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Governments set up dates in China and Japan, Ecuador flash bomb, and Part 3: Iraq War, 20 Years Later

Earlier this month, Massachusetts legalized online sports betting. In that light, it's hard not to be slightly amused by this tidbit from March 22nd history: "In 1631, the Massachusetts Colony banned cards, dice, and gambling under 'pain of punishment.'" Now we try not to get political here, but if the government ever comes for our dice...

Thank you all for the feedback you've sent regarding our Iraq series, Part 3 of which is below. We would love to hear from our readers who served there or have loved ones who did, and if they have any insights or experiences they want to share with our readers. If so, we're at [email protected].

In today's edition:

  • Governments set up dates in China and Japan

  • Ecuador flash bomb

  • Part 3: Iraq War, 20 Years Later

🔑 Key Stories

This Is Your Brain on Drugs

A UK study by Robin Carhart-Harris, one of the world’s top psychedelic researchers, revealed what happens when the brain is tripping on DMT

  • DMT is a naturally-occurring psychedelic compound that can be smoked, injected, or snorted. Trips last 5-15 minutes and are intense: People often report meeting aliens, supernatural beings, or God

  • The new study monitored 20 people on DMT and found that their brains were extremely fluid, chaotic, and interconnected. DMT primarily affected brain areas related to imagination and problem-solving

  • The researches described it as brain “anarchy" that affects a part of the brain that controls the “quality of human… experience"

China, Japan On the Apps?

Governments in China and Japan created AI dating apps that will set people up on blind dates

  • China and Japan are both facing demographic crises: Both countries’ populations declined last year amid falling marriage and birth rates

  • To address that, Guixi, a Chinese city of ~640k, recently launched its own dating app. It doesn’t let users swipe, but instead uses AI to match them with compatible strangers then organizes a blind date

  • In an effort to solve its own demographic issues, Japan’s government pledged $19M to create similar apps, plus other matchmaking-oriented programs

Dig Deeper

  • Other matchmaking initiatives have included “life design seminars,” youth meet-and-greets, and dating classes

Trump Not Arrested/DeSantis Speaks

Donald Trump wasn’t arrested on Tuesday, contrary to his prediction on Saturday that he would be

  • An NYC jury is deciding whether to bring charges against Trump. The exact charges aren’t known, but they likely involve how Trump accounted for a hush payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016

  • On Monday, Trump rival and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis shared his thoughts on the matter: “I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair…[but it’s] an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the [prosecutor’s] office”

Dig Deeper

  • Trump responded: "Ron will probably find out about this sometime in the future when he's unfairly and illegally attacked by a woman (or possibly a man!) with false accusations”

London Police In Trouble

A report called London’s police force “institutionally” racist, homophobic, and misogynistic

  • London’s Metropolitan police force (the “Met”) is the UK’s largest. It has been involved in past scandals related to sexual assault and other crimes

  • In 2021, an off-duty Met cop kidnapped, raped, and killed a 33-year-old woman. The Met’s leader then called for a commission to investigate the department

  • The commission’s report was released Tuesday. It concluded that the force has an “institutionally” racist, homophobic, and misogynistic culture

  • The head of the Met said it must be better

Dig Deeper

  • The report cited current or former officers who said the Met had a toxic work culture that discouraged reporting abuse

  • One male officer reportedly told a female officer that his “balls were cold,” and asked her to “warm them up” for him

  • Another reportedly asked a gay male officer, ​​“Are you a giver or a taker?”

  • Others reportedly left bacon in Muslim officers’ shoes and once shaved a Sikh man’s beard

What do OLIPOP and the Hadza Tribe have in common?

Together with OLIPOP

The answer is fiber. Researchers believe that the Hadza people, a hunter-gatherer tribe in Tanzania, consume a ginormous 100 to 150 grams of fiber per day

  • Meanwhile, the average American gets only 10 to 15 grams of dietary fiber per day (i.e. 10x less than the Hadza)

  • So what does this have to do with a soda company? All of OLIPOP’s flavors are packed with dietary fiber, but still taste like the soda we all grew up drinking (OLIPOP’s Root Beer is now the best-selling single-serve root beer in the United States!)

  • The Hadza routinely live into old age with low rates of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and high blood pressure – problems that are spreading in America

  • Maybe we can learn something from the Hadza and increase our fiber intake (and have a better time in the loo)

Dig Deeper

  • Can’t decide which OLIPOP to get fibered up with? Check out their Best Sellers pack and get 20% off with code ‘RocaNews.’ Don’t stop drinking soda, just drink OLIPOP

🍿 Popcorn


  • Embattled Bunny: Superstar musician Bad Bunny’s ex-girlfriend is suing him for $40M for using her voice in 2 of his songs without compensation

  • Oh, Big Brother: Hong Kong is pulling the new Winnie the Pooh horror film from its theaters. Some view Pooh - who memes say Xi Jinping resembles - as an anti-China symbol

  • Newton’s 4th law: Cam Newton participated in an NFL tryout on Tuesday after taking to social media to say “ain’t 32 motherf—ers better than me”


  • Whale of a tale: A whale sank a 44-foot sailboat in the Pacific Ocean, leaving the crew stranded on a lifeboat. A nearby captain rescued them hours later

  • All the single tickets: Exorbitant concert ticket prices in the US have pushed some Beyoncé fans to fly to Europe for cheaper shows there

  • A true flash drive: An Ecuadorian TV reporter was wounded after a bomb disguised as a flash drive exploded when he inserted it in his computer

👇 What do you think?

Today's Poll

Favorite coast?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Today's Question:

What’s a song that as soon as you hear it, you’re changing it?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

By the end of 2003, the US-led coalition had been in Iraq for 9 months and suffered 580 fatalities.

In December of that year, they captured Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s toppled leader who had been in hiding.

Yet a spate of bombings made clear the conflict was far from over.


For context, Iraq is about two-thirds Shia and one-third Sunni. About 80% of its people are Arab and 20% are Kurdish. The Kurds were allied with the US; most militants were Arab.

Those fighting the US occupation and Iraqi government it was building can be broadly split into 3 groups:

  1. Baathist, which supported Saddam Hussein and the US-toppled government

  2. Shia, some of which were supported by Iran – a US rival

  3. Sunni, some of which had links to al-Qaeda

In early 2004, fighting spread across all groups, who were fighting each other and the US/new Iraqi government. The most powerful Shia group was the Mahdi Army. The most powerful Sunni group was al-Qaeda in Iraq, led by a Jordanian jihadist named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

In February 2004, Zarqawi wrote to al-Qaeda leadership to inform that he would “target Shiites.” A month later, a bombing killed 185+ Shiites on a religious holiday. That spring, the Mahdi army, which was simultaneously fighting Sunni militants, began launching attacks on the coalition.

In those months, the brutal nature of the war became clear.

In March 2004, 4 Americans were ambushed, killed, and put on display in the city of Fallujah. A month later, photos leaked showing Iraqi prisoners being tortured at Abu Ghraib prison.

In September 2004, Zarqawi declared “total war” on Iraq’s Shiites, and a full sectarian – Shia vs Sunni – war was underway. Insurgents were simultaneously conducting daily attacks on coalition and Iraqi government troops.

The US fought its bloodiest battle of the Iraq War – and bloodiest since 1968 – in the city of Fallujah in November 2004. 4,500+ militants – including Zarqawi – were believed to be in the city, which they controlled and from where they planned attacks, tortured enemies, and coordinated their assaults.

On the night of November 7, American, British, and Iraqi troops launched an assault on the city.

Facing booby traps, constant small-arms fire, and bomb attacks, they fought building-by-building. Most of the fighting ended within 9 days and the battle ended in December, by which point 107 coalition forces had died with many more wounded. Up to 2,000 militants and 800 civilians died as well.

Around that time, it also became clear that Iraq did not possess the weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that the US had used to justify its invasion. A CIA report released that October concluded that Iraq did not have WMD stockpiles and had given up its biological weapons program.

Prior to the invasion, President Bush declared that Iraq had a "massive stockpile" of biological weapons and may have had a nuclear weapon.

By the end of 2004, he changed his tone: "There was a risk, a real risk, that Saddam Hussein would pass weapons or materials or information to terrorist networks, and in the world after September the 11th, that was a risk we could not afford to take."

In 2004, 906 Coalition troops died in Iraq with 8,004 Americans wounded.

The year set the tone for those that would follow: Around 900 coalition troops died in each of the following 2 years, as they found themselves trapped between Iraq’s various armed factions.

As the war droned on, the main question was no longer whether Iraq had nuclear weapons or if the US would easily win – but rather, how could it end?


Tomorrow we’ll feature our final installment of this series. Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed those.

Did you serve in Iraq? If so, we'd love to hear from you and share your insights. And generally, we want to hear from all of you if you are enjoying the series and if we should do more wrap series like this.

Reply to [email protected] to let us know!

🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Better snack combo?

Chips + salsa: 58%

Cheese + crackers: 42%

Yesterday's Question:

What’s the most irrational thing you’ve done for love?

Becky from Kansas: “Rode in the trunk of a car to get into the car races free because my husband (ex now) was too much of cheap...you know...to buy the extra ticket. I thought I was just being a team player, ugh. Yet another red flag I ignored for love.”

Max from Ohio: “Left my trustworthy business partner, changed careers, moved across the country and willingly depleted my savings over a 3 year period to meet her traveling and home improvement desires before we were to start a family. She then abruptly left me for one of her patients.”

Alma from Alabama: “I proposed to my husband when he was dating someone else. I told him he was wasting his time with this other person because at the end of it all, he was going to be mine. He chuckled and admired my boldness. A month later, he was dating me. We have been married 22 years.”

🧠 Final Thoughts

We are THRILLED to be inviting more people onto our app beta today. If you've signed up for that list, be on the lookout for an email.

For those who are already on it, we're about to unveil a new game today. Look forward to seeing you on the top 100 ;)

–Max and Max