RocaNews - 🌊 End of Astronauts


December 15, 2021

Gen Z and Millennials allegedly dislike the term “diet,” so soda brands are ditching the word in favor of “zero sugar” (Coke Zero Sugar, for example). It’s only a matter of time before they completely cave to Gen Z and a Diet Coke becomes a “no cap lowkey CEO of zero sugar Coke." Big Soda gets us.

The international police organization (Interpol) is, according to critics, as sketchy as its name sounds. Today's Wrap explores some of their claims.

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Key Stories

Log Hackers

  • Since Friday, hackers have launched 1.2M+ attacks on companies around the world, all through a flaw in the same widely used software 
  • Cyber security groups have recorded more than 100 attacks per minute
  • The hackers are penetrating a glitch in open-source software called Log4J, which corporate IT departments use to record user activity. The hackers have the ability to steal data, conduct ransomware attacks, and more  
  • Experts say it may be weeks before the glitch is patched, meaning millions more companies may be exposed

“With this vulnerability, attackers gain almost unlimited power — they can extract sensitive data, upload files to the server, delete data, install ransomware or pivot to other servers,” a tech exec told the Financial Times

Harvard Prof On Trial

  • The controversial trial of a Harvard professor charged with lying about his China ties began in Boston Monday 
  • Chemistry professor Charles Lieber was a "strategic scientist" at Wuhan University of Technology, which gave him $1.5M to establish a lab in China and paid him $750k+/year to advise students and researchers
  • The arrest was part of the US' justice department's "China Initiative," which seeks to prevent the theft and transfer of sensitive IP to China
  • Lieber denies having done anything wrong, and many academics have called the trial discriminatory government overreach

Lieber's lawyer says the professor "didn't hide anything, and he didn't get paid as the government alleges." Earlier this year, a judge acquitted a professor charged under the same initiative.

No More Space Wings

  • The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is ending a program that lets all people who fly to space be considered astronauts
  • In 1984, the US government launched the Commercial Space Astronaut Wings Program to promote private space travel
  • The program gave "commercial astronaut wings" to people who reached the 50-mile (80-km) space threshold on a flight crew. Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson will receive theirs
  • The FAA reconsidered the program as commercial space travel increased. It will end the program in January, although everyone who visits space before 2022 will receive wings

Should Jeff Bezos et. al be considered astronauts? Let us know in today's poll of the day!

29% of US Adults Religion-Less


  • A new study by Pew Research found that a record 29% of Americans do not belong to a religion
  • That 29% breaks down into 20% who identify as "nothing in particular," 5% who are agnostic, and 4% who are atheist
  • In total, 63% of Americans are Christian (down from 78% in 2007), and 6% follow a non-Christian religion
  • A record-low 41% of US adults say religion is "very important" in their lives, while a record-high 33% say it is not important

Of the 6% of Americans that belong to a non-Christian faith, 1% are each Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, and Hindu. 2% belong to other faiths. Of Christians, Protestants outnumber Catholics 2:1

finger What do you think?

Today's Poll:
Should everyone who visits space by considered an astronaut?


Today's Question:
Will the decline in religion reverse? Why?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's answers below the Wrap!

popcorn Popcorn

Culture & Sports 
  • American Airlines plans to hire 18,000 new workers next year as it anticipates a huge travel rebound
  • Whole lotta wholesale inflation: Wholesale prices are up 9.6% from last November, marking the biggest 1-year increase on record
  • Uber shares surged 4%+ after its CEO announced the company had its biggest week ever across its delivery and ride-hailing businesses
  • A NASA spacecraft "touched the sun" for the first time ever, passing through the outer bounds of its atmosphere in April. The data didn’t arrive until this week
  • The organizers of the "Dash for Cash" in South Dakota have apologized. They had teachers competing for dollar bills on an ice rink
  • Exercise over meds? A new Swedish study of patients with anxiety syndrome found that regular exercise can be an effective treatment
  • The Library of Congress added Wall-E, Lord of the Rings I, and Star Wars VI  to its list of “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” films

Roca Wrap

A Newsletter Exclusive


Interpol – The International Criminal Police Organization – was created to help countries cooperate in catching criminals. Today, growing numbers of critics say the organization itself is criminal.  

Founded in 1923, Interpol is the world’s largest police organization. It aims to share information between its 194 member countries so they can catch each other’s criminals. Interpol has no agents of its own, nor can it arrest anyone. 
Interpol’s power lies in its main tool, the “red notice,” which is like an international arrest warrant. Interpol issues red notices at a member country’s request. Requests used to be rare, but over the past few years, they’ve skyrocketed. In 2001, Interpol issued fewer than 1,500 notices; last year, it issued more than 11,000.
Of the 66,000 requests Interpol has received, just 7,525 are public. Yet of those that are public, Russia accounts for 43%, and Russia, China, and Turkey collectively account for a majority. Many of those public requests are for refugees or dissidents living abroad, which has sparked concerns that Interpol is helping countries crack down on their critics.
Beyond that, Interpol has a reputation of being led by criminals. Its president from 2004-2008, a South African, was later sentenced to 15 years in jail for corruption. The president from 2016-2018, a Chinese citizen, was later sentenced to 13.5 years in jail for bribery. Its newest president, an Emirati general, faces accusations in 5 countries – including France, where Interpol’s HQ is located – of complicity in torture or abuse.
Short on cash, Interpol has been accused of trading influence for funds. In 2017, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) gave one of the biggest donations in the agency’s history; this year, an Emirati general became Interpol’s president.
Amidst the growing criticism, Interpol is trying to clean itself up. It no longer issues notices against people recognized as refugees by a member-country. The agency recently rejected almost 800 requests from Turkey to add exiled members of a group blamed for a 2016 government coup. The US recently introduced a bill to require additional checks before US police act on Interpol notices.
Supporters say Interpol has never been more important. As many as 90% of investigations into organized crime have an international dimension today, according to the agency. Despite bad press, Interpol has steered many operations that brought down fugitives engaged in human trafficking, child sex abuse, and slavery.
Interpol’s supporters hope its reforms will improve its reputation and return global trust to international policing. “If your reputation is bad, you will lose trust, and without trust you cannot have cooperation,” says Interpol’s VP of Europe. 

Without cooperation, he could add, Interpol has no reason to exist.

If you have thoughts, let us know at and don't forget to share this Wrap with family and friends by using this link here!
Future Wrap ideas or requests? Let us know here!

think Games

Rank the following objects from the lightest to the heaviest.
  1. The Stanley Cup
  2. A Peloton Bike (standard)
  3. 6 Gallons of Water
  4. A Bar of Gold
Find out the answer at the bottom of Roca Clubhouse.

wave Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Do you buy Christmas gifts out of obligation or because you actually want to? 

Actually want to: 59.8%
Obligation: 40.2%

Yesterday's Question:

Your best unique and original Christmas gift idea?

Josiah gave an outside-the-box answer: "A tiny piece of land in Scotland to officially have the title of Lord and/or Lady!"

Seth from Boise: "I once handmade my family scarves. It took me 6 months and I made around 11 of them. Now, nobody wears them."

Julia from London: "Wish people would try to be a bit more creative and thoughtful with gifts. Some of my favourite to receive (and give) have been stuff like a mix tape (well, CD) with comments on every song chosen, a book which was the giver's favourite book and had their comments in the margins (so it felt like I was reading the book WITH them), and of course, photo albums. All those gifts are super cheap but I still think about and use them years later."

General Feedback:

Elisha from West Chester, PA, said: "I am the person who said Obligation to your poll.  " unique and original gifts''... no... be happy you made my list cause that baby is getting shorter every year. (Don't expect any either). :-)"

20 Questions: 11-15

Every Friday, we ask the Roca Riders 20 questions and feature a few of our favorite answers. This week, however, we did a music-themed ratings edition and are showing an average of your responses.

11. Katy Perry

12. Bruce Springsteen

13. Fancy Like (Applebee's song)

14. Olivia Rodrigo

15. Olivia Rodrigo after you drink 3 white claws
Games Answer(s):
Lightest to heaviest: Bar of gold (27 lbs.), Stanley Cup (35 lbs.), 6 gallons of water (50 lbs.), Peloton (135 lbs.)

Final Thoughts 

We measure the seasons by where the sun is when we start writing this newsletter. In the summer, it's high in the sky: On a good day, we may even put this to bed with time left to work on our tans.

Yesterday, not so much. The sun set before we even picked 2 of our 4 main stories. We are growing as pale as the snow that surrounds us. 

But don't fear for us, because our moods are dictated by the weather in Brazil, where the Pororoca wave we are named after comes from. Like there, our heads are perpetually 77, sunny, and full of nice breezes.

Enjoy your hump days, everyone. Hopefully you catch some sun!

-Max and Max

wave Today's Wrap is on pandas. Need we say more?
Thanks for reading! See you again soon!
As always, send thoughts and feedback to
Written by Max Frost and Max Towey | Graphics by Billy Carney

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