🌊 Just Plane Guilty

Plus: Joe Biden: I'm not leaving!

The American year of the sequel.

The trailer for Gladiator 2 dropped this morning, and we are ready to leave it all on the floor of the Colosseum for Denzel Washington. Although we’ve gotta ask… is Hollywood making anything that’s not a sequel this year? From Despicable Me 4 to Kung Fu Panda 4, the top eight highest-grossing movies of 2024 are all sequels. At this point Gru and Po should just get Cameo accounts. Our strongest argument against AI taking over Hollywood is not Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.

🛩 Boeing to plead guilty

🍿 End of the Hollywood era

🌀 Hurricane hits Houston

–Max and Max

KEY STORY

Biden: I’m Not Leaving

In a letter to congressional Democrats, President Biden said he isn’t going anywhere

  • “I want you to know that despite all the speculation in the press and elsewhere, I am firmly committed to staying in this race, to running this race to the end, and to beating Donald Trump,” he wrote

  • Biden then wrote that his candidacy is the people’s will: “We had a Democratic nomination process…The voters of the Democratic Party have voted. They have chosen me to be the nominee of the party. Do we now just say this process didn’t matter? That the voters don’t have a say?”

Dig Deeper

  • Biden addressed the concerns about his ability to beat Trump by writing, “I can respond to all this by saying clearly and unequivocally: I wouldnt be running again if I did not absolutely believe I was the best person to beat Donald Trump in 2024”

  • You can read the full text of the presidents letter here

KEY STORY

Hollywood Era Ends

Paramount agreed to merge with Skydance Media

  • Paramount is a media conglomerate that owns CBS, Paramount Pictures – the Hollywood film studio behind “The Godfather,” “Top Gun Maverick,” and other blockbusters, and television stations including MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central

  • On Monday, it agreed to sell itself to Skydance – an upstart film studio run by the son of Oracle’s billionaire founder Larry Ellison – for $8B

  • The deal ends nearly 40 years of one family – the Redstones – controlling Paramount

Dig Deeper

  • The deal will make Skydance’s CEO, David Ellison, one of Hollywood’s most powerful people

  • Ellison started the company with money from his father – the world’s fifth richest person – but became known for signing big deals and making successful movies

ROCA’S PARTNERS

A Simple Discussion Could Benefit Your Retirement Plans

  • 25% of people believe they don’t need a financial advisor until they’re old and gray

  • However, over five years, people who worked with an advisor had nearly double the assets of those who didn’t

  • The right help on your financial journey is crucial to your success – luckily, Money Pickle advisors are here to help

  • Money Pickle matches you with a trustworthy and vetted advisor who can help you explore your options and take the first step toward achieving your financial goals

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Dig Deeper

  • Find out if an advisor is right for you and get all your money questions answered in minutes with Money Pickle

  • Take their retirement questionnaire by clicking here

KEY STORY

Boeing to Plead Guilty

Boeing agreed to plead guilty to felony charges

  • In January 2021, Boeing admitted to misleading regulators about the 737 MAX – two of which crashed, killing 346. The company was placed under a type of corporate probation

  • This year, prosecutors accused the company of violating that probation and brought charges. Late Sunday, Boeing agreed to plead guilty

  • The company will have to pay a $244M fine, spend $455M over three years to improve safety, and hire a monitor to ensure those funds are properly spent

  • Boeing will now be considered a “felon” company

Dig Deeper

  • The company’s board members will also have to meet with the crash victims’ families, who have criticized the deal for being too soft

  • The company’s new “felon” classification could interrupt its business, as the government isn’t allowed to award contracts to criminal companies. Boeing makes $20B+ yearly off government contracts and is expected to request a waiver

  • A judge still needs to approve the plea

KEY STORY

“White” Economic Forum?

A lawsuit accused the World Economic Forum (WEF) of discriminating against black and female employees

  • The World Economic Forum (WEF) puts on the Davos conference, which brings the world’s leading policymakers and businesspeople together in Switzerland

  • On Monday, it emerged that a black female employee sued the WEF, alleging that the organization routinely discriminated against black, pregnant, and female employees

  • The lawsuit follows a Wall Street Journal story last month that alleged WEF executives discriminated against older and pregnant employees, used the “n-word” in front of black employees, and allowed a toxic work environment

Dig Deeper

  • The lawsuit claims that the WEF has a careless “approach to anti-discrimination laws, permitting an atmosphere that is hostile to women and Black employees”

  • It alleges that a white manager once told the black employee to think of her boss as her “master” and that the company reserved outward-facing opportunities for white men

RUNDOWN
Some Quick Stories for the Office

🌀 Hurricane Beryl killed at least three people in Texas and cut power to 2M+ near Houston. It started as a Category 5 in the Caribbean, where it killed at least 10, and hit the continental US as a Category 1 before weakening

🚫 Columbia University suspended at least three deans for texts that “disturbingly touched on ancient antisemitic tropes” and made light of Jewish students’ concerns during the anti-Israel protests. The university also announced a “vigorous” antisemitism and anti-discrimination training program for staff

🏦 UK authorities accused Andrew and Tristan Tate of repeatedly failing to pay taxes on their online business revenue. Police are looking to recover at least $3.6M from frozen bank accounts and cited a video in which Andrew said, “When I lived in England I refused to pay tax”

🇫🇷 French President Emmanuel Macron refused the prime minister’s resignation, instead asking him to stay “for the time being to ensure the country’s stability” after Sunday’s elections left no group with a parliamentary majority 

🛫 The US TSA screened a record 3.01M travelers on Sunday, averaging 35 passengers per second. It’s the latest of several shattered US travel records since May, as this summer shapes up to be the busiest for travel in American history

COMMUNITY

🤔 Yesterday’s Question: Why is Taylor Swift so obscenely popular? In an era of fragmented media, how has she become an Elvis-type figure?

We got a bunch of great answers but are featuring only this one, which stood out.

Taylor Swift's Popularity

I think it comes down to 7 factors, in no particular order.

1- I mean, come on, she's gorgeous. She's a tall, beautiful white chrismastic woman from a well to do family. (Though not exorbitantly wealthy, that I know of.) That's got to count for something.

2- She doesn't have a big range. This isn't at all a dig of her singing. Her range is wonderful. She uses what she's got. But it's not as large as many other mainstream female singers, and this makes her songs waaay easier for the average person to sing along with. I actually do believe this makes a difference.

3- Her supportive parents. So many actors and singers have been screwed over by their parents over the past two decades. (And before that too.) Their support and love probably built her up to be the long lasting star she is today. (Rather than crashing and burning after 1989.)

4- She is genuinely a great songwriter. Her lyrics are both surface level, and very deep upon analysis. (Generally. I'm not saying "Shake it Off" is great art. 10 minute "All Too Well" however...) This offers something to both casual listeners and deeper ones. She also experiments with many genres, once again opening her range of listeners. It's hard to state how crucial this is, I think.

5- She is an EXCEPTIONAL business woman. It's kind of astounding how good she is at reading her audience. From the beginning, she seems to have wanted full control of her career and image. The more she has done this, the more popular she has become, and I don't think this is a coincidence. She is very good at crafting her image on her terms, and whether you agree if it's honest or not, it's obviously connected with a lot of people.

6- She has been through quite a few media scandals, and turned around and used them to her favour. From suing that guy that groped her for a dollar, to the recent master rights to her songs, she's really, really, good at keeping her side of the street clean, and making sure she comes out on top.

7- Hardworking. From what I've heard she's put a lot of effort into improving her voice and stage performance, and to consistently get better at what she does. Releasing 2 albums during a world tour isn't exactly easy.

None of these things would work without any of these factors, I think. Remove any one and it would cripple her astounding career. But sometimes the stars align, and here we are with Taylor Swift, Pop Star extravaganza.

“H” from the United States

🧠 Today’s Question: If money weren’t a factor, would you send your kids to private or public high school?

POPCORN
Some Quick Stories for Happy Hour

🪐 Whoever smelt it dealt it: Researchers studying the atmosphere of HD 189733 b, a distant planet with scorching temperatures and glass-like rain, discovered it “reeks of rotten eggs”

🍦 I scream, you scream…: British Coastguard teams rescued an ice cream truck swept out to sea near Cornwall after the tide caught it on the beach

Congrats to the reporter who got this… scoop.

🍯 Not so sweet: Federal authorities have charged a Florida smoke shop’s owners for allegedly selling misbranded Viagra and Cialis as “honey”

🐶 Who let the dog blaze? A Colorado dog lit a house on fire after turning on a stove. Home security footage shows the dog inspecting the stove and accidentally turning it on, igniting boxes placed on top

🐟 Florida fish wild, too: Florida biologists caught a “highly unusual” longnose gar with a crooked spine. The spine appears as a hump

ROCA WRAP

Born to Ride

Marco Siffredi was raised to be on the mountains.

Born in Chamonix, a skiing destination in the French Alps, he grew up in a family deeply connected to the outdoors. His childhood was filled with skiing trips, hiking through the Alps, and hearing stories of daring mountain ascents from his parents, both avid climbers and skiers.

As Siffredi grew up, he displayed his parents’ same love for mountain adventures. In Chamonix, Siffredi immersed himself in the local skiing and snowboarding culture, learning from seasoned mountaineers and pushing himself to master increasingly difficult runs. Marco’s skills quickly surpassed those of his peers, and he began to seek out more daring descents – an interest fueled by consuming books and documentaries about the world’s most legendary mountaineers.

He soon set his sights on the ultimate challenge – Everest – but first, he needed to train.

By age 16, Siffredi was not just climbing some of the world’s steepest and most rigorous mountains but snowboarding down them, often via 50º drops or routes that no snowboard had ever gone down before. In 2000, he did his first 8,000-meter mountain – a category that includes only 14 mountains – paving the way to Everest.

In 2001, at age 22, Siffredi summited the world’s tallest mountain. There were various paths down, including one he considered the “holy grail.” Yet that lacked snow, so he went down a different path vowing to return to do the other.

He made it safely down, in the process becoming – arguably – the first person to snowboard down Everest (some organizations say he was; another says it’s a boarder who walked part of the way).

Yet Siffredi wasn’t satisfied – and shortly after a year later, he found himself back on Everest’s summit, this time ready to become the first snowboarder to go down the route known as the “Hornbein Couloir” – the so-called “holy grail.” Siffredi’s sherpas would later say that he cared little about reaching the summit, saying only that he was “Tired. Tired. Too much snow. Too much climbing.”

As Siffredi prepared his descent, storm clouds started to blow in, and the sherpas urged him against going into the potential storm.

Yet Siffredi insisted, strapped on his board, and set off into the clouds, never to be seen again.

EDITOR’S NOTE
Final Thoughts

July 4 gets all the love, but today’s the anniversary of when George Washington ordered the Declaration of Independence to be read out loud to members of the Continental Army in New York for the first time. Can you imagine a more hype pregame speech? And we thought it couldn’t get better than Herb Brooks in Miracle

Have a great day, Roca Nation!

–Max and Max