RocaNews - 🌊 Roca in the Jungle

July 18, 2022

Happy birthday to an American hero: Vin Diesel. With quotes like "I don't feel like I'm under arrest" and "I don't have friends, I have family," Vin Diesel is living proof that art is not dead. His magnum opus, the Fast & Furious franchise, affirms that — right after cars and crime — family is life. 

In today's edition:

  • Europe is hot, hot, HOT!
  • No Bee-S insect IQ
  • Roca in the Amazon
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 Key Stories

Study: Why Men Die Younger

US and Japanese researchers have determined that a common genetic defect in men explains why men die an average of 5 years earlier than women

  • Per the study, a mutation of the Y chromosome, which is only present in men and determines sex at conception, increases the risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease in men. It is the most common mutation in humans, prevalent in 40% of men 70+
  • The mutation causes a loss of the Y chromosome in white blood cells, impeding the immune system. The researchers said this explains 75% of the difference in life expectancy for those older than 60

"Golden Passport" EU Scandal

4 officials in Cyprus are facing charges for allegedly selling EU passports to non-EU individuals

  • The “Golden Passport” scandal began in 2020 with the discovery of a plot in Cyprus, an EU island nation, to sell passports to Chinese businessmen. Reports found senior government officials, including a former president of Cyprus’ parliament, gave passports to Chinese men in exchange for cash investments
  • EU passports prove EU citizenship and let people live and travel in the EU. It is illegal to buy and sell them
  • Similar passport schemes have been exposed in the EU nations of Malta and Bulgaria
Dig Deeper
  • Starting in 2008, officials in Cyprus granted 6,779 passports to investors and their families in exchange for ~$8B (€8B) in investments. In 2021, Cyprus began the procedure of stripping citizenship from ~39 foreign nationals

Record Heat Wave Hitting Europe

A record-breaking heat wave is affecting parts of Europe, causing severe droughts and wildfires

  • Over the past week, a heat wave swept through Spain and Portugal, causing wildfires and an estimated 659 heat-related deaths in Portugal. Italy is also experiencing one of its worst droughts in years
  • The heat wave is now projected to affect portions of northern France and the UK, where temperatures are forecast to exceed 100°F (38ºC) on Monday and Tuesday and reach a record 104°F (40°C) on Wed.
  • The UK, where fewer than 5% of houses have air conditioning, declared a national heat emergency

Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitive Arrested

Mexican officials captured a cartel kingpin infamous for the 1985 torture and murder of a US official

  • Rafael Caro Quintero led Mexico’s Guadalajara cartel in the 1980s. The US put a record $20M bounty on him after he ordered the killing of “Kiki” Camarena, a US Drug Enforcement Agency agent, in 1985. Since 2018, he has been on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list
  • Quintero spent 28 years in Mexican jail for the killing, before a judge released him. He then disappeared
  • Quintero, age 69, now faces deportation to the US to stand trial for the 1985 killing. The arrest came 3 days after President Biden met with Mexico’s president
Dig Deeper
  • In 2018, Mexican President Lopez Obrador took office pledging to de-escalate the drug war by taking a less confrontational approach toward the cartels. The operation to capture Quintero, which many believe was prompted by President Biden's visit, resulted in the deaths of 14 military officials after a Black Hawk helicopter crashed for undisclosed reasons
popcorn Popcorn
  • O Rory, where art thou? Rory McIlroy lost a 54-hole lead at the Open Championship, ending in his 9th top-5 finish since his last major win
  • Talladega frights: The suspect in the fatal stabbing of NASCAR driver Bobby East at a gas station was killed in a police shootout 2 days later
  • Here comes Ron! Florida governor Ron DeSantis has out-fundraised former President Trump $45M to $36M so far this year

  • Taste the lawsuit: A consumer group is suing candy-maker Mars for including a toxin in Skittles that makes it "unfit for consumption"
  • Ferris London's day off: Londoners are being urged to not travel but for "essential journeys" on Monday or Tuesday due to extreme heat
  • Bee+ students: Scientists claim to have evidence that bees may have some level of conscious awareness. They say bees are smart

finger What do you think?

Today's Poll:
Do people have a responsibility to have non-odorous breath?


Today's Question:

What is your all-time favorite board game? Sore loser stories welcome...

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap!

 Roca Wrap

In June, Roca co-founder Max Frost spent 3 weeks crossing the Amazon by boat. He's documenting it here over the coming weeks. 

It’s wildly expensive to fly right now – which is why I ended up spending 3 weeks in the Amazon.

For those who are new to Roca, we’ve done 3 Roca Roadtrip series. Because most news companies fearmonger and try to scare people into staying at home, I visit off-the-beaten-path countries and document my experiences in them. In the last year, these trips have taken me to Ukraine, Guatemala, and Ukraine again (during the war). 

This time, I wanted to visit Pakistan – but plane tickets cost nearly $2,000. I returned to a map of flight prices and scanned it: India – $1,700. Vietnam – $2,100. Guyana – $140. Peru – $210. 

Peru is on the Pacific coast of South America; Guyana is on the Atlantic. Between the countries stretches 2,000+ miles of the Amazon rainforest. I wanted to travel between the countries without flying.  

I did some research and found that it would be possible – but wouldn’t be easy or quick.

Guyana is the least-visited country in South America, and the US government warns its citizens about traveling there because of crime. Nearly the entire country is untouched rainforest; a single dirt road connects the capital to the border with Brazil.

The part of Brazil I’d have to cross through has few roads, and transportation is almost entirely by boat. The US government also tells its citizens “do not travel” along much of the route because of organized crime. 

In Peru – a country almost as large as Alaska – I’d have to boat hundreds of miles through the rainforest and travel by car over the Andes, some of the world’s tallest mountains. 

There are some cities in the Amazon, but most have no roads connecting them. Most travel is by boat – including on cargo ships that take days to cover short distances and leave whenever full. Missing a boat can mean a days-long wait in an Amazonian town. 

As the itinerary took shape, I decided to travel from west to east – Peru to Guyana – because that’s the direction the Amazon runs. Traveling against the current takes twice as long and can cost twice as much. 

In late May, I pitched the trip to my Roca partners. I bought the tickets a week later; I’d leave 2 weeks after that. 

I spent the next 10 days prepping my health. I needed 3 vaccines – hepatitis and typhoid (which come from food and water), and yellow fever (a potentially fatal mosquito-borne illness). A doctor prescribed pills for malaria, diarrhea, and altitude sickness. I bought a hammock with a bug net, heavy-duty bug spray, and clothes for 90%+ humidity. 


I’ve lived abroad and visited a lot of countries, and traveling doesn’t stress me out. But this felt different: I didn’t know anything about the Amazon, or know anyone who had gone to the places I’d be going. News articles and government advisories started to worry me. Just because I could do the trip, did that mean I should? 

A week before I left, I saw a headline in the Wall Street Journal: A British journalist and a Brazilian activist had disappeared in the Amazon. They were last seen in a town a few miles from my planned itinerary. Days later, their bodies were found in the forest. Police said they were murdered by illegal fishermen. 

A lot of people sent me the story and it scared me a bit, but I thought their situation was totally different from mine. I also didn’t plan to visit where they were. 

On June 15, I boarded a flight to Peru with a single backpack. The only thing I had booked was a return flight from Guyana to New York City on July 4. Hotels, buses, boats: I’d figure it all out as I went. 

I’ll be writing about the adventure here over the next 2 weeks. Hope you all enjoy!

If you have thoughts, let us know at!
Future Wrap ideas or requests? Let us know!

 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Which word looks more misspelled?
Bellwether: 74.3%
Heinous: 25.7%

Yesterday's Question:

Just 20 Questions! 
New Treasure Hunt begins tomorrow. Stay tuned and good luck.
Last Week's Treasure Hunt
Last week’s Treasure Hunt Location was Biograph Theater or "Victory Gardens Theater" at 2433 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL. It is from the movie Public Enemies.

Clue Explanation: 

Day 1: A melodrama, no where near the Empire State
Explanation: John Dillinger was shot outside the Biograph Theatre in Chicago after seeing the crime drama Manhattan Melodrama. Poetic justice?

Day 2: From Romania, without love. -snitch
Explanation: Ana Cumpanas, aka Anna Sage, was a Romanian prostitute who assisted the FBI in tracking down John Dillinger. She was with him in the movie when he was shot

Day 3: American Psycho  Pirates
Explanation: Christian Bale (Patrick Bateman in American Psycho and Johnny Depp (Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean) are main characters in Public Enemies

Day 3 Bonus: #1
Explanation: John Dillinger was public enemy #1 in the movie

Day 4: A Miles Davis recording and a parting thought
Explanation: Miles Davis has a recording called "bye, bye, blackbird" which were also John Dillinger’s last words that were relayed to Billie in the movie


And big congratulations to last week's winners Cindy from Toronto, Aaron from New Mexico, and Mary from Wyoming, who took home $250, $100, and $100 respectively.

 Final Thoughts

We hope everyone had great weekends. We're excited to bring you this new Roca Roadtrip series, and hope you enjoy it and learn something new.

As always, please send us your thoughts/questions/concerns. We love hearing from you all and want to make sure we are delivering the most enjoyable and honest news possible!

- Max and Max

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