🌊 OnlySnoopers on Capitol Hill

An update on the war in Gaza, tourist smuggles otters in pants, and France gets a new spire

51 years ago today, the last humans to walk on the moon — or, sorry, successfully stage walking on the moon — made their lunar landing. Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, astronauts on the Apollo 17 mission, spent a record 74 hours on the moon’s surface and recorded silly videos like this one. The funny part about Apollo 17 — aside from the fact that many believe it was filmed in Albuquerque — is that nobody talks about Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt today. They spent three days walking on the moon, and they’re less known than the yodeling kid at Walmart.

In today's edition:

  • An update on the war in Gaza

  • Tourist smuggles otters in pants

  • France gets a new spire

 🔑 Key Stories

Congressional Pressure Campaign

A House Republican told POLITICO that former staffers had threatened to expose his daughter’s OnlyFans account

  • In late November, a video emerged of Representative Brandon Williams (R-NY) in a heated altercation with two people who he had recently fired from his office

  • Last week, Williams told POLITICO those former staffers had threatened to expose his daughter’s OnlyFans account to TMZ as payback for his firing them. One reportedly told Williams, “All I have to do is pay $7 to watch your daughter shove her phone up her p***y!”

Magill Resigns

University of Pennsylvania (Penn) President Liz Magill resigned on Saturday

  • Last week, Magill – Penn’s president since July 2022 – testified before Congress about antisemitism on campus. During that, she evaded a question asking if genocide against Jews violated Penn’s policies, saying that it was “context-dependent”

  • Magill released a statement modifying her testimony, but despite that, students, politicians, donors, and alumni called on Magill to resign

  • On Saturday, she and the chair of Penn’s board did so. Her resignation letter didn’t mention her testimony

New Hunter Biden Charges

Federal prosecutors charged Hunter Biden for allegedly conspiring to avoid paying $1.4M in taxes

  • The indictment lists almost $5M in expenditures between 2016 and 2019, during which time he is accused of evading taxes. Those payments included $683,212 to “various women” and $188,960 for “adult entertainment”

  • “The Defendant spent this money on drugs, escorts and girlfriends….everything but his taxes,” the indictment reads

  • The charges – three felonies and six misdemeanors – collectively carry up to 17 years in prison

Gaza Update

Israel threatened an attack on Hezbollah as the UN warned of starvation in Gaza

  • On Saturday, Israel’s national security adviser said that Israelis are scared to return to northern Israel, fearing an October 7-esque attack by Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based militia

  • “We can no longer accept the [Hezbollah] force sitting on the border,” he said. “The situation in the north needs to change. And it will change”

  • Also this weekend, Israeli tanks entered southern Gaza’s largest city, Khan Younis – thought to be a Hamas stronghold. The UN said that worsened the humanitarian crisis and half of Gazans are now starving

Hydration is the gift that keeps on giving

LMNT: The electrolyte drink mix that is sweeter than your grandma’s compliments – but without any sugar! 

  • Each stick pack contains an optimal ratio of electrolytes, minus the sugar rush, artificial rainbows, or those ingredients you can’t pronounce

  • LMNT was born from the growing body of research that shows optimal health occurs at sodium levels two to three times the government recommendations

  • It’s the perfect gift for anyone on a mission to restore health through hydration, whether a US Olympian or someone just trying to ward off a holiday hangover. What says “I care” more than hydration?

  • Today, you can enjoy a FREE sample pack of all eight LMNT flavors with any order – perfect for stocking stuffers! – plus a no-questions-asked, risk-free refund policy. If you don’t love it, pass it along to a salty friend and get your money back, no questions. Get salty now!

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Aged like fine credit: A Steve Jobs-signed check sold for $46,063 at an auction. Dated July 23, 1976, the $4.01 check was made payable to RadioShack

  • Fly down to Electric Avenue: Air New Zealand purchased a battery-powered, all-electric five-seater cargo aircraft for mail delivery between the country’s airports, starting in 2026

  • Troll toll: A group of conmen in India reportedly deceived government officials for over a year by operating a fake toll plaza, swindling an estimated $8.9M from commuters

Wildcard

  • The sidewalk…it’s alive! Drexel University researchers are developing a bacteria-infused concrete to increase its lifespan. Concrete typically starts deteriorating after ~50 years

  • You otter know better: Thai authorities detained a 22-year-old tourist at Bangkok’s airport for attempting to smuggle two otters and a prairie dog in his pants

  • “We all make mistakes”: A Washington womanbitten by an octopus she put on her face for a photo contest – said, “We all make mistakes”

👇 What do you think?

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🌯 Roca Wrap

After falling to its death in 2019, a spire once again sits upon this city’s iconic building. 

Notre Dame Cathedral is both the symbolic and literal heart of Paris. 

It sits upon the Île de la Cité, a natural island in the Seine River where the Parisii tribe first established the community that would become Paris.

The cornerstone for Notre-Dame was laid in 1163 and its construction continued for about 200 years until its completion around the mid-14th century. "Point Zero” – considered the official center of Paris – starts at the Cathedral and is used as the starting point for measuring distances from Paris to other French cities.

Symbolically, it has witnessed many of France’s most significant historical events, from the coronation of Napoleon to the liberation of Paris in World War II. It’s also home to one of the holiest Christian relics: Jesus’ Crown of Thorns.

A fire in April 2019 burned down much of the Cathedral’s roof and interior – including its famed 300-foot spire – but left much of its walls and foundation intact.

President Emmanuel Macron immediately promised that the cathedral would be rebuilt within five years — in time for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Many called the timeline too ambitious, but this week, a huge step was completed.

In the French countryside, architects, engineers, and artisans have been molding centuries-old oak to rebuild the spire, combining past methods with modern tools. Last week, a crane lowered their finished product on top of its new home.

On Friday, Macron visited the Cathedral – about seven months before the Olympics begin and exactly one year before its scheduled public reopening in December 2024.

“Since April 2019, the entire nation has been rebuilding,” Macron said.

Yet much work remains to meet the deadline. Can France win the race?

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

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

How do you like your coffee?
Sour and fruity: 4%
Bold and nutty: 96%

Yesterday's Question:

Just 20 Qs!

🧠 Intermission

We hope you all had wonderful weekends. We’re preparing some updates to this newsletter and hope to have those out soon. Unfortunately a persistent illness has rocked much of the Roca team over the last week, slowing our progress. We’ll have the changes done shortly, though. Stay tuned!

For our premium readers: Today’s installment goes to the heart of Finland, where saunas are a secret to happiness.

–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!

I’m not sure what it’s like in other countries, but to understand the Finnish lake house, an American reader should think back to lake houses from 20 or 30 years ago: No internet, no TV, no running water – rustic.

By contrast, lake houses today are often equipped with home theaters, air conditioning, video game systems – all the modern amenities.

In Finland, it’s still like 20 years ago.

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