Good morning. We were today years old when we found out where the days of the week come from…
For those in the same boat: Tuesday comes from Tyr, the Norse god of war. Tyr was a son of Odin, or Woden, the supreme deity after whom Wednesday is named. Thursday=Thor’s day, the god of thunder. Friday is derived from Frigga, the wife of Odin, representing foresight and wisdom. The aptly-named Saturday comes from Saturn, the ancient Roman god of fun and feasting. Sunday is the sun’s day and Monday is the moon’s day.
“As long as they are well-intentioned, mistakes are not a matter for shame, but for learning.”
🇻🇪 Venezuelan Elections
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s political alliance claimed an overwhelming victory in the country’s congressional elections on Sunday. These elections were boycotted by opposing politicians and widely criticized as fraudulent by the U.S. and other nations.
📝 Background: Venezuela is in the midst of a deep economic and political crisis. The IMF projects a 25% decline in GDP this year, while inflation has risen over 4,000% since Nov. 2019, making its currency (the bolivar) worth less than one-millionth of a dollar. More than 5M people have fled the country in recent years.
A deeper dive…
Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela and allied parties captured 67% of seats in the country’s National Assembly, giving Maduro control of Venezuela’s five major branches of government. Officials said ~31% of the country’s 20M registered voters participated in Sunday’s election.
The low turnout is partly attributed to an election boycott by opposition politicians. Venezuela’s Supreme Court illegally bypassed the opposition-led National Assembly and appointed a new election commission earlier this year.
The National Assembly has been led by opposition politician Juan Guaidó, who vowed to oust Maduro shortly after assuming the role in early 2019. He is supported by the U.S. and ~60 other countries, while Maduro is backed by Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, and several Latin American governments.
However… Guaidó’s legal claim to the presidency hinges on his role as National Assembly head, which, in light of Sunday’s election results, is set to expire in early 2021.
Guaidó’s opposition party began a weeklong nationwide referendum on Monday asking Venezuelans whether they want to end Maduro’s rule and hold new presidential elections.
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🛰️ Iranian Scientist Assassinated Remotely
Last month’s assassination of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was carried out remotely via a satellite-controlled machine gun, per a senior Iranian commander. State media initially reported Fakhrizadeh was shot and killed by armed gunmen, but Iran on Sunday said “no terrorists were present on the ground” at the time of the attack.
🍑 GA’s Secretary of State recertified the state’s presidential election results on Monday after an official recount completed last week confirmed a ~12k vote Biden victory. All ongoing legal challenges.
🏥 President-elect Biden named California AG Xavier Becerra as his nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, along with a half-dozen other key appointments on Monday. See the full list.
The International Olympic Committee released a list of additional sports to be played at the 2024 Paris Games yesterday. The list includes breakdancing for the first time in history (called ‘breaking’), with 16 athletes competing in each of the men’s and women’s events. The 2024 Winter Olympics will also feature three never-before-seen Olympic events – surfing, skateboarding, and sport climbing.
More: Surfing, skateboarding, and sport climbing will make their official debut at the 2021 Tokyo Winter Olympics.
Things Happening Today:
💉 ‘V-Day’: The UK begins administering Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine to front-line healthcare workers, care home workers, and those aged over 80. (🚨Breaking: The first shot was given to Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week.)
📅 ‘Safe Harbor’ Day: Congress is legally required to accept the election results of states that certify presidential election results by midnight tonight.
🎵 Tangled Up In Green
Universal Music acquired Bob Dylan’s entire catalog of over 600 songs, the company announced yesterday. Though Universal did not disclose the terms of the deal, it is estimated at over $300M.
More: Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016 for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
📡 Dish the Dirt
Dish Network reached a $210M settlement with the DOJ and four states on Friday (CA, IL, NC, & OH). The settlement is the largest amount ever for telemarketing violations under the FTC Act, and dealt primarily with allegations that Dish was behind millions of unlawful telemarketing calls to U.S. consumers.
More: The imposed fine exceeds total penalties paid by all prior violators of the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule.
📈 Toss a Coin to Your Woz
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak launched Efforce last week, a blockchain-based “energy efficiency market” designed to crowdfund eco-friendly business projects. The launch came with the listing of Efforce’s cryptocurrency, WOZX, which the company said surpassed a $950M market cap “in the first 13 minutes” of its listing.
More: For now, you can only buy the WOZX token on HBTC (a Singapore-based crypto exchange) with a future listing planned for Bithumb (a Korea-based exchange).
🍩 DONUT Holes:
📰 Ikeadiscontinued publication of its printed catalog after a 70-year run; circulation was 200M in 2016 (its biggest year).
📺 🗞 Rashida Jones to become president of MSNBCbeginning Feb. 1; first female Black executive to lead major general news cable network.
🦒 Saved by the Barge
In 2011, a group of endangered giraffes was placed on a peninsula in Kenya’s Lake Baringo to protect the animals from poaching and habitat loss. After recent floods caused the lake to swell, eight of the giraffes became stranded on the shrinking landmass – now an island surrounded by crocodile-infested waters.
Last week, the Kenya Wildlife Service and nonprofit Save Giraffes Now worked together to ferry the stranded animals to a wildlife conservatory on the mainland using specially-designed barges for the giraffes (pictured here).
🍦 I Pay, You Pay, We All Pay…
Every couple of months, Dairy Queen Manager Tina Jensen of Brainerd, MN, sees a customer ‘pay it forward’ by covering the cost of the order for the person in line behind them. Such acts of kindness usually last for 10-15 customers, Tina explained to the Brainerd Dispatch.
Last Thursday, a drive-thru customer at the Brainerd Dairy Queen started a chain of paying it forward that lasted for two days. A total of 900 patrons participated, paying for a combined $10K worth of food.
🛒 The (Food) Lion King
An anonymous 91-year-old Korean War veteran from Raeford, NC, donated $2,000 last month to the “Holidays Without Hunger” program operated by the Food Lion grocery chain, which prepares boxes of food for families facing food insecurity. It was the largest individual donation in the program’s 17-year history.
The veteran spent two years as a prisoner of war, during which he was barely fed.
“I just plain and simple don’t want people to go hungry,” he said, according to CNN.
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🌳 I Speak for the Trees… scientists found evidence trees in a forest communicate with each other through underground networks of fungi. What are they saying? (What we’re saying: Maybe Avatar was on to something…)
📺 As You Like It… YouTube revealed its top 10 trending videos of 2020. Watch them here.