He was mortal after all. Fidel Castro ruled the Carribbean nation for a half-century, surviving countless American assassination attempts and becoming one of the world’s best known and most controversial leaders. He left office for his brother Raúl in 2008, and was rarely seen in public in recent years as he battled illness. A Communist icon who liberated the island from the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship, Castro was known for brutality of his own and stifled free expression and economic reform. His death will evoke mixed feelings at home and celebration in America’s Cuban exile communities.
The Presidential Daily Brief
“You cannot imagine how the situation is.” So said the leader of the White Helmets, a volunteer rescue force in Syria, explaining that 275,000 besieged Aleppo residents have no more than 10 days to live unless they receive food and medical supplies. Meanwhile, the U.S. lost its first soldier in the conflict yesterday, one of hundreds of Special Forces training local fighters to battle ISIS. Turkey also saw its first casualties in Syria, though it claims the attack originated not with ISIS, but with Syrian government forces.
How diplomatic will he be? Donald Trump is weighing competing advice as he prepares to select his overseas emissary. Some question the loyalty of Mitt Romney, who viciously bashed the mogul during the campaign, while Rudy Giuliani’s foreign business entanglements have drawn bad headlines. Meanwhile, Trump’s reportedly settled on billionaire Wilbur Ross, a fellow free trade skeptic, for commerce secretary. And his team’s focusing on raising tens of millions for a massive inauguration bash — with corporations allowed to donate up to $1 million each, but lobbyists barred.
They were investigating a possible kidnapping. But while Mexican soldiers and police rescued one victim at an outlaw camp in Guerrero state, they also found 32 bodies and nine human heads in pits and coolers at the site. Decapitation is frequently a sign of drug cartel violence, which is epidemic in the area: Nine decapitated corpses were found by a roadside on Monday. Guerrero is stepping up joint police-army patrols in problem areas and the remains are being sent to Mexico City for identification as the investigation continues.
Being thankful for what you have just doesn’t cut it. Analysts say online sales on Thanksgiving Day were already up 13.6 percent over 2015, meaning overall sales for the day — before Black Friday even began — could reach a record high. This holiday weekend is the busiest shopping period of the year, even as more and more retailers are beginning their sales earlier in the month. Though holiday shopping dollars are being spread more evenly across November and December, analysts still expect $3 billion to be spent online today.
Know This: Colombia and FARC have signed their second negotiated peace deal, which now goes to a congressional vote rather than a public referendum. A U.N. official says Myanmar is engaging in “ethnic cleansing” against its Rohingya Muslim minority. And dozens died when two passenger trains in Iran collided.
Read This: The game Hammerschlagen, or Stump — where players throw a hammer in the air, catch it, and hammer a nail into a stump — is seeing a shortage of available tree stumps.
Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB quiz.
This lovely lady’s story has reached its close. Henderson, the youngest of 10 children, was only 12 when her mother left the family. But she became perhaps pop culture’s most famous mom as blended-family matriarch Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch and its many spinoffs. She also hosted talk shows, starred on Broadway, penned a memoir, appeared on Dancing With the Stars, and launched her own cooking show. Henderson died yesterday after being hospitalized for heart failure. Her last film, Grandmothers Murder Club, will be released in 2017.
About dam time. The beaver fur craze that expanded to America centuries ago saw the animals hunted to extinction in Britain and much of Europe. But after the five-year Scottish Beaver Trial, the U.K.’s first-ever mammal reintroduction program, the furry critters are officially a native species once more. Besides reestablishing a healthy population of beavers in Scotland’s lochs and rivers, the move is expected to benefit whole ecosystems: Beaver dams create wetlands that provide homes to other creatures, so the reintroduction’s already being hailed as a conservation win.
The class divide is a classroom divide. The blue-collar white voters who powered Donald Trump to the presidency have seen their employment prospects and life expectancies decline in the last three decades as technological advances leave the less-educated behind. With America’s public schools failing students of all races, the only solution is massive investment and retooling. The goal should be a vast increase in postsecondary enrollment — a high school degree doesn’t cut it anymore — in order to tackle the real alienation and despair that fueled Trump’s rise.
Better start making friends. A new study revealed that the stress of low social status can damage the immune system — at least for rhesus monkeys. Researchers studied 9,000 genes in the immune cells of 45 monkeys ranked in a pecking order and discovered that higher-ranking monkeys’ white blood cells were better at fighting viruses. When the animals were reassigned different social statuses, immune response boosts were noted in those moving up — which could help explain life expectancy discrepancies in humans, and maybe point to ways they could be improved.
They’re taking extra helpings. Dallas won its 10th consecutive game yesterday 31-26 by holding off the Redskins with fourth-quarter precision from a rookie quarterback. Dak Prescott ensured that the Cowboys retain the league’s best record and a two-game division lead. In other Thanksgiving football treats, Detroit pulled off yet another fourth quarter comeback to best Minnesota 16-13 and put the Lions in position for their first division title since 1993. And Pittsburgh pounded the Andrew Luck-less Colts 28-7 to move atop the AFC North.