🌊 Karma is an FBI Investigation

San Francisco puts on a fresh face, the lion roams tonight in Italy and Roca Reports

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In today's edition:

  • San Francisco puts on a fresh face

  • The lion roams tonight in Italy

  • Roca Reports

 🔑 Key Stories

San Francisco Homeless Sweep

San Francisco conducted a major sweep of homeless encampments ahead of an international summit in the city

  • The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a major international conference. President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are both attending this year’s event

  • Ahead of the conference, police swept homeless encampments across much of the city’s downtown. Emails obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle documented public officials’ plans to clear out the encampments ahead of the event. “With APEC coming, I am concerned about historical encampments that are close to priority areas,” one high-ranking city official wrote in September. Another replied that APEC “is coming and we need to stay on top of the growing encampments”

  • The encampment sweep occurred in downtown areas near where the conference is being held. It is unclear where the city relocated the displaced homeless people to

Dig Deeper

  • Some activists expressed concern that the city was clearing out encampments without providing their residents with adequate alternative shelter, as the city is required to do by law. Others expressed concern that the sweep is only a temporary solution to improve appearances for foreign dignitaries. One activist told the New York Post that the sweep shows that “the city had the capability to do this all along — instead they just do the bare minimum”

B-21’s First Flight

The B-21 Raider – the US Air Force’s (USAF) new stealth bomber – took its first test flight on Friday

  • A bomber is a plane capable of flying deep into enemy territory and dropping conventional or nuclear weapons. The bomber models the USAF currently uses have been in operation for decades

  • Late last year, the USAF unveiled its new bomber, the B-21 Raider. The Air Force expects to purchase 100+ at a baseline per-unit cost of $692M

  • On Friday, an aviation photographer captured the B-21 on its first test flight. The USAF did not publicize the flight but later confirmed it did occur

Dig Deeper

  • The USAF currently flies three bombers: The B-52 Stratofortress, the B-1B Lancer, and the B-2 Spirit. It has flown versions of the B-52 since 1955; the B-1B since 1986; and the B-2 since 1989. The USAF expects the B-21 to be in service by 2027 and replace several older bomber models by 2040

Politics Roundup

Senator Joe Manchin jeopardized Democrats’ Senate majority, and the new speaker of the House proposed a bill to avert a government shutdown

  • Democrats have an effective 51-49 Senate majority. On Thursday, though, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) – a centrist frequently at odds with President Biden and others – announced he will not seek re-election in 2024. “I have…decided that I will not be running for reelection,” he said, adding that he will be “traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together.” For months, analysts have speculated he could run for president as an independent

  • His decision not to seek re-election jeopardizes Democrats’ Senate majority

  • On Saturday, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) proposed a spending bill to fund the federal government until January or February (depending on the agency), averting a shutdown. It is unclear if that bill will pass

Dig Deeper

  • Setting different end dates for funding for different agencies – a “two-step continuing resolution” – is intended to placate Republicans calling for spending cuts and Democrats who have demanded a longer-term resolution to government funding. The bill would keep spending at 2023 levels and would not include funding for Ukraine or Israel. A vote on the bill is expected as early as Tuesday, and if it fails, Congress would have until Friday to pass a bill to avert a government shutdown

FBI Investigating Eric Adams

The FBI is investigating NYC Mayor Eric Adams over whether he pressured city officials to sign off on a Turkish building, The New York Times (NYT) reported

  • Adams – a former NYPD police officer – has served as NYC’s mayor since last year

  • Two weeks ago, the FBI raided the home of Adams’ chief fundraiser. They seized computers, cellphones, and a manila folder labeled “Eric Adams.” At the time, the FBI said they were investigating potentially illegal contributions given to Adams’ campaign from the Turkish government or Turkish nationals associated with it. Adams said he was not under investigation himself and was cooperating with the investigation

  • Then last Monday, FBI agents seized Adam’s phones and an iPad. They later returned the devices to him, and Adams reiterated he was not under investigation

  • Per the NYT, the FBI is now investigating whether Adams pressured New York Fire Department officials to approve a Turkish government building. His campaign received campaign funding from Turkish sources

Dig Deeper

  • Adams already had a long-running relationship with several Turkish officials, and in 2015, the Turkish consulate paid for his visit to Turkey, where he signed a sister-city agreement. Then in May 2021, months before he allegedly pressured the NYFD to approve the Turkish building, a construction company owned by Turkish immigrants hosted a fundraising event for Adams in which 48 donors – including the company’s owners – raised $43,600 for Adams’s campaign

  • Neither Adams nor his campaign have been accused of wrongdoing, and no charges have been filed related to the investigation. In a statement, Adams denied any wrongdoing and reiterated that he is cooperating with the FBI

Last Chance to Invest Before This Company Becomes a Household Name

If you had the opportunity to invest in the biggest electronics products before they launched into big box retail, would you?

  • Through retail distribution deals with Best Buy, Ring changed doorbells and Nest changed thermostats. Early investors in these companies earned massive returns, but the opportunity to invest was limited to a select, wealthy few

  • The game has changed, and for once investors have the option to invest in a company that’s gearing up for a massive retail rollout

  • RYSE is launching in 100+ Best Buy stores, and you're in luck—you can still invest at only $1.25/share before their name becomes known nationwide

Dig Deeper

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Avengers, disassemble! “The Marvels” had the Marvel Cinematic Univere’s worst box office opening with $47M, falling short of initial $75-80M projections

  • Texas in Aggie-ny: Texas A&M fired head football coach Jimbo Fisher after six seasons, incurring $75M+ in buyout costs from his fully guaranteed $95M contract extension signed in 2021

  • Return to the Capitol? The “QAnon Shaman” – known for his role in the January 6 Capitol riot – is running for Congress. He is running as a libertarian in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District

Wildcard

  • The lion roams tonight: After escaping from a circus, a lion roamed an Italian seaside town’s streets for hours, sparking calls for a ban on wild animals in entertainment in Italy

  • “I am alive”: An 11-year-old Indian boy went to the Supreme Court to prove he is alive and dismiss a fake murder case involving him

  • It’s baaack: Scientists captured the first-ever footage of Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna – an ancient egg-laying mammal named after Sir David Attenborough – dispelling fears of extinction

👇🏻 What do you think?

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🌯 Roca Wrap

Last week, Germany’s security services deemed a state branch of Germany’s second-most popular political party – the Alternative für Deutschland (AFD) – an extremist organization.

Just weeks before, the party scored a breakthrough in two of Germany’s wealthiest states, expanding out of its base in the country’s poorer, rural east.

Almost every mainstream media outlet has labeled the AFD “far-right” or “extremist.” But what do its supporters actually believe? To find out, I visited an AFD rally in the German city of Magdeburg. 

The AFD had made its name as an anti-EU, anti-immigration party. But based on dozens of conversations I had, there are many topics they care about. With few exceptions, every AFD voter I spoke to brought up Covid, with many saying that was the issue that pushed them to the party. 

“I’ve been on the left my whole life,” one protester said, explaining that he joined the AFD through the “corona movement” after he saw the government suppress anti-lockdown protests. Likening vaccine mandates to “fascism,” he added that RFK Jr. was his favorite American politician. 

Some AFD supporters thought lockdowns were the wrong policy, while many believed the pandemic was a government conspiracy used to force vaccinations that would kill or sterilize the population. 

“No one here is vaccinated,” one man told me at the rally. “Maybe a couple people – but then they realized the vaccine made them sick or killed their sister.”

One AFD activist told me, “People have a hard time believing that their own government would…put a vaccine into our body to kill us.”

“It's like rat poison. It's supposed to not kill you instantly…Because if people die suddenly, then people wake up too soon. So it’ll take some time. And it's not killing everybody, but preventing them to get pregnant, killing their babies before birth, prenatal,” he said. “It's taking part of the population by preventing men and women from making babies.”

Another major topic among AFD voters was Germany’s support for Ukraine. Like with Covid, some just oppose the policy while others see a conspiracy.

At the rally, people were waving both Russian flags and peace flags. Numerous people described themselves as part of the “peace movement.” One told me, “They said Germany would never go east again. Now we are sending tanks into Ukraine!” It wasn’t that they liked Russia, but that they opposed Germany inserting itself into any war. 

But another protester told me, “Maybe this whole war thing with Putin…it's all a big show and theater.”

“Who's pulling the strings?” he asked. “They are talking on some secret phones behind our backs and making plans for the future, for the new world order and world government.”

And many thought that Germany was spending its money to the detriment of the middle class – which again, they blamed on either bad policy or conspiracy. 

“All German taxpayers know there is money for everyone but them,” one man said, referring to Germany spending on Ukraine, renewable energy, and to support refugees. 

That man and others alleged a greater conspiracy: “We have central banks hoarding debt. The middle class is getting poorer while the elites get richer.” He said Germany was heading for a repeat of the 1920s, when “people would get paid in the morning and the money would be worthless by the afternoon. People needed bags of money to buy bread.”

Yet while AFD supporters see progressive German politicians as pushing the country toward a repeat of fascism, progressive Germans see the AFD as doing so.

“It is 1933,” one history teacher told me of Germany’s current political situation. We interview her and numerous other people in today’s premium edition of Roca Reports. The full story is available below. 

Let us know what you think at [email protected]!

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The first train out of the Magdeburg AFD rally took us to Halle, a mid-sized city a few hours to the south. 

We only slept there, but that was enough time to read about Halle and learn of a 2019 terrorist attack in the city: 

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