🌊 WeCame, WeSaw, WeFailed
Putin blames US for inciting airport riot, meth lab house hits market for $1.55M, and Part 3: Berlin Adventures
In 2012, Gmail completed a New England Patriots 28-3 style comeback on Microsoft’s Hotmail to become the most popular email domain in the world. For those keeping score at home, Yahoo technically had the most registered users at the time, but it was not used as much as the others. 11 years later, Gmail dominates the market. Now it feels like finding a rare Pokémon when we see a new Hotmail or AOL address pop up on our subscriber list. Say what you want about those AOL people, but they are loyal. In fact, they may be the only ones you can trust these days.
In today's edition:
Putin blames US for inciting airport riot
Meth lab house hits market for $1.55M
Roca Reports Part 3: Berlin Adventures
🔑 Key Stories
No Charges in Flint Water Case
Criminal prosecutions of public officials over the Flint water crisis are now over, prosecutors said
Starting in 2014, residents of Flint, Michigan were exposed to unhealthy levels of lead and other contaminants in their drinking water. 12 died due to a related Legionnaire outbreak
Prosecutors charged several public officials, including Michigan’s former governor, over their role in the crisis. Those cases have stalled in court for years after the defendants challenged a legal procedure used to bring the charges against them
On Tuesday, Michigan’s Supreme Court declined to revisit an earlier court decision invalidating the criminal charges. Following that, prosecutors said criminal cases of public officials are now officially over
As of now, it appears that prosecutors do not plan to bring new criminal charges. That does not affect civil litigations: Michigan agreed earlier this year to pay Flint residents $600M over the crisis, adding to other civil penalties that have been awarded to city residents
If you are from Flint or know anyone affected by the crisis, let us know by replying to this email! We’re writing an exclusive Wrap on the Flint water crisis
Saudi Arabia Hosting 2024 World Cup
Saudi Arabia is all but guaranteed to host the 2034 World Cup after Australia declined to submit a bid
FIFA has numerous rules regulating who can host a World Cup, such as one that requires that the bidding country not be from a continent that has hosted either of the past two World Cups
Earlier this month, FIFA opened the bidding process for 2034, but said only countries in Asia and Oceania could apply. Saudi Arabia – which has invested billions of dollars into soccer and other sports — quickly applied. The only likely competitor would have been Australia
On Tuesday, Australia said it wouldn’t submit a bid for the Cup, making Saudi Arabia the sole bidder. That means it will almost certainly win
The US, Canada, and Mexico are hosting the 2026 tournament. Earlier this month, FIFA announced that the 2030 Cup would be jointly hosted by Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. It later unexpectedly announced the first three games of the 2030 tournament will be held in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. That invalidated countries from North America, South America, Europe, and Africa from hosting the 2034 World Cup
Putin: US Incited Riot
Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed “agents of Western special services” for instigating an anti-Israel riot at a Russian airport
Dagestan is a majority-Muslim region of southern Russia. On Sunday, hundreds of protesters stormed an airport there after news spread that a flight bound from Tel Aviv, Israel was supposed to land there
Verified footage showed rioters pushing past airport security, swarming the tarmac, and stopping cars in an apparent search for Israeli passengers. Some protesters waved Palestinian flags and held signs that read “We are against Jewish Refugees”, “There is no place for child-killers in Dagestan”, and other slogans
On Monday, Putin blamed the US and Ukraine for instigating the riot. “The events in Makhachkala last night were instigated through social networks, not least from Ukraine, by the hands of agents of Western special services,” he told security officials
The spokesperson for the US National Security Council denounced Putin’s claims as “absurd.” He added, “When something goes bad in your country, you blame somebody else”
“The West had nothing to do with this. This is just hate, bigotry and intimidation,” the spokesperson added
He also supported comparisons between the riot and the pogroms, which were violent riots against Jewish people that occurred in Russia during the late-19th and early-20th centuries
WeWork to Declare Bankruptcy
WeWork is expected to declare bankruptcy as early as next week, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported
WeWork is an office space leasing company founded in 2010 by tech entrepreneur Adam Neumann. It reached a peak valuation of $47B but lost much of its value after a failed attempt to bring it public
The company has since gone public but has continued to lose hundreds of millions of dollars annually. In August, WeWork released an earnings report warning of “substantial doubt” about the company’s “ability to continue” operating
Per the WSJ, the company is now preparing to declare bankruptcy by as early as next week, which would allow it to continue operating while restructuring its operations
A spokesperson declined to confirm the rumors but said that the company has “a clear, long-term vision for the future.” Its stock fell ~12% on Tuesday to $2.28 per share, down from a peak of $520.90 in 2021
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Not lovin’ it: McDonald’s and Chipotle plan to increase their menu prices in California next year to offset the state’s minimum wage hike for fast-food workers
(Im)pure Michigan: Seven women are suing Airbnb and the owner of “The Castle” – a Victorian-style rental home in Michigan – after a bat infestation resulted in bites and a night of “horror”
Unholy mistake: An Italian priest faced backlash after he enlisted an altar girl to serve the holy communion, instead of a priest or an appointed layperson. Italians called it a “liturgical horror”
The honorable what? Missouri’s governor appointed the Honorable Ginger Gooch to the state’s Supreme Court. The appointment cements the court’s first female majority in state history
Jesse Pinkman, this you? A six-bedroom luxury home in San Jose, California is on the market for $1.55M, despite including a “meth lab and meth contamination”
Trick or cavity: A West Virginia dentist recommended trick-or-treaters eat their Halloween candy in one sitting to protect their dental health
*Sponsored Popcorn by Roca’s partner picks!
👇 What do you think?
Do you think criminal charges should have been brought in connection to the Flint water crisis?
What is the best costume you saw (or wore!) this Halloween? Pictures always welcome!
Reply to this email with your answers!
See yesterday's results below the Wrap!
🌯 Roca Wrap
Since we launched Roca, we’ve wanted to do consistent on-the-ground reporting. Starting with this email, we are.
In the past, we’ve reported from Ukraine, Colombia, the US/Mexico border, Ethiopia, and elsewhere. With each of these trips, we’ve sought to not just tell the news but bring our readers with us on the adventures.
Roca Reports will now deliver that immersive journalism every week. Our co-founder and editor Max Frost has spent the last two months in Europe traveling and reporting in six countries. We’ll be publishing that coverage here, starting with Germany, where he hitchhiked around the country meeting far-right activists.
It’s difficult to imagine a city that has witnessed more history in the last 100 years than Berlin.
It was where the Nazis took power, where the Nazis were destroyed, where the West and USSR competed face-to-face, where the Wall came down, and so much more. Throughout that, the city developed its own character: Rebellious, progressive, hip, and weird.
I stayed in Kreuzberg, once a majority Turkish neighborhood that’s now a center of nightlife and hipster culture. Every building on my block was covered in graffiti. “F*CK GENTRIFIERS,” read one sign near my apartment. “Make the rich pay for Covid-19,” said another. That’s Berlin street politics in a nutshell.
Although jetlagged from my trip, I learned that my favorite musician – British DJ and singer Fred Again.. – was performing in Berlin that night, so I bought a ticket. I spent my first day in Germany trying to stay awake for that concert and get some leads for my investigation into Germany’s far-right politics.
My first lesson in German politics came immediately.
I mentioned the concert to my Airbnb host – an Australian who had moved to Berlin after falling in love with a German girl – who told me I could walk to the venue through a park. “It’s safe, but there’s a bunch of black guys selling weed,” he said, “They’re nice, just politely say no. Or buy it, whatever.”
While crossing that park minutes later, I encountered a young woman putting up a poster. She told me it was to promote both a screening for a movie about refugees and a clothing drive for EU-bound migrants. She said non-white migrants to Germany face a lot of racism, while refugees from Ukraine don’t.
“I wish people from the Middle East and Africa received the same welcome as people from Ukraine,” she said. “It shows there’s clearly a racial component.”
As I crossed the park after our conversation, no fewer than 20 African migrants approached me to sell drugs. I later joked to a Berliner that there were so many drug dealers, I felt safe. Not funny, he said: A 27-year-old woman had just been raped in the park, making national news. A subsequent Google search revealed that there had been 11 rapes in the park in the year to August. Since 2018, the park had experienced five killings and 708 instances of bodily harm. Most crimes had been linked to African immigrants, putting the park at the center of a national debate around immigration and crime.
Ahead of the show I met nearly a dozen people – from Belarus, Poland, Australia, and elsewhere – only one of whom was German. He and others told me they consider Berlin an English-speaking city. I asked if he knew anyone who supported the AFD: “No, I’m not friends with extremists.”
The concert was sold out, but my last-minute floor seat only cost $75 on resale. Tickets to the same tour in New York City cost over $200. A German I mentioned this to explained that Germany has made it illegal to substantially upcharge for concert tickets. In fact, reselling a German concert ticket for more than 25% above the original price is illegal.
Concert tickets aren’t the only thing that’s cheaper in Germany: At the 17,000-person stadium, a half-liter beer (like a tall-boy) cost $6. In New York City, it may cost triple that.
Two Americans I met at the concert said costs were one reason they moved to Berlin. Another reason was creative stimulation: One was a filmmaker and the other was a DJ, and they told me no city could compete with Berlin’s creativity.
One added that “there is a lot of class structure in the US that we don’t have here.”
Artists in Berlin may feel that way, but others in the country did not. The AFD voters I would meet said the opposite: According to them there was a class structure in Germany – with Berliners at the top and them at the bottom.
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🌊 Roca Clubhouse
Roca Reports Feedback:
Jessica: “This immersive and on the ground reporting is great! It's a form of authentic journalism. I dislike other forms of reporting where it's a "he-said she-said they-said", second hand reporting. Reporters less and less go out into the field to compile the facts & report the facts of the occurrence without bias. I am very excited about this, and will be excited to share this newsletter with friends and family”
Stephanie from Canada: “I really liked the street perspective of locals! It felt like I was there with you, very insightful and something I would never have known.”
Have you done a ‘dry January’ before?
If you could witness any moment in history — past, present, or future — what would it be and why?
Rick: “I would go back to watch Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel.”
Andrew from Florida: “If I could witness any event in history, without intervening, it would be one of Jesus’ sermons. I don’t speak or understand Aramaic, but I would love to see his passion, his engagement and how the people received his message. No other person in history has had the effect Jesus had, and I would love to see it first hand.”
Steve from New Hampshire: “If I could go back and witness an event I would have to say the falling of the Berlin Wall. I was a teenager living in West Germany for several years leading up to the fall. My dad was transfered back to the US a few months before it happened. It would have been great to see the start of the unification of the 2 countries in person.”
🧠 Final Thoughts
That’s all for today, Roca! Thanks for the incredible feedback to Roca Reports.
—Max and Max