🌊 Lead Pipeageddon

The Pope vs. Israel, return of the GIANT RAT 😱 and 20 Questions!

Happy Friday, Roca Nation. A new Pew survey finds that a majority of Americans are “more concerned than excited” about artificial intelligence. I felt this way, too, but then I had ChatGPT explain Quantum Theory to me in the voice of Chumlee from Pawn Shop. Now, I feel more confused than either.

In today's edition:

 🔑 Key Stories

EPA: No More Lead Pipes

The US Environmental Protection Agency proposed rules requiring water utilities to replace all lead pipes

  • Despite research showing the danger of lead pipes, millions still exist across the US. The federal government has never required them all to be replaced

  • On Thursday, the EPA proposed a rule requiring that most utility companies replace all their lead pipes within 10 years. It would also change how utilities are required to respond to lead contamination

  • The proposed rule is in a public comment period and will likely be formally ruled on early next year. Replacing all lead pipes is expected to cost up to $60B

NYT: Israel Had Attack Plan Draft

Israeli officials had a draft of Hamas’ October 7 attack plan more than one year in advance, the New York Times reported

  • The draft – a 40-page document – laid out a plan for Hamas to invade southern Israel by paraglider, motorcycle, and on foot, and conduct an attack as it did on October 7. The plan also contained secret information about the location and size of Israeli troops, suggesting confidential data leaked

  • The Times reported that Israeli defense officials thought the plan was beyond Hamas’ capabilities and wrote it off

  • There is no evidence that Israeli officials knew an attack was imminent 

New Climate Damage Fund

190+ countries agreed on a new fund to pay for climate-related disasters in developing countries

  • COP28, the UN’s 28th annual climate change conference, started in Dubai on Thursday. On its first day, countries agreed to create a new fund under the World Bank to help poor developing countries cope with the effects of climate change

  • Developed countries are encouraged, yet not required, to contribute. Germany committed $100M; the UK $50M; Japan $10M; and the US $17.5M

  • The agreement leaves open the possibility that rich developing countries, like China, could receive funds

Wall Street Surge

Global stocks are on pace for their best month since November 2020

  • Recent inflation reports have shown that inflation is falling in the US, EU, and other developed economies, increasing hopes that central banks will stop raising rates and will soon begin lowering them

  • This month, an index that tracks global stocks is up 9%, its largest monthly increase since November 2020. A different index that tracks investor fear is at its lowest level since before the pandemic

  • Over the past month, the S&P, Nasdaq, and Dow have risen 7.8%, 9%, and 8%, respectively

A protected online presence is the best present!

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  • Take advantage of Surfshark’s Cyber Monday deal (80% off and 5 months free) and protect your security! 

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Big cat back: Tiger Woods returned to professional golf at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, his first tournament since the Masters. He shot 75 in the first round

  • New nightmare unlocked: Researchers recently captured the first images of Uromys vika, a critically endangered giant rat species from the Solomon Islands

  • Glasses ≠ Nerd 🤓: A 10-year-old glasses-wearing British boy started a petition urging Apple to change its “offensive and insulting” glasses emoji, commonly known as the “nerd” emoji

Wildcard

  • Bow to your sasumata: A Tokyo jewelry shop worker used a sasumata – a traditional two-pronged samurai weapon – to foil a robbery and pursue three fleeing suspects

  • No one is safe: An off-duty FBI agent experienced a carjacking near Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., which has seen carjackings more than double this year to 900+

  • Sir, that’s a fake country: A Paraguayan government official was removed from his position after signing a deal with a fictional country called Kailasa

👇 What do you think?

Today's Poll:

Have you started decorating for the holidays yet?

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Today’s poll is sponsored by Surfshark, a leading virtual private network (VPN) provider. Block those annoying pop-up ads with Surfshark!

Today's Question:

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌎 Roca Reports

This week we concluded our Roca Reports series following the rise of right-wing politics in Germany. Yesterday we headed to Finland to try to answer the pivotal question: Is it truly the world’s happiest country? That continues today.

Roca Reports is part of our premium newsletter with on-the-ground investigations of stories no one else is covering. If you’re not a member, you can start your 14-day free trial here!

In central Helsinki, there’s a statue you can’t miss. 

Just outside the parliament and near the central library, it shows a commander riding on horseback. On the side is one word: Mannerherim. Look at the name of Helsinki’s main boulevard and you’ll see it contains the same word: Mannerheimintie.

Then head to the train station and you’ll notice Finns in fatigues running to their trains. It’s a reminder that Finland – despite being one of the world’s most progressive countries – is one of its most heavily militarized. All Finnish men must serve in the military, and the country has one of the highest rates of conscription, similar to that of Singapore, North Korea, or Israel.

The reason dates to November 30, 1939, and arguably before that.

Finland declared independence from Russia in 1917. 28 years of war followed, beginning with a civil war. 

Like in Russia, Finland’s civil war was fought between the Reds (communists) and the Whites (anti-communists). The USSR backed the Reds; Germany, the Whites. The war was short but brutal. One Finn I met whose grandfather fought with the Whites told me, “There was no mercy. Communists were f*cking killed dude. A lot of these people [communists] were just young kids who were disillusioned.”

“My grandfather would put communists in the back of the car and drive them to the Soviet Union and throw them over the border.”

The Whites won, but rather than use victory to repress the country’s left wing, Finland’s government enacted policies to undercut it. Chief among them was dividing large farms among laborers and enforcing an 8-hour work day, both of which gave poorer Finns a stake in the system. 

Finland progressed over the following years, but war came knocking again 20 years later.

On September 1, 1939, Germany and the USSR jointly invaded Poland, initiating World War 2. In anticipation of a conflict with Germany, the USSR pressured Finland to promise it would not let Germany through its territory and to allow Soviet troops to occupy parts of Finland. Finland, considering the requests an attack on its sovereignty, refused. 

Tensions boiled over the following months but Finland refused to soften its position. The USSR, certain it could steamroll the tiny Finnish army, became increasingly aggressive. On November 30, 1939 – almost three months to the day after World War 2 began – it invaded. 

Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev would later say, “There’s some question whether we had any legal or moral right for our actions against Finland. Of course we didn’t have any legal right. As far as morality is concerned, our desire to protect ourselves was ample justification.”

Regardless of the justification, the Finnish army – a couple hundred thousand ill-equipped men, a few dozen tanks, and 120 airplanes – suddenly found itself in a battle for the country’s existence against one of the world’s largest militaries. It needed warriors and a leader. In its soldiers and a man named Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, it found them.  

Part 2 continues below for Premium subscribers! Let us know what you think at [email protected]!

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Have you Googled yourself recently?
Yes: 43%
No: 57%

Yesterday's Question:

Is your country happy?

Mike from Toronto, Canada: “Definitely not with this puppet prince in power.”

Mary from Kamas, Utah: "Parts of my country are very happy. The average citizen lives happily. The angst of the media does not really effect the average citizen. Most people ignore the stupidity of waht is reported in the media.”

Becca from Memphis, Tennessee: “F*** no. And can we just ban zoos already”

Thomas from Corpus Christi, Texas: “Countries don't experience happiness. People experience happiness.”

🗣 20 Questions

20 questions logo

Oh, yes... it's time for 20 Questions again. 

The last time we wrote these we felt like different people: We were five pounds lighter and blissfully unaware of the many (flat) Earth-shattering conspiracies we heard at the Thanksgiving table. Ahh, those were the days!

Accordingly, let's do a fun/miscellaneous 20 Questions. We can't wait to read your answers!

Have a great weekend. Here's the link!

🧠 Intermission

We received a massive amount of feedback to yesterday’s first Finland edition, so thank you for that. To answer a question several of you asked: The Monster Freak Shake was terrible and if Finns are happy, that is not the reason why.

Enjoy the next installment below and have a great weekend.

–Max and Max

🌎 Roca Reports

The Winter War began with Soviet bombs dropping on Helsinki at 10:30 AM on November 30, 1939. 

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