🌊 Supreme Court v. Ethics
Plus: Grand Theft Bubbly in France and CVS' desperate times in DC
134 years ago today, New York World reporter Nellie Bly began her attempt to travel around the world in less than 80 days. She succeeded, completing the trip in just 72 days and 6 hours. It's no coincidence that today is also the first day back for Roca's own Max Frost who's been traveling Europe for almost exactly 72 days. Sure, it may be easier to get around today than in 1889, but then again... you try flying Kosovo Airlines.
He will be documenting his travels at the bottom of this newsletter. Thank you to the hundreds of you who subscribed yesterday. We believe the best way to learn about the most important and fascinating stories in the world is on the ground.
In today's edition:
New Cabinet, who dis?
Grand Theft Bubbly: France
Roca Votes: Team Russia?
🔑 Key Stories
SCOTUS Ethics Code
The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) adopted its first-ever ethics code
A code of conduct currently applies to all federal judges except SCOTUS justices, although for decades justices have pledged to adhere to it anyway
This year, though, several justices have been accused of accepting gifts and vacations without disclosing them. Those reports have prompted calls for SCOTUS to adopt its own ethics code
On Monday, it did so. The code largely mimics the one used by other federal judges. It does not include any enforcement or oversight mechanisms
“For the most part these rules and principles are not new,” the new code says, adding that its goal is to dispel the “misunderstanding” that the justices “regard themselves as unrestricted by any ethics rules”
Some politicians praised SCOTUS’ decision to create a code; others criticized it for either not going far enough or not including an enforcement mechanism to ensure justices follow the code
UK Cabinet Overhaul
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak fired a top minister after she wrote a letter accusing London police of being too lenient on pro-Palestinian protesters
Last year, Sunak nominated Suella Braverman as Home Secretary, a position that oversees law enforcement and national security. A member of the ruling Conservative Party’s right wing, she was one of the government’s most conservative figures
Last week, ahead of major pro-Palestinian protests in London, Braverman published an opinion piece in The London Times. The article – reportedly written without Sunak’s permission – accused police of being biased toward pro-Palestinian protests
On Monday, after days of speculation into Sunak’s next move, he fired Braverman and replaced her with a political ally
Sunak also fired several other ministers as part of his largest cabinet shake-up since taking office last year. Analysts widely saw the shake-up as an attempt to change the Conservative Party’s political fortunes ahead of a 2025 general election which the opposition Labour Party is favored to win
Sunak nominated David Cameron, a former Conservative prime minister, to become foreign minister. Cameron – who resigned as the UK’s leader in 2016 after the Brexit referendum, which he opposed – hasn’t been in government in years, and his appointment was a surprise
US Strikes Iran-Backed Groups
The US launched its third strike against Iran-backed militias in response to attacks against its forces
After Hamas invaded Israel, the US deployed two aircraft carrier battle groups to the Middle East and warned Iran – which opposes Israel and arms multiple regional militias – against escalating the conflict
Since then, Iran-backed militias have attacked US bases 41 times, causing 56 injuries ranging from “traumatic brain injury” to “minor injuries”
On Sunday, the US launched its third airstrike against Iran-backed militias since last month. That strike, in Syria, reportedly killed eight pro-Iran fighters
The strikes were “intended to disrupt and degrade the freedom of action and capabilities” of Iran-backed militias targeting US troops, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement. He called those groups “directly responsible for attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria”
Republican Primary Updates
Scott was one of five candidates who qualified for the third Republican debate. Once considered a potential contender, he failed to rise in polls or make a splash at debates. He didn’t endorse any other candidate
On Monday, Nikki Haley’s campaign announced $10M in ad spending in Iowa and New Hampshire, two early-voting states
That is five times more than what Governor Ron DeSantis plans to spend, signifying Haley’s bid for the second-place slot behind Trump
As of Sunday, poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight had Scott polling at 2.2% of likely Republican voters, placing him in sixth among all Republican candidates and 54 points behind Trump
Several polls have already suggested that Haley could defeat DeSantis in early primary voting
Keep Your SSN Off the Dark Web
Every day, data brokers profit from your sensitive info—phone number, DOB, SSN—selling it to the highest bidder. And who’s buying it?
Best case: companies target you with ads. Worst case: scammers and identity thieves
It's time you check out Incogni. It scrubs your personal data from the web, confronting the world’s data brokers on your behalf
And unlike other services, Incogni helps remove your sensitive information from all broker types, including those tricky People Search Sites
Has he not seen Gladiator? UFC president Dana White scheduled a 2024 fight at The Sphere in Las Vegas, promising it to be the “greatest live combat sports show” anybody has ever seen
No social harmony, no TikTok: Nepal’s government banned TikTok, citing its disruption of “social harmony.” The ban aims to regulate social media’s impact and prevent the spread of indecent material
Life imitates art: Chuck E. Cheese is removing its animatronic bands from all but one location following the release of the horror movie “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” which takes place at a lookalike restaurant
“Using Waze next time”: A Canadian search-and-rescue group helicoptered two hikers to safety after they mistakenly followed a nonexistent trail on Google Maps
Grand Theft Bubbly: French police recovered $642K worth of stolen Moët & Chandon champagne after getting in a high-speed chase with the thieves
Need a new Charmin plug: A CVS store in Washington, DC now displays photos of toilet paper products instead of the actual items, requiring customers to request them from employees
👇 What do you think?
Have you ever had to freeze your credit?
Today’s question is below the “Roca Votes” Wrap.
See yesterday's results below the Wrap!
🌯 Roca Wrap
We founded RocaNews because we wanted news companies to just give us the facts – not tell us what to think. That inspired us to do the “Roca Votes” story each week, in which we summarize a controversial topic and see how Roca feels about it.
There will be no Team Russia or Team Belarus at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
What remains unclear, however, is whether individual Russian and Belarusian athletes will be able to participate as neutrals, or “AINs.”
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) denounced Russia’s “senseless war” and declared “with a heavy heart” that Russia and Belarus would be excluded from hosting and competing in Olympic games. The IOC will allow no Russian flags, anthems, or teams at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.
The IOC, however, left the door open for individual Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals.
“We’ve always said that we would take the decision when the time’s right. But I think it will become clearer when we get close to the Games,” an IOC spokesperson said last month. “[A]thletes cannot be held responsible for the actions of their governments.”
The first modern Olympics was held in 1896 and countries were first excluded for political reasons in 1920.
That year’s games – hosted in Antwerp, Belgium – withheld invitations from Austria, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey over their involvement in the First World War.
Since then, host cities and the IOC have banned countries from competing for political reasons on several occasions. Most recently, Afghanistan was not permitted to compete in 2000.
Yet while team bans have precedent, Ukraine wants more than that – it wants the countries’ athletes banned altogether. "The mere presence of representatives of the terrorist state is a manifestation of violence and lawlessness,” Ukrainian President Zelensky has said. “It cannot be covered up with some pretended neutrality or a white flag.”
Russia’s foreign minister has called the move to ban the Russian team “outrageous.”
"Once again we see an example of the bias and ineptitude of the International Olympic Committee, which time and again proves its political bent,” he said. Russian officials have also asked why Israel won’t be barred from competing, suggesting a double standard.
An IOC official says “there isn’t a timeline” for a decision on whether individual Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to compete, but with nine months remaining, the clock is ticking.
That leads to our question(s) of the day:
Should the IOC allow all countries to compete, regardless of politics? Should the IOC let the Russia/Belarus teams compete in the 2024 Olympics How about their individuals?
Let us know what you think at [email protected]!
🌊 Roca Clubhouse
Do you use smart technology in your home?
What fictional character would you most like to be friends with?
Joshua from Illinois: "I would want to be friends with Phineas and Ferb. If I was friends with them, nothing would be impossible. I could go to the Moon, Mars, etc, all in the same day and be back in time for dinner. I would be able to do anything, I could get a working LIGHTSABER!!!!"
Hannah: "Molly Weasley. She knew her kids well and was a force to be reckoned with... She welcomed everyone and wanted to deeply know everyone. I strive to be the kind of good in the world that would make Molly proud.”
Ray: “Superman. Love that he stands for truth, justice and the American way.”
Joi: “I would be friends with Snoopy in a heartbeat. He’s my kindred spirit. Everything always works out for Snoopy. He embraces life.”
🌎 Roca Reports
In the last two weeks since we launched our premium newsletter Roca Reports, many of you have emailed us to request the option to get the on-the-ground reporting in The Current rather than a separate Saturday newsletter. Starting this week, we will grant your request and offer a premium section at the bottom of The Current. We hope you enjoy! Check out Part 1 if you missed it!
After about five minutes of waiting in a small German village near the town of Pößneck (pronounced Pusneck) for a ride to the next town, Marko – the 40ish-year-old man whose mom had dropped us there – came running at us with three large Heineken bottles.
Marko’s wife – Franzi – then appeared. As she sipped a milkshake, she invited us to sit in their yard.
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