Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly met with Saudia Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in secret on Sunday evening, according to the WSJ and Israeli media.
Saudi’s foreign ministerpublicly denied any such meeting took place, insisting Prince Mohammed only met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was visiting as part of a seven-nation farewell tour.
A deeper dive…
If confirmed, this would be the first known meeting between high-level Israeli and Saudi leaders in history.
Reports of the visit come one month after Israel and Sudan formally agreed to normalize relations, following similar Israeli deals in early October with the UAE and Bahrain, brokered with the help of the Trump administration.
Saudi Arabia has long held the official stance of supporting normalization with Israel only after a peace deal is reached establishing a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem.
U.S. and Israeli officials have reportedly perceived a shift within the Saudi royal court in recent weeks due to the absence of significant protests in the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan after their agreements with Israel.
The U.S. is set to face an upcoming leadership change on Jan. 20, when President-elect Biden is scheduled to take office. It is currently unclear which position his administration will take regarding Saudi-Israeli relations.
In a CNN Op/Ed published in September, Biden addressed his stance on Iran, a noted enemy of both Saudi Arabia & Israel, saying he would return the U.S. to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal if Iran “returns to strict compliance” with the terms.
Netanyahu on Sundaysaid Biden “must not go back to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.”
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The Transition Begins…
The MI Board of State Canvasserscertifiedthe state’s election results yesterday, declaring Biden the winner of the state’s 16 electoral votes by a margin of ~154k votes.
A majority of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties had certified their election results by yesterday afternoon’s deadline. There are counties that usually lag behind every election cycle in PA, where current tallies show Biden with a more than 81k vote lead.
The Trump administration late Monday authorized the GSA (General Services Administration) to begin formal protocols for the transition process, approving more than $6M in government funds meant to assist in a smooth transfer of power and granting Biden’s team access to federal agencies (they will also receive high-level classified briefings). Dig deeper.
Pat Quinn, co-founder of the 2014 viral ‘Ice Bucket Challenge,’ died on Monday following a seven-year battle with ALS. The Ice Bucket Challenge was responsible for raising $115M for the ALS Association, and over $220M for ALS research since its inception.
More: Quinn, who was co-nominated as Time magazine’s “Person of the Year,” hosted an Ice Bucket Challenge each year in his hometown of Yonkers, NY.
🇬🇹 Guatemala’s Speaker of Congresssaid he would block a controversial budget that triggered protests during which parts of the country’s congress building were set on fire last Saturday.
📱 In the Spotlight
Snapchat officially launched Spotlight, a designated place within its app where users can watch short-form videos in a vertically scrollable, TikTok-esque feed. Spotlight features videos scored with music, along with other Snaps determined by the company’s algorithms using a wide range of personalized factors.
🚀 It’s All Relative
U.S. aerospace manufacturer Relativity Space announced a $500M funding round on Monday valuing the company at $2.3B. With the move, Relativity – which uses 3-D printers to help build rockets – becomes the second most valuable VC-backed space company in the world after SpaceX ($46B).
🚘 Call to Action
General Motors announced a recall of nearly 7M full-size pickup trucks and SUVs yesterday. The move came after a U.S. regulatory agency denied a petition from the company to keep its vehicles featuring potentially faulty Takata airbag inflators in circulation. GM will not fight the decision, which could cost the company an estimated $1.2B (roughly one-third of its net income so far this year).
More: The Takata airbag recall is one of the largest of its kind in U.S. history, affecting 19 automakers and tens of millions of vehicles. Twenty-seven deaths worldwide have been attributed to exploding Takata inflators, including 18 in the U.S.
🛒 No Good Deed Goes Unrewarded
Many of the students at Linda Tutt High School in Sanger, TX, come from low socioeconomic families, according to school principal Anthony Love. With the pandemic exerting additional financial strain on already struggling households, the sympathetic school administrator recently sought to help students’ families by organizing an unconventional addition to his academic institution: a grocery store.
Unlike a traditional supermarket, the school’s store does not take money. It accepts good deeds instead.
The store, located in one of the high school’s spare rooms, operates a system through which young learners can earn points for exemplary behavior, then redeem those points for store items. Operated entirely by students, the chargeless market is funded by the local nonprofit First Refuge Ministries and Albertsons grocery store.
🎻 Of Sound Mind
Ciara Sase, a nurse at Intermountain Healthcare’s McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, UT, was perplexed last month when she received an odd note from coronavirus patient Grover Wilhemsen. Grover, a retired music teacher who had been recently intubated due to the virus’s impact on his lungs, used a pen and paper to ask if his wife could bring his violin to the hospital.
Unable to speak because of the intubation, Grover expressed his thanks for the hospital staff’s excellent care by playing his violin for them. As the grateful patient let his instrument do the talking, Ciara burst into tears, so inspired by the performance that she transmitted the music into the outer hallway so that the serenade could reach her coworkers.
“This is something that will follow me for the rest of my career,” Ciara told CBS News.
🔧 Your Biggest Fan
Ever since he was a baby, 4-year-old Jaxon Maples of Springfield, MO, has been captivated by ceiling fans, calmed by their rhythmic movements. For this same reason, Jaxon – who has autism – is equally entranced by washing machines and other home appliances. In fact, the young boy’s favorite place on Earth is his local Lowe’s Home Improvement store.
“Lowe’s has been the center of our world, because our world is Jaxon,” his mom Shauna Rippee told the Springfield News-Leader.
Earlier this month, Shauna reached out to Lowe’s corporate office and asked if the company could send her son one of their signature red staff member vests. In response, the home improvement store sent Jaxon the vest and made the young boy an honorary associate, and gifted him a bucket of merchandise, including a desk fan and a football signed by the Springfield Lowe’s team.
Bringing back memories? You may be thinking of last week’s story about Parker Buchholz, a young boy with autism from Fort Wayne, IN, with a similar love for Best Buy. Y’all liked it so much we just had to tell you about Jaxon when we stumbled on the story.
Calling All Business Owners
Fortunes are made or lost, not by what happens to us, but by how we react.
Bad things happen to good businesses.
Now you have to decide how you will respond.
Some owners will cut expenses to the bone. Others will become paralyzed by fear.
A rare few will use this opportunity to rethink their business from the ground up. Throw out what wasn’t working and re-commit to strategies that impact long term business value.
ProvenGain uses a simple system for boosting the value of the companies called The Value Builder System™. We’ve recently created an eBook called 8 Ways To Re-Invent Yourself In A Crisis, which I thought might be helpful as you contemplate what’s next. Just send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org for your copy or I can help you with some ideas on a quick 30 or 60-minute call.
🐼 You Name It… the Smithsonian National Zoo named its three-month-old baby panda cub Xiao Qi Ji, or “little miracle” – the result of a five-day online poll that drew nearly 135k responses. (Bonus:Live panda cam)
🐮 Face Lift… while facial recognition software is a topic of controversy among humans, scientists have modified the technology to identify and monitor bears and cows.
🧑 Pump the Brakes on Fakes… businesses are now selling computer-generated fake people with adjustable likenesses and characteristics – here’s how to spot them.
🦏 Come Together
What is a group of rhinoceroses called?
(Yep, rhinoceroses – other spellings can be correct, too.Check ’em out.)
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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