🌊 Melanoma Breakthrough?

A Dutch study found that a new melanoma treatment may be the most effective yet...

Liechtenstein is one of the 9 countries to start with an L, yet it refuses to take one in battle. The last time Liechtenstein sent an army to war was in 1866, when it dispatched a force of 80 men to fight in the Austro-Prussian war. The Liechtenstein troops saw no action, though, and returned home with a force of 81 men, as an Italian soldier decided to come home with them.

In today's edition:

  • EU corruption scandal

  • $25M murder reward

  • Modern American witches

🔑 Key Stories

Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough

A US government lab achieved the first-ever net energy gain from nuclear fusion, per the FT

  • Fusion, the reaction that powers the sun, involves 2+ atoms combining to release energy. Scientists achieved it in a lab decades ago, but had never been able to generate more energy from the reaction than what they put into it, i.e. “net energy gain”

  • A California lab achieved the milestone by directing high-powered lasers at hydrogen molecules

  • Fusion could theoretically provide endless clean energy, however many have questioned its viability. This breakthrough makes it appear more realistic

Dig Deeper

  • The process involves heating hydrogen atoms to temperatures above 180,000,000º and pressures greater than 100,000,000,000x that of Earth's atmosphere. The Department of Energy will formally announce the breakthrough today

Iran Executes Second Protester

  • Last Thursday, Iran executed its first protester since mass anti-government protests broke out in September. On Monday, it executed its second, a 23-year-old man accused of fatally stabbing 2 members of Iran’s security forces

  • The man was publicly hanged from a crane ~23 days after his arrest. Per rights groups, his family wasn’t notified of his execution until afterwards

  • ~500+ protesters have been killed since September, and Iran has sentenced at least a dozen to death. Access is limited, however there have been reports of full-blown armed conflicts in certain regions of Iran

Dig Deeper

SBF Arrested

Authorities in the Bahamas arrested 30-year-old Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), the founder of Bahamas-based cryptocurrency exchange FTX

  • SBF was one of the world’s richest people until FTX collapsed last month amid revelations that it improperly handled customer funds and overstated the value of its assets. Billions of FTX customer funds are missing, and it’s unclear where they are

  • Many have alleged fraud; SBF denies wrongdoing

  • The Bahamas government said the US is pursuing criminal charges against SBF and will likely request that he be sent to the US to stand trial

Dig Deeper

  • Charges against SBF include wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy and money laundering

  • "Sam Bankman-Fried built a house of cards on a foundation of deception while telling investors that it was one of the safest buildings in crypto," said one US official

EU Corruption Scandal

Belgian prosecutors charged a European Parliament vice president and 3 others in a corruption scandal

  • The European Parliament (EP) is one of several main EU institutions. It has the power to pass EU laws

  • Since Friday, police claim to have recovered €1M in bribes and arrested 4 for accepting or facilitating bribes. Police say Qatar paid the bribes to influence EU policy toward Qatar; Qatar denies that

  • The arrested include 1 of the EP’s 14 vice presidents; her partner and assistant; and a former EP member who is now president of a human rights organization. The vice president was suspended from the EP

Dig Deeper

  • Among the stances taken by the EP vice president were to call Qatar a “front-runner in labor rights” and to support visa-free travel to the EU for Qataris. It's unclear whether the alleged bribes impacted those votes

Melanoma Breakthrough?

A Dutch study found that a new melanoma treatment may be the most effective yet

  • Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer, however new treatments over the past 10 years have increased the 5-year survival rate for cancer that has spread by 4x-10x

  • The new treatment uses supercharged immune cells taken from the tumor to fight itself

  • The study tracked 168 patients with advanced melanoma for a median 33 months. Compared to a leading treatment, the new one resulted in 50% less disease progression and a 3x higher full recovery rate. 20% of test patients went into total remission

Dig Deeper

  • The new treatment takes immune cells from the tumor, artificially grows them in a lab to number in the billions, and then re-injects them to fight the tumor

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Dig Deeper

  • For a limited time only, MANSCAPED® is offering all RocaNews readers 20% off sitewide + free shipping on all orders! Finish up that Holiday shopping today!

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Here we go again: Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" has topped the Billboard Hot 100 for the 4th consecutive holiday season, displacing Taylor Swift's "Anti-Hero"

  • RIP, Walking Man: Chicago's "Walking Man" who was set on fire months ago has died from burn complications. Police have ruled his death a homicide

  • Streamers get a red card: US authorities have seized 55 websites for illegally streaming World Cup matches in violation of FIFA's exclusive rights to the matches

Wildcard

  • Justice on my mind: 2 Georgia men were released from prison after spending 25 years behind bars. A true crime podcast presented new evidence that exonerated them

  • The Way of Covid: James Cameron is missing the Hollywood premiere of his new movie Avatar: The Way of Water after testing positive for Covid. The movie opens this Friday

  • Bruce Wayne vibes: The son of murdered Canadian billionaires is offering a $25M reward for information about the unsolved murder case from 2017

👇🏻 What do you think?

Today's Poll

What's the proper name for the device that controls your TV?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Today's Question:

What's the worst thing you ever saw a teacher do in school?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

Salem, Massachusetts

Today, there are 1.5 million witches in the US. And no city in the country is more famous for them than this one.

It was near Salem that 200 people were accused and 20 executed on suspicion of witchcraft between 1692 and 1693.

Technically, that outbreak of mass witch hysteria – the Salem Witch Trials – took place in Salem Village, which today is the town of Danvers, Massachusetts. Modern-day Salem was known as Salem Town and was not where the trials happened.

Regardless, today, Salem – population 45,000 – is known as “Witch City,” and it’s not just for the history.

Modern Salem is a witchcraft mecca. It draws thousands of tourists every year, particularly in October – a tourism-heavy month that contributes up to 35% of the town’s annual economy.

But beyond the visitors, over 10% of the city – about 5,000 people – identify as practicing witches. Roca met one of those witches, Skylar Ros.

“A witch is simply just a human intermediary between the following forces known as ‘as above’ and ‘so below,’” Skylar told Roca. “We connect with the spiritual force of energy known as an ether, and with nature and the 4 elements of fire, earth, air, and water.”

There are many types of witches, Skylar explained to Roca. Most are pagans; people who practice a range of religions that typically worship multiple gods and are associated with the use of ritual and magic. The act of “witchcraft” refers to the use of spells, rituals, or supernatural techniques to influence the world.

Witches have often been associated with malicious intent throughout history, often by dominant religious groups who perceived them as evil or possessed by the devil.

Yet today, witchcraft is on the rise, and there are now more practicing witches in the US than ever before. An estimated 1.5M Americans now identify as pagans, many of whom are self-described witches.

Skylar is an “eclectic witch” which means she incorporates a wide range of witchcraft practices to build a unique “magickal” identity.

That’s magic with a k, not a c.

“Magick” refers to aligning oneself with natural forces to manifest an intention, as opposed to “magic,” typically associated with stage performance and supernatural powers.

“It’s all about creating your own personal practice that lets you connect with this physical realm, the spiritual force of energy known as the ether and most importantly yourself,” Skylar told Roca.

Witchcraft is not the “myth” that’s “flashy or scary in the ways it’s portrayed in the media,” she said. “Witchcraft teaches you to respect nature and honor spiritual deities, co-exist with each other as unique individuals and promote emotional and spiritual healing for the practitioner and the world.”

So what does that look like?

Skylar walked Roca through a few witchcraft rituals. The first involved standing in a circle and taking 3 deep breaths to ground ourselves. Another involved sprinkling salt on the ground around her feet to create a circle of protection.

Skylar said she likes to show people these rituals because they don’t involve anything fancy. “Any store-bought salt will do,” she said.

She performed the salt ritual in front of the Salem Witch House, the former home of a judge who presided over the trials in the 17th century. “Ironic, isn’t it?” she said: A modern witch was performing witchcraft at the home of one of its former prosecutors.

Skylar first moved to Salem in 2019 and found a role in one of its many magik shops. She didn’t expect witchcraft to become a career, but soon had a suite of her own clients to whom she provided healing, readings, and custom spells and potions.

“I want to share so that it can reach those who want to connect with this powerful spiritual practice that empowers to craft their own destiny,” she said.

330 years after the trials, Salem remains a witchy place.

If you have thoughts, let us know at [email protected]!

🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Is blue the right color for the math folder in school?Yes: 53.7%No: 46.3%

Yesterday's Question:

What is your favorite type of international cuisine?

Karl from Philly: “There’s plenty of great options, but I think if I have to pick one it’s Thai. It feels complex but intuitively so, like the various flavors/ingredients at work were made to be used together. ”

Stuti from Maryland: "I could name so many but to stay loyal to my Indian heritage, I think I’ll have to go with pav bhaaji! If you go to an Indian restaurant and it’s on the menu, I highly recommend ordering it!"

Kristie from Birmingham: "Italian for sure. Preferably in Italy . It’s just so much better over there."

🧠 Final Thoughts

Why do you all think witching is on the rise? We've been debating it in the office and are curious to hear your thoughts.

We hope you all have great Tuesdays. See you tomorrow!

Max and Max