🌊 Tucker and Chill?

Mexican cartels go on a killing spree, why Tunisia is mad at Denzel Washington, and sauna diplomacy

Oh, Possum Tree. Oh, Possum Tree. A Texas woman was stunned to find a live possum in her Christmas tree last week. She first noticed it after hearing a sneeze in the vicinity of her frosted white tree. Then, as she moved closer, she noticed a pair of eyeballs behind the branches and ornaments staring at her. She learned a valuable Christmas lesson: Nothing is impossumble.

In today's edition:

  • Mexican cartels go on a killing spree

  • Why Tunisia is mad at Denzel Washington

  • Sauna diplomacy

 🔑 Key Stories

Study: Its OK to Decline Plans

A study found that people who turn down invitations tend to overestimate how much their rejection affects the inviter

  • The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, asked participants to imagine being either the inviter or invitee. It then posed various situations, such as if an invitee declines an invite because they want to relax

  • The study found that the invitees tended to overestimate how upset they would make the inviter. The study did not take into account some factors, such as last-minute or repeat cancellations

No Fossil Fuel Phase Out?

A draft climate agreement proposed at UN climate talks removed a call for “phasing out” fossil fuels

  • The world’s biggest climate summit is currently taking place. Its participants have been preparing an agreement about reducing carbon emissions

  • A draft agreement released Friday called for “phasing out” fossil fuels. In the updated version released Monday, though, that language was removed. Several oil producers, including Saudi Arabia, supported the watered-down language

  • The summit entered its final day on Tuesday with no final deal in sight

Cartel Killing Cops

Mexican drug cartels have gone on a killing spree against police officers in Tijuana, the Associated Press (AP) reported

  • Tijuana is a city of 2.2M on the US-Mexico border just south of San Diego. A turf war between rival cartels has turned the city into one of Mexico’s most violent

  • In November, several police officers stole a shipment of cocaine from a Tijuana warehouse, presumably with the intent to sell it. Officials told the AP that local cartels have since killed five cops, two of whom were involved in the plot and three who were not

  • The violence is unprecedented even by Tijuana’s standards: “Tijuana has never seen anything of this scale and that’s saying a lot,” a former mayor said

Air Force Disciplines 15

The US Air Force disciplined 15 officers in relation to a massive leak of defense secrets

  • This April, 21-year-old Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira was arrested and charged for allegedly leaking highly classified US government documents

  • On Monday, the Air Force announced it had disciplined 15 officers for failing to “take proper action after becoming aware” of Teixeira’s “intelligence-seeking behavior.” No evidence suggested they knew about his alleged crimes

  • Punishments ranged from non-judicial actions to some being relieved of duty. None of them were accused of crimes

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🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Tucker and chill? Tucker Carlson’s subscription streaming service, the Tucker Carlson Network, went live on Monday. The platform features interviews, monologues, and short-form messages

  • 7 Hours: Rescue workers freed a California hiker whose legs were stuck under a 6,000-10,000-pound boulder for seven hours

  • Plagiarizing president? Harvard president Claudine Gay was accused of plagiarizing work during her academic career. Gay says she “[stands] by the integrity of my scholarship”

Wildcard

  • Short people, big ship: Director James Cameron revealed that to make the Titanic look bigger when shooting the 1997 movie, “We only cast short extras”

  • Hanni-bull! Tunisian members of parliament are protesting Netflix after it decided to cast the 68-year-old Denzel Washington as General Hannibal. Hannibal – who was from Carthage (in modern-day Tunisia) – wasn’t black and was in his 20s 

  • Lost & filthy: The Ritz Paris hotel allegedly discovered an $800,000 wedding ring gathering dust in a vacuum bag. The hotel said no foul play was involved

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🌯 Roca Wrap

We founded RocaNews because we wanted news companies to just give us the facts – not tell us what to think. That inspires the “Roca Votes” Wrap in which we summarize a controversial topic and see how you feel about it!

TIME magazine dubbed Taylor Swift its Person of the Year. Did they get it right? 

TIME’s Person of the Year seeks to highlight an individual or group who "for better or for worse...has done the most to influence the events of the year."

The award is not an endorsement: Past winners have included Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin (2x), and Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s first Supreme Leader.

TIME chose Swift for her record-breaking year: Her Eras Tour is on pace to be the highest-grossing tour ever;  the film about her tour shattered the box office record for highest-grossing concert film in its first weekend; and she was the most-streamed artist on Spotify.

She also captured the business spotlight by becoming a billionaire and caught the attention of the sports world through her relationship with Kansas Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

Other contenders for this year were Barbie, Vladimir Putin, Trump Prosecutors, Hollywood Strikers, Sam Altman, King Charles III, Xi Jinping, and Jerome Powell. Last year's Person of the Year was Volodymyr Zelensky.

Unfortunately, the Roca app team didn't make the cut.

Taylor Swift is the first musician to be crowned Person of the Year. In the past, several musicians have been featured on the TIME cover – Bono as one of the "Good Samaritans" in 2005 and Taylor Swift as one of the "Silence Breakers" in 2017 – but none had appeared solo before this year.

Was she worthy of the spot?

Many have criticized the choice as superficial or, worse, disrespectful to more important developments in the world like the Israel/Gaza war and AI. Others merely think that she fails to meet the criteria: Has she "done the most to influence events" in 2023? 

When history looks back on the year 2023, will they see Taylor Swift at the center or someone else? 

After reading Roca comments and feedback, as well as perusing social media and the latest op-eds on the subject, some of the more popular picks include Sam Altman, Gaza journalists, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, and, jokingly, Gail Lewis (a viral ex-Walmart worker).

But now we leave it to you.

Do you like Taylor Swift the person? Do you agree with crowning her Person of the Year?

Who of these people/groups had the greatest impact on 2023: Sam Altman; Taylor Swift; Xi Jinping; Vladimir Putin; Joe Biden; Hamas; or Bibi Netanyahu?

Who would you have picked as person of the year? Why?

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

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Do you prefer
Sour and fruity: 4%
Bold and nutty: 96%

Yesterday's Question:

Should the University of Pennsylvania’s president have resigned?

Tammy from North Carolina: “Yes she needs to resign. Not because of her view point , but because she could not coherently explain it.”

Margie: “Yes - she tried to play both ends against the middle and it failed. Those testifying had the attitude of ‘we know more than you.’"

Bruce: “Liz Mangill should not have resigned. The question was a got ya question that had no good answer.”

Carol: “They should not have been given the luxury of ‘resigning’. The board should have FIRED them! But boards nowadays are owned in whole or part by liberals and ‘woke’ thinkers who don't want to ‘offend’ anyone. Thus the polite ‘we will let them resign’ options. You can be assured they will still get their pension/bonus' and perks regardless of how they leave!”

Karl: “I don't think she should have had to go before Congress for the fact that the university had pro-Palestine groups/events/rallies; that should absolutely be allowed. I find it appalling that such a concerted effort is being made to tamp down dissent about Israel's actions in Gaza in the American media and on campuses, especially when there is such genuine concern/resistance to our government's policy on the matter thus far, especially among young Americans. But I don't know what she was thinking refusing to say that calling for a genocide of Jewish people violated the university's code of conduct. I think she really did herself in there, so maybe after that gaffe it was time to go. It should never have come to that - there shouldn't have been a testimony or hearing in the first place. But there was, and she messed up big time.”

Peter: “No. Ms. Magill was correct that protected free speech is context-dependent.”

Richard: “Definitely! She acted like a nit picking lawyer, not a moral compassionate person”

🧠 Intermission

As the above shows, we received a huge amount of feedback yesterday. We hope today’s Wrap and question of the day keep it coming. Let us know: Who is your person of the year?

Premium Nation: The Finland report continues today, this time to a place where naked diplomats decided Finland’s fate.

–Max and Max

🌎 Roca Reports

Last week our Roca Reports series moved to Finland to answer the pivotal question: Is it truly the world’s happiest country? The series continues today.

Roca Reports is part of our premium newsletter with on-the-ground investigations of stories no one else is covering. If you’re not a member, you can start your 14-day free trial here!

Earlier this year, NATO made a couple new additions: First, it added Finland. Second, it added a sauna. 

Finns are believed to have invented the sauna up to 9,000 thousand years ago. Today, their country has more of them than cars: 3M saunas for the country’s 5.5M people. Every country home has one, as do many apartments and offices.

Yet for the Finns, Saunas are not just for relaxing. If it weren’t for the sauna – as the Finns say, “SAOW-nah” – Finland may not even be independent.

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