RocaNews - 🌊 Not So Free-lancers


January 3, 2022

Happy 2022! We have a huge year ahead with the World Cup, US midterms, Winter Olympics, and digital-avatar ABBA concerts (you are the dancing screen!). If the last few years have taught us anything, it's to expect the unexpected. Let's make it a great one!

Aaanndd we're back with another Wrap! Today's is about what appears to be the UK's most expensive divorce settlement ever: Can someone say, "$333M for living costs!"

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Key Stories


This is R̶u̶b̶b̶i̶s̶h̶ "Safe Waste"

  • This weekend, after a year-long debate over the environmental-friendliness of different energy sources, the EU announced draft rules that label some nuclear and natural gas plants as "green"
  • Nuclear plants that include safe waste disposal and low-emission natural gas plants are "green" and can receive extra funding and tax benefits, per the draft
  • Also this weekend, Denmark's PM announced a national goal of carbon-free domestic flight by 2030
  • The goal will need tech development to accelerate: Leading airliner manufacturer Airbus previously said it hopes to launch hydrogen-fueled jets by 2035

In other European environmental news, Germany closed 3 of its 6 remaining nuclear power plants, with the rest to close later this year. Germany accelerated a nuclear phase-out after Japan's 2011 Fukushima meltdown. 

South African Parliament Burns

  • A fire burned through South Africa's parliament for over 9 hours on Sunday, destroying much of the parliamentary complex
  • The country's president called it a "terrible setback" for the nation and said the sprinkler system didn't work properly. A suspect has been arrested for arson, trespassing, and theft
  • Among the badly damaged buildings were some of parliament's oldest and most important, including the main debating chamber  
  • The fire took place in Cape Town, one of South Africa's 3 capitals. There are separate capitals for the executive, legislative, and justice systems

The fire marked the "destruction of the home of our democracy," the president said. It was the second fire at the parliament within a year.

Freelancers to Face Taxes


  • Many US freelancers and businesses that accept payment via digital payment services will face higher tax bills due to a new law that took effect on Jan 1
  • The law requires payment services companies, such as PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App, to report all accountholders who earn $600+. It will also impact Etsy, Amazon, and eBay sellers
  • Formerly, people had to report income from digital payments to the IRS themselves; many didn't do so. Companies will now file reports, forcing accountholders to pay taxes
  • The companies will add forms during the payment process to identify accounts that receive income rather than personal transfers

The move will likely impact many of the 30M contractors and small businesses that use the services for convenient fee-free payments.

Wage Hikes Take Effect

  • A record 56 US states, counties, and cities raised minimum wages on Jan 1. 26 others will do so later this year
  • By late 2022, the minimum wage will be $15+ for many employers in 49 jurisdictions. Some places require higher minimum wages for larger employers
  • 2 states – New York and California – now have $15 statewide minimum wages. In California, that applies to companies with 26+ workers; in New York, it applies to fast-food workers across the state and all workers in the NYC/downstate area
  • In 20 states, the minimum wage remains at the federal $7.25 level

The Seattle area and California's Bay Area have the highest minimum wages in the country, with many above $17. SeaTac, an area near Seattle, has the highest: $17.54.

finger What do you think?

Today's Poll:
Is WWE wrestling real or acting?
Totally Real
Obviously Acting

Today's Question:
What's a book that everyone should read this year? Why?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's answers below the Wrap!

popcorn Popcorn

Culture & Sports 
  • NFL star wide receiver Antonio Brown stormed off the field in the middle of his game, throwing away his jersey and pads. He is now off the team
  • Nicolas Cage said he will "risk sounding like a pretentious a-hole" to explain he prefers being called a "thespian" to an "actor," a term he loathes
  • The Chicago Bulls' DeMar DeRozan made history by hitting not 1... but 2 buzzer-beaters within 24 hours
  • A sad day for TV: The "Impractical Jokers" is losing Joe Gatto, who announced he's leaving the show as he separates from his wife
  • Zoom Street: Goldman Sachs asked US employees to work from home until January 18 due to the spread of omicron
  • RadioShack is rebranding as a cryptocurrency exchange company. The retailer filed for bankruptcy in 2015
  • Marjorie Taylor Gone: Twitter banned the personal account of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for its "repeated violations" of its Covid misinformation policy

  • A seemingly drunk Andy Cohen tore into outgoing NYC mayor Bill de Blasio, saying "what a horrible mayor he is" and "sayonara, sucker!"
  • California is requiring health insurers to cover at-home tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) due to its growing STI epidemic
  • New Mexico rescue crews saved 21 people who were stranded overnight in tram cars in the mountains overlooking Albuquerque

Roca Wrap

A Newsletter Exclusive

$333M for living costs, $18M for jewelry, $15M a year in maintenance, $4M for education, a lifetime of security costs: Talk about an expensive divorce!

Those are a sample of what an English court just ordered Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed to pay his ex-wife, Princess Haya. In the judge’s words, the case shed light on “a truly opulent and unprecedented standard of living.” In total, Sheikh Mohammed owes $735M – apparently the largest divorce settlement in British history, but less than 50% of the $1.9B Haya initially asked for.

Sheikh Mohammad rules Dubai, one of the 7 emirates that make up the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE). He’s also the UAE’s vice president, minister of defense, and prime minister. Emirati royalty, he is one of the world’s richest people and public officials. 

He owes the money to Princess Haya, his sixth wife, whom he divorced in 2019. Haya was the daughter of Jordan’s former king and is the sister of its current one. Documents show the sheikh provided Haya with an annual $110M household budget, in addition to a $12M annual allowance for their 2 kids.  

Things did not end amicably between the couple: Haya had an affair with a bodyguard who was a former British soldier. She paid her lover $7.5M to keep quiet, however the secret leaked anyways. 

The sheikh reportedly considered Haya’s unfaithfulness a capital offense, and she was soon being blackmailed. Her and her lawyers’ phones were infected with spyware that monitored everything happening on them. Amid this, she fled to the UK with her 2 children. 

That set off a 2-year-long legal battle that pitted the royals against each other. The lawyer representing Haya had advised Prince Charles during his 1996 divorce from Princess Diana. Among many celebrities, the sheikh’s lawyer had represented Guy Ritchie in his divorce from Madonna.

Of the $735M the sheikh must pay Haya, millions will go toward her security. The judge called the situation “absolutely unique”: “The main threat they face is from [the sheikh] himself not from outside sources.” The judge added that the sheikh has the “full weight of the state” at his disposal.

The remaining funds will go toward making sure Haya’s family can continue living like royalty. The judge ordered the sheikh to pay $1.9M for a new kitchen (including a pizza oven), $500k for vacation meals, $368k for horses, $18M for jewelry, $2.4M for private jet expenses, $51k for trampolines, $1.4M for leisure.

The judge said his goal was for the family to “have a lifestyle that is not entirely out of kilter with that enjoyed by them in Dubai.” But is all that money anything compared to a love lost?
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!

think Games

First Game of 2022: Which one of the below actors is not from Canada?
  1. Ryan Reynolds
  2. Keanu Reeves
  3. Ryan Gosling
  4. Paul Rudd
  5. Rachel McAdams
Find out the answer at the bottom of Roca Clubhouse.

wave Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Will you pick a New Year's Resolution this year? 

Yes: 31.4%
No: 68.6%

Yesterday's Question:

What is an example of a company that has a positive impact on the world?

Tracey from Denver: "Natural Grocers. The company is family owned and focuses on 100% organic produce and humanely raised and/or wild caught animal products. Practice what they preach."

Will from Michigan: "TenTree - they literally plant ten trees for every item they sell and their clothes themselves are made from environmentally friendly products. And they're incredibly comfy."

Unsurprisingly, we had several anonymous Florida respondents say "Publix."

General Feedback:

Chris from Florida: "I was not expecting to close out this year with a picture of four great butts, but as always, my Roca newsletter was there to deliver the goods. You all are doing such incredible work. Keep it up and also please release some Roca speedo's so we can literally ride the wave."

Mark wrote: "I want to say Thanks for giving the news without editorial, spin, or any subjectivity. I like the format with quick cards and bullet points. The Wraps are a deeper dive and are often great. You’re the 3rd or 4th news outlet I’ve tried this year and the only one to live up to my hopes for no BS, just a report on the happenings around the US and world."

20 Questions

Every Friday, we ask the Roca Riders 20 questions and feature a few of our favorite answers. This past week, however, we did not do a 20 Questions.
Games Answer(s):
4. Paul Rudd (Born in New Jersey and spent teen years in Kansas)

Final Thoughts 

Last week, we wrote our Roca highlights of 2021. Well here's one for 2022: On Saturday, one of the Maxes was at a bar in Dallas wearing his Roca hoodie. Someone at the bar asked him his connection to Roca, saying that he reads the Current and our IG page daily. When Max said he was a founder, the person said "Are you one of the Maxes?"

The bad news? The guy said he had never submitted his answers to 20 Questions, although he said he will now. We're keeping our eyes peeled, Johnny...

We hope everyone had a fantastic time bringing in the New Year. We've got high hopes for 2022!

-Max & Max

wave Today's Instagram Wrap is on Buddha Boy, at times believed to be a reincarnated Buddha; at times believed to be a serial killer. 
Thanks for reading! See you again tomorrow!
As always, send thoughts and feedback to
Written by Max Frost and Max Towey | Graphics by Billy Carney

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