🌊 The Woeing 787

Plus: Norfolk Southern settles with East Palestine

Not in the echo chamber business.

Thank you to all of you who’ve subscribed to our new podcast “We The 66” on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple. 66% of Americans don’t trust the news, and this show exists for those 66. Yesterday we released an episode with a Harvard professor who was recently fired for his Covid views (Disclaimer: We aren’t endorsing his views and have invited multiple guests who disagree with him!), and tomorrow we bring you a very different but also exciting episode. Time to channel Miley Cyrus and take a wrecking ball to echo chambers. Appreciate your support as always 🌊

In today's edition:

🚂 Norfolk Southern settles for $600M

🧇 Waffle House employee claims stolen Jeep was a tip

⛪ The Cathedral Keeper

–Max, Max, Jen, and Alex

KEY STORY

Taiwan’s Second HQs

Several major Taiwanese companies are seeking to open second headquarters abroad so they can keep operating in the event of a Chinese invasion, the Financial Times (FT) reported

  • In recent years, fears have grown that China could invade Taiwan this decade. One US admiral has estimated China will be prepared to do so by 2027

  • In response, many Taiwanese businesses have diversified their production to other countries

  • Now, some are seeking to open second HQs in foreign countries to hedge against a possible Chinese invasion. One executive told the FT they are doing so “in case an emergency happens in Taiwan”

Dig Deeper

  • One executive told the FT, “[Companies] have to ask [themselves], if a conflict forces us to cease operations in Taiwan for six months or a year, can we survive? You don’t need investor relations there, but you can’t survive without finance, payroll and receivables”

KEY STORY

Norfolk Southern Settlement

Norfolk Southern reached a $600M settlement over the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio

  • Since the February 2023 freight train derailment, Norfolk Southern has given $21M in direct payments to residents, $4.3M to improve the town’s water system, $500,000 in economic assistance, and millions more toward various other initiatives and clean-up efforts

  • On Tuesday, the company announced it had settled a class action lawsuit for $600M. The settlement, if approved by a judge, will “resolve all class action claims within a 20-mile radius from the derailment” and all “personal injury claims within a 10-mile radius.” Residents will be allowed to use the money “in any manner they see fit to address potential adverse impacts from the derailment”

Dig Deeper

  • After the derailment, Norfolk Southern released and burned vinyl chloride, a carcinogen. Last month, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board testified that the burn was unnecessary

  • In a statement, lawyers for the plaintiffs called the settlement “fair, reasonable and adequate”

KEY STORY

European Climate Ruling

Europe’s top human rights court ruled that Switzerland violated its citizens’ rights by not doing enough to stop climate change

  • Nine years ago, a group of elderly Swiss women sued Switzerland, arguing that it had failed to implement sufficient carbon reductions. It claimed its members – mainly women in their 70s – were particularly vulnerable to rising temperatures

  • On Tuesday, Europe’s top human rights court ruled that Switzerland had violated its citizens’ rights and must make up for shortcomings in its emissions reductions. The ruling is binding and applies to 46 European countries, potentially affecting other laws and lawsuits

Dig Deeper

  • Legal experts said the Swiss case definitively establishes that Europeans affected by climate change can use courts to sue their governments, substantially impacting European climate law

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Dig Deeper

KEY STORY

FAA Investigating Boeing

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating a Boeing whistleblower’s claim that its 787 Dreamliner is improperly manufactured

  • The investigation centers on claims made by Sam Salehpour, a former Boeing engineer, who told The New York Times that Boeing improperly fastens together pieces of the Dreamliner’s fuselage

  • Salehpour said in a worst-case scenario, the issue could cause planes to break apart mid-flight

  • In response, a Boeing executive said he is “fully confident in the 787 Dreamliner” and that claims of structural issues “are inaccurate”

Dig Deeper

  • The new allegations come weeks after a different whistleblower – who raised concerns about manufacturing practices at the Dreamliner’s South Carolina plant – was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot while testifying about his claims

  • Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is planning to hold a hearing on Salehpour’s claims next month: “Repeated, shocking allegations about Boeing’s manufacturing failings point to an appalling absence of safety…where profit is prioritized over everything else,” he said

RUNDOWN
Some Quick Stories for the Office

⚔️ The EU’s top foreign policy official warned that “war is certainly looming around us.” He added, “A high-intensity, conventional war in Europe is no longer a fantasy”

⚖️ A Michigan judge sentenced the parents of a school shooter to between 10 and 15 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors argued they gave their 15-year-old son a firearm despite obvious signs he was mentally unwell. He later used the gun to kill four

📜 Arizona’s Supreme Court ruled that an 1864 law banning abortions is enforceable, making nearly all abortions a felony. The law was widely seen as defunct due to its age and lack of enforcement

🧪 Peter Higgs, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who proposed the existence of the Higgs boson – a subatomic particle that gives the Universe its mass – died at age 94

🇰🇷 South Korea’s president said his country will invest ~$7B in chips used to train AI by 2027 to maintain its global edge in semiconductors

🗳️ Officials in Ohio and Alabama warned Democratic officials that due to the timing of the Democratic National Convention, President Biden’s name may not appear on those states’ general election ballots

COMMUNITY

We founded RocaNews because we wanted news companies to give us just the facts – not tell us what to think. That inspires us to do the “Roca Votes” story each week, in which we summarize a controversial topic and see how Roca Nation feels about it.

This week’s topic asks: Are celebrity political endorsements dumb?

I think celebrity endorsements are super powerful and useful. They’re people who are tapped into power and meet a lot of important people and know how the world works in ways other don’t, or just dont have time for. Makes it easy for me to know how to use my vote

Kyle from Iowa

While [celebrities] can certainly be in places to meet powerful people with money, their "knowing how the world works in ways others don't" is a statement so off base.  These are rich, spoiled, entitled, power-hungry, often criminal people… Hollywood as a whole has a very left leaning agenda and one that is in with left leaning politicians.  So much so that any celebrity that has had more conservative views on anything has been basically black listed.  I could name a few but I'm sure we all know who they are.  I am a conservative but I certainly don't look to celebrities to tell me how to vote.  That's scary.  Please reconsider your position on that.

Kelly replies to Kyle

In response to what Kyle said, I think that they definitely hold power and are connected, but completely basing your vote on someone you do not truly know is risky. Even if you do not have time to figure out who to vote for, I believe that there are select websites that give unbiased summaries of candidates for the ease of voting. I like how you mention that they are connected, but with anyone who is connected, they can and probably will be corrupted in one way or another. They may even regret it later on as well.

Joshua from Iowa replies to Kyle

Today's Poll:

Would a Taylor Swift presidential candidate endorsement substantially impact voter turnout?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Yesterday’s Poll:

If you had 100M Instagram followers, would you share your political views?
Yes: 38%
No: 62%

POPCORN
Some Quick Stories for Happy Hour

✌️ Johnny B. Gone: Coach John Calipari, confirming his departure from the University of Kentucky to become Arkansas’ head coach, believes the Wildcats “probably need to hear another voice”

🧇 Her service must’ve been great! A 52-year-old Oklahoma woman told police she received the Jeep she’s accused of stealing as a “birthday tip” from a former Waffle House customer

🪨 Boulder, CA? Residents of Montecito, California, a wealthy town where Oprah, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry live, have tried to block public access to hot springs by placing boulders on roadsides

👏 Perfect sponsor? NASCAR driver Joey Gase – who threw his car bumper at another car (video above) – secured a new sponsorship with Bumpers That Deliver

💀 Darth Loiterer: Scottish police clarified that an “armed” man who caused a train to return to a station was a “Star Wars” cosplayer dressed as an Imperial Stormtrooper heading to a comic convention

🎲 New Scrabble, who dis? Mattel is launching Scrabble Together, a more accessible Scrabble version for players intimidated by word games. It will include helper cards and simpler scoring

ROCA WRAP
The Cathedral Keeper

This man hopes his legacy ensures that younger generations can “read” a building.

In 1956, Malcolm Miller first laid eyes on the small town of Chartres, France. At the time, he was studying French at an English university and had selected the town for his study abroad – unaware that in doing so, he would find his life’s calling.

Chartres is dominated by its cathedral, constructed between 1194 and 1220. It’s considered one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cathedrals, a status owed greatly to the actions of an American during World War II.

As Allied forces pushed through France in 1944, they worried that the Nazis, operating an airbase near Chartres, were using the cathedral’s 300-foot towers for observation.

The Allies ordered the cathedral’s destruction, but an American officer questioned the lack of direct evidence and volunteered to go behind enemy lines with a single companion to inspect the cathedral himself. His investigation found no Nazi presence, thereby saving the cathedral.

About a decade later, Miller stumbled upon the damaged landmark.

The war's scars were evident in bomb craters nearby, Miller told Roca, and the sight of the 800-year-old structure amid signs of conflict deeply moved him.

Miller was fascinated by the cathedral's 150+ original stained glass windows and 4,000+ statues carved into its walls. Most people in medieval Europe were illiterate when the cathedral was built, he explained, and the church and its buildings were the main place of education.

The visual stories depicted in the windows and architecture comprised nearly all the history a medieval man or woman would have known, he said. Today, by contrast, everyone in France is literate – but they have no idea how to “read” a building.

Spending time in the cathedral, Miller felt his life’s calling was to preserve its history for generations to come. After a brief stint in England, he returned to Chartres in 1970 – and never left. The now-92-year-old has spent most of his days in the cathedral ever since.

Miller started giving tours of the cathedral, sharing what he had learned. Over the last 50 years, he has continued to do so twice a day, seven days a week, barring Covid and travel.

He loves teaching people how to “read” the building: Going from the bottom up, he says the idea is to follow stories depicted in stained glass windows and statues from earth to heaven. When Miller isn’t giving tours, he continues to study the building. Despite being the preeminent scholar on it today, 92-year-old Miller told Roca last week, “I am still learning about it!”

His tours have helped transform the small town into a tourist destination, attracting tens of thousands of people each year who take Miller’s tours to learn how to “read” Chartres.

While he has received many medals from Chartres, neither the city nor the church pays him. “I'm not going to get rich,” he said. “But then, if I wanted to get rich I wouldn't be doing this, would I?”

While Miller isn’t rich, he is a celebrity.

When Roca correspondent Jen Flanagan took his tour in 2022, he was stopped several times by admiring fans asking for a photo. He’s led tours for US presidents, prime ministers, ambassadors, and other notable people.

“One day I was asked to show a group who behaved like normal tourists,” he told Roca. Only later did he learn it was Henry Kissinger and friends, who had traveled to Chartres while Kissinger was in France to negotiate an end to the Vietnam War.

Miller doesn’t know how many people he’s guided, but estimates it’s in the tens of thousands. That’s earned him legions of fans.

“I was flying from Paris to Boston once and the hostesses said, ‘We were on your tour yesterday at Chartres. We are moving you up to ambassador class,’” he recalled.

This year, Chartres Cathedral is celebrating its 1,000-year jubilee. The 92-year-old hopes his life’s work will help preserve its legacy for 1,000 more.

Reply to this email to let us know what you think!

NOTE TO PREMIUM SUBS

To our most loyal readers

Based on reader feedback, our premium content — including our on-the-ground investigative reports — can now be found in our revised premium newsletter — We the 66. 66 stands for the 66% of Americans who do not trust the news media. Our goal with this newsletter is to understand why that figure is so large. We’ll feature articles, interviews, podcasts, and more that try to do so.

Yesterday we released our first interview, which featured Dr. Martin Kulldorff. Dr. Kulldorff was a Harvard biostatistician and one of the world’s leading experts on predicting pandemics – until Covid. His opposition to lockdowns and vaccine mandates got him blacklisted by Twitter, labeled "fringe" by the NIH, and, eventually, fired from Harvard. We had an extended conversation with him about his fall from grace.

We’re able to do what we do because of your support as a premium subscriber. We hope you enjoy the new and improved format, and THANK YOU for your support.

EDITOR’S NOTE
Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed the special feature on Malcolm Miller, Roca! When Jen was on a private tour with him in 2022, people kept stopping Malcolm to take their photo with him. So much so that he had to start telling his fans that he didn’t have time for photos to ensure that he could stay on schedule. What a legend.

— Max, Max, Alex and Jen