New year, new nukes: North Korea's supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, announced on state media Wednesday (it's already 2020 in North Korea) that the "country no longer felt bound by its self-imposed moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles," reports the New York Times. Kim also
said threatened that Earth will witness a new strategic weapon "in the near future." Do we get to stop paying our student and medical debt if they nuke us? Wishful thinking. Anyhow, here's the story, and here's my favorite part of it:
Mr. Kim was expected to make his annual New Year’s address within hours, and it remained unclear if a test was imminent. It is possible that Mr. Kim’s announcement on Wednesday is, by itself, the warning shot he wants to send to prod Mr. Trump, on the eve of a presidential election year, to begin lifting sanctions.
What are you doing for New Year's Eve? I think I have a sinus infection. Party. I'm considering staying home, eating oysters, and tallying up all the enemies I've defeated this decade. But if you still need ideas for tonight...
If you feel like going to bed early: Just watch these livestreams from London and Dubai and pretend you stayed up until midnight.
Rich guy flees Japan: Are you following the story of Carlos Ghosn's escape from Japan? It's wild. "It was a cinematic escape, carried out just before New Years Day, Japan’s most important holiday, when government agencies and most businesses close for as long as a week," writes the New York Times.
Tech journalist Kara Swisher makes her predictions for the next decade: She predicts that more tech will address climate change, automation will start to be used for good, diversity will rise, and "most tech will become invisible." How cheery! Read her whole great column.
A headline that makes me sad: On land, Australia’s rising heat is ‘apocalyptic.’ In the ocean, it’s even worse.
The outback is cooking: The Australian bushfires continue to rage. More people died from the fires today, adding to yesterday's death count, with at least one person still missing in New South Wales. There are more than 100 fires burning in that Australian state. Watch this interview if you feel like spending your New Year's Eve crying into your computer:
In Victoria, Mallacoota resident Dave McFarlane lost the home he built by hand 30 years ago to the bushfires overnight.— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) January 1, 2020
He says he tried desperately to save his property, but was forced to evacuate when the embers began to attack. @JaydeVincent#9News pic.twitter.com/4p1xyL11Mt
The rich get richer: The U.S. stock market has "surged in 2019 despite the ongoing U.S.-China trade war." Corporate debt levels, however, are also at record highs. Today, the final trading day of the decade, ended like this:
Tuesday’s performance capped off a strong year for stocks. The S&P 500 was up 28.9% for 2019, its biggest one-year gain since 2013, when it rallied 29.6%. The Nasdaq also had its best one-year performance in six years after rallying 35.2% in 2019. The Dow rose 22.3% in 2019, its best annual performance since 2017.
Continuing with our Golden Globe nominee spotlight: In the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy category, we have actress and rapper Awkwafina for The Farewell. Written and directed by the talented Lulu Wang, The Farewell is a semi-autobiographical film about Wang's "story of an elaborate attempt to keep someone ignorant—her grandmother—and how her family pulled it off." Awkwafina is cast as Wang's doppelganger, a character named Billi. The Farewell is controversially nominated for best Foreign Language film, but today I want to specifically highlight Awkwafina. Riding high off a blockbuster appearance in Crazy Rich Asians, Awkwafina established herself as a leading actor this year, mining Wang's thoughtful script to produce a wry, funny, and restless performance. I've been a fan since she rapped about her vagina. Happy to see her rise.
But will she win Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy? She has a good chance, although it's hard to tell this year. Most critics are leaning toward Awkwafina winning the award, with Ana de Armas from Knives Out in second place. Also nominated: Emma Thompson from Late Nite, Beanie Feldstein from Booksmart, and Cate Blanchett from Where'd You Go Bernadette? If Awkwafina wins, it could put her within reach of receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. The Golden Globes are this Sunday. Here's a trailer for The Farewell: