12.23.2019

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Need to Know
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Cuba Names First Prime Minister in Decades
Cuba has its first prime minister in more than forty years, after President Miguel Díaz-Canel named former tourism minister Manuel Marrero Cruz to the post over the weekend. The announcement comes 10 months after voters approved a new constitution for the island, though it remains controlled by the governing Communist Party. In many parliamentary governments, the president acts as a head of state and the prime minister - often more powerful - acts as the head of government, overseeing the functioning of the administration and execution of the government. It is unclear how much practical power will shift to Marrero, whose role was described as the administrative right hand of the government. The country operated under the quasi-dictatorship of Fidel Castro until 2011 (see timeline), with Fidel's brother Raúl continuing to hold power as the head of the Communist Party. 
Sweeping MS-13 Bust
Officials in Long Island, N.Y. arrested nearly 100 members of the notorious MS-13 street gang on charges that ranged from conspiracy to commit murder to gun and drug trafficking. The bust was the largest in the history of the state, which acts as an anchor point for the international gang's East Coast operations. The group - originating in Los Angeles in the 1980s before spreading to Central America, particularly El Salvador (see 101) - boasts an estimated 10,000 members in cities across the US. Though its members represent less than 1% of the estimated gang members in the United States, the organization has gained an outsized reputation from its particularly violent and often reckless murders. Long Island in particular has grappled with violence from MS-13 since its rise in the area two decades ago, including the high-profile killing of two teenage girls in 2016 and the machete slaying of four teens in 2017.

Here's what former members say needs to be done to combat the group ($$, New Yorker).
Diplomat's Wife Charged
The wife of a US diplomat will be charged by British prosecutors in a fatal car crash that occurred north of London in August, forcing a simmering diplomatic dispute out into public view. Forty-two-year-old Anne Sacoolas was driving outside Royal Air Force Base Croughton when she was involved in a collision that killed 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn after allegedly driving on the wrong side of the road. Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity and returned to the US three weeks after the accident; she denies claims of negligence and states the wreck was an accident, saying she won't return voluntarily to face charges. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson - who has largely enjoyed strong relations with the US - supported the charges but must now decide whether to formally seek extradition of Sacoolas. The US State Department has signaled it would not return her to the UK. 

An impromptu meeting arranged by the White House between Sacoolas and the Dunn family fell through in October.

Editor's note: We'll be off the remainder of the week - enjoy the holiday break! See you next Monday.
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In the Know
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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas breaks record for most catches in a season with 145 (More) | Here's a look at the NFL playoff race with one week to go in regular season (More)
> ViacomCBS to acquire 49% stake in Miramax film library for $375M; Miramax, co-founded by Harvey Weinstein, includes films such as "Good Will Hunting" and "Pulp Fiction" (More)
> French fashion designer Emanuel Ungaro dies at 86 (More) | Joseph Segel, cofounder of QVC, dies at 88 (More) | NASCAR racing legend Junior Johnson dies at 88 (More)
Science & Technology
> Scientists demonstrate "absolutely unbreakable" one-time-use encrypted messages; technique relies on chaos theory and thermodynamics and uses inexpensive silicon chips (More)
> Physicists develop statistical solution to Isaac Newton's problem of three celestial bodies orbiting each other; devilishly simple three-body problem has no known analytical solution (More)
> World's oldest tree fossils found in upstate New York; 386-million-year-old fossils date from Earth's transition from planet without trees to one covered in forests (More)
Business & Markets
> US stock markets up to fresh all-time highs Friday following US consumer spending report which was up 0.4% in November (More)
> France fines Google €150M stating it abused its dominant market position by applying unfair rules for search ads (More)
> SEC investigating IPOs of Slack and other unicorns who used direct listings to go public (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> DNC raises threshold for Jan. 14 primary debate, with primary requirement of 5% in four polls and 225,000 unique donors; Billionaire latecomer Mike Bloomberg says he has met the polling numbers but isn't taking donations (More)
> Saudi Arabian court sentences five people to death in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi; critics say attack was carried out under instruction from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (More)
> Trump accepts invitation to deliver State of the Union from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D, CA-12) (More) | More than 100 conservative evangelical leaders pen letter of support for President Trump after Christianity Today editorial calling for his removal (More) | Read editorial (More)
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Etcetera
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Notre Dame Cathedral to miss its first Christmas in centuries.
Visualizing the dramatic drop in child mortality since 1900.
Pocket's best articles of 2019.
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Veterans react to the bombshell Afghanistan Papers. ($$, WashPo)
Biochemist Camille Schrier wins Miss America 2020
Spain reveals winners in the world's biggest lottery.

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Defenses against African swine flu jam flight systems in China
Photos from a massive 69-car pileup in Virginia.
Clickbait: Watch two cruise ships crash into each other
Historybook: Vincent van Gogh cuts off his ear (1888); Mormon church founder Joseph Smith born (1805); Businesswoman Madam C.J. Walker born (1867); Voyager aircraft is first to fly around the world without refueling (1986).
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