🌊 Taylor in her Blockbuster Era?

In her blockbuster era? Oklahoma judge’s texts leak, and 20 Questions!

“Can you please cover a happy story?” We got this message yesterday, and that is a sentiment we fully share. Unfortunately, none of us gets to pick the news cycle. If we did, today’s first two need-to-know stories would be “McRib returns” and “National Treasure 3 begins production.”

We know it’s been an emotionally draining week so make sure to kick back and relax this weekend. Go for that nature walk, read that book, and say no to that 50% off bungee jumping offer. But first… some news.

In today's edition:

  • In her blockbuster era?

  • Oklahoma judge’s texts leak

  • 20 Questions!

 🔑 Key Stories

In Her Blockbuster Era

“Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” collected $100M in advance ticket sales ahead of its Thursday release

  • Swift has adapted her record-breaking concert tour into a 2-hour, 48-minute movie. Initially set for release on Friday, she announced during its Wednesday premier that due to “unprecedented demand,” the movie would be released a day early in North American theaters

  • The movie has already set pre-release ticket records and it is widely expected to gross $100M-$150M during its opening weekend – although some speculate it could make $200M, which would pass “Barbie” as this year’s highest-grossing movie debut

  • Per entertainment outlet Variety, Swift will receive ~57% of ticket fees while theaters keep the remaining revenue and AMC – which Swift partnered with for the movie – earns small fees

Dig Deeper

  • Swift personally attended the Wednesday night premiere of her movie at an AMC theater in Los Angeles. Beyoncé – who is set to release her own movie based on her hit album “Renaissance” later this year – also attended the premiere, as did other celebrities and influencers

US Senator — and Foreign Agent?

Federal prosecutors charged Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) with conspiring to act as an agent of the Egyptian government

  • Last month, prosecutors charged Menendez and his wife with accepting gold bars, cash, and a car from US businessmen in exchange for political favors. Menendez denied that and pleaded not guilty

  • On Thursday, prosecutors charged Menendez – who is influential in foreign policy – with conspiring to work for Egyptian interests. The indictment alleges Menendez “promised to take and took a series of acts on behalf of Egypt.” Menendez’s wife and one of the businessmen were also charged with trying to enlist Menendez as a foreign agent

  • The indictment claimed that in 2019, the defendants met with an Egyptian official to discuss Congressional opposition to providing Egypt with military aid. After that meeting, the Egyptian official allegedly texted the businessman that if Menendez helped Egypt fix the issue, Menendez “will sit very comfortably,” to which the businessman replied, “Orders, consider it done.” The indictment claims Menendez’s wife and the businessman conveyed messages from Egyptian officials to Menendez

Dig Deeper

  • Menendez is specifically accused of violating a 1938 law requiring US citizens to disclose to the government if they act as “an agent of a foreign principal.” As a member of Congress, Menendez would be prohibited from serving as a foreign agent

  • No senator has ever been charged with violating the 1938 foreign agent law before. Menendez denied the new charge in a statement

France Bans Pro-Palestinian Protests

France’s interior minister banned all pro-Palestine protests, arguing they are “likely to generate disturbances to public order”

  • France has seen a surge in anti-Semitic acts. On Thursday, France’s interior minister banned pro-Palestine protests and said France would deport foreigners from France who commit anti-Semitic acts. On Friday, a man killed a French teacher while screaming “Allahu akbar”

  • Israel also told 1.1M people in north Gaza to evacuate south, saying it would give them 24 hours to comply. “You should not return home until further notice,” said leaflets dropped by Israel; the UN blasted Israel

  • Israel’s energy minister said that Israel will not lift its “complete siege” against Gaza until Hamas releases the ~150 hostages it took. “No electrical switch will be turned on, no water hydrant will be opened, and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli abductees are returned home,” he said. A spokesperson for Israel’s army added that hostage negotiations are “extremely sensitive and complex,” and that Israel has never dealt with one of this “magnitude” before. “Reason dictates” that Hamas is holding the hostages in underground tunnels,” he added

Inflation Holds Steady

Prices rose 3.7% in September from a year earlier, slightly higher than what economists predicted

  • Per data released on Thursday, prices rose 3.7% in September from a year earlier, the same recording as August (3.7%) yet slightly higher than the 3.6% economists had predicted. Prices also grew .4% on a monthly basis, higher than the .3% predicted

  • Core inflation – CPI minus volatile prices such as fuel and food – grew .3% on the month and 4.1% from a year earlier, in line with expectations. That marked the sixth straight month of declining core inflation

  • Higher rent prices drove most of September’s inflation

Dig Deeper

  • The Federal Reserve (Fed) is meeting later this month to decide whether or not to raise interest rates. Investors widely expect they will not raise interest rates in November, although following Thursday’s inflation report, the odds that they will do so in December increased slightly. Either way, the Fed plans to keep interest rates at a high level for the foreseeable future, which will likely further slow inflation but which some analysts fear will push the US into a recession

Scalise Out as Nominee

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) dropped his speaker bid a day after being nominated

  • Scalise is the second-ranking House Republican. On Wednesday, Republicans voted 113-99 to nominate him as speaker over Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH)

  • A handful of Republicans who supported Jordan said they would not vote to elect Scalise, and it did not appear that Scalise had enough support to be elected speaker in a full-House vote

  • On Thursday night, Scalise dropped his speaker bid, citing that fact. Republicans will now have to nominate and then rally behind a different candidate

The wine aisle is scary. Bright cellars isn’t

Together with Bright Cellars

Heaven knows that after a news cycle like this one we could all use a bottle of wine…or two...or eight…

  • The problem is that most of us are posers in the wine aisle: We browse it like some faux sommelier, looking for a bottle with a French name and reasonable price tag. We have no clue if we’ll like it and will learn nothing about it. It’s a vicious cycle of ignorant imbibing

  • But Bright Cellars takes out the guesswork and makes the process easy. All you have to do is take a quick and easy seven-question quiz to assess your taste preferences, and they'll deliver wines you're guaranteed to enjoy, directly to your doorstep. So you don’t even have to wander the wine aisle mumbling wine names with a French accent that you learned from Pink Panther

  • Their promise extends further—with their full-glass guarantee, if you don’t like a bottle, they’ll replace it. But you don’t just get to drink wines you like — you learn about them! Each wine arrives with education to elevate your wine knowledge

Dig Deeper

  • With over 100 varieties sourced from 80 wine regions, you’re guaranteed to discover new wines you love. Take the quiz today and get your first six bottles for just $55 ($150+ value). So in the words of your friend that always makes bad pun captions… whine not try Bright Cellars today?

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Boardroom ballers: Reebok named Hall of Famers Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson as president and vice president of basketball operations, respectively

  • British beavers are back: After a 400-year absence, wild beavers are back in London’s Ealing district, reintroduced from Scotland as part of a conservation effort

  • Overnight billionaire: A liquor store 75 miles north of Los Angeles sold the Powerball jackpot-winning ticket worth $1.76B, marking the second-largest jackpot ever

Wildcard

  • Not naptime: A Texas kindergarten teacher resigned after giving melatonin gummies to “a few” of her special education students without parental consent

  • Catfish on the big screen: AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron sent sexually explicit messages and photos to a person posing as a ballet dancer he had previously seen romantically

  • Don’t text and judge: A suspended Oklahoma judge faces potential removal over 500+ texts between her and a bailiff in which she allegedly mocked an attorney’s appearance, called a witness a liar, and expressed bias in favor of a defendant in a murder trial

👇🏻 What do you think?

Today's Question:

Will you watch “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” in theater?

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Today's Question:

🗣 20 Questions

20 questions logo

"We have nothing to fear but leaving The Current's October 13th email in your inbox unread itself." - FDR, 1933

Every Friday, we ask the Roca readers 20 Questions, and feature the replies the following week. On this day in 1792, the cornerstone for the White House was laid. To commemorate this special day and get in the Primary Debate spirit, we are going to do a President-themed 20 Questions. We can't wait to read your answers and settle the debate once and for all: Do we need a capybara in the White House?

Here's the link. Have an amazing weekend!

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Do you support California’s new law (that aims to make it easier to force people with mental illness or addiction to get help)?

Yes: 67%
No: 20%
No opinion: 13%

Yesterday's Question:

Should colleges require standardized testing for admission?

Clara from Oxford, United Kingdom: "I don't think standardized testing should be used for college admissions. From experience going to university and working in admissions offices I have found less and less importance placed on test results and more on transcripts and work samples. I also think that standardized tests don't allow for proper assessment of intelligence or ability and that they can be targeted towards certain populations. In general they have become outdated and should be replaced with other forms of assessments."

Valeta from San Antonio Tlayacapan, Mexico: "Yes. Colleges profit from unprepared students attending college while accruing student debt”

Alex from Wisconsin: "No. I took the ACT last year, and honestly I think it's a poor way to judge someone. It only covers the core subjects- and some of the questions aren't even at the current level. People could do really well on one section and completely flub a different section- taking their overall score down, and possibly lowering their chances of getting into college. Plus, people could make simple mistakes that can be fixed- someone could make mistakes on their best subject and lower their score. That doesn't seem fair to me.”

Kevin from New Smyrna Beach, Florida: “If taxpayers are going to be asked to "forgive" student loan debt then, yes, colleges must be required to only admit students with a reasonable chance of earning a degree. They can't drop the requirement, allow students with no chance of matriculating to run up tens of thousands of dollars in loan debt (while the colleges thrive) and then give taxpayers the bill. There are no free lunches!”

Alex from California: “Colleges should require standardized testing for admission because they need a way to compare students' preparedness coming from a variety of high schools and locations. With that said, standardized testing should only be part of the evaluation. Other things such as advanced placement classes, grade point average, extracurricular activities, internships, letters of recommendation, etc. should also be taken into consideration. Colleges should look at the applicant comprehensively when making admission decisions because they are more than just a test score. But test scores are an important piece of the puzzle.”

Yesterday's Wrap Replies:

Yesterday’s Wrap was about Brooks Robinson.

Mike from Encinitas, California: “I named my last son after Brooks Robinson. Your article was true to the man he was. We had an opportunity to attend a Celebrity/ Pro Ball Player softball event in Palm Springs one April about 15 years ago. After the game, my son, Brooks, asked Mr. Robinson for an autograph. He happily obliged. When I told him that my Brooks was named after him, he stopped and looked me right in the eyes and said, " I can't tell you how honored I am by that. Thank you". he signed the ball, " To Brooks, I am Honored" Brooks Robinson, H of F. He shook our hands and continued signing until everyone there was taken care of. What a guy.”

Michael: “I remember that 1966 series against Los Angeles. They didn't call Robinson the human vacuum cleaner for nothing. The man hoovered up anything that came his way; a phenomenal player and a great human being”

Joe from “STL - the city where Baltimore stole our Browns to be Orioles!”: RIP Brooks. I watched that 70 series on tv in grade school because Sr Nancy was huge baseball fan and broke school rules. Scott Rolen was a great defensive Cardinal 3B man. Mr Robinson set the bar and was the best ever. Great story, especially the human side. Thanks for sharing.”

Carol from Idaho: “I am NOT a Sports fan. Not of ANY sport.  I WAS Quite impressed to read the Brooks Robinson writeup you did on Oct 12. I hope YOUNG sportsmen & sportswomen realize that to be kind to everyone is a Valuable attribute. Thank you for taking the opportunity to point the way to them as so many of them think they Deserve to be on the pedestal they have created for themselves... in their own minds!”

Karen from Washington: “Really great story on a player I did not know. Don't follow baseball too much except I learned a lot and did so when the Mariners reached the playoffs in the 90s”

Last Week's 20 Qs Responses:

Last week we ran a Fall-themed "This or That" edition of 20 Questions! We listed two fall-related things, and asked you to pick which one you prefer.

  1. Pumpkin patch or apple orchard?

    Pumpkin patch: 47%

    Apple orchard: 53%

  2. Flannel or hoodie?

    Flannel: 58%

    Hoodie: 42%

  3. Vampire or werewolf?

    Vampire: 60%

    Werewolf: 40%

  4. Pumpkin bread or banana bread?

    Pumpkin bread: 43%

    Banana bread: 57%

  5. Fuzzy socks or fuzzy slippers?

    Fuzzy socks: 54%

    Fuzzy slippers: 46%

  6. Fall or autumn?

    Fall: 74%

    Autumn: 26%

  7. M&Ms or Skittles?

    M&Ms: 78%

    Skittles: 22%

  8. Firepit or fireplace?

    Firepit: 48%

    Fireplace: 52%

  9. Caramel apple or popcorn ball?

    Caramel apple: 68%

    Popcorn ball: 32%

  10. Halloween or Thanksgiving?

    Halloween: 73%

    Thanksgiving: 27%

  11. Pumpkin soup or tomato soup?

    Pumpkin soup: 24%

    Tomato soup: 76%

  12. Creepy clown or creepy doll?

    Creepy clown: 44%

    Creepy doll: 56%

  13. Best fall movie?

    When Harry Met Sally: 24%

    Knives Out: 15%

    Dead Poets Society: 24%

    Any Harry Potter: 37%

  14. Michigan or Ohio State?

    Michigan: 61%

    Ohio State: 39%

  15. Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

    Black Friday: 42%

    Cyber Monday: 58%

  16. Kid's table or adult table?

    Kid's table: 90%

    Adult table: 10%

  17. Camp in a tent or camp in a cabin?

    Camp in a tent: 20%

    Camp in a cabin: 80%

  18. Crisp fall mornings or crisp fall nights?

    Crisp fall mornings: 57%

    Crisp fall nights: 43%

  19. Best fall song?

    All Too Well by Taylor Swift: 13%

    Harvest Moon by Neil Young: 43%

    Sweater Weather by The Neighborhood: 13%

    Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day: 31%

  20. Baking or reading?

    Baking: 39%

    Reading: 61%

🧠 Final Thoughts

That's all we've got for this week. Have awesome fall weekends, do the 20 Questions, and see you on Monday!

—Max and Max