🌊 Sit, Shake, Arrest

Lab-grown human lungs? Harry Potter series official, and 25 Years of Peace

It's hard to believe that it's already been 4 years, but today's the 4-year anniversary of "Old Town Road" hitting #1 for the first time. For 18 straight weeks, it reigned atop the Billboard Hot 100, and has since become one of the best-selling singles of all time. What you might not know is that Lil Nas X bought the beat from a Dutch teenager for $30. No wonder he can afford the horses in the back.

In today's edition:

  • Lab-grown human lungs?

  • Harry Potter series official

  • 25 Years of Peace

 🔑 Key Stories


New York City’s mayor announced that the city’s police will start using robots to fight crime

  • At a presentation in Times Square, the New York Police Department (NYPD) unveiled 2 robots: “Digidog,” which resembles a dog, and “K5,” which resembles Star Wars’ R2-D2

  • “Digidog” is a remote-controlled 4-legged robot that will be used during hostage scenarios and to handle radioactive materials. K5 is fitted with cameras and heat sensors to surveil crowds. It will be deployed in the Times Square subway station this summer 

  • NYC’s mayor, a former police captain, said the robots are essential to keeping the city safe

Dig Deeper

  • The NYPD had previously acquired “Digidogs” but abandoned the project in 2021 amid allegations that the department was over-militarized

  • One advocacy group called the new robots “knockoff robocops” and said they’re unrealistic; another said they may help but shouldn’t take priority over other policies, such as hiring more officers

Leak Fallout Continues

Countries are scrambling to limit the impact of a major US national security leak

  • Since January, secret US documents have spread on obscure social media sites. Last week, they went viral on Twitter and Telegram. The US has indicated the files are real but haven’t named any suspects

  • The docs showed detailed pics of Ukraine’s defenses, down to how many missiles it has and the locations of its defense systems. They also said special forces from the US, UK, and France are deployed in Ukraine

  • Other docs seem to indicate that the US is spying on its allies, including South Korea, Israel, and Hungary

Dig Deeper

  • On Wednesday, the Washington Post published an article that said the person behind the leak was "a young, charismatic gun enthusiast" who worked on a US military base and "shared highly classified documents with a group of far-flung acquaintances searching for companionship amid the isolation of the pandemic"

  • The Post cited a teenage boy as their source, who said he and the leaker were in the same chatroom on the social media platform Discord. He said he knew the leaker's name and address, but would not share those with authorities

Lab-Grown Human Lung?

A team of Australian researchers say they have created replicas of human lungs in a lab

  • A new study set to be published in the journal Biomaterials Research later this month claims to have successfully replicated human lungs in a lab using a 3D printer-type technique called bio-printing

  • The lungs don’t resemble human lungs: They are several millimeters wide and contained in a test tube. The process to build one lung – which will be outlined in the published study – takes ~28 days

  • But the lead researcher claims that unlike previous attempts to replicate human lungs, these are dynamic and realistic. That means researchers could experiment on them instead of on animals

Dig Deeper

  • "Bio-printing" is similar to 3D printing: Researchers take patients’ cells and replicate them to create larger, more complex tissue. That tissue can then replicate some organ function

Inflation Update

Government data show prices in March were 5% higher than a year before, the lowest increase since May 2021

  • Economists gauge inflation through the “consumer price index” (CPI), a “basket” of common goods that includes food, rent, and energy

  • On Wednesday, the US reported that prices in March were 5% higher than a year before, less than the expected 5.1%. That’s the lowest year-over-year price increase since May 2021

  • Core inflation, which excludes energy and food, rose by 5.6% in the year through March. Analysts are split over whether the numbers are good or bad news

🍿 Popcorn


  • Not Playin' Round: NPR announced it will no longer be usingTwitter due to its new "government-funded" label. It said the label undermines its credibility

  • Chamber of streaming: Warner Bros. officially announced a Harry Potter series at HBO. JK Rowling will executive produce the series, which will have a fresh cast of actors

  • Air New ZZZealand: Air New Zealand is planning to become the first airline to offer bunk beds on its aircrafts. It plans to roll out its "Skynest" in September 2024


  • 12 on '24: NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers appeared to endorse Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. for president. He reposted an RFK clip with heart emojis and a "#kennedy2024"

  • I'll be back (to un-fill): Arnold Schwarzenegger filmed himself filling in a pothole near his Brentwood home – except it wasn't a pothole but a service trench

  • Glizzy brawl: "Dollar dog night" at the Philadelphia Phillies' ballpark sparked a massive food fight that resulted in the ejection of multiple fans

  • Parlez-vous français? Get learning this spring with Babbel, a language learning platform used by 10M+ people. RocaNews readers get 55% off a subscription! *Sponsored Post

👇 What do you think?

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See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

25 years ago, peace came to Northern Ireland.

Beginning in the 1100s, the English ruled parts of Ireland. English control increased in the 1500s, when England’s then-king – Henry VIII – sought to impose Protestantism across Ireland’s overwhelmingly Catholic population.

Religious and political conflicts dominated Ireland over the following centuries.

On one side were the Catholic Irish, who opposed English governance; on the other were the Protestant English, who wanted to retain control of Ireland. Beyond religion, English language and culture were imposed on the island, whose people spoke Irish.

In 1919, an Irish group – the Irish Republican Army (IRA) – began fighting a war against British forces. By mid-1920, the IRA had gained control over most of Ireland’s south and west, as Protestants and Unionists (who supported the UK) fought Catholics and Republicans (who supported Ireland).

The conflict ended with the island divided: 26 counties in the south became Ireland, an independent country; and 6 predominantly Protestant counties in the north became Northern Ireland and remained under British rule.

After the war, both Ireland and Northern Ireland banned the IRA.

Remnants of the group remained, though, and wanted to unify the 2 regions in one Irish state. The IRA conducted periodic attacks in the decades after independence.

In 1921, Northern Ireland's first prime minister declared, “We are a Protestant Parliament and a Protestant State.”

In the ensuing years, Irish Catholics said Protestants discriminated against them in housing, jobs, policing, and politics. While in the rest of the UK, all adults could vote, in Northern Ireland, only those who owned property could, which favored Protestants.

Irish Catholics also said they suffered at the hands of special UK military laws and police. In the 1960s, a civil rights movement formed to oppose discrimination against Irish Catholics. 

In Northern Ireland in the late 1960s, both the Catholic and Protestant sides formed “paramilitary” groups, armed citizens outside any military or government. By the end of the decade, a conflict was underway.

It would become known as “The Troubles.”

The IRA splintered, and a faction became the main Irish paramilitary group – the Provisional Irish Republican Army (the Provos). 

They were fighting 2 main Loyalist paramilitary groups – the Ulster Volunteer Force and Ulster Defence Association – as well as police and the government. By the 1970s, riots, bombings, and shootings were common in Northern Ireland.

One of the most infamous events of the Troubles took place in 1972, when 15,000 people gathered in the Northern Irish city of Derry/Londonderry to protest the detainments of Irish Catholics without trial. 

The government banned the march and UK soldiers opened fire on the protesters, killing 13. After that, Provos recruitment surged and the conflict intensified. 

To separate Catholics and Protestants, the British erected “Peace Walls,” which were cement and barbed wire walls dividing the communities. They became a symbol of the conflict

The Troubles continued until the 1990s, with frequent bombings, assassinations, and shootouts, although improved military intelligence rendered the paramilitaries less deadly 

By 1998, an estimated 3,500 people – half combatants, half civilians – had died, and 48,000 more had been injured.

By the late 1990s, negotiations between the UK and Irish governments began to bear fruit, and the US brokered talks between those 2 parties and the paramilitaries. On April 10, 1998 – 25 years ago Monday – all sides agreed to the Good Friday Agreement.

Per the deal, Britain and Ireland freed ~400 people jailed for their involvement in the violence, the Irish and British paramilitaries agreed to give up their weapons, and the UK agreed to reduce its military presence. 

The agreement affirmed that Northern Ireland was part of the UK, but said a majority of residents could vote to change that. It gave people born in Northern Ireland the right to have British, Irish, or both nationalities. 

6 weeks after it was agreed, 71% of Northern Ireland and 94% of Ireland voted in favor of it. 

25 years after the agreement’s signing, some religious and political tensions remain and the area has struggled to have a functional government. But Northern Ireland is a fraction as violent as it was: In the last 12 months, there have been 6 bombings and 36 shootings, which have killed one person and wounded 37.

To celebrate the agreement’s success, the leaders of the UK, US, and Ireland participated in a ceremony in Northern Ireland on Monday. Ahead of it, Britain raised its terror threat to “severe,” although the ceremony went off peacefully.

The Good Friday Agreement may not have brought total peace, but it appears to have nearly ended decades of conflict.

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

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Have you ever played Settlers of Catan?

Yes: 35%No: 65%

Yesterday's Question:

Do you have a unique hobby? What is it?

Shauna from New Jersey: "I buy clothes from thrift stores and upcycle them with hand-embroidery. Then I sell them at a price to recoup the cost of the garment and materials, and a $20 “profit” that goes straight to my local food bank! I always send the purchaser a copy of the donation receipt so they can see their money really did go to charity. It’s fun for me and good for my community!"

Tohru from Ireland: "Unique hobby - aquascaping! It's like gardening, but underwater."

Candice from Philly: “One of my favorite, unconventional hobbies is ‘Flat Penny Trading’! You know those souvenir flat pennies people get made at tourist attractions, museums, and theme parks? I get together with a small group of collectors, and we trade our flat pennies, check out everyone’s collections, and see who has some really unique designs. The best part is finding someone who has the same ‘Image Set’ of designs from a specific place, and trading dupes with them to complete your image set. I finally got all of the flat penny images for the city zoo! My most unique flat penny is from the ‘Mountain Top’ of St. Thomas in the Caribbean."

Friday's 20 Questions:

Every Friday, we ask our readers 20 Questions and feature the answers here throughout the week. Last week was "Candy Edition": We gave you 20 options, and you told us if you would take them or leave them.

11. Werther's Original Caramels Hard Candies: Take 65%, Leave 35%

12. Smarties: Take 42%, Leave 58%

13. Mike & Ike's: Take 32%, Leave 68%

14. Whoppers: Take 51%, Leave 49%

15. Red Hots: Take 30%, Leave 70%

🧠 Final Thoughts

Spring, or even SUMMER!, is in the air. We've had back-to-back 80-plus days at Roca HQ. We went from having no heat in the office to too much. How quickly the tides turn!

Hope it feels like a tropical paradise wherever you are, too.

–Max and Max