🌊 Spring Broken

USDA redefines "organic," Actress in court for skiing hit & run? and Part 2: The Iraq War, 20 Years After

Today is Twitter's 17th birthday, and here are a few fun facts to celebrate: 1) The Twitter bird is named Larry — yep, Larry Bird. 2) At one point, the founding team called the site "Jitter." Would this make a post called a.... Jeet? 3) It took exactly 3 years, 2 months, and 1 day for the platform to hit its billionth tweet. 

Bonus fact: Roca used to have a Twitter account on which we'd post memes. Should we bring it back?

In today's edition:

  • USDA redefines "organic"

  • Actress in court for skiing hit & run?

  • Part 2: The Iraq War: 20 Years After

 🔑 Key Stories

No More Spring Break?

“We don’t want spring break in our city,” Miami Beach’s mayor said in a video on Sunday

  • Miami Beach is an island city separated from Miami by a thin strip of ocean. Spring break is its peak tourism time

  • On Friday, a shooting by out-of-towners in Miami Beach left one person dead and another injured; on Sunday, another visitor shooting left one dead

  • In response, the city declared a state of emergency and a curfew. “We haven’t asked for spring break in our city… It’s too rowdy, brings too much disorder and it’s simply too difficult to police,” its mayor said

Dig Deeper

  • “In both cases, police were literally seconds away from the incidents… it is clear that even an unprecedented police presence could not prevent these incidents from occurring,” he added

California Producing Drugs

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a deal where California will produce its own insulin, becoming the first state to do so

  • Insulin is given as a drug to diabetics to correct their bodies’ natural shortages of it. It can cost up to $300 per month for those who are uninsured

  • California is partnering with a nonprofit to produce insulin and sell it for less than $30 per monthly dose. It will be sold under CalRx, a new California version of generic drugs

  • Newsom said the state hopes it will produce naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses, next

Dig Deeper

  • Both the insulin and naloxone production are part of the “CalRx” program. California says it will “disrupt the drug market industry by offering prescription drugs at low-cost, transparent prices”

France’s No-Confidence Votes Fail

An effort to topple France’s government failed, meaning controversial pension reform will likely pass

  • In January, France’s president introduced a bill to raise France’s retirement age from 62 to 64

  • The bill caused massive protests and widespread labor strikes. Last week, France’s president passed the law using executive powers, prompting French legislators to hold votes to dissolve the government, which would’ve effectively vetoed the reform bill

  • On Monday, 2 of those votes failed, meaning the reforms will almost certainly become law. Unions have vowed to keep protesting and striking

Dig Deeper

  • France’s pension system costs ~14% of its GDP, significantly more than many comparable countries. France’s ruling coalition says the reforms were necessary; the opposition generally says they’ll damage France’s work-life balance and culture

US Tightens “Organic” Rules

Following massive fraud, new rules took effect Monday that overhaul how the US certifies food as organic

  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has the power to regulate and certify organic foods. It uses the “USDA Organic” seal to certify food as such

  • The USDA delegates organic certification authority to companies and government agencies, which are supposed to inspect farms for compliance. They have often failed to do so, though, letting farmers sell millions of dollars of non-organic food as organic

  • On Monday, new rules took effect that tighten certification rules and increase random inspections

Dig Deeper

  • One USDA official called the new rules a “significant increase in oversight and enforcement authority” over certifications “to reinforce [the] trust of consumers." Another called the changes the biggest overhaul to the organic system since 1990

Erase Yourself from the Web

Together with Incogni

Data brokers make money off your personal information every day. They buy your data – SSNs, DOB, home addresses, health information, contact details – and sell it to the highest bidder  

  • Incogni is a personal data removal service that scrubs your personal information from the web

  • It contacts and follows up with data brokers all over the world on your behalf. For an individual to do that, it can take hundreds of hours

  • With Incogni, you can kick back and worry less about identity theft, health insurers raising your rates based on info from data brokers, robo calls, scammers taking out loans in your name, and all the other terrible things bad actors do with personal data (we at Roca are certainly tired of spam calls!)

Dig Deeper

🍿 Popcorn


  • No small potatoes: Idaho passed a bill that will allow execution by firing squad when lethal injections, which are becoming harder to find, are unavailable

  • Uh oh, don't tell Jerry Lawler: Legendary comedian Andy Kaufman will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, along with Rey Mysterio and The Great Muta

  • GGGGuilty: 3 men were found guilty for the murder of star rapper XXXTentacion in 2018. He was shot dead outside of a Florida motorcycle shop


  • NBA out, MBA in? The star guard that has led Princeton to the Sweet 16 worked as an acquisition analyst intern on Wall Street last summer

  • Shakespeare in legal trouble: Gwyneth Paltrow will go to trial this week for a 2016 skiing incident in which an optometrist accused of her of a "hit and run"

  • WALL-E, you're fired: The mysterious lights in the California sky last Friday night were almost certainly the result of burning space debris, per a Harvard astronomer

👇 What do you think?

Today's Poll

Better snack combo?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Today's Question:

Most irrational thing you’ve done for love?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

On May 1, 2003, President George W. Bush stood under a “Mission Accomplished” sign and delivered a speech:

 "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed,” he said. 

"The regime [of Saddam Hussein] is no more."

In reality, the war had hardly begun.

On March 20, 2003, a US-led coalition invaded Iraq with the stated goals of eliminating the country’s weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and overthrowing its dictator, Saddam Hussein. 

On April 9, they captured Baghdad, Iraq’s capital. On May 1, the US declared an end to the war’s opening phase. By that point, 150 coalition troops had died.

To govern Iraq after the invasion, the US created the Coalition Provisional Authority, or CPA.

On May 12, 2003, Paul Bremer – a career diplomat-turned-consultant – took charge of it.

Bremer and the CPA were tasked with reforming Iraq’s economy, providing Iraqis with security, and creating a democracy.

4 days after arriving in Iraq, Bremer outlawed Iraq’s former-ruling Baath party and ordered all institutions to “de-Baathify,” or remove anyone who was a Baathist.

A week later, he dissolved the Iraqi military. 350,000 Iraqi soldiers were left without jobs, and many were banned from working in the new government or receiving severance or retirement.

US defense officials debated how many troops were needed to occupy Iraq. The initial invasion involved 170,000 troops. Some officials called for hundreds of thousands more to overwhelm any possible opposition.

But others – who won the argument – said it wasn’t necessary. From a peak of 173,000 coalition troops in Iraq in May 2003, the number fell to 147,000 by year-end. 

That May, there were frequent attacks against occupying forces, which the coalition blamed on remnants of the Baath party and military. But the attacks continued, and that summer the coalition was reporting a dozen or more attacks daily. They often involved ambushes and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that were detonated to kill passing troops.

In July 2003, coalition forces killed Saddam Hussein’s 2 sons in a shootout. While that suggested progress against the remnants of the old government, it soon became clear a new threat was brewing.

In August 2003, a bomb struck Iraq’s holiest Shia mosque, killing 95. Another struck the UN headquarters in Baghdad, killing 23 and prompting mass evacuations.

The man whose group claimed responsibility for both – Abu Musab al-Zarqawi – was neither a Baathist nor a former soldier. He was an Islamist fundamentalist who wasn’t even from Iraq. The attacks signified that the war was changing: The coalition would be fighting a religious insurgency, not a military.

Attacks against coalition forces became more frequent: Between May and November 2003, the coalition recorded an average 42 fatalities per month. In 2004, only one month would see fewer than 50. 

And violence soon picked up between Iraq’s Sunnis – to which Saddam Hussein, most Baathists, and Zarqawi belonged – and Shias, who were a majority of Iraq’s people. 

By year-end, conflict between the Sunnis, Shias, and coalition had intensified, and it began to appear that the invasion had unleashed another conflict – an Iraqi civil war. Zarqawi’s organization would brand itself Al-Qaeda in Iraq and become a major combatant in that.

Years later, it rebranded again and became one of the most infamous terror groups in history: The Islamic State in Iraq. 

Tomorrow’s Wrap will feature Part 3 of the series. Missed Part 1? Catch-up here.

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

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Would you rather:

Live in a cave for a week: 60%Live on a submarine for a week: 40%

Yesterday's Question:

What is something you pride yourself on being good at? 

John from Louisiana: “One thing I pride myself on is the ability to identify actors and actresses across films. Background character from the Hunger Games appearing in a dated rom-com? I’ll pick them out. Lead role in some murder mystery appearing as a waiter for a split second in a Marvel movie? Not getting past me.”

Alex from Wisconsin: “Public speaking! It's actually one of my favorite things. Normally, I can rarely find the words to say, and stutter a lot. But when I'm speaking to someone about something I'm passionate about- whether it be a crowd of strangers or a few of my friends- I can speak with ease, helping people understand and learn.”

Ken from Arizona: "In 1978 I learned how to deal Poker at Harrah's Reno (they had an in house school) and for over 33 years that was my career. I was one of the best dealers in the industry. I pride myself also for playing Poker, I can't say I'm one of the best but I'm real good! It's all about being patient."

🧠 Final Thoughts

Is there a better feeling than that of spring's long-awaited arrival? That’s what it feels like here today, and we are basking in it. We hope you are too, and look forward to sending the news tomorrow.

–Max and Max