🌊 New Epstein Just Dropped

Findings from the Epstein documents, Pennsylvania dog eats $4,000 in cash and Europe’s most mine-polluted country

Dog lovers, we have a story for you — and an early nomination for the goodest, bestest girl of 2024…

At 3 AM in a town outside Seattle, a couple awoke to the sound of their dog barking. It was a “loud, screaming-type bark” and “unlike any” they had heard before. When the wife checked on Lucy, their dog, she learned the cause of the barking: The workshop connected to the house across the street was on fire. They called 911, and the firefighters eventually killed the blaze, which was “10 minutes away” from engulfing the neighbor’s house. Given that the neighbor was still fast asleep when the firefighters arrived, Lucy may have saved a life. Now keep reading to see why Tyreek Hill wishes Lucy lived across from his house.

In today's edition:

  • Findings from the Epstein documents

  • Pennsylvania dog eats $4,000 in cash

  • Europe’s most mine-polluted country

 🔑 Key Stories

Epstein Documents Unsealed

Hundreds of pages of unsealed documents from a lawsuit connected to Jeffrey Epstein were released on Wednesday

  • The lawsuit was originally brought by a victim of Epstein against Ghislaine Maxwell, a longtime associate of Epstein’s. Maxwell is serving a 20-year sentence for child trafficking and other crimes

  • The newly-unsealed documents contain names of employees, victims, witnesses, and acquaintances of Epstein and Maxwell

  • Among others, Bill Clinton, the UK’s Prince Andrew, and Donald Trump are named in the documents

  • One Epstein victim testified that Epstein told her “Clinton likes them young, referring to girls.” She did not accuse Clinton of any crimes

  • The same victim testified that when she was introduced to Prince Andrew, he “put his hand on my breast.” She also testified she was once present on Epstein’s private island when Andrew arrived

  • The victim also testified that after an unannounced visit to New Jersey, “Jeffrey said, ‘Great, we’ll call up Trump.’” She did not accuse Trump of any crimes

  • This is the first of what will likely be several document releases over the coming days or weeks

Top Hamas Official Killed

A blast in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, killed the most senior Hamas leader to have died since October 7

  • Saleh al-Arouri, 57, was a founding member of Hamas’s military wing. He more recently served as Hamas’s leader in the West Bank and the group’s unofficial ambassador to Lebanon-based militia Hezbollah

  • On Tuesday, an explosion hit a southern Beirut suburb, killing Arouri and two other Hamas commanders. Hamas claimed Israel was behind it; Israel neither confirmed nor denied its involvement

  • On Wednesday, Hezbollah’s leader vowed that Israel will “not go unpunished” for the attack; Israel said it is “prepared for any scenario”

Menendez Aided Qatar?

Federal prosecutors accused Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) of aiding Qatar’s government in exchange for bribes

  • Last year, prosecutors charged Menendez with a range of crimes, including conspiring to act as an agent for Egypt. Menendez pleaded not guilty

  • On Tuesday, prosecutors released a new indictment accusing Menendez of using his powers to aid Qatar’s government. It claimed that in exchange for bribes, he helped a New Jersey businessman secure a property investment from a Qatari sheikh

  • Menendez’s lawyer denied the allegations and said the senator acted “entirely appropriately” at all times

Bombing Kills 84+ In Iran

84+ Iranians were killed in a bombing near the tomb of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani

  • The US assassinated Soleimani – arguably Iran’s most powerful military leader – in 2020. Wednesday marked the fourth anniversary of his death, prompting thousands of people to visit his tomb

  • At around 3 PM local time, two blasts went off near the tomb, killing 84+ and injuring 284+. Eyewitnesses claimed that the bombs were hidden in bags or trash cans and were remotely detonated

  • No group has claimed responsibility. Iran’s leader promised to punish those responsible

Spam Calls? Never Heard of Her…

… At least, we wish that was true. But let’s face it, suspicious phone calls, texts, or emails asking for money are the norm these days. If you have a trained eye, maybe you can spot the scammer, but their tricks are becoming more and more sophisticated.

  • Every day, data brokers profit from your sensitive info — phone number, DOB, SSN — by selling it to the highest bidder. How can you truly protect yourself when so much of your life is online?

  • That's where Incogni comes in. It scrubs your personal data from the web on your behalf. Unlike other services, Incogni helps remove your sensitive information from all broker types, including people search sites.

  • Start 2024 with the peace of mind that you and your family are protected from identity theft — and so the only unknown number in your DMs is from your new Hinge date.

  • Protect your personal information today: Roca readers exclusively unlock 55% off Incogni annual plans with code ‘ROCA10’

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Fill me up, Starbucks! Starbucks will allow customers in the US and Canada to use their own reusable mugs for nearly all orders. Personal cups must be clean and under 40 ounces

  • Flamin’ hot Cheetah: Miami Dolphins star wide receiver Tyreek Hill’s home caught fire, forcing the receiver to leave practice. Local news footage showed heavy smoke coming from the roof (Lucy, WYA?!)

  • Steamboat Killie: An indie filmmaker plans to release a horror-comedy film inspired by Mickey Mouse’s first cartoon, “Steamboat Willie,” now in the public domain

Wildcard

  • My dog ate my savings: A Pennsylvania goldendoodle ate $4,000 in cash left on the kitchen counter by its owners. They recovered all but $450 from the dog’s bowel movements

  • How could you, Reese’s?! A Florida woman is suing Hershey for $5M, claiming the company’s Halloween-themed Reese’s cups lacked the “cute pumpkin faces” it advertised

  • Purrfectly lethal: A Utah zoo recently welcomed Gaia, an 8-month-old black-footed cat, the world’s smallest but deadliest wild cat species. They weigh just two to five pounds

👇 What do you think?

Today's Poll:

When it comes to technology trends, do you consider yourself a(n):

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Today's Question:

Do you swear by any unusual food combinations?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

This week we began a new Roca Reports series with on-the-ground reports from Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo. That continues today. We hope you enjoy!

Landing in Sarajevo, Bosnia, around midnight, I didn’t know what to expect. A relatively poor, recently war-torn, and predominantly Muslim country – this was very different from Germany or Finland, where I had just been. 

But the immediate difference was just that people were nicer. 

Getting a cab outside the airport, two young women approached me and offered me to ride with them, saying I’d get ripped off on my own. They were Sarajevans coming back from a “girls’ trip” in Barcelona. Whiter than me and casually dressed, I wondered to myself if they were (Orthodox) Serbs rather than (Muslim) Bosniaks. 

That proved totally wrong: They were Muslim, and there is no difference in how Bosnia’s Catholics, Serbs, and Muslims look. People of all religions here can be white or tan. All that differs is how some people dress, with conservative Serb and Muslim women both covering their heads and conservative Muslim men growing out beards.

My idea in Bosnia was to learn about the country today and how the war in the 1990s shaped it. I wasn’t sure there would actually be a line to thread, though: Did Bosnians still care about what happened 30 years ago?

The answer is yes.

Before parting from the women, one paid for my cab and followed me on Instagram. When I checked later, her profile picture said in Bosnian, “11.juli. Nemoj zaboraviti.” Translated: “July 11. Do not forget."

July 11 was the day of the Srebrenica massacre, when Serb forces killed 8,000 Bosniak (Muslim) men and boys. Until this trip, I thought it was universally considered genocide. In the coming days, I’d learn that Serbs disagree – and many consider the commander responsible for it a hero. 

The next morning, I met with a government official who didn’t want to be named so she could talk freely. I asked if people have moved on since the 1990s. 

“Some of them think it’s history,” she said. “But older people, they didn’t forget it. Because they actually were part of the war. The next generation, no. Because they didn’t feel that, those consequences of the war and so on.”

Was that a good thing? Could the new generation leave the old issues behind?

“You know, we consist of two entities. There are no physical borders between those two entities but I think there is a border. Even though we are working together, working together, talking together, hanging out together, I think there is still a border.”

She was referring to Bosnia’s two divisions – the Federation and the Republika Srpska. 

During the war, Bosnia’s Serbs declared their own state in the country’s Serb-majority areas. They called it “Republika Srpska,” or the Serb Republic. That divided the country along ethnic lines, with Serbs in the Republika Srpska and Boniaks and Croats in the other area, which became known as the Federation. Both sides “ethnically cleansed” the others, although what happened in Republika Srpska was often on a wider scale and more brutal than what happened in the Federation.   

After three years of war, a NATO bombing campaign against the Serbs allowed the Federation forces to regain lost territory. As they advanced, NATO pushed both sides to sign a peace deal, according to which the country would become divided between the Republika Srpska and Federation with their borders as they existed at that point in the war. Each state would have its own government, and the groups would share power in a federal government that sits above it. 

Today, the Federation accounts for 51% of Bosnia’s area and Republika Srpska 49%. While the treaty that ended the war gave ethnically cleansed people the right to return to their homes, many people never did. The official said this has created borders within the country, even where physical ones don’t exist. 

“We go home to different places because people were ethnically cleansed,” she said. “In our heads, we are aware that there is a border still between the three nationalities.”

She continued: “This is a very unstable country. Although 27 years have passed after the war, a match can blow this up.”

I asked if any one politician was to blame. 

“I think all people who are in charge of the government can provoke and something can happen. It’s very unstable. We need to be very careful what we are doing.” 

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

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

What generation do you fall into?
Yikes, we had a glitch with our poll! But the number of “Generation Alpha” responses that came in before then really made us feel old…

Yesterday's Question:

Should Harvard’s president have resigned?

Monte: “Absolutely, and don’t try to make it a race issue. Plagiarism can’t see"

Robert from Cincinnati, Ohio: “Absolutely not. Colleges and universities should be bastions of free idea exchange. There is an obligation, however, to police campus presentations. That was not done well.  However, the largest fault of these presidents was in their failure to make their case effectively and in a way that indicated changes in school policy.  No right is without responsibility. But every faux pas shouldn't require job loss. Alas, big donors, big money, big losses.”

Danielle from Tampa, Florida: “Regardless of how I feel about her answers regarding anti-Semitism and enforcement of Harvard policy (I think her answers to the congressional committee where reprehensible), she was investigated by the Harvard corporation and their review found three instances of "inadequate citation" in her dissertation. Plagiarism will get a student expelled from Harvard, how can they continue to support a president proven guilty of the same.”

We are also featuring a response each day from Tuesday’s question, asking for your personal top story of the year:

Levi from Toledo, Ohio: “My daughter was born on February 2nd, 2023. Her impact on humanity is still being determined, but her impact on my family has been nothing short of remarkable”

🧠 Intermission

Jerry Seinfeld voice: What’s the deal with all these house fires? I mean come on! Turn the stoves off, people!

Tyreek Hill had to live out everyone’s second worst nightmare of watching your house on fire on local TV. He can only one-up it by accidentally showing up to work in his underwear today. That remains the first-place worst nightmare.

–Max and Max

🌎 Roca Reports

Bosnia is a mountainous country. During its Yugoslavia days, it was renowned for its hiking and skiing. In 1984, it even hosted the Winter Olympics. 

But today, you’ve got to be careful where you walk – or you may step on a landmine.

“Our country is still the most mine-polluted country in Europe,” says Svjetlana Luledzija of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Centre, a government agency tasked with coordinating de-mining processes across the country. “Over 500,000 of our fellow citizens are still living under the threat of mine danger.”

“Up to now, 1,781 people were victims as a result of residual mines and explosive devices, out of which 624 persons have died.”

Subscribe to Roca Premium to read the rest.

Become a paying subscriber of Roca Premium to get access to this post and other subscriber-only content.

Already a paying subscriber? Sign In

A subscription gets you:
Subscriber community access
On-the-ground investigations of stories no one else is covering
Exclusive deep dives and interviews