🌊 Oregon Says No to Drugs Again

Plus: The Moon is getting its own time zone

Why does the peace sign not have a happier story? ☮️

Today’s the 66th birthday of the peace sign. You might think it came out of a commune or VW Microbus, but it actually emerged from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The artist was a Brit named Gerald Holtom. He described his inspiration for the symbol: "I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad." What’s next? Are we going to find out that the inventor of the smiley face had a frown? Oh no…

In today's edition:

💊 Oregon says no to drugs again

📚 Woman arrested for overdue library books

🇺🇸 The Two-Party Trap: Part 2

–Max, Max, Jen, and Alex


Oregon Re-criminalizes Drugs

Four years after becoming the first US state to decriminalize drug possession, Oregon passed a law recriminalizing hard drugs

  • In 2020, 58% of Oregonians voted to approve Measure 110, a social justice-inspired bill that decriminalized possession of all hard drugs. The state’s number of overdose deaths subsequently rose 245% between 2019 and 2022, versus 57% for the US as a whole

  • That trend – combined with a surge in homelessness and crime and the exodus of companies from Oregon’s cities – fueled accusations that drug decriminalization made parts of Oregon unlivable

  • On Monday, Oregon’s Democratic governor signed into law a bill recriminalizing possession with up to 180 days in jail. That will take effect in September

Dig Deeper

  • On a reporting trip to Oregon in 2022, homelessness advocates told Roca that Measure 110 had made it nearly impossible to compel people to get treatment, leading to more overdoses, and that the state lacked the capacity to treat addicts as the bill intended

  • Defenders of the measure said the bill had prevented many people from going to jail, that the overdose epidemic was nationwide, and that it would take time to work out the kinks

  • Nonetheless, the new law effectively ends Oregon’s four-year experiment with decriminalization


Ukrainian Conscription Law

Ukraine lowered its conscription age for men from 27 to 25 amid a growing need for manpower

  • Since Ukraine’s failed summer counteroffensive, Russia has achieved a decisive battlefield advantage in firepower and manpower. Last year, Ukraine’s former commander-in-chief estimated the country needed 500,000 more soldiers

  • On Tuesday, Zelensky passed a law lowering the conscription age to 25, although he said the country needs fewer than 500,000 new troops. “As for the specific number, how many will be mobilized, I’m not ready to tell you yet,” he said. He added, “I can say that Russia is preparing to mobilize 300,000 troops for June 1”

Dig Deeper

  • The announcement came amid increasingly dire warnings about the possibility that Ukraine’s front line could collapse

  • Per a “top-ranking military source” who spoke with POLITICO, Russia’s battlefield superiority will allow it to “penetrate the front line and to crash it in some parts”

  • “There’s nothing that can help Ukraine now because there are no serious technologies able to compensate Ukraine for the large mass of troops Russia is likely to hurl at us,” the person added


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Lunar Time Zone

The Biden administration ordered NASA to develop a new time zone for the Moon

  • Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity states that time moves at different relative rates based on the force of gravity (“time dilation”). On the Moon, time moves 58.7 microseconds faster each day than on Earth

  • NASA’s Artemis program plans to return humans to the Moon by 2026. On Tuesday, a White House memo instructed NASA to create a new time system to coordinate time between Earth and the Moon. The memo acknowledged the effects of time dilation and identified potential issues arising from that, such as a loss of “accuracy a system can achieve” if it relies on equipment based on Earth and the Moon

  • The new time system – “Coordinated Lunar Time” (LTC) – will be “traceable” to UTC, Earth’s time benchmark

Dig Deeper

  • Because of time dilation, after 50 years, clocks on the Moon would run one second faster than on Earth

  • While technically not a time zone, LTC will ultimately dictate how time is measured on the Moon


Prostitution Crackdown

Medellín’s mayor announced a crackdown on sex work after an American tourist was found in a hotel room with two minors

  • Prostitution is legal in Colombia, and many sex workers frequent clubs attended by tourists. Medellín – Colombia’s second-largest city – is a major destination for “sex tourism” 

  • Last weekend, Medellín police caught a 36-year-old American citizen in a hotel suite with two girls, aged 12 and 13. The man subsequently fled the country

  • Outrage ensued, after which Medellín’s mayor declared a crackdown in the city. “We are going to protect our daughters,” he said

Dig Deeper

  • Medellín’s mayor announced a “temporary suspension” of prostitution in two of the city’s wealthy neighborhoods. He also set a curfew of 1 AM for clubs in those areas

  • This wasn’t the first time Medellín’s sex tourism industry has come under scrutiny: Late last year, at least eight Americans died after meeting up with people on dating apps

  • The US State Department called those incidents “suspected homicides” and earlier this year warned Americans against using dating apps in the city, citing the risk of robbery or murder

Some Quick Stories for the Office

 🇹🇼 A magnitude-7.4 earthquake struck Taiwan, killing at least nine and injuring at least 963 more. As of Wednesday, authorities said 137+ people remained trapped in tunnels

🏢 Credit rating agency Moody’s announced in a preliminary report that office vacancy rates hit a record 19.8% over the first quarter of 2024

💰 The ship owner and manager involved in last week's collision with the Francis Scott Key Bridge filed a court petition to cap legal liability to $44M, citing an 1851 law that limits liability to the value of the ship's remains

🌉 The US warned Russia of a possible attack on Crocus City Hall, the concert hall where 140+ people were killed late last month, a US source told The Washington Post. Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly dismissed the US warnings given more than two weeks ahead of the attack

🗳️ Benny Gantz, a prominent Israeli politician and leader of the centrist National Unity party, called for early elections. Polls show he is currently vastly favored to run the country over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

🇮🇱 Celebrity chef José Andrés, whose charity – World Central Kitchen – suffered seven fatalities after Israel bombed a convoy of its trucks, rejected Israel’s claim that the strikes were unintentional


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 Roca Votes asks: Has sports betting gone too far?

Sports betting has spiraled out of control… to the point where the essence of competition is overshadowed by the greed and manipulation of betting markets. Honestly a parasitic thing, preying on vulnerable and turning what should be a wholesome activity into a vice of addiction and financial ruin. I go with my friends to watch games and they’re just attached to their apps, watching the markets instead

Joe from University of North Dakota

Sports betting is a testament to the enduring passion and engagement fans have with sports, offering a form of entertainment that enhances the viewing experience rather than detracts from it. It stimulates the economy by generating significant revenue and creating jobs. Plus, the regulation of sports betting helps combat illegal gambling activities

A “sports agent for a pro athlete”

Some Quick Stories for Happy Hour

🤠 Reading on the run: A Texas stay-at-home mother-of-five reportedly discovered a warrant for her arrest over overdue library books. She faces a $570 ticket for the unreturned books

🦇 Batman’s (Incarceration) Begins: Police arrested 42-year-old Detroit man Jamal Batman for driving while intoxicated after stopping his vehicle at 3 AM on Sunday

🏀 Bollocks-ball: The losing side of an Irish basketball game refused to replay the final .3 seconds of their quarterfinal playoff game over a clock error. “We would never ask nor expect Limerick Sport Eagles…to travel to Portlaoise to play the remaining 0.3 seconds,” the losing team said

🍔 Don’t have it your way: An Ohio Burger King customer brandished a gun at a drive-thru employee trying to give him a discount. After initially leaving in anger, he returned and pulled the gun

🐍 Welcome back, Agnes: British animal rescuers found a three-foot pet corn snake named Agnes, missing for over a year, on her owner’s rooftop after a crow dropped the snake there

🏀 What does he know about hair? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson recently launched a skincare line, including a shampoo and conditioner two-in-one product with the tagline, “My hair would’ve loved this”

The Two-Party Trap: Part 2

This is part 2 of a series on the two-party system in American politics. You can find Part 1 in yesterday’s newsletter here.

In 2018, Andrew Cuomo was up for re-election for a third term as New York’s governor.

Cuomo was a Democrat, but not liberal enough for the left-wing Working Families Party (WFP). Unhappy with Cuomo’s positions, the WFP backed another Democrat in the primary.

When Cuomo won re-election, he tasked Jay Jacobs, chairman of the state’s Democratic party, with crafting a new law regulating ballot access. In 2020, Cuomo signed that law into effect – and made it three times harder for independents to make the ballot.

For decades before 2020, a party needed 50,000 votes every four years to automatically qualify for the ballot; after, a party needed 130,000 votes every two years. In 2018, the WFP won 106,008 votes.

The law also more than tripled the threshold for independents.

Cuomo said the goal was to have only “credible” candidates on the ballot so there’d be less confusion and fewer taking state funds; Jacobs said his goal was to reduce corruption and confusion

The minor parties alleged that the law was corrupt and crafted by powerful parties to keep their duopoly. “Governor Cuomo and Jay Jacobs were hellbent on punishing the WFP for our independence,” that party’s leader said of the law.

The state’s Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, Larry Sharpe, told Roca that Republicans also benefited from the law: “We had 107 Libertarian victories in 2019…that is magical. And they went, ‘Whoa, we can’t have that.’”

In the middle of an election cycle, the state tripled the requirement to qualify.

The WFP ended up making the 2022 ballot, but the Libertarian and Green parties did not. They sued, but a court sided with the state, saying the new thresholds weren’t unfairly high.

Similar situations playing out across the country have made it difficult for RFK Jr. to get on all 50 states’ ballots, despite having roughly one in five Americans saying they support him.

Russell Verney, who managed Ross Perot’s third-party 1996 campaign, says “getting ballot access at this point, so late in the year, is a Herculean task.”

Candidates have to first find people who support the candidate. States then prevent many of of those people from giving their signatures, for example by restricting the window in which signatures are valid and blocking those who already voted in a primary from signing. “It becomes a very time-consuming process to explain who you are, why you want to talk to them, convince them to sign, and then do a quality control search to make sure that their signature is valid,” Verney said.

American Values 2024 (AV24) – the Super PAC supporting RFK Jr.’s bid – says he is already on the ballot in Utah and has enough signatures to qualify in Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Nevada.

But their efforts have slowed since the Democratic Party accused RFK of improperly coordinating signature collection efforts with AV24, leading the PAC to pause its signature collection efforts.

RFK Jr. has since spoken with the Libertarian Party about running on its ticket.

While RFK is not a Libertarian, Sharpe – who is both a top New York Libertarian and AV24’s head of organizing – told Roca that “50-state ballot access is guaranteed” if RFK wins the party’s nomination because the party has representation in every state. Still, Sharpe doubts that RFK will win the party’s nomination, particularly because he supports arming Israel.

If that happens, RFK could focus on running in only toss-up states.

Sharpe says the root of America’s ills is the two-party system: “Did they codify Roe v. Wade? Did they solve the border problem?...All the things they lie to us and tell us they're going to do, did they do anything? No. Why would they? You can't get rid of them…They have no incentive. Why? Ballot access.”

But Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, points to the gridlock and potential instability of multi-party politics to defend the two-party system: “A superpower has to have a stable society…And whether we think they're boring or they're misleading or they serve the establishment interest rather than the common interest, they do add to the stability of our society.”

“I understand and even sympathize with people who want another choice,” he adds. “But, of course, that's easy to say. Then you have to find somebody who's sane and reasonable and has the resources one way or another to compete.”

“And [you have to find] enough Americans who are willing to really consider them, not answer an early poll saying, ‘Oh, yeah, I like the way that guy looks.’”

But is it possible Americans won’t consider them because the system hasn’t given them a chance?

Reply to this email to let us know what you think!

Final Thoughts

We’ve received such positive feedback this week on our Wraps and we wanted to share some of that below. We spend so much time researching and writing Wraps, and we’re not always sure about how much you enjoy them (or not 😁 ).

Judy from Lagos, Florida wrote us that she “immensely appreciated [the Wrap on America’s Greatest Tailor] of how one’s hard work and dedication can make all the difference in lives after experiencing devastating loss and imprisonment. Also impressed that he mentioned God and his place in planning the outcome of this successful business venture. Thanks for the great reporting!”

And Karyn wrote us, “I think you might be the reason I am holding on to my sanity. Times are crazy, I dont understand whats happening and I dont trust the vast majority of what I read/hear. Thank you for what you’re doing. The article about the evolution of the 2 party system was hugely informative”.

Thank you all for reading Roca!

— Max, Max, Alex and Jen