RocaNews - 🌊 Build Back Later


December 17, 2021

Happy Friday. The Weather Channel is taking ~heat~ for airing reruns during last Friday's tornadoes. Instead of providing live updates on the storms, they broadcast old episodes of "Could You Survive? with Creek Stewart." Cause what else would you want from the Weather Channel during a tornado?

Tomorrow is the 1-year anniversary of our first-ever 20 Questions. We got 2 responses. Now, we get too many to count — let's set a record today!

Sign up for the Roca Current →

Key Stories


US Blacklists Dozens of Companies


  • The US blacklisted dozens of Chinese companies, preventing Americans and US companies from investing and transferring technology to them
  • The US accuses Chinese companies of using American resources for military development, repressing minorities, and controlling the population
  • Blacklisted companies include DJI, the world's largest commercial drone company, and others accused of facilitating surveillance
  • The US also accused China of trying to develop "brain-control weaponry," without providing further details

Besides surveillance, one sector that came under scrutiny is biotechnology. A US official said the Chinese government seeks to use tactics such as DNA collection "to exercise large scale repressive social control.”

Haitian Hostages Returned

  • A Haitian gang released the last 12 of the 17 US and Canadian hostages it took in October
  • The hostages consisted of 12 missionaries and 5 children, and the gang had demanded a $1M-per-person ransom for their release
  • It's unknown whether any ransom was paid. 5 of the 17 hostages had been released in recent weeks
  • Over half of Haiti is under the control of an estimated 200 gangs. The country is the poorest in the Americas

We did a Wrap on the gang responsible, the 400 Mawozo. Check it out here

Reddit to IPO

  • Reddit announced that it has filed to go public (IPO)
  • Reddit's value has soared since 2020, when it was valued at $3B. In February, at the peak of the meme stock frenzy, it was valued at $6B. In August, it hit $10B
  • Reuters reports the company is now seeking a $15B+ valuation
  • Reddit, founded in 2005, has 52M daily users. It is losing money, however it reported $100M in revenue in the second quarter of 2021, and triple what it made during the same period last year

For context, Twitter has 211M daily users and is valued at $35B; Facebook has about 2B and is worth nearly $1T.

Build Back 2022

  • The Biden admin's signature Build Back Better social spending plan is unlikely to pass this year, as the president had hoped
  • The bill's $1.75T+ in spending would be the biggest expansion to the US welfare system since the New Deal in the 1930s
  • Passing the bill requires all 50 Senate Democrats' support. Some, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia in particular, objected to the bill, especially as inflation increased
  • The Democrats' goal had been to pass the bill in 2021. That's unlikely now, though, and it may be harder to pass in 2022, an election year

President Biden spoke with Sen. Manchin at least twice this week, hoping he could secure his vote and seal the deal. That didn't happen, though, and the negotiations will continue into the new year.

finger What do you think?

Today's Poll:
Better superhero: Batman or Spiderman?

Today's Question:
Just 20 Qs!

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's answers below 20Q!

 Popcorn Popcorn

Culture & Sports 
  • Barack and Michelle Obama remained atop YouGov's "Most Admired" list. Chinese president Xi Jinping came in 3rd
  • ABC comedy series "The Goldbergs" is losing star actor Jeff Goldberg after multiple misconduct allegations about his on-set behavior
  • Adele is setting records for pre-sale ticket sales for her upcoming "Weekends with Adele" residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas
  • "She chose fraud over business failure." The prosecutor in the Elizabeth Holmes case made his final argument as the case heads to the jury
  • E-potle? Chipotle announced that it will be opening its first digital-only kitchen in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio! There will be no dining room
  • Hobby Lobby became the latest retailer to increase its minimum wage, boosting it from $17/hr to $18.50/hr
  • We finally got one! The first true millipede has been discovered in Australia, counting a total of 1,306 legs (no other has over 1,000)
  • Of mice and poison: California officials are considering the idea of dropping poison on a mouse-infested island to control their population
  • Finally... water! Scientists recently spotted water ice under the "Grand Canyon" of Mars, or so they think
  • A Connecticut mom is crediting her dog with saving the life of her baby daughter. The dog woke the mom up when the baby suddenly stopped breathing
Missed a Wrap this week? We've got you covered! Find them here

Roca 20 Questions!


On Friday, December 18, 2020, we included 20 questions with this message: 

"Enough from us. We want to hear from YOU, and to that end, we've got a list of 20 questions that we want your responses on. Send us your answers on 1, 2, 10, or all 20 of them, and we will (anonymously) include highlights in next week's newsletters. If you want to respond but don’t want your answers published, that’s ok too."
2 people responded. 

At the time, we had around 900 readers. Throughout 2021, there have been times that we've picked up that many subscribers within hours. It's been an exciting year. 

So without further ado, we will ask this week's 20 questions. We can't wait to read them and talk to you all. Thank you for supporting this wave. Let's ride! 

Send replies to!

1. Describe your favorite restaurant

2. What’s your favorite city you’ve visited?

3. Describe the worst date you ever went on

4. Most embarrassing thing that's happened to you at work?

5. Time you looked coolest at work?

6. How would you define "news"?

7. How about "internet"? 

8. Your favorite Roca Wrap?

9. A topic we should wrap?

10. One word to describe how you feel about the metaverse

11. Sport you wish you were better at?

12. Best wedding dance song?

13. Your favorite song with non-English lyrics?

14. Best Christmas song?

15. Favorite TV show right now?

16. Most versatile condiment?

17. Do you prefer to insert, tap, or swipe your credit card?

18. Do you support college athletes getting paid from NIL deals?

19. Actor you'd most want to have dinner with?

20. Actress you'd most want to have dinner with?

Send your answers to! Have a great weekend!

think Games

Unscramble the names of these famous Disney movies. We are telling our good friend Elsa if you get any wrong.
Find out the answer(s) at the bottom of Roca Clubhouse.

wave Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Better winter treat: Hot chocolate or Christmas cookies? 

Christmas cookies: 55.6%
Hot chocolate: 44.4%

Yesterday's Question:

How do you feel about jury duty? Idea for a better system?

Brandon from Chicago: "I believe the jury duty random draw is a great thing. Although it takes time away from work, it's a good way to make sure that nobody is involved with the person in question and has a bias toward the person, at least on a personal level."

Mike from Wisconsin: "Replace juries with coin flip(s).  Best 3 out of 5 wins the case.  Chances of justice actually prevailing would improve....."

Maggie from Los Angeles: "Everyone is guilty"

General Feedback:

Sarah from Wichita: "What a horrible story about poor Medina Spirit. 3 years old is so young for a horse to die, especially considering their average lifespan is 25-30 years! I’ve never been a fan of horse racing, and this Wrapped just solidifies my distaste for it. 700 to 800 horse deaths every racing season? That’s INSANE. Such noble creatures, to die so senselessly for human’s entertainment and greed."

Marni from Connecticut: "When there’s money involved and humans are profiting, animal welfare takes a backseat whether it’s horse racing, dog breeding, circuses, or the horrific meat/dairy industry."

Larry writes: "I really enjoy your stuff thank you and happy holidays!"
Games Answer(s):
1) The Lion King 2) Hercules 3) The Emperor's New Groove 4) Spirited Away

Final Thoughts 

Whether this week has felt long or short to you, it doesn't matter now: It's Friday, and that means it's time to get funky.

For us, getting funky means sitting alone in our dark bedrooms while we sip Busch Light and read your 20 Qs responses under the spinning light of a disco ball. 

For those of you that ascribe a different meaning to getting funky, enjoy the weekend, rest up, and do something fun(ky). See you all on Monday.

-Max and Max
Thanks for reading! Enjoy the weekend!
As always, send thoughts and feedback to
Written by Max Frost and Max Towey | Graphics by Billy Carney

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