race, filed a lawsuit to overturn the election result

  • Democrat Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s current secretary of state, defeated Lake by roughly 17k votes in November’s midterm election. Lake is now suing Hobbs and top officials in Maricopa County, Arizona’s most-populous county, to declare herself the winner

  • Lake’s suit claims “hundreds of thousands of illegal ballots infected [Maricopa’s] election.” Lake has also claimed that the 2020 election was stolen

  • 2 other Arizona candidates who lost are filing similar suits claiming the election was stolen

Dig Deeper

  • “Arizonans made their voices heard and elected Katie Hobbs as their governor. No nuisance lawsuit will change that,” Hobbs said

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Dig Deeper

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🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

Wildcard

  • Paws-itively fun: The Midwest FurFest, the world's largest convention of "furries," attracted thousands of people to an Illinois hotel last weekend

  • Cancer miracle: A girl with an “incurable canceris now cancer-free after doctors performed a revolutionary type of gene therapy called "base editing"

  • Crazy, stupid, divorce: A Georgia man has been accused of killing his wife's divorce lawyer and setting his office on fire. The incident took place in Lawrenceville, GA

👇🏻 What do you think?

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🌯 Roca Wrap

On Friday, Grant Wahl died in Qatar.

Wahl had been on the forefront of US soccer reporting for decades. After graduating from Princeton, he launched his career by covering the 1994 World Cup, which was held in the US. He then landed a job at Sports Illustrated, where he worked for 24 years.

Among many notable pieces he published there was one in 2002 called “The Chosen One,” which told the story of an up-and-coming high school basketball player from Akron, Ohio. The piece was Sports Illustrated’s first about Lebron James, and proved instrumental in bringing him to the wider world.

He ended up spending 24 years at the magazine, covering numerous World Cups and the rise of the US women’s national team. He left in 2020, became a soccer analyst on CBS, and launched his own independent sports newsletter.

Wahl was in Qatar to cover the World Cup – his eighth – for CBS and his newsletter. Ahead of the US’ opening match against Wales, though, he made headlines for a different reason: Qatari authorities detained him for wearing a rainbow-colored t-shirt in support of LGBT rights. Qatar outlaws homosexuality, and Wahl was wearing it in solidarity for his brother, Eric, who is gay.

Wahl continued to cover the Cup after that, but said he was feeling run down. On a podcast and in a newsletter released last week, Wahl said he had come down with bronchitis.

"My body finally broke down on me. 3 weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you," Wahl wrote. "What had been a cold over the last 10 days turned into something more severe on the night of the USA-Netherlands game, and I could feel my upper chest take on a new level of pressure and discomfort.”

"I went into the medical clinic at the main media center today, and they said I probably have bronchitis. They gave me a course of antibiotics and some heavy-duty cough syrup, and I’m already feeling a bit better just a few hours later. But still: No bueno."

"My body told me, even after the US went out, 'Dude you are not sleeping enough.' It rebelled on me," Wahl added.

He went back to work, though, and on Thursday, he published a newsletter that accused the Qatari authorities of ignoring the plight of the country’s migrant workers. The workers – particularly from India, Pakistan, Nepal, and the Philippines – provided much of the labor for building Qatar’s World Cup infrastructure. They work in uncomfortable and often dangerous conditions; many have died, although the exact number of deaths is unknown.

Wahl posted the piece on Twitter with this caption: “They just don’t care. Qatari World Cup organizers don’t even hide their apathy over migrant worker deaths, including the most recent one.”

A day later, he was covering the Argentina-Netherlands match when he collapsed in his press box seat during extra time. Medics attended to him for ~30 minutes before he left on a stretcher. Reports indicate he died on the way to or at the hospital.

Immediately after, Grant’s brother Eric posted on Instagram that Grant had been receiving death threats.

"I am gay,” Eric said after Grant’s death. “I am the reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the World Cup. My brother was healthy, he told me he received death threats. I do not believe my brother just died. I believe he was killed, and I just beg for any help."

Nothing has emerged yet to substantiate those claims, but regardless of how it happened, Wahl's death has cast another shadow over this year’s World Cup.

🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Better cold-day meal: Chili or Lasagna?Chili: 74.4%Lasagna: 25.6%

Yesterday's Question:

Just 20 Qs!

🧠 Final Thoughts

We hope you all had wonderful weekends. We're sorry to start off the week with the dark Roca Wrap about Grant Wahl, but felt it was a story people are interested to know more about.

We hope you have great weeks. Thank you all for riding the Roca wave!

Max and Max