Happy Friday. 🚀⏰ Ready, Set, Go: Today’s newsletter is a ~5 minute read. (1,272 words)
“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”
– Muhammad Ali
China & Australia Aren’t Getting Along
On Monday, Australia PM Scott Morrison requested an apology after a Chinese official tweeted an altered image showing an Australian soldier holding a knife to a young Afghan boy’s throat. The incident is the latest in a string of disputes between the two countries.
A deeper dive…
A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry later refused to apologize for the doctored social media post, referring to “heinous crimes committed by some Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.”
An internal Australian military report published last month revealed “credible evidence” Australian soldiers unlawfully killed 39 Afghan prisoners and civilians from 2009 to 2013.
The spokesperson insisted the current incident is not linked to greater Chinese-Australian relations, which have soured over the past two years.
A brief timeline:
August 2018: Australia became the first country to ban Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE from its 5G network.
April 2020: The Australian government led an international call to investigate the origins of the coronavirus, thought to have started in Wuhan, China.
May 2020: China imposed tariffs on Australian beef and barley, widely seen as retaliation for their prior calls for investigation.
October/November 2020: China announced an import ban on some Australian red meat and reportedly gave state-owned utilities, steel mills, and cotton mills verbal notice to stop importing Australian coal and cotton.
Nov. 28: China imposed tariffs ranging from 107% to 212% on imported Australian wine in containers of two liters or less.
However… China remains Australia’s largest trading partner in goods and services, accounting for ~27.4% of Australia’s trade with the world according to government data.
On Wednesday, the U.S. recorded its single-worst daily death toll since the pandemic began (2,804 per data from Johns Hopkins; Second-highest was 2,607 deaths on April 15). Hospitalizations also reached an all-time high of more than 100,000, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.
CA Gov. Gavin Newsomannounced plans to issue regional stay-at-home orders for areas with ICU capacities of under 15%, calling it the most restrictive order since the state’s initial shutdown in March.
The U.S. Supreme Court directed a lower court to reconsider a ruling upholding CA Governor Gavin Newsom’s pandemic ban on indoor religious services yesterday. This comes in light of last week’s Supreme Court decision declaring NY’s pandemic-related religious restrictions unconstitutional. (Left-Center| Right-Center)
Wisconsin’s Supreme Court turned away a lawsuit brought by the Trump campaign to overturn the results of the state’s presidential election (where Biden won by ~21k votes). The suit claimed ~220K of the state’s ~3M ballots should not have been counted due to alleged violations of state election laws. (Left-Center|Right-Center)
🇭🇰 Hong Kong Activists Sentenced
Three prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activists were sentenced to prison on Wednesday for organizing and participating in a protest outside police headquarters in June 2019. The three activists join a list of more than 10k people arrested by Hong Kong police on charges relating to pro-democracy protests.
More: Hong Kong media tycoon and pro-democracy supporter Jimmy Lai was arrested late Wednesday on charges of illegally using his company’s headquarters for purposes not permitted by its lease. A Hong Kong court denied him bail yesterday.
Warner Bros.’ 2021 movie releases will be available on HBO Max the same day they reach theaters, the company said in a statement published Thursday. The announcement applies to dozens of upcoming titles planned for next year, including Godzilla vs. Kong, Matrix 4, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Tom & Jerry, and much more. (Wonder Woman 1984 was previously designated for the same release format; will be released Christmas Day)
More: The new movies will be available on HBO Max for one month before returning to a theater release. All customary distribution windows will be applied following the first month.
🛫 Boeing Takes Flight
Irish airline Ryanair announced an order for 75 additional Boeing 737 MAX planes yesterday (estimated at over $7B), on top of an existing order for 135 aircraft. The deal marks the first significant sale of 737 MAX planes since the FAA ended a 20-month regulatory ban last month, instituted after a pair of fatal plane crashes in late 2018 and early 2019.
💼 Labor Day
Another 712k Americans filed for unemployment insurance last week per the Department of Labor, down from 787k the week before. The department’s weekly claims data came under scrutiny this week after a government watchdog report published Monday found the Labor Department was improperly presenting the number of claims due to inconsistent data reporting coupled with incidents of fraud.
More: A Labor Department spokesperson said the agency is working to make changes in the report to clarify what the numbers represent, though none were present in Thursday’s report.
🍩 DONUT Holes:
💻 IBM cybersecurity analysts uncovered a global email phishing scheme targeting COVID-19 vaccine supply chains dating back to September, the company announced on Thursday.
📁 The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Facebook on Thursday alleging the tech giant improperly reserved at least 2,600 high-paying positions for foreign professionals on H1-B visas. The suit claims Facebook failed to adequately search for qualified American candidates to fill those positions first as required by law. (Left Center | Right Center)
⛄ ‘Snow Problem
Lynn Marchessault of Georgia was driving with her two children through British Columbia, Canada, last month to meet her husband at the Alaskan border when she became overwhelmed by snowy driving conditions. Lynn put out an online plea for help with only a short grace period from Canada to make it to the American border.
In response, Canadian Ranger Gary Bath met up with Lynn and her children and escorted the stranded Americans the remaining 1,056 miles to their destination.
🐶 Foster the Pup(le)
Caitie Evers loves to foster dogs at her home in Houston, TX, working with animal rescue organization Chip N Snip to find a forever family for each canine. Thus, when her brother-in-law rescued a pregnant golden retriever named Lily Mae in October, Caitie offered to care for the expecting dog until after her puppies were born.
During Lily Mae’s stay, the temporary caretaker hired a photographer and arranged a downright adorable doggy maternity photoshoot for the mother-to-be (pictured here).
🚒 Noble Neighbor
Sean Campbell, a 23-year-old Amazon delivery driver from New Smyrna Beach, FL, was unloading a shipment last Friday when he heard screams coming from down the street. Running toward the commotion, Sean discovered a nearby house was engulfed in flames – and that a man was trapped inside.
With first responders still on the way, Sean ripped open the front door of the house and ran inside, quickly finding the elderly resident in the kitchen and helping the man to safety.
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💯 What Makes You Tik… TikTok presents the Top 100 of 2020, featuring the most viral videos, hashtags, creators, and more.
👕 Look Like Two Million Bucks… a complete collection of 253 Supreme brand “box-logo” T-shirts released between 1994 and 2020 is being offered for sale at a reported $2M.
🗿 Third Time’s the Charm… a third ~10-foot-tall metal monolith was discovered atop Pine Mountain in Central California on Wednesday. (One key difference: Unlike the others, this monolith was not attached to the ground.)
🎰 What Are the Odds… officials in South Africa are investigating a local Powerball lottery where 20 people claimed victory after the winning numbers were five, six, seven, eight, nine, and (you guessed it) ten.
📜 What a Treat(y)
The longest-standing treaty in American history is with which country?
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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In June 1787, the U.S. Senate voted to ratify the “Treaty of Peace and Friendship” with Morocco – the longest unbroken relationshipin American history. Morocco was one of the first countries to recognize the newly independent United States, opening its ports to U.S. ships in 1777.