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🌊 Iran's President Dies in Helicopter Crash

Plus: Kyle, Texas, fails to make history 😥

The diversity of Roca Nation never ceases to amaze us.

To call the Roca community diverse would be quite an understatement. Roca readers range from Beetlejuice to Dr. Michael Burry — literally. Both the iconic Howard Stern “whack pack” member Beetlejuice and famed investor from The Big Short (played by Christian Bale in the movie) read Roca, we’ve learned. So when people ask us to explain our audience, it’s a bit difficult…

In all seriousness, we consider this ideological range our greatest asset. Whereas other news communities are built around partisan bias, ours is built around a desire for no partisan bias. Sorry, Big News, but we can handle the truth!

🇮🇷 Iran's president dies in helicopter crash

🤔 Diddy apologizes over video

🏫 Atlanta school makes news over class assignment

–Max, Max, and Alex


Iran’s President Dead

Iran’s president and foreign minister died in a helicopter crash on Sunday

  • On Sunday, a group including President Ebrahim Raisi was traveling in foggy weather when their helicopter lost communication and was reported to have suffered a “hard landing” in northwestern Iran

  • By Sunday night, the incident was classified as a crash; on Monday morning, state media reported that Raisi and all others on the helicopter had died. Iran’s supreme leader announced five days of mourning and appointed Iran’s first vice president as interim president until elections can be held within the next 50 days

Dig Deeper

  • Raisi was elected president in 2021 and came from the country’s hardline faction. He was close to and considered a potential successor to Iran’s 85-year-old supreme leader

  • Raisi had ended decades of tension between the government and Iran’s supreme leader and military, which vie with the government for power. His death will complicate Iran’s Middle East strategy


Zelensky Term Ends

Volodymyr Zelensky’s term as president of Ukraine technically ended on Monday

  • Zelensky began his five-year term on May 20, 2019. Ukraine is now under martial law, a wartime legal system under which elections are not allowed

  • The constitution says that in the absence of elections, the president continues to exercise power, although Ukraine’s constitutional court hasn’t ruled on the matter

  • Polls show most Ukrainians oppose elections and believe Zelensky remains legitimate, but a minority believes Zelensky is either now illegitimate or risks appearing so

Dig Deeper

  • One of the authors of Ukraine’s existing constitution recently said, “Zelensky continues in power for as long as martial law applies. There is no political or legal crisis. Full stop”

  • He added that the constitution was drafted with a potential Russian invasion in mind

  • The leaders of Russia and Belarus – both of whom rigged the votes that elected them – have capitalized on Zelensky’s term officially ending to claim that he is illegitimate


A Concrete-Based Tech Company

One of the coolest startups we’ve come across at Roca is AquiPor, a company that is solving the problem of urban flooding.

  • Traditional concrete doesn’t absorb water – that’s why rain often causes cities to flood

  • AquiPor has solved that problem by creating porous concrete that captures stormwater where it falls. It then filters that water and allows it to naturally return to the ground

  • The Spokane-based company’s patented distributed water system is game-changing in scope and potential – especially given the US’ massive investments in making cities more resilient to climate change

  • AquiPor is currently fundraising. You can learn more and invest at the link here!


Gantz Gives Netanyahu Ultimatum

One of Israel’s leading politicians issued an ultimatum for the government to prepare a post-war settlement in Gaza

  • Israel has a three-person “war cabinet” that oversees war policy. It consists of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Benny Gantz, one of Netanyahu’s most prominent political rivals. Gantz joined the cabinet to signify unity during the war

  • Netanyahu is facing discontent over his handling of the war. On Wednesday, Gallant said his failure to plan for post-war Gaza left Israel with only bad options

  • On Sunday, Gantz said Netanyahu must approve a plan to secure the strip, free hostages, and prepare a path to Palestinian-international control of Gaza. If not, he said he will leave the cabinet

Dig Deeper

  • Last Wednesday, Gallant said that Netanyahu was leaving Israel with two bad options for post-war Gaza: Re-occupying the Strip or giving it back to Hamas

  • On Sunday, Gantz said, “If you choose to follow the path of zealots and lead the entire nation towards an abyss, we will be forced to leave the government”

  • Netanyahu said the conditions would cause Israel to lose the war; Gantz said he would quit the war cabinet if they are not approved


New Undisputed #1

Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk became the world’s undisputed #1 heavyweight boxer after a split-decision victory

  • Boxers are divided into 17 weight classes, the heaviest of which – heavyweights – weighs 91 kg (201 lb) or more. Four organizations award titles for each class. To be an “undisputed” champion, a boxer must simultaneously hold all four titles for a given class

  • Going into their fight on Saturday, Usyk held three of those titles; the UK’s Tyson Fury held the fourth. Both were undefeated

  • Usyk won and became the first undisputed champion since 1999. Fury claimed he lost because the judges felt bad for Ukraine

Dig Deeper

  • After the fight, Fury was defiant: "I believe [Usyk] won a few of the rounds, but I won the majority…His country is at war, so people are siding with the country at war. Make no mistake, I won that fight in my opinion"

  • Usyk – who broke down in tears – said, "Thank you so much to my team. It's a big opportunity for my family, for me, for my country. It's a great time, it's a great day"

  • A rematch is expected later this year

Some Quick Stories for the Office

🇨🇩 The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) army said it thwarted a coup attempt by an opposition leader. Some 50 people were arrested, including three US citizens, and the opposition leader was killed

🎙️ Sean “Diddy” Combs apologized after a video emerged of him kicking his ex-girlfriend at a Los Angeles hotel in 2016. Diddy called his actions “inexcusable”; lawyers for his ex-girlfriend called his apology “disingenuous,” adding that he had previously denied allegations of abuse and was “only compelled to 'apologize'” once the video came out

🇺🇸 Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said an upside-down American flag flying outside his Virginia home in 2021 was put there by his wife. The New York Times released an image of the flag – representing “Stop the Steal” – outside his home shortly after the January 6 riot; in a statement, Alito said his wife put it there, and that he had “no involvement”

🌴 The mayor of New Caledonia’s (NC) capital said the territory is “under siege” by protesters. Unrest began in the French Pacific territory last week after France’s legislature passed a law allowing more French residents to vote there. Indigenous protesters have since rioted, leading to 200+ arrests and six deaths. France has declared a state of emergency

🐺 Slovakia’s interior minister said a person accused of attempting to assassinate Prime Minister Robert Fico may not have acted alone, contradicting his previous claim that the person was a “lone wolf.” Also on Sunday, Slovakia’s deputy prime minister said Fico’s life is no longer at risk

Question of the Day

🧠 By popular demand, we’ve decided this week to swap out the weekly discussion for the original “Question of the Day.”

Today’s Question:

What’s a question we should ask the Roca audience? 

Think about it and reply to this email to let us know what you think!

Some Quick Stories for Happy Hour

🤦 Classic Kyle: Another attempt by the city of Kyle, Texas, to break the world record for the largest gathering of people with one name fell short. Just 706 Kyles showed up

😳 That’s eel-legal: Canadian officials seized 240 pounds of unauthorized baby eels, or elvers, at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The shipment was valued at ~$400,000

🚓 Seems like a low-ball offer: A Los Angeles protester received a $1.5M settlement after an LAPD officer shot him with a hard-foam projectile that “exploded” his testicles during a 2020 BLM protest

🍾 Good kid, MAN City: Manchester City won an unprecedented fourth consecutive Premier League title with a 3–1 home win yesterday. Man City edged Arsenal in the ranking by two points

🤭 “On a scale of 1 to Hitler”: A Hitler-themed class assignment at an Atlanta-area school asked eighth graders to rate Hitler’s attributes, including questions like, “How would you rate Adolf Hitler as a solution seeker?” and “How would you rate Hitler as an ethical decision-maker?”

Wonderful Plastic

In 1907, Leo Baekeland heated a mixture of coal and alcohol byproducts.

The result – a dark resin that could be molded into almost anything – was called “bakelite” and marked the creation of fully synthetic plastic.

Bakelite was not the first plastic – that was celluloid, a partially-synthetic plastic introduced as an ivory substitute in 1869. But celluloid was flammable and too unstable for widespread commercial use.

Bakelite, by contrast, did not deteriorate, was fully synthetic, and kept its shape when molded. It was revolutionary: No more would the limits of natural resources govern what could be made.

Bakelite also sparked a wave of research in polymers – large molecules made of repeating subunits – leading to the development of additional plastics like PVC (polyvinyl chloride), PE (polyethylene), Teflon, and nylon.

Demand for plastics boomed during World War II, as producers replaced scarce natural resources in household goods and material equipment with synthetic materials. Between the start and end of the war, plastic production had risen by 300%.

As that happened, researchers pioneered “polymerization” processes, through which chains of atoms could be connected into longer polymers. A key ingredient for polymerization was a byproduct of oil refining, which meant that oil companies could now turn their waste into plastic.

They developed these processes and made plastic manufacturing cheaper. As they did so, the supply of – and demand for – plastics soared.

Plastic and other kinds of pollution made environmental degradation apparent by the 1960s. To draw awareness to the state of the Earth, 20M Americans – 10% of the US population – celebrated the first Earth Day in April 1970.

That same day, a new symbol was created: Three arrows chasing each other. The symbol encouraged people to take care of the Earth by recycling.

It would enable one of the most successful – and misleading – marketing campaigns in history.

This is part 1 of 3 of a Roca deep-dive into recycling. If you have questions or comments, reply to this email!

Final Thoughts

What a day in news. The Maxes are currently gallivanting around the UK for a forthcoming Roca report — stay tuned. If we rent a car today, can we stay on the left side of the street? Can’t wait to mumble “told you so” from a roadside ditch outside Birmingham later today.

Have a great day and thanks for reading Roca as always! Shoutout Beetlejuice and Dr. Burry.

–Max, Max, and Alex