🌊 The Shun-shine State

PLUS: Ireland issues alcohol warnings

Happy 18th anniversary of the Tom Cruise couch jump on Oprah. The Top Gun star was so head over heels for his new love Katie Holmes that he almost went heels over head. Why he felt the urge to jump, we will never know. What we do know is that Couchgate lives on in the canon of viral American TV moments. Let us all try to channel that energy — without drugs — today.

In today's edition:

  • Ireland now requires alcohol warning labels

  • Mexico’s most dangerous volcano acts up

  • The Other Royal Couple

 🔑 Key Stories

Colorado River Deal

California, Nevada, and Arizona struck a deal to reduce their water usage from the Colorado River, the Department of the Interior announced Monday

  • 7 US states rely on the Colorado River: Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Nevada. The latter 4 are “Lower Basin” states

  • For years, officials have warned that the Colorado River is at risk of drying up. The federal government gave states until May 30 to reach a deal to limit water usage or face water cuts being imposed upon them

  • On Monday, California, Nevada, and Arizona – as well as farmers, Native American tribes, and others – agreed to cut 13% of Lower Basin usage for 3.5 years

Dig Deeper

  • California, Nevada, and Arizona will reduce their collective water usage by 700,000 acre-feet (an acre-foot is the amount 2-3 households use annually). Water districts, Native American tribes, farmers, and others voluntarily agreed to cut their usage by a further 2.3M acre-feet in exchange for $1.2B in federal grant money

  • While recent heavy rains will prevent many near-term shortages, water rationing is likely further in the future

Ireland’s Alcohol Labels

Ireland is set to become the first country to require alcohol to be labeled for dietary and health effects

  • Studies have linked alcohol to a range of health effects, including cancer, liver disease, and increased mortality. Some studies have linked some of these health effects to even light drinking

  • Ireland’s health minister signed regulations on Monday requiring alcohol labels to list calorie levels, alcohol content, and possible health effects. It is the first country to require such a comprehensive list

  • Other countries have criticized the change, calling it unnecessary and poorly implemented

Dig Deeper

  • “I welcome that we are the first country in the world to take this step and introduce comprehensive health labeling of alcohol products,” Ireland’s health minister said

  • “Unfortunately this is an example of zealotry rather than evidence-based legislation,” an Irish beverage trade organization said

NAACP Travel Advisory

The NAACP issued a travel advisory on Saturday that warned many minorities against traveling to Florida

  • Florida has passed laws restricting classroom instruction on gender, sexual orientation, and some race-related issues. It has also defunded diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at public colleges

  • On Saturday, the NAACP said Florida is ​​“openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” and that it “devalues and marginalizes the contributions of…people of color”

  • A spokesperson for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called it “nothing but a stunt” and predicted it wouldn’t affect tourism

Dig Deeper

  • DeSantis is expected to file papers to officially run for president on Wednesday and formally announce later in the week

US Inks Deal with Pacific Islands

The US signed defense agreements with several Pacific island nations to help counter China

  • The US sees Pacific nations as strategically valuable for projecting military power and countering China

  • In recent years, China has struck security or aid pacts with some of them, prompting US officials to warn that China is undermining the US

  • On Monday, the US struck a security deal with Papua New Guinea, a Pacific island nation, and separately renewed a long-term security deal with Palau, another Pacific nation. It is set to sign a similar agreement with Micronesia in the coming days

Dig Deeper

  • US diplomats have said that the US will provide Palau, Micronesia, and a third country – the Marshall Islands – with $6.5B in aid over 20 years, if they continue to renew their defense deals

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • GRWM court edition: TikTok is suing Montana over its recent statewide TikTok ban. It claims the new law – which will take effect on January 1, 2024 – is unconstitutional

  • The Brady Bunch: Tom Brady reached an agreement to become a minority owner of the Las Vegas Raiders, making him the 3rd player in NFL history to become an owner

  • Alexa, play Love Story: Jeff Bezos is reportedly now engaged to Lauren Sanchez, his girlfriend of 5 years. The 2 are currently staying on his superyacht off the coast of France

Wildcard

  • Messi finances: Argentina’s new 2,000 peso bill went into circulation on Monday as inflation runs around 100%. The note is worth roughly $4 

  • Time is tiking ticking: WhatsApp is releasing an editing feature that allows users to edit messages within a 15-minute window. The feature will be made available to all users in the coming weeks 

  • No lava-ing matter: Mexican authorities have instructed millions to prepare for an evacuation amid increased activity from the country’s most dangerous active volcano

👇 What do you think?

Today's Poll

Do you watch music videos?

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Today's Question:

What is something you are stingy about?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

Bashar al-Assad was born in Syria in 1965, the third of 6 children.

His father – Hafez al-Assad – was a prominent figure in Syria’s government and military. When Bashar was 5, Hafez became the country’s leader after a military coup.

While Hafez ruled the country, Bashar attended an elite Syrian high school.

He graduated in 1982 – the same year that his father ordered the military to level a rebel city, killing up to 40,000 Syrian civilians. After high school, Bashar received a medical degree from a Syrian university. An aversion to blood led him to specialize in ophthalmology, which he moved to England to pursue.

While in England, he met Asma: The London-born daughter of a Syrian doctor. Asma had attended elite British schools, studied computer science, and was working at JPMorgan.

The couple met several times, but little came of it.

Until that point, Bashar was shy and had shown no interest in politics. His older brother – a flashy military officer named Bassel – was his father’s known choice as successor. But in 1994, Bassel was driving his Mercedes at over 100 MPH when he struck a barrier and died.

Hafez summoned Bashar back from a London medical school to Syria, where he enrolled in a military academy. Hafez had selected Bashar as his replacement, and Bashar would never practice medicine again.

In 2000, Hafez died of a heart attack. 2 months later, Bashar became president. He was a bachelor, though, and needed a wife. Asma was still working at JPMorgan and had just been admitted to Harvard Business School. She suddenly disappeared for 3 weeks, though, and upon her return to the office said that she had fallen in love with a Syrian man and was moving to Syria. As she later explained in an interview, “Who would choose Harvard over love?”

Bashar and Asma struck people as being different than Hafez. They were cosmopolitan and didn’t come from military backgrounds. Upon taking power, Bashar closed prisons and promised to allow genuine elections.

Those softer stances made the couple enemies within Syria’s regime. It led particularly to the isolation of Asma – who hardly spoke Arabic and was a Sunni, while most of the government was Shia. To shore up his support, Bashar returned to ruling as a dictator – but that made him an international pariah.

In the mid-2000s, to fix Syria’s international image, Bashar made Asma the country’s face. The government hired PR companies to spruce up her and Bashar’s image.

It worked: The New York Times called Asma “the essence of secular Western-Arab fusion.”

In March 2011, a cover story in Vogue called her a “rose in the desert”: “Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young, and very chic—the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies.”

That same month, the Arab Spring spread to Syria. Mass protests started with calls for democratic freedoms and soon for Bashar’s resignation. Bashar first considered concessions before responding with force. The Syrian Civil War had begun.

The war would create the world’s biggest refugee crisis, kill hundreds of thousands of people, and displace 12.5M people – half the country’s population. It drew in the US, Iran, Russia, and Turkey and led to the spread of ISIS. Throughout it all, Bashar and Asma held on, crushing their enemies and redistributing power and property to their supporters.

Today, the war is largely a stalemate. Parts of the country are under rebel or foreign occupation, but most of it belongs to Bashar. Many countries have accepted that Bashar isn’t going anywhere, though, which has led them to re-engage with his government.

One example of that came in March, when Asma visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Last week, the UAE formally invited Bashar to attend the UN’s climate summit later this year.

2 weeks prior, Arab countries had formally invited Syria back to the Arab League – the main organization representing Arab countries – which had suspended Syria in 2011.

Reports show that during Syria’s 12 years of war, Bashar and Asma positioned themselves at the top of all Syrian institutions – including the economy. Little of consequence now happens without their approval, which translates to huge profits and power.

Bashar and Asma have held on, and now are looking like the victors.

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

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Do you use your phone within the first 30 minutes of your day? 📱

Yes: 80%

No: 20%

Yesterday's Question:

What is something you judge people for but know you shouldn’t?

Missy from Massachusetts: “I judge people who get their dogs from breeders. I know there are many factors that go into getting an animal (and everyone has their reasons), but there are so many homeless dogs and cats out there who need forever homes! And many of them are purebreds that are sought after. Adopt don’t shop!”

Keri from Iowa: “I judge people based upon their grammar usage and how clearly they articulate and communicate. I’m a retired Speech-Language Pathologist“

Linda from Wisconsin: “How clean their house is. I’m talking clean, not cluttered. My house can get cluttered but there isn’t dirt, dust or mold growing in my toilet.”

🧠 Final Thoughts

We hope everyone's weeks are off to a great start. The latest batch of app beta invitations went out today at 10 AM EST. If it's already filled up by the time you click on it, we should be sending around another one soon.

Enjoy your Tuesdays!
–Max and Max