Welcome to Hump Day. Tonight is the 2020 NBA Draft, with last decade’s powerhouse the Golden State Warriors holding the 2nd overall pick following an injury-riddled season. The full draft order.
Today’s newsletter is 1,314 words, which should take 5-6 minutes to read. 👇🗞
“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”
– Conrad Hilton
The Situation in Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s prime minister said on Tuesday “the final and crucial” military operation will launch in the coming days against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the rebel government of Ethiopia’s Tigray region, where hundreds (or by some reports, thousands) of people have been killed since fighting started on Nov. 4. (Map of the region)
A deeper dive…
Ethiopia’s federal government postponed the country’s Aug. 29 parliamentary elections in March due to COVID-19. The TPLF, which objected to the move, ultimately held a September vote to elect a new Tigray regional parliament. Both governments later declared each other “illegitimate and unconstitutional” and cut all formal ties and funding.
Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed ordered a military response against the TPLF on Nov. 4 after accusing their troops of carrying out a surprise attack on a camp housing federal troops. A top TPLF official later described the assault as a pre-emptive strike carried out in self-defense.
Over the past two weeks, the two sides traded missile strikes and met in armed conflicts as the Ethiopian military’s offensive captured several parts of the northern Tigray region, with hundreds of deaths reported among civilians and troops on both sides. (Communication with the region remains almost completely cut off, making it difficult to verify either side’s claims)
Since Nov. 10, more than 27k refugees have fled the Tigray region into Sudan per the UN Refugee Agency (a rate of ~4k per day), which said the scale of the influx in the region was higher than at any point over the past 20 years.
In a phone interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, a top Ethiopian official said the country’s troops “are marching to Mekele [Tigray’s capital] to capture those criminal elements” in what will be the final stage of the offensive.
So… what are people saying?
Our view on conflict in Ethiopia: Regional tensions flare
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💎 Jewel Thieves Arrested in Germany
German police conducted raids on 18 properties in Berlin yesterday, arresting three people in connection with ~$1.2B in 18th century jewelry stolen from a museum last year. More than 1,600 officers from federal special forces and local jurisdictions participated in the raid, which did not immediately turn up any of the missing treasures. Prosecutors said the suspects were a part of the Remmo clan, a so-called “Lebanese mafia” family.
🎖️ U.S. to Withdraw Troops
The U.S. will reduce troop levels in Afghanistan and Iraq, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announced on Tuesday. The number of troops will be reduced to 2,500 in Afghanistan (from over 4,500) and 2,000 in Iraq (from about 3,000) by mid-January.
🌀 Hurricane Iota made landfall in Central America as a Category 4 storm late Monday with peak winds of 155 mph, killing at least four and leaving more than 100k homes without electricity (47k without drinking water). Though the hurricane weakened significantly Tuesday, it damaged areas still reeling from Hurricane Eta, a separate Category 4 storm making landfall in Nicaragua and Honduras earlier this month.
Amazonlaunched Amazon Pharmacy yesterday, an online service allowing customers to order medications for home delivery (with free shipping for Prime members). It features prescription savings benefits for Prime members paying without insurance, with reported savings of up to 80% on generic medications and 40% on name-brand medications.
📱 Hear, Hear
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey virtually testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee for more than four hours on Tuesday (full video; Godspeed). The hearing covered a range of topics, including a legal shield known as Section 230 and the companies’ attempts to block or reduce misleading information.
Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift revealed private equity firm Shamrock Holdings purchased the rights to her first six albums from Ithaca Holdings, a media company owned by prominent music manager Scooter Braun. The deal is worth upwards of $300M according to Variety, which first reported the sale to an unidentified buyer on Monday.
🍫 Raise the Bar… candy giant Mars (owner of Snickers, M&Ms & more) agreed to buy the maker of Kind bars in a deal reportedly valuing the company at ~$5B.
🥤🐦 New Product Launches: Pepsi releasedits new apple pie-flavored cola Tuesday, only available initially via online sweepstakes. | Twitter launched Fleets yesterday, its competitor to Snapchat and Instagram’s stories.
🚩 Fly the Flag
When the pandemic started this spring, 11-year-old Callie Danysh of Morris Township, NJ, wanted to find a way to show appreciation for first responders working on the front lines of the public health crisis. Thus, the young girl – a Webelo-level Cub Scout – started the Flags of Gratitude program, an initiative to spread flags with positive messages throughout her community.
The flags, which are all hand-drawn by Callie, each honor a hero of the COVID-19 response effort and have appeared outside of Morris Township’s police and fire departments, essential businesses, and even the local Army and Navy Recruiting Center.
To date, the compassionate Callie has drawn and distributed more than 2,000 of the homemade pennants, simultaneously raising $1,000 for HelpMorrisNow, a program that collects food and clothing for community members in need.
📸 The Happiest Shoot on Earth
In 2017, after her son’s best friend passed away from cancer at the age of two, photographer Ashley Richer felt determined to help improve the lives of other children battling the disease. Turning to what she does best – making magic with her camera – Ashley began offering free themed photoshoots for children with cancer in 2018.
This generous profession led her to Arianna Taft, a 5-year-old girl diagnosed with an aggressive form of kidney cancer earlier this year.
Last month, the young girl temporarily took her mind off of her recovery process, participating in a Disney-themed photoshoot conducted by Ashley (photos). Arianna, who lost all of her hair due to her chemotherapy treatment, spent the special session dressing up as her favorite Disney princesses – ultimately proving that bald is beautiful.
🌳 One Person’s Trash…
On March 22, 2001, New York City’s Fresh Kills landfill – the world’s most massive garbage dump – closed down. Three times the size of central park, the landfill was home to 150M tons of trash, and with piles of garbage reaching up to 20 stories high, it bombarded residents of nearby Staten Island with terrible odors since 1948.
The landfill is now on track to reopen as a 2,200-acre park — part of an ambitious, decades-long rewilding project.
Since the landfill’s closure, New York’s Department of City Planning has led an effort to control the pollution from Fresh Kills and restore the region as a marshy wildlife preserve, capping the dump’s four major trash mounds with plastic sheeting that was then covered with iron-rich soil and native vegetation. The new Freshkills Park, which will be the city’s largest park, is set to open in stages beginning in the spring of 2021.
Bonus: Check out the Freshkills website for 360° views of the park’s restored rolling hills.
Breakfast Just Got Better.
Introducing Skinnygirl™ Cocktail-Inspired Preserves, a delicious way to refresh your breakfast routine.
The perfect answer to plain toast in the morning, our preserves are sugar-free, fat-free, low calorie (10 per serving, aka remorse-free), and come in five delicious, cocktail-inspired flavors: Strawberry Rosé, Blackberry Mule, Merlot Grape, Apricot Mimosa, and Raspberry Bellini.
University of Minnesota medical student Johnny Campbell is credited as becoming the world’s first cheerleader in 1898 when he led the crowd in a rousing chorus of “Rah, Rah, Rah! Ski-U-Mah! Hoo-Rah! Hoo-Rah! Varsity! Varsity! Minn-e-so-tah!”