🌊 New Drug to Eat Ozempic's Lunch?

Plus: Microplastics found in all human testes tested

Scarlett Johansson vs. OpenAI. Popcorn ready.

OpenAI has suspended one of its ChatGPT voices, Sky, due to accusations that it sounded like a knockoff of Scarlett Johansson’s voice. Well, it turns out that ChatGPT may have actually ripped it off. The Black Widow actress just released a statement saying that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman asked her this summer if it could use her voice as the voice of ChatGPT. She declined the offer but…it evidently got lost in translation.

Now, as much as we like ScarJo, we simply are finding it hard to believe that ChatGPT would steal someone else’s IP…

🇮🇱 Arrest warrant for Netanyahu?

💸 Cohen admits to stealing

🍍 $400 fruit for sale

–Max, Max, and Alex

KEY STORY

Microplastics in Testes

In a newly-published study, researchers found microplastics in every human testicle they examined

  • Microplastics are plastics that are less than five millimeters long. Their health effects are unknown, although some researchers have suggested they could be linked to declining sperm counts in men

  • Per a new study published last week in the journal Toxicological Sciences, University of New Mexico researchers found plastic in all human and dog testes they tested

  • Among the dogs, higher plastic contamination was linked to lower sperm counts, although similar tests couldn’t be performed for the human testes. The professor overseeing the study said the results suggest “widespread environmental contamination” of microplastics, although he stressed in an email to Roca that the study doesn’t prove that microplastics cause lower sperm counts

Dig Deeper

  • The human testicles had an average of 330 micrograms of microplastics per gram of tissue, versus 123 for the dogs

  • Polyethylene, used in plastic bags, was the most common plastic found; PVC, the second-most

  • This new study follows a different one in February that found microplastics in every human placenta tested, suggesting the female reproductive system is also contaminated by plastics

KEY STORY

Forced Labor Cars

BMW and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) imported cars containing parts linked to forced labor, a US Senate report found

  • In 2021, the US banned the import of goods linked to forced labor in Xinjiang, a Chinese region where the US accuses China of committing genocide

  • On Monday, a Senate report claimed that in January, a supplier notified BMW, JLR, Volvo, and Volkswagen that it had supplied them with parts linked to forced labor. The report claimed that despite that warning, BMW and JLR continued to import cars with those parts

Dig Deeper

  • In a statement, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) accused the companies of failing to “self-police” themselves on their links to Xinjiang, calling on Customs and Border Protection to take steps to increase oversight

  • This isn’t the first car scandal involving forced labor: In February, a German news outlet reported that Volkswagen used a Xinjiang plant with links to forced labor; the same month, the Financial Times reported that thousands of Audi, Porsche, and Bentley vehicles were being impounded in US ports because of their links to Xinjiang

ROCA’S PARTNERS

Flavor Spotlight: Grapefruit

LMNT is Roca’s favorite way to stay hydrated and keep our headaches at a minimum. Right now the office is obsessed with LMNT’s Grapefruit Salt

  • This invigorating flavor offers a delightful blend of zesty grapefruit and a subtle hint of sweetness, making it perfect for any time of day

  • We pop it into our water before a workout, or most commonly, tackling a busy day at the office

  • LMNT Grapefruit Salt, like all of the flavors, provides the essential electrolytes your body craves without any sugars or artificial ingredients

  • Have you tried it? We would love to hear your feedback and which flavors you love!

Dig Deeper

  • Each LMNT packet contains the essential electrolytes to stay hydrated and maintain performance without added sugars or artificial ingredients

  • LMNT is throwing in a free 8-count sample pack for any Roca reader on their next drink mix order

KEY STORY

Weight-Loss Drug Prices Reduced

Telehealth company Hims & Hers announced it will offer a weight-loss drug at a fraction of current prices

  • In recent years, the success of drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy has transformed the weight-loss drug market into a multi-billion-dollar industry. Yet the drugs remain expensive – in the US, Wegovy costs $1,350/month without insurance – and in short supply

  • On Monday, Hims announced it would begin offering a $199/month weight-loss drug regimen with the same active ingredient as Wegovy. It is able to do so under a practice that allows companies to sell generic versions of drugs that are in short supply

Dig Deeper

  • Hims is an American telehealth company that sells prescription and over-the-counter drugs online. Founded in 2017, the company has gained customers by offering generic drugs at a discount

  • Its stock soared 30% on Monday, bringing its year-to-date gains to 93%

KEY STORY

ICC Seeks Warrant for Netanyahu

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leaders of Hamas

  • The ICC is the only permanent international court with the jurisdiction to prosecute people for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes

  • On Monday, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan – a British lawyer – announced he is seeking arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Israel’s defense minister for war crimes and crimes against humanity

  • He is also seeking warrants for three of Hamas’s senior leaders, including its supreme leader, over crimes related to October 7

Dig Deeper

  • Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet and critic of Netanyahu, called Khan’s decision to pursue warrants against Israeli leaders a “crime of historic proportion”; President Biden called the equivalence between Israel and Hamas “outrageous”

  • In a statement, Hamas accused Khan of trying to “equate the victim with the executioner”

  • A panel of judges will now consider Khan’s evidence and decide whether to issue the warrants. Israel isn’t a signatory to the ICC, though, meaning that even if the ICC were to approve the warrants, Netanyahu and Israel’s defense minister likely wouldn’t be arrested

RUNDOWN
Some Quick Stories for the Office

🚢 The container ship that struck Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge in March has been refloated and moved away from the crash site. It had been stuck under the bridge until controlled explosions freed it last week

🧠 The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave Neuralink approval to implant its brain chip in a second patient. Neuralink implanted a chip into its first human patient in January. The operation was a success, but the chip later lost some effectiveness after its threads came loose in his brain

🏬 Bruce Nordstrom, a retail mogul who led his family’s department store for decades, died at age 90. Bruce took control of Nordstrom in 1968, making him the third generation of his family to run the company his grandfather founded. The company is now run by Bruce’s children

🏦 The head of the FDIC – the US government corporation that guarantees bank deposits – announced he would quit. His resignation follows a recent report that claimed the FDIC has a “misogynistic” work culture

🇹🇼 During his inauguration speech on Monday, Taiwan’s new president said he would “unapologetically” maintain Taiwan’s independence from China. The new president, Lai Ching-te, is of a party that opposes China and supports closer ties to the West

👨‍⚖️ During his final day of cross-examination, Michael Cohen admitted to stealing from the Trump Organization. Cohen admitted he had requested $50,000 in reimbursement from Trump for a payment he made to a tech company, when in reality he only paid $20,000. When asked by Trump’s lawyer if he “stole from the Trump Organization,” Cohen said, “Yes”

COMMUNITY

We founded RocaNews because we wanted news companies to give us just the facts – not tell us what to think. That inspires us to do the “Roca Votes” story each week, in which we summarize a controversial topic and see how Roca Nation feels about it.

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

Should women cover up while breastfeeding in public?

Lindsay from Tennessee

Is the reaction to Harrison Butker’s speech over the top? Isn’t this just the social media outrage machine in action?

Scott from Arizona

Why don’t you cover Trump’s crimes more? I know you seek to be nonpartisan, but we shouldn’t get numb to them.

Kendra from Massachusetts

POPCORN
Some Quick Stories for Happy Hour

😮 Truth hurts: Truth Social reported a Q1 revenue of $770,500 and net loss of $327.6M. The Trump-founded social media platform still has a market valuation of $6B

🍍 Fruitflation: A boutique California grocery store sells a specialty pineapple for $400. The Rubyglow pineapple is known for its red exterior and sweet flavor

🌡️ What happened to workplace ethics? An HIV-positive sex worker had sex with over 200 people after learning of her infection, according to Ohio police

☄️ Ayy-strology: On Sunday evening, a giant meteor turned the night sky in parts of Spain and Portugal blue. The footage caught on camera (above) has since gone viral

🙏 Let’s try this again: The portal linking Dublin and New York City is reopening after getting shutdown for inappropriate visitor behavior, including flashing and twerking

ROCA WRAP
Tricking the Public

When Gary Anderson pioneered the “recycling symbol” on Earth Day 1970, he wanted to help the environment.

Anderson was a 23-year-old architecture student at the University of Southern California when he made the logo for a design contest. The symbol’s image was meant to mean, “Hey, this is recycled, this has been recycled, or it’s something you can recycle,” he later said.

Anderson won the contest and took home a $2,500 prize.

The symbol – known as a Mobius Loop – spread as a way for people to promote recycling. Companies spied an opportunity: By stamping products with the logo, they could make products look environmentally friendly. And they could shift the burden of plastic waste onto the consumer, who “should” be recycling.

In 1988, a plastics trade association introduced “Resin Identification Codes.” Those symbols featured the Mobius Loop around a number between one and seven. Each number signified the type of plastic used to make the item.

The system was initially adopted in the US and since 2008 has been an international standard. Manufacturers stamped the resin code onto all manner of plastic products, giving the impression that all were recyclable.

Yet even today, only “1” and “2” plastics are widely recyclable. Others are generally too difficult or expensive to recycle.

But the system led people to assume all stamped products were recyclable, and they began putting all plastics in recycling bins, regardless of the number. Recycling plants thus became overloaded with non-recyclable plastics, and recycling became even more difficult.

While Resin Identification Codes were changed in 2013 to address consumer confusion, it did little to help. Last April, a high-ranking Environmental Protection Agency official called for an overhaul of the system: The logo was often “deceptive and misleading,” she wrote, adding that “categorizing plastics by resin identification code coupled with chasing arrow symbols does not accurately represent recyclability.”

That official labeled the confusion stemming from the logo as one reason why so little plastic is recycled.

But how little plastic is recycled and what happens to the rest? That’s the topic of Part 3!

This is part 2 of 3 of a Roca deep-dive into recycling. If you have questions or comments, reply to this email!

EDITOR’S NOTE
Final Thoughts

Forty-four years ago, The Empire Strikes Back — which you all listed as your favorite Star Wars movie in the fantasy edition of 20 Questions — hit theaters. “Luke, I am your father,” by the way, was never an actual quote in the movie. The real one was “No, I am your father.” Perfect example of the Mandela Effect!

Now, back to having no friends…

–Max, Max, and Alex