🌊The Taylor Swift Effect

Canada speaker steps down, Taylor Swift effect hits the NFL, and Khalistan

72-year-old Gerry Turner will start dating 22 women tomorrow night. The Indiana silver fox will be the first “Golden Bachelor” in the inaugural season of The Bachelor’s boomer-fied spinoff. Thanks to social media, Turner — whose wife of 43 years died in 2017 — says he’s now getting used to being called “grandzaddy.” For the lucky portion of you that don’t have TikTok, a grandzaddy is an attractive older man.

In today's edition:

  • Canada speaker steps down

  • Taylor Swift effect hits the NFL

  • Khalistan

 🔑 Key Stories

Canada’s Speaker Steps Down

The Speaker of Canada’s House of Commons resigned after calling a former Nazi soldier a “hero”

  • Last Friday, the House of Commons held a special session to host Ukraine’s President Zelensky. During that, the Speaker – one of Canada’s top politicians – called 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka a hero. Hunka was in the audience and received two standing ovations

  • It later emerged that Hunka – a Ukrainian soldier who immigrated to Canada after World War II – had fought for the Nazi SS during WWII. His specific unit was accused of being complicit in the Holocaust

  • On Tuesday, amid growing backlash, Rota announced his resignation. “I must step down as your Speaker,” he said. “I reiterate my profound regret”

Dig Deeper

  • On Tuesday, a Polish politician said that he has “taken steps” to extradite Hunka to Poland. In a letter, he called on a Polish body that handles Holocaust-related crimes to “urgently examine” whether Hunka is wanted for crimes against Polish Jews. “Signs of such crimes are grounds to apply to Canada for his extradition,” he said in the letter

JPMorgan Settles with USVI

JPMorgan agreed to pay the US Virgin Islands (USVI) $75M to settle a lawsuit related to Jeffrey Epstein

  • Last year, the USVI sued JPMorgan, alleging the bank – which managed Epstein’s money – turned a blind eye to his crimes. The USVI alleged some of Epstein’s crimes occurred on his private island in the USVI

  • JPMorgan denied those accusations and called the USVI a hypocrite, arguing USVI officials also turned a blind eye to Epstein’s crimes. The bank also sued one of its former CEOs, Jes Staley, for his alleged inappropriate ties to Epstein

  • On Tuesday, JPMorgan announced it will also settle with the USVI for $75M, although it again acknowledged no wrongdoing. The bank separately settled its claims against Staley, although that settlement’s terms are secret

Dig Deeper

  • Per legal filings, $25M of that will go toward strengthening the USVI’s human trafficking prevention, while $30M will go toward charities that help victims of sexual abuse. The remaining $20M will go toward legal fees incurred by USVI related to the lawsuit

  • JPMorgan said in a statement that it “believes this settlement is in the best interest of all parties, particularly for those who can benefit from efforts to combat human trafficking”

Russian Admiral Dead — Or Not?

Russia released a video showing an admiral alive days after Ukraine claimed to have killed him

  • In 2014, Russia seized Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula in the Black Sea. It claims Crimea is now part of Russia and stations its Black Sea fleet at a port there

  • On Friday, Ukraine struck the Crimean headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea fleet with missiles. On Monday, Ukraine claimed the strike killed 34 Russian officers, including the leader of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet

  • On Tuesday, though, Russia published a video showing that admiral alive at a conference. Ukraine released a report “clarifying” its earlier statement and suggesting the admiral may actually be alive

Dig Deeper

  • “As it is known, 34 officers were killed as a result of a missile attack on the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation,” Ukrainian special forces posted on the messaging app Telegram. “Available sources claim that among the dead was the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Many [bodies] still have not been identified due to the condition of the body parts”

Alabama’s Experimental Execution

Lawyers for an Alabama death row inmate criticized the state’s plan to execute him with what it called an “experimental” and “untested” method

  • Alabama currently executes inmates via lethal injection. Three executions in the state have failed since 2018, most recently last year, when a lethal injection failed to kill convicted murderer Kenneth Smith

  • This May, an Alabama court ruled the state may now execute Smith via nitrogen hypoxia, a new method that involves asphyxiating inmates with nitrogen gas

  • Smith’s lawyers are fighting that, claiming the state is making Smith a “test subject”

Dig Deeper

  • “The state seeks to make Mr. Smith the test subject for the first ever attempted execution by an untested and only recently released protocol for executing condemned people by the novel method of nitrogen hypoxia,” Smith’s attorneys wrote in a legal filing

  • Proponents of the nitrogen hypoxia method argue it is cheap, painless, and more reliable than lethal injections. “It’s readily available. It’s 78% of the air we breathe, and it will be a lot more humane to carry out a death sentence,” the Alabama senator who proposed the new execution method said

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Swift effect: Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce experienced a nearly 400% surge in jersey sales after Taylor Swift attended the game on his behalf

  • Target targeted: Retailer Target will close nine stores in major cities across the US, citing violence, theft, and organized retail crime. The cities include NYC, Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco

  • Taxes don’t lie: Spanish prosecutors charged pop singer Shakira with evading $7.1M in taxes on her 2018 income. She faces a similar trial in Barcelona for $15.4M in unpaid taxes

Wildcard

  • Swamped at work: A Massachusetts DoorDash driver mistakenly followed GPS directions and drove into a swamp while delivering a customer’s Dunkin’ order

  • #PeeGate: New Mexico State quarterback Diego Pavia allegedly urinated on rival University of New Mexico’s logo in a leaked video from their game this month

  • Dinner gone Meh-wrong: Mehran’s Steak House – a “fake steakhouse” initially conceived as “an elaborate joke” among friends – hosted a dinner for 140 attendees and media in NYC

👇 What do you think?

Today's Poll:

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Today's Question:

Do you support the use of capital punishment in your country?

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See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

In June, Hardeep Singh Nijjar was warned that his life was at risk.

A day later, two masked gunmen approached him as he exited a Sikh temple in a small Canadian city. They fatally shot him in a murder whose motive appears to stretch back decades.

Nijjar was an advocate for Khalistan, envisioned as an independent Sikh homeland in modern-day India. The idea for Khalistan emerged in the 1940s, around the time British India’s Hindus and Muslims were pushing for independence and developing visions of their own states.

Sikhism began with the teachings of a man (a guru) in the late 1400s in Punjab, a region now divided between India and Pakistan. Nine successive gurus built on those teachings, before the tenth named scripture as his successor. That scripture became the religious guide for Sikhs, forming the basis for Sikhism.

While local rulers tried to repress the religion, enough Muslims and Hindus converted that it became a substantial force. In 1799, Sikh areas in northwest modern-day India merged into a Sikh Empire, which ruled the region until 1849, when the British and local princes carved out their own territories.

As independence from British colonial rule approached in the 1940s, the Sikhs found themselves without a seat at the table. India had far fewer Sikhs than Hindus or Muslims, and even in Punjab, where most Sikhs live, they didn’t form a majority. Neither India nor Pakistan was willing to give land for a Sikh homeland. When those countries gained independence in 1947, Punjab was divided between them, with most Sikhs relocating to India.

By the late-1960s, some Sikhs were complaining of discrimination and repression by India’s government. At the same time, economic shifts put many Sikhs out of work. Calls for autonomy grew until the 1970s, when Sikh groups began calling for independence and issuing demands to India’s government. In 1980, a Sikh leader declared an independent Khalistan.

Sikh separatists secured money and arms and conducted a number of murders. Police responded with killings and arrests, and the situation worsened. In 1982, a wanted Sikh militant took shelter in the Golden Temple – Sikhism’s holiest site – which is situated in the middle of a major city. In June 1984, India’s government stormed that temple.

In what became known as Operation Blue Star, India’s army used tanks, helicopters, and other heavy weaponry to flush Sikh militants out of the Golden Temple. The Sikhs responded with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, sparking days of urban warfare. By the time India’s army took control of the temple nine days later, 554+ Sikh civilians and militants had been killed, as had 83 Indian soldiers.

The assault horrified many Sikhs and galvanized support for the militants. Four months later, a Sikh bodyguard killed India’s prime minister, Indira Gandhi, who had ordered the assault. Widespread riots followed in which hundreds or thousands of Sikhs were killed. As apparent revenge, Sikh militants blew up an Air India flight in 1985, killing 329 in the deadliest airplane-related attack until 9/11.

Violence intensified in the late 1980s, as Sikh separatists – supported by Pakistan – killed both civilians and security personnel. By 1990, attacks were killing ~1,800 civilians and ~430 police officers each year. Yet the Indian government managed to improve the political situation and kill enough Khalistan leaders that the conflict largely ended by 1993.

But some Sikhs never stopped calling for Khalistan, particularly after 2020, when hundreds of thousands of Sikhs protested new policies that negatively impacted Sikh farmers. The protests caused support for Khalistan to surge, and many Sikhs accused India’s government of trying to repress them.

This spring, India’s government arrested over 100 people amid a month-long search for a wanted Khalistani separatist. While they caught the man in April, it raised concerns of a new insurgency. Then in June, a Khalistani separatist – Hardeep Singh Nijjar – was murdered in Canada.

Indian officials had accused Nijjar of plotting attacks from and training militants in Canada, which has the world’s second-largest Sikh population. In 2020, India designated Nijjar a terrorist; Nijjar called such allegations “garbage.” He once said, “I am living here 20 years, right? Look at my record. There is nothing. I am a hard worker. I own my own business in the plumbing.” Nijjar’s killing led many in his Sikh community to publicly defend his record.

This week, Canada’s government said it has credible evidence that India’s government plotted the murder. The claims – which India called “absurd” – sparked a diplomatic crisis, with the countries withdrawing diplomats and India’s government saying it won’t give visas to Canadian citizens.

While the countries continue to argue, it’s now clear that 30 years after peace came to Punjab, the Khalistan conflict may have never actually ended.

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

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Do you know anybody (including yourself) who has fallen victim to a cyberattack?
Yes: 55%
No: 45%

Yesterday's Question:

Are social media companies responsible for the user-generated content on their platforms?

Katherine from Utah: “No! Social Media platforms are not like newspapers that review and publish content from multiple people. They are the modern version of the town square, and need to be treated as such. If someone walks out in public and says offensive things, it's not the city's fault. At the same time, if someone is disturbing the peace, the city police can step in, so social media sites should have some content restrictions. But at the end of the day, everyone understands that someone's tweets do not reflect the opinions of Twitter as a company, so no one should blame them for them.”

Uli from Hunterdon County, New Jersey: “Yes, social media companies should be liable and the content on their websites. Posting or have someone post incorrect information influences the reader and can be harmful to them or others”

John from Savannah, Georgia: “Social medial companies huge profits from the use of user generated content so they should be held responsible for content oin some way”

Yesterday's Wrap Replies:

Yesterday’s Wrap was about Russell Brand.

Ted from Chubbuck, Idaho: “I have no prior opinion about Russell Brand, one way or the other. If he is found guilty of the things he’s been accused of, then he should suffer the consequences. However, the idea of “guilty until proven innocent” - essentially mob justice - that pervades society as of late is wrong. If Brand has broken laws, bring him to trial and accept the outcome. If you feel the system has failed, then work to fix the system. There’s good reason we stopped just throwing a rope around the neck of the first person accused. Innocent people died, and the truly guilty often escaped. We are better than this. Disagree? That’s fine, but don’t be surprised when it’s you the rope finds next.”

Ed: “Russell Brand is an overrated, pathetic, a**h***

Jennie from Rochester, Minnesota: “Wow, I had no idea. Thanks for the informative wrap. My thoughts? My heart breaks for Brand. His past, his father-son relationship, his pursuit of love/belonging in the face of addiction--that's not the way it was meant to be. I also respect those that have cut ties with him due to his ongoing behaviors that are inappropriate and crude. There's a better way to do business and relationships. Finally, I wouldn't be surprised one bit if Brand is sharing truth about the real story playing behind the scenes of social media, politics, etc. Truth shouldn't be so hard to come by, but one can only take it all with a grain of salt unless they are fully or personally invested in the situation themselves. All in all, I'm thankful for the truth of God's Word that has stood the rest of time through all cultures, conflicts, and craziness! My hope is that His truth would ring true and bring restoration to all the brokenness and messiness in this story.”

🧠 Final Thoughts

Some days, the news is heavier than others. We hope you enjoy the process of informing yourself even when the stories are not 24/7 sunshine all the time.

Speaking of sunshine, it finally appeared here in New York after a week of nonstop rain!

Happy Hump Day, and see you tomorrow!