🌊 World’s Oldest Convict

Free plane Wi-Fi?, World Cup final ratings, and leech medicine

We went back and forth between these 2 stories for the intro today: 1) Elon Musk announcing he will step down as Twitter CEO; and 2) Today being the Winter Solstice, aka the shortest day of the year. Instead, we will compromise. This intro will be about one thing and one thing only: On this day in 2007, National Treasure 2 hit theaters. Have a great day.

In today's edition:

  • Free Wi-Fi on planes?!

  • World Cup final ratings

  • Leech medicine

🔑 Key Stories

SCOTUS Extends Title 42

The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) extended a border security policy 2 days before it was set to expire

  • Then-President Trump instituted “Title 42,” a policy that let the US more easily expel undocumented migrants seeking asylum, in March 2020. President Biden rolled it back this April, then re-implemented it in September, after migrant arrivals hit an all-time high

  • Last month, a judge ruled the policy must end by December 21. In recent days, migrant arrivals have surged and border officials have warned of a migrant crisis

  • On Monday night, SCOTUS temporarily extended Title 42 at the request of Republican officials in 19 states

Dig Deeper

97-Year-Old Convicted Over Holocaust

A German court convicted a 97-year-old ex-secretary of a Nazi camp as being an accessory to ~10k murders

  • The German woman, Irmgard Furchner, worked as a secretary at a Nazi concentration camp. Historians believe 60k+ died in the camp

  • Prosecutors argued there was sufficient evidence she knew of the killings and that her work “assured the smooth running of the camp.” She received a 2-year jail sentence but will likely not serve the time

  • Furchner was 18/19 at the time, and therefore was tried in juvenile court. She is one of several people charged for their “indirect” role in the Holocaust

Dig Deeper

  • Since 2011, 5 others — all in their 90s or older — have been convicted of crimes related to their roles in the Holocaust. Prior to this, the most recent was of a 101-year old former concentration camp guard who was sentenced to 5 years in jail for assisting in the murder of 3,500 people

Airlines Move to Free WiFi

Per the WSJ, Delta Air Lines is planning to make in-flight WiFi free for many planes by early 2023

  • Delta is the latest US airline to do so: JetBlue already offers free WiFi, and Hawaiian Airlines says it will soon on some flights. Southwest and American have been testing free WiFi options. Many airlines already offer free entertainment and messaging, and WiFi for charges of $5-$20

  • Most in-flight WiFi uses antennas to pick up signals from cell towers on the ground, then distributes the connection to passengers, like a hotspot. Some companies use or are moving toward satellite-based internet

Dig Deeper

Iranian Protesters Tipping Turbans

Viral videos show Iranian anti-regime protesters knocking clerics’ turbans off their heads

  • Islamic officials took power in Iran during a 1979 revolution and have ruled it since. The country’s “Supreme Leader” is by law an Islamic cleric, and the government answers to Islamic officials

  • Iran’s Islamic laws require women to dress modestly and wear head coverings, among other things

  • Iran is currently experiencing its largest anti-government protests in years. As part of these, videos have gone viral of young protesters tipping clerics’ turbans off their heads

Dig Deeper

  • The protests started in September, when an Iranian woman died in police custody after being arrested for improperly wearing her headscarf

Holiday Travel? Don't Forget Faye

Sponsored by Faye

If you're traveling for the holidays, make sure Faye is on board

  • Faye is custom travel insurance. On their website, it takes less than a minute to get a custom quote covering all aspects of your trip. You can even file claims digitally in the Faye app for fast reimbursement

  • It's all covered: whether your plans change before leaving or you experience in-trip hiccups like medical emergencies, lost luggage or flight delays, Faye takes care of travelers with real-time, 24/7 customer support

  • Plus, the easy-to-use app provides flight alerts, weather updates, COVID-19 destination info, and more

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Oh, shell no! An elderly man with a WWI artillery shell lodged in his rectum caused an evacuation at a French hospital when he sought help to remove it

  • Messi effect: The World Cup final between France and Argentina averaged 25.8M viewers in the US, setting a new record for a men's soccer match

  • Mr. Zelensky goes to Washington: Ukraine's President Zelensky will reportedly visit the US Capitol today, marking the first time he's left his country since February

Wildcard

  • Innocent until proven gill-ty: A shark killed a 60-year-old woman in Hawaii, authorities say. She and her husband encountered the "aggressive" shark while snorkeling

  • Jingle bell block: The Philadelphia Eagles' offensive line channeled their passion for singing in the locker room into a Christmas album they will release on 12/23

  • Saving the day in style: Italian police drove a custom-made Lamborghini to deliver kidneys to transplant patients who live hundreds of miles apart

  • So-long Musk: Elon Musk tweeted, “I will resign as [Twitter] CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job! After that, I will just run the software & servers teams”

👇 What do you think?

Today's Poll

Better seasonal flavor?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Today's Question:

What’s the location that feels the most festive to you during the Holidays?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

Carl Peters-Bond has an unusual job: He is a leech breeder.

And he’s one of the world’s best.

Peters-Bond is the mayor of a small village in Wales, part of the United Kingdom. Since he was 17, though, his day job has been breeding leeches. That’s the age at which he joined BioPharm, a leech production company that he now manages.

Now 43, Peters-Bond is responsible for breeding ~100,000 leeches at a time. BioPharm exports the leeches to medical facilities all over the world.

Peters-Bond is the only leech farmer in the entire UK, and just one of 2 FDA-registered leech farmers in the world, meaning his leeches can be used in US hospitals. BioPharm – responsible for 70% of leeches used in healthcare worldwide – holds a near monopoly on the leech trade.

Leeches have been used in healthcare since at least the 19th century. Back then, many believed that illnesses resulted from an imbalance of bodily fluids, called “humours.” People would bloodlet, or drain blood, to cure their illnesses.

Leeches – blood-eating invertebrate animals with suckers on both ends – served that purpose, so doctors would place them on patients and let them go to work.

In the mid 1800s, the popularity of the practice swept across Europe in what is known as “leech-mania.” Leeches were used to treat nearly all ailments, from colds to dysentery. During this time, France imported more than 33M leeches per year, and Britain used around 42M each year. Leech collectors would hunt leeches in marshes – often using their own blood as bait – and sell their catch to doctors for “a penny a pinch.”

As medicine improved, however, leeches and bloodletting fell out of favor. People found them gross and preferred modern medicine.

But in the last 50 years, leech therapy has been making a comeback, especially in tissue or limb reattachment procedures. That’s because leeches are still a highly effective means to prevent blood clots.

Leeches’ saliva contains an enzyme that prevents their host from forming a blood clot, so that they can feast on blood more easily. Preventing blood clots can make the difference between a successful surgery or a lost limb.

To cater to those practices, Peters-Bond breeds leeches at BioPharm. He sources them from around the world and raises them for 2 years, at which point they’re packaged in gel and sent to hospitals. Leeches are classified as single-use medical devices, meaning once they have fed on one patient, they’re thrown out.

During his tenure at the company, Peters-Bond estimates his leeches have saved thousands of limbs, including in the infamous case of John Wayne Bobbitt, a man whose penis was surgically reattached after his girlfriend allegedly cut it off.

“Apparently from the news and the feedback we had, they said that they had sent leeches down to the hospital that John Wayne Bobbitt was at so they were definitely on stand-by if not used,” Peters-Bond told Wales Online.

There’s still a stigma around using leeches for medicine, but Peters-Bond hopes people can see beyond the creatures’ bloodsucking and realize how valuable they are.

Even if others don’t, though, Peters-Bond can take solace in knowing that John Wayne Babbit probably does.

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

🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

I prefer falling asleep to...Silence 🤫 : 77.58%TV 📺: 22.42%

Yesterday's Question:

How do you pay it forward during the Holiday season?

Kim from New Hampshire: “Meals on Wheels organizes a program called Santa for Seniors where people can sign up to buy gifts for elderly in the area that have no family. Every year I shop for my "Christmas grandparents." It feels extra nostalgic & heart warming because my grandparents passed away awhile ago; and their wish lists are so small, I always buy everything on it plus some!”

Luiza from São Paulo: “We have a program organized by the Postal Services here in Brazil where kids send letters to Santa, you can adopt a letter, buy the gift and the Postal Service will send it for free to that child. I have been sending gifts for the past five years, and every time I hope the child is happy getting exactly what they asked for Santa”

Mary from New Mexico: “I tip as well as I can afford--usually 30% or more--because I am grateful to have services provided by people working during the holidays.”

🧠 Final Thoughts

Is there an animal with a more unfairly deserved bad rep than the leech? Maybe sharks?

At Roca HQ, we are all starting to head our separate ways for the holidays. We'll be working remote, though, keeping these newsletters coming. We hope you'll enjoy the 6 we have left in 2022.

Have a great Wednesday!

-Max and Max