🌊 Introducing… the Florida Man Games!
US promises to defend the Philippines, introducing… the Florida Man Games! Halloween edition of 20 Questions!
The Beatles are coming together… with AI. A long time ago in a studio far, far away — aka 1978 in England — John Lennon wrote and sang a song called “Now and Then.” In June, Paul McCartney revealed that he and Ringo Starr used AI to isolate the vocals and finish the song. They’ve now announced they will release that song on November 2. This is great news for Beatles diehards, AI advocates, and all the Gen Z kids who can now call the Beatles “mid.”
By the way, we have an exciting announcement Monday — stay tuned and have a great weekend!
US promises to defend the Philippines
Introducing… the Florida Man Games!
🔑 Key Stories
US to Defend Philippines?
President Biden warned China that the US will defend the Philippines if it is attacked in the South China Sea
China claims 90%+ of the South China Sea and has deployed its military to the region to defend that claim. The Philippines and other countries reject that and accuse China of violating international law
On Sunday, China and the Philippines blamed each other after their vessels collided in the South China Sea
On Wednesday, Biden called its commitment to defend the Philippines “ironclad.” The Philippines and US are obliged by treaty to defend each other
In response to Biden’s comments, on Thursday, a Chinese spokeswoman said the US has “no right to get involved in a problem between China and the Philippines.” The US “must not hurt China's sovereignty and…interests in the South China Sea,” she added
The tensions come in the same week that China’s foreign minister met with the US secretary of state and called for “stable” ties
Gaza Death Toll List
Hamas released the names and IDs of 6,747 people it said have been killed by Israeli airstrikes after President Biden cast doubt on the death toll
Pressure has mounted on Israel to stop bombing Gaza as the UN and other agencies warn of a humanitarian crisis. Many UN officials and world leaders have called for a ceasefire
On Wednesday, President Biden said he had “no confidence” in the reported Gaza death toll of 6,500+
In response, Hamas released a list of 6,747 names of Gazans it claimed have been killed. The list included age, sex, and personal ID numbers
“We have decided to announce the details of the names to the whole world so that the truth is known about the genocide perpetrated by the Israeli occupation,” Hamas said in a statement
Israel says Hamas wants a ceasefire so it can regroup and prepare for the expected Israeli invasion
US Economy Growing Fast
The US economy grew at an annualized rate of 4.9% between July and September (Q3)
Since March 2022, the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates 11 times. Raising rates fights inflation but slows economic growth
During Q2 of 2023, GDP grew 2.1%. Then on Thursday, the Commerce Department announced US GDP grew 4.9% on an annual basis during Q3 – a high rate under any condition and especially now, given the high rates
High consumer spending drove the unexpectedly high growth, although data imply spending may decline in the coming months
Some analysts suggested the GDP reading is good news because it suggests better odds that the US will avoid a recession. Others said it is bad because it increases the likelihood that the Fed will increase interest rates again
Manhunt Ongoing for Maine Shooter
A manhunt is underway for the man suspected of murdering 18 people in a Maine city on Wednesday. For context, Maine averages 22 homicides a year
On Wednesday, 40-year-old Robert Card allegedly fatally shot 18 people at a bowling alley and restaurant in Lewiston, Maine
Police have launched a manhunt and warned Card should be considered “armed and dangerous”
Police have found a “vehicle of interest” in Lisbon, a nearby town, which they said was likely Card’s, however they have not yet found Card himself. Residents have been ordered to stay at home and the area is reportedly a ghost town
Per multiple sources, Card spent two weeks at a mental health facility this summer after hearing voices and making threats. His Army unit reportedly noted that he was “behaving erratically.” At one point he also threatened to shoot up a military base in Saco, a town south of Portland
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Barbie-ween: Per Google Trends, the most popular Halloween costume of 2023 will be Barbie. Other pop culture-influenced top choices include Spiderman at #3 and Wednesday Addams at #8
Albums in low places: Country singer Garth Brooks will release his new album ‘Time Traveler’ exclusively through outdoor retailer Bass Pro Shops on November 7
Harden shall not pass: Philadelphia 76ers security prevented former NBA MVP James Harden from boarding the team plane for their season-opening road trip, per Bleacher Report
Itsy bitsy ear spider: After several nights of disrupted sleep and unusual ear sensations, a 64-year-old Taiwanese woman visited a clinic where doctors found a tiny spider moving in her ear canal
Exporting stupidity: A Japanese railway company is investigating claims that four foreign YouTubers stole food and traveled long distances on trains without paying
Florida Man Games: A group of Floridians plan to host the “Florida Man Games” next February in St. Augustine, describing the competition as “the most insane athletic showdown on earth”
👇🏻 What do you think?
How would you rate Biden’s handling of the economy so far?
🌯 Roca Wrap
Over the past four weeks, Roca has asked readers to submit stories they want us to investigate. We read your suggestions and take them seriously. This week, we decided to feature one that many of you have asked us to cover.
20 Questions are right below this Wrap!
Six years ago, two middle schoolers were found dead after going on a hike in a small Indiana town. New court revelations suggest they may have been “ritualistically sacrificed” by a pagan cult.
13-year-old Abigail Williams and 14-year-old Liberty German were friends who attended the same middle school in Delphi, an Indiana town of 3,000 people. At 1:35 PM on February 13, 2017, they went on a hike together on a nature trail. They were dropped off by German’s sister and planned to be picked up by her father at 3:15 PM.
The girls were never seen alive again.
Their families reported them missing at 5:30 PM, and police found their bodies the next day around noon. Their deaths were ruled a homicide – and to this day, nobody has been convicted over them.
Authorities initially released little evidence about the murders, but much has since come to light through court documents and other releases. At around 2:13 PM – roughly 38 minutes after being dropped off – German recorded a video on her smartphone of a man following them.
One of the girls is recorded saying, “Gun.” The video then captures the man saying, “Guys, down the hill,” before the video cuts out.
Investigators believe the girls were forced to cross a 3.5-foot-deep stream before being brought to the murder site less than a mile off the trail. They are believed to have passed within earshot of several homes adjacent to the forest. Investigators believe both were killed with a knife. An unused bullet was found lying next to one of the bodies.
Much of this information came out gradually, with some of those details only being revealed earlier this year. Investigators also interviewed several witnesses who claimed to have seen the man recorded in the video, yet their descriptions of the man differed. One said he wore a “black hoodie, black jeans, and black boots”; another said he was wearing a “blue colored jacket” and was “muddy and bloody,” as if he had just been in a fight.
Several witnesses also said they noticed a car parked strangely in a parking lot near the trailhead, but they disagreed on the car’s make and model and where exactly it was parked. Over the following years, investigators made little progress in identifying a suspect in the murders. The case went cold and became one of Indiana’s most prominent unsolved murders.
Then on October 13, 2022 – over five years after the murders – an unexpected break came when police executed a search warrant on the home of 50-year-old Richard Allen. Weeks later, police charged Allen with two counts of murder, marking the first time prosecutors brought charges against a subject over the case. Allen – a Delphi local – worked at a local CVS Pharmacy as a licensed pharmacy technician.
Police became suspicious of Allen after matching his physical description and his car, a 2016 Ford Focus, to those seen by witnesses and caught on camera. “Investigators believe [the descriptions given by witnesses] are similar in nature to a 2016 Ford Focus,” prosecutors said in their warrant for his arrest.
In a 2017 interview with police, Allen had also admitted to being at the trail that day to “watch fish” at a stream. Police executed a search warrant of his home based on their suspicions and retrieved a .40 caliber pistol, which they sent to a ballistics lab for analysis. That lab matched markings on the bullet found at the crime scene to those made by Allen’s gun.
Allen – who told police he had no idea how a bullet matched to his gun had ended up at the crime scene – pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors and defense attorneys have since been preparing for Allen’s trial, which is set to begin in early 2024. But last month, new revelations further confounded the mystery of what happened to the girls.
To obtain a search warrant, police must submit evidence to a judge establishing probable cause that the investigation’s subject committed a crime. Search warrants are only valid if a judge signs off on them with full understanding of a situation.
In the US, if a search warrant is illegally or faultily obtained, any evidence found during the search is impermissible in court. A Franks Hearing is a proceeding called by the defense to question the legality of a warrant.
Last month, Allen’s lawyers submitted a memorandum supporting a request for a Franks Hearing. In it, they alleged that prosecutors failed to report evidence suggesting that a cult executed the girls as part of a “ritualistic sacrifice.” The filing listed previously unreleased evidence from the crime scene that suggested whoever murdered the girls did so ritualistically using sticks and their blood to form crude symbols.
The defense attorneys claimed that the symbols were based on Odinism, a Viking-era pagan religion. “Members of a pagan Norse religion, called Odinism, hijacked by white nationalists, ritualistically sacrificed Abigail Williams and Liberty German,” the attorneys claimed.
They also outlined 92 steps they claim must have been carried out during the murder, which they claimed proves more than one person must have been involved. “[Absolutely] nothing links Richard Allen to Odinism or any religious cult,” the attorneys argued.
The defense attorneys argued prosecutors either overlooked, ignored, or willfully hid evidence tying the children’s deaths to Odinism. They also claimed that based on that evidence, a search warrant should never have been issued to search Allen’s house – meaning evidence from his gun should be admissible in court. The new revelations were shocking, although many of their details have not been independently verified.
The lead prosecutor in the case denounced the memorandum, calling it “colorful, dramatic and highly unprofessional” and “a fanciful defense for social media to devour.” Then last week, without explanation, Allen’s lawyers unexpectedly resigned from the case.
Will a jury find Allen guilty of murder, or is there more to the story than what the public knows?
Let us know what you think by replying to this email!
🗣 20 Questions
"All work and no 20 Questions makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no 20 Questions makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no 20 Questions makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no 20 Questions...." - The Shining, 1980
Spooky season is in full swing, leaving us with absolutely no choice but to do a Halloween-themed edition of 20 Questions. We will try not to bore you with too many 4th-grade-level "this or that" questions, but then again is it really only for a 4th grader to decide whether Skittles are better than Reese's? If anything, these are questions for grown-ups who've had years of experience in the candy-eating business.
So here we go with Halloween 20 Questions. Thank you, as always, for choosing Roca. Have an amazing weekend!
🌊 Roca Clubhouse
Had you heard of Mike Johnson (R-LA) before today?
What is the best movie you have seen this year and why?
Krista from Seattle: "Dinner In America. I loved this movie. It’s funny, quirky, punk, heartwarming and has the most perfect ear-worm song. I highly recommend it!"
DFW from Dallas: "Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Extended edition because you should sit down with your family to watch it every year."
Steve from Wellington, Florida: "The documentary Kelce. It was an interesting look into the personal life of a pro athlete and the toll the game of football takes on their bodies."
Elle: “I'm not embarrassed but Barbie! When she was face down on the ground out of options I felt that in my soul. Best movie so far this year”
Zach from California: “So tough to pick a best movie from the year. As far as my favorite that I enjoyed the most, it's a close call between John Wick 4 and Across the Spiderverse, though I'd probably give the edge to across the Spiderverse due to its broader appeal while maintaining artistic merit and it's jaw-dropper of an ending.”
Madison: “This is an oldie, but I saw "The Bridge on the River Kwai" for the first time earlier this year, and I haven't stopped thinking about it. It was absolutely fantastic!”
🧠 Final Thoughts
That's all we've got for this week. Have awesome weekends, do the 20 Questions, and see you on Monday!
—Max and Max