Good morning. Was it tough to get out of bed today? Perhaps you can relate to a Missouri shopper who was found asleep on a display bed by a mattress store employee early one morning – she told police she was testing the mattress the night before and fell asleep.
Housekeeping note: A big thank you to everyone who filled out our 2020 survey. Winners of the giveaway will be notified via email later today and featured in tomorrow’s DONUT.
“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
– Sylvia Path
The Week at a Glance
Monday: Harvey Weinstein trial begins
Tuesday: CES kicks off in Vegas, House returns to session
Wednesday: Russia’s Putin meets Turkey’s Erdoğan
Friday:U.S. December jobs report released
Expected this week: Former Nissan exec & fugitive Carlos Ghosn addresses the media
Australia Is On Fire
At least 24 people have been killed and more than 1,200 homes destroyed as nearly 200 fires continue to burn across Australia in the states of New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria. A recent statement by an ecologist at the University of Sydney estimated that about 480 million animals have also been killed in the devastating bushfires.
How does this compare to other recent fires? Since September, an estimated six million hectares have burned across Australia as a result of the wildfires, an area approximately the size of West Virginia. For comparison, the 2018 California wildfire season – the deadliest and most destructive in state history – burned over 765,000 hectares of land (roughly the size of Delaware), while the 2019 Amazon rainforest wildfires torched over 906,000 hectares (roughly the size of Yellowstone National Park).
Where do we go from here? On Saturday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called on an additional 3,000 members of the Australian Defense Force Reserve to help fight the fires. PM Morrison also deployed three Royal Australian Navy ships to assist in the evacuation of fire-affected areas, and postponed official visits to India and Japan scheduled for later this month in order to oversee the recovery effort.
So… what are people saying?
Australian politics has to change forever when your own citizens cannot sleep or breathe
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U.S. & Iran
The Iranian government on Sunday released a statement saying the country’s nuclear program will no longer abide by any operational restrictions imposed by the JCPA nuclear deal Iran signed with six other nations in 2015. In May 2018, the U.S. announced it would withdraw from the JCPA and reinstate sanctions on Iran, and in July 2019, Iran announced it had breached the limit set on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
In an emergency session on Sunday, Iraq’s parliament voted to expel thousands of U.S. troops currently stationed in the country. The vote is nonbinding, meaning the measure needs the approval of the other branches of the Iraqi government before it becomes official (on Friday, U.S. defense officials deployed approximately 3,000 troops to the Middle East).
The U.S. Africa Command is blaming al Shabaab – al Qaeda’s outpost in Africa – for an attack on a military base in Kenya on Sunday that killed one U.S. service member and two Defense Department contractors. Two fixed-wing aircraft and two helicopters were destroyed by the al Qaeda-linked group, while Kenyan defense forces said that five militants were killed in the attack.
Disney’s Frozen 2 became the highest-grossing animated film of all time on Sunday, surpassing the previous record of $1.27 billion set by the first installment, Frozen. The sequel is Disney’s sixth movie of 2019 to reach $1 billion, with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – currently at $919 million – projected to become the seventh sometime this week.
After reaching record highs on Thursday, the S&P 500 and Dow indexes went down 0.7 percent and 0.6 percent respectively on Friday following news of the death of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Oil prices also hit an eight-month high of nearly $70 per barrel.
On Friday, Tesla issued a release saying the company delivered a record 112,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2019, bringing the annual total up to 367,500 deliveries (and fulfilling CEO Elon Musk’s goal of 360,000). In response to the news, Tesla’s stock closed at an all-time high, giving the company a nearly $80 billion market capitalization – more than double rival Ford Motor Co.’s stock value.
Uber driver Latonya Young is a single mother who worked two jobs each day just to make ends meet, all while pursuing a college degree. Due to her financial situation, an outstanding $700 bill meant that Latonya was unable to continue with classes towards her degree – a fact she told her seemingly ordinary passenger one night on the way to a local sports game.
The next day, she received a call from Georgia State University notifying her that she was eligible to re-enroll in classes since her Uber passenger from the night before, Kevin Esch, had paid off the remaining balance on her account. “I was literally blown away,” Latonya told KGET. Esch was in attendance as Latonya accepted her associate’s degree onstage a few weeks ago, reminding us that one act of kindness can change the course of someone’s life.
Two Seattle dog owners made an unlikely discovery when they bumped into each other while on a walk with their respective canine companions. Their two golden retrievers met for what seemed to be the first time, but shared such an obvious bond that their owners got to talking, and discovered that the two dogs were in fact siblings from the same litter, complete with matching tattoos!
The four-legged siblings were miraculously reunited after traveling all the way from Russia to the U.S. as young pups. The pair of pooches exchanged playful snuggles, and their owners exchanged contact information to set up future play-dates for the two. A passerby noticed the canine commotion, and recorded a heartwarming video of the dogs meeting each other for the first time in years – their love can’t be denied!
Weekend Warriors… the NFL playoffs kicked off with the wild card round this weekend – check out a recap of all four games here. Next weekend is the divisional round, with two games scheduled for Saturday and two on Sunday.
Stay Golden… the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards were held in Beverly Hills last night – check out the full list of nominees and winners here.
Hair-brained creation… a team of Stanford scientists have created a silicon chip the width of a human hair (just 30 micrometers long) that can act as a particle accelerator in scientific experiments.
Land of Opportunity… photography market app Agora has accumulated 50 of the world’s most stunning landscape photos of 2019 – you can view the montage and vote for your favorite picture here.
the DONUT’s Dibs
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What was the first toy ever to be advertised on television?
A) Slinky B) Mr. Potato Head C) G.I. Joe D) Barbie
Not only was Mr. Potato Head the first toy to be advertised on TV, manufacturer Hasbro used the toy to launch the first marketing campaign directed at children, which resulted in more than one million units sold within the first year.