🌊 New McDonald’s Dropping

College presidents grilled in Congress, poetic justice for burrito bowl thrower and Roca Reports: The Russians are coming

In 1941, TIME magazine got creative with its “Person of the Year.” Instead of a boring old human, they picked Dumbo from Disney’s brand new movie to be their “Mammal of the Year.” Then in early December, when the story was ready to go, Pearl Harbor happened. They had to make a last-second change and decided to replace Dumbo with FDR for his third appearance on the cover. You see, it turns out, they didn’t want to have two elephants in the room…

In today's edition:

  • College presidents grilled in Congress

  • Poetic justice for burrito bowl thrower

  • Roca Reports: The Russians are coming

 🔑 Key Stories

New McDonald’s Dropping

McDonald’s is launching CosMc’s, an alien-themed, beverage-focused, to-go restaurant spinoff

  • The chain will focus on iced beverages and is branding itself as a fast and convenient way to buy a pick-me-up. It seeks to capitalize on to-go eating by featuring four drive-throughs and no dine-in area

  • CosMc’s will mostly sell iced beverages such as lemonade, slushes, frappes, and iced coffee. It will offer some small bites, including Egg McMuffins, but no burgers or fries

  • The chain is based on an alien character from a 1980s McDonald’s commercial. The first location opens in a Chicago suburb next week

College Presidents Grilled

Members of the US House Education Committee grilled the presidents of Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, and MIT over antisemitism on campus

  • The committee’s mainly Republican members accused the presidents of tolerating antisemitic speech, with one calling Harvard “ground zero” for antisemitism

  • The presidents said they condemned antisemitic speech but supported students’ free speech. When pressed on if calling for a genocide of Jews violated campus policies, they all said it depends: Yes, for specific threats or actions; no, for public statements 

  • One representative called for their resignations, citing their stances

Golf Ball Revolution

Golf’s governing bodies will ban current golf balls by 2030

  • For decades, better technology has enabled golfers to drive golf balls longer distances. That trend is in part due to improvements in golf ball design

  • Critics of that trend argue it has negatively affected golf courses and the sport’s watchability. They called on golf’s governing bodies to change rules around golf balls to ensure they don’t travel as far

  • On Wednesday, golf’s governing bodies said it will change rules surrounding ball design by 2028 for pros and 2030 for amateurs. The changes will cut up to 15 yards off pros’ drives and fewer for amateurs

Brain Chips Restore Function

Brain implants dramatically improved the cognitive abilities of patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI)

  • TBI affects millions of Americans, often after sports injuries or car accidents

  • Per a study published in Nature Medicine, researchers implanted brain devices into five patients who had recovered from comas but still suffered from TBI. After 90 days of use, their performance on a cognitive test improved 32%. They also reported qualitative improvements, such as the ability to read, drive, and concentrate

  • Two patients refused to end the treatment, citing how effective it was. One who did end the trial saw their test results fall 34% in three weeks

Cold and Flu Season Made Optional

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  • Meet ARMRA Colostrum: The physician-created, research-backed colostrum bioactive whole food with over 400+ functional nutrients that seal immune barriers to block threats

  • ARMRA Colostrum is a powerful tool to rebuild your health from the inside out and achieve real results so you can actually feel your best. Try ARMRA today with 15% off your first order using code ROCA15

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • 2023 (Taylor’s Version): TIME magazine named Taylor Swift its 2023 Person of the Year. In 2023, her “Eras Tour” shattered records; she was Spotify’s most-streamed artist; and she became a billionaire

  • Belmontoga Stakes: The 2024 Belmont Stakes – the third leg of horse racing’s Triple Crownwill be held at Saratoga Race Course instead of Belmont Park in Long Island

  • Chat, is this real? Popular video streaming service Twitch is exiting the South Korean market next February due to “prohibitively expensive” operating costs

Wildcard

  • Fast food gulag: A 39-year-old Ohio woman who was convicted of assaulting a Chipotle employee by throwing a burrito bowl at them must now work at a fast-food job for two months

  • Taken 4: Juárez: Police arrested a 39-year-old El Paso man for falsely reporting his kidnapping to cover up a night of partying in Juárez, Mexico

  • But first, let me take a selfie: A group of tourists capsized their gondola in a Venice canal after ignoring the gondolier’s orders to sit down. They were reportedly moving around for selfies

  • 2x the power and clarity: Top German engineers unveiled the world’s first hearing aids with dual processing: Horizon by hear.com. They’re virtually invisible, bluetooth-enabled, and backed by audiologists. Learn more and start your 45-day no-risk trial today*

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👇 What do you think?

Today's Poll:

Have you been to McDonald’s in the past month?

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Today's Question:

Thanks to all the readers who flooded our inbox with their least favorite word! Today we want to know: What is your favorite word?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

This country blames its flag.

Kyrgyzstan is a country of 7M people in Central Asia. Lying along the ancient Silk Road, the region was conquered by the Russian Empire in the 1800s and was part of the Soviet Union until its collapse.

90% of its population is Muslim and the country’s two main languages are Kyrgyz and Russian. The name Kyrgyz means “forty tribes,” referring to the national hero Manas who united forty tribes to resist the Mongols.

A year after gaining independence in 1991, Kyrgyzstan passed a law establishing its national flag. The law mandated that the flag was to have a large yellow sun with 40 rays set against a red background. Carved out of the sun are lines depicting the opening at the top of a yurt, a type of nomadic tent.

Kyrgyzstan’s current flag

In recent months, though, critics have suggested the sun looks like something different: A sunflower.

In Kyrgyz tradition, sunflowers represent an excessive need to please others or the type of person who would be willing to switch allegiances for personal gain.

“There has been a widespread opinion…that our flag looks like a sunflower, and that is one of the reasons why the country cannot get up off its knees," its president said last month.

Not all politicians agreed.

“If you asked me, I would say that I am totally okay with the old flag. We’ve been living with it for 30 years and I am used to it,” one politician said.

Yet last Wednesday, Kyrgyzstan’s legislature passed a law modifying the flag. Per the new law, the sun will have straight rays, not wavy ones, which supporters say makes it clear that it is a sun, not a sunflower.

Model of new flag

The change may be small, but its supporters believe it could make a big difference for Kyrgyzstan’s future.

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

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Have you taken a genealogy test?
Yes: 32%
No: 68%

Yesterday's Question:

What is your least favorite word?

Hundreds of readers: “Moist”

Stacey: “Bad actor! I guess it is a phrase, but so over used.”

Jessica from California: “Coalition. It makes me think of authoritarian busybodies and I instantly want to rebel against them.”

Lynn: “Meh. Sounds ghastly, something you hear from an absolute idiot with nothing intelligent to say.”

Nicky from North Georgia: “WhatNot!”

Jack from Milton, Florida: “Re-purpose.  So totally overused, and mis-understood.”

Russ: “Least favorite word is SORRY.  It is used for things that someone should not be sorry for”

Laura: “My least favorite word is "proactive" is this nonsense term they love to throw around in business that basically means my boss is annoyed that i'm not clairvoyant.”

🧠 Intermission

Welcome to the hundreds of college students who signed up for Roca Premium yesterday! We founded Roca to create a news source for young people who are fed up with the bias and alarmism of Big News. This month we are excited to offer free annual subscriptions of Roca Premium to college students!

If you have an idea about how to share this opportunity with your college network, reply to this email to let us know!

–Max and Max

🌎 Roca Reports

Last week our Roca Reports series moved to Finland to answer the pivotal question: Is it truly the world’s happiest country? The series 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!

At 9 AM on Tuesday, we began our mile-long trek to the main intersection of Kuusamo. We threw our thumbs up and started waiting for a ride. 

Kuusamo is a small, grey city about 500 miles north of Helsinki. It was Tuesday morning and our goal was to reach Helsinki by Friday. But if the prior day’s experience was anything to go by, the going would be slow. 

Our first hitchhiking spot was a bus stop on the side of a highway, just south of a roundabout. We waited there for an hour, getting progressively colder and wetter. It was raining, dark, and 45ºF (7ºC). After an hour, several hundred cars had passed but not one had stopped. 

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