Happy Monday! We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with loved ones, and that you didn’t accidentally try to smuggle any of those loved ones’ pets through airport security on your way home.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- The Treasury Department announced Wednesday it had sanctioned three security officials in the Iranian cities of Sanandaj and Mahabad for their role in the regime’s continued crackdown on protests throughout the country. “The Iranian regime has increased its aggressive actions against the Iranian people as part of its ongoing suppression of peaceful protests against a regime that denies human rights and fundamental freedoms to its people, especially women and girls,” the federal agency said.
- The Treasury Department announced Saturday it had granted a license to Chevron that will allow the California-based oil company to resume operations in Venezuela for the first time in years. The decision—which is unlikely to significantly boost global oil supply in the short-term—comes after President Nicolás Maduro’s government and the U.S.-backed opposition coalition agreed to continue talks on the country’s democratic process and signed onto a Norway-brokered agreement that will unlock $3 billion for humanitarian relief. Treasury officials said the Chevron license prevents Petroleos de Venezuela SA—Venezuela’s national oil company, which has several joint ventures with Chevron—from receiving profits from any Chevron oil sales, and does not authorize any other economic activity with PdVSA.
- Two people were killed—and more than 20 injured—after two similar, remotely detonated explosive devices went off at two different bus stops in Jerusalem on Wednesday. No individual or entity has claimed responsibility for the bombings, but Israeli officials believe them to be a part of a terrorist plot from an organized group that spent months preparing. The attacks represent the first of their kind against Israeli civilians in Israel in years, and come at a time of heightened tensions between the Israeli government and Palestinian leaders.
- Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court rejected a challenge on Wednesday from outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party that claimed some electronic ballots cast through older machines should be annulled, which would have reversed Bolsonaro’s recent loss to leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Judge Alexandre de Moraes—the head of the electoral court—levied a $4.3 million fine against the Liberal Party, noting the plaintiff’s inability to provide “any evidence of irregularities” and dismissing the charges as “bizarre” and in “complete bad faith.”
- Malaysia’s king appointed longtime opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim prime minister of the southeast Asian country on Thursday after last week’s parliamentary elections failed to deliver any coalition a governing majority. Anwar—a former activist who was jailed multiple times in recent years on charges of sodomy that he denies and claims were politically motivated—pledged to welcome all to his “national unity government” provided they accept the fundamental rules: “good governance, no corruption and a Malaysia for all Malaysians.”
- The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that new orders for durable goods—products such as appliances, computers, and machinery intended to last three or more years—increased a seasonally adjusted 1 percent from September to October, and 0.8 percent excluding defense orders. The measure has now increased in three consecutive months, signaling demand remains steady despite inflation and recession concerns. The Federal Reserve released minutes on Wednesday from November’s Federal Open Markets Committee meeting indicating most Fed officials believe the pace of interest-rate hikes should slow in the coming months.
- Network decision desks projected last week that Republican Kevin Kiley will defeat his Democratic opponent Kermit Jones in California’s 3rd congressional district and Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola will once again defeat former Gov. Sarah Palin in the race for Alaska’s at-large House seat. Palin conceded the race, but Republicans have now won—or are leading in—222 congressional districts, compared to Democrats’ 213. GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski is also projected to defeat her Trump-endorsed Republican challenger, Kelly Tshibaka.
Lockdown Protests Spread Across China
After three years of draconian COVID-19 safety restrictions, some Chinese citizens have finally had enough.
In a number of cities across China, protesters spent their weekend taking down barricades meant to enforce COVID-19 lockdowns and pushing back on police in white COVID safety gear, according to social media posts. Many held blank sheets of white paper—a nod to censorship—and at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s alma mater, students chanted calls for democracy and freedom of speech and sang the Internationale. In Shanghai Saturday night, some went further, shouting for Xi and the Chinese Communist Party to relinquish power.