Tuesday (Dec. 1st): OECD to release economic forecast
Wednesday: McDonald’s reintroduces the McRib
Thursday: Weekly U.S. unemployment claims
Friday: Monthly U.S. jobs report
Top Nuclear Scientist Assassinated
Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was attacked and killed on Friday when his sedan was reportedly ambushed by at least five armed gunmen in a village near Tehran.
A deeper dive…
While no organization claimed responsibility for the attack, Iran’s foreign minister blamed Jerusalem, saying there were “serious indications of Israeli role” in Fakhrizadeh’s killing. The incident came two days before the 10-year anniversary of the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist that the government also blamed on Israel – one of four such scientists assassinated between 2010 and 2012.
Fakhrizadeh led Iran’s AMAD (or “Hope”) program, which Israel and the West claim is a military operation exploring the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon.
Iran has long maintained its nuclear program is peaceful but began publicizing its uranium enrichment levels (a precursor to creating nuclear weapons) after the U.S. left the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May 2018.
In a cabinet meeting on Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appeared to rule out immediate retaliation, saying Iran would respond “at the right time.”
In a CNN Op/Ed published in September, President-elect Biden indicated he would return the U.S. to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal if Iran “returns to strict compliance” with its terms.
It is unclear what impact Fakhrizadeh’s assassination will have on any future attempt to rejoin the deal.
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⚖️ Legally Speaking…
A federal appeals court in Philadelphia rejected a Trump campaign lawsuit seeking to halt the state’s election certification process on Friday. (Left-Center| Right-Center)
The U.S. Supreme Court late Thanksgiving night ruled 5-4 against COVID-19 restrictions on religious services introduced by NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (Left-Center|Right-Center)
President Trump pardoned his former national security advisor Michael Flynn on Wednesday. (Left-Center|Right-Center)
🇪🇹 Ethiopia Captures Rebel Capital
After launching an attack on Saturday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said his troops were “fully in control” of Mekelle, the capital of Ethiopia’s rebellious Tigray region (pop. 500k). Officials said Ethiopian troops and soldiers had started a manhunt for the leaders of the Tigray ruling party, which reportedly withdrew from the city and allowed federal forces to enter with almost no resistance. Outside communication with the region remains almost completely cut off, making it difficult to verify any claims.
On Sunday, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced public elementary schools would resume in-person learning starting December 7th, with middle schools and high schools remaining entirely remote. The U.S.’s largest school district (with ~1.1M students) initially postponed all in-person learning on November 19th due to a rising number of positive COVID tests.
More: De Blasio also said the city would no longer abide by a seven-day COVID testing positivity threshold of 3%, which prompted the initial closures.
Notable Deaths: ⚽ Argentine fútbol (soccer) legend Diego Maradona passed away at age 60. | 🎭 British weightlifter-turned-actor Dave Prowse, who portrayed the body (not the voice) of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, died at 85.
🚨 Breaking: President-elect Biden’s transition team confirmed he suffered hairline fractures in his right foot after slipping while playing with one of his dogs, and is expected to wear a walking boot for several weeks.
🛍️ Spend Trends
In-person store visits on Black Friday in the U.S. fell by more than 50% year-over-year according to retail data firm Sensormatic Solutions. Meanwhile, online spending in the U.S. on Black Friday rose 22% compared to last year (up to $9B), making it the second-largest online spending day in U.S. history behind Cyber Monday 2019 ($9.4B).
Looking Ahead: Online spending for Cyber Monday 2020 (today) is projected to reach between $10.8B and $12.7B.
📚 Buy the Book
ViacomCBS plans to sell U.S. book publisher Simon & Schuster to German media conglomerate Bertelsmann in an all-cash deal worth ~$2.2B, bothcompanies announced on Wednesday. Should the deal survive potential antitrust scrutiny, Bertelsmann’s subsidiaries – which already include Penguin Random House, the U.S.’s largest book publisher – would account for ~33% of all book sales in America.
🏈 Vanderbilt student-athlete Sarah Fuller became the first woman in history to play in a Power 5 college football game, delivering the opening kickoff of the second half in Saturday’s loss against Missouri. (Video)
🥊 Mike Tyson’s first professional fight in 15 years ended in an eight-round draw against Roy Jones Jr. on Saturday. In the co-main event, YouTuber Jake Paul knocked out ex-NBA star Nate Robinson in the second round. Rapper Snoop Dogg performed at the event and provided live commentary for both fights. (Highlights:Tyson vs. Jones Jr. | Paul vs. Robinson | Snoop being Snoop)
🐕 Claire the Scottish Deerhound was named best in show at The National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day. (Video)
🦃 Food, Glorious Food
According to Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief organization in the country, ~14% of North Carolina residents experienced food insecurity in 2018. Recognizing this percentage is likely to increase due to the pandemic, 9-year-old Reese Grandelli of Mooresville, NC, stepped in to help.
Instead of prepping her own Christmas wish list this November, Reese raised $1,250 to buy supplies for the local FeedNC food pantry.
The funds – which she used to buy a total of 107 turkeys, 35 hams, 48 cans of cranberries, and 48 boxes of stuffing for the pantry – were matched by a $1,000 donation to FeedNC by Reese’s neighbor. The generous youngster, who previously collected a combined 103 turkeys for the food pantry over the past two years, is already planning for next year’s donation.
💔 Half of My Heart
In 2010, Bowen Hammitt was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) – a congenital disability preventing half his heart from properly developing. Per the CDC, ~1,025 U.S. children are born with HLHS each year.
HLHS is usually fatal without surgery. Thus, within days of being born, the infant received three open-heart surgeries, subsequently spending ten weeks in the hospital to increase his chances of surviving past the first few months of his life.
Bowen defied doctors’ expectations and celebrated his 10th birthday in September. The active young boy, whose father wrote a lullaby called “All of Me” for his son when he was an infant, released a song of his own – “Heart Strong” – along with a music video featuring children living with HLHS.
💍 Celebrate Good Times
Before the pandemic, Emily Bugg and Billy Lewis of Chicago originally planned an elaborate wedding day, inviting 150 people to a warehouse celebration on the city’s west side. When COVID-19 hit, the couple decided a big wedding would no longer be feasible.But that did not mean there could not be a celebration.
After Emily and Billy tied the knot in a small ceremony at the courthouse – with the bride leaving her $1,400 wedding dress at home in favor of a simple white dress – the newlyweds donated their $5,000 catering deposit to Thresholds, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people experiencing mental illness and substance abuse.
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According to Jelly Belly’s website, Very Cherry was the unmatched favorite for two decades until Buttered Popcorn took the lead in 1998. Buttered Popcorn’s reign was short and sweet, however, as Very Cherry reclaimed the top spot in 2003 and has held onto it ever since.