Jobs, Pensacola, Art Basel: Your Friday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. The U.S. added 266,000 jobs in November, a strong gain that offered a counterpoint to renewed anxieties over trade and a weakening global economy.

The Labor Department’s report was much stronger than the one last month, helped in part by the end of a General Motors strike. The hearty performance offers President Trump something he can tout after criticism this week for fueling trade tensions.

Conventional wisdom seems to have been too pessimistic about how much the economy could grow before setting off inflation, our senior economics correspondent writes. Here’s how a strong job market proved the experts wrong.

2. A member of the Saudi military killed three people at Naval Air Station Pensacola before he was shot dead by officers responding to the scene. Eight people were also wounded.

The base’s commanding officer said the gunman was “training in aviation” but declined to comment on whether the shooting was being investigated as an act of terrorism. The Pensacola, Fla., base has long hosted international students for flight training. Here’s the latest.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia called President Trump to offer his condolences and share that Saudis are infuriated by the shooting, Mr. Trump said.

The shooting was the second this week at a Navy base.

3. Pete Buttigieg has been largely mum about his three years at McKinsey & Company. We talked to six former McKinsey employees to help fill in the blanks.

McKinsey, the world’s most prestigious consulting firm, is a famously secretive employer, and Mr. Buttigieg, above in 2004, says he signed a nondisclosure agreement that keeps him from going into detail about his work there. But as he gains ground in polls, his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination are pushing for answers.

In other 2020 news, Michael Bloomberg brushed back criticism that he was using his wealth to buy success in the presidential race, arguing that other Democrats “had a chance to go out and make a lot of money” themselves and then use it to fund their campaigns.


4. “To be queer, to be black, to be trans in America today, you constantly live in fear.”

That’s Ash Penn, above, who lives in North Carolina and is transgender, talking about the seismic policy shift transgender people are facing under the Trump administration. But what distinguishes the transgender initiative from other socially conservative policies is its sweep: It hits at virtually every department of the federal government.

White House officials reject any implication that the policies are motivated by intolerance, and said the multiagency efforts to roll back legal protections for transgender people were merely correcting efforts by the Obama administration that exceeded presidential authority.


5. Having a legal right to die helped Marieke Vervoort live her life. She became a gold medal-winning sprinter at the Paralympics. Then the pain caught up with her.

Our journalists spent almost three years with Vervoort and her parents, above, as they wrestled with her decision to die by euthanasia, which has been legal in her home country of Belgium since 2002.

Vervoort suffered from a degenerative muscle disease and had been in a wheelchair for 20 years. What they saw was a top athlete taking control of her own destiny in an extraordinary fashion.


6. Anthony Comello is accused of carrying out one of New York City’s most brazen mob killings in history. His paranoia is being litigated in a Staten Island court.

Mr. Comello, 25, has claimed that he killed Francesco Cali, the underboss of the Gambino crime family, because Mr. Cali was part of “the deep state,” a member of a liberal cabal working to undermine President Trump.

His lawyer argues that Mr. Comello is obsessed with conspiracy theories, not competent to stand trial and should receive psychiatric treatment. But the novel defense hinges on a thorny issue: At what point does belief in a far-right conspiracy theory make you legally insane?


7. Have you heard the one about the $120,000 banana?

In a gesture straight out the Marcel Duchamp playbook, Maurizio Cattelan pinned a banana to the wall with gray duct tape at Art Basel Miami. The work is aptly titled “Comedian,” and three buyers paid between $120,000 and $150,000 apiece.

The artwork has prompted the very buzz that Mr. Cattelan has long been a master at generating, our culture reporter writes. Still unclear is what owners of the work will do when their bananas rot.

“What is the big deal about changing the banana regularly?” the founder of the gallery that represents Mr. Cattelan said. “Everybody changes flowers regularly.”


8. And in more edible pursuits: Our 50 best recipes of 2019.

Among the most viewed recipes over the past year: vinegar chicken with crushed olive dressing, above, (No. 1); Via Carota’s insalata verde (No. 2); creamy chickpea pasta with spinach and rosemary (No. 5); Lisbon chocolate cake (No. 10); and sweet potatoes with tahini butter (No. 20).

Melissa Clark, our Food columnist, added one more recipe to the mix: homemade caramel corn. You’ll never want to buy it from a store again.


9. If there was a tooth fairy in the Cretaceous period, dinosaurs kept it busy.

Dinosaurs replaced their pearly whites more often than scientists thought, losing tens or even hundreds of sets over a lifetime, new research shows.

Scientists focused on one carnivore in particular — Majungasaurus crenatissimus, a 20-foot-long apex predator and the only known cannibal dinosaur — and found that it replaced its chompers more frequently than its herbivore relatives, possibly because of the animal’s propensity for chewing on bones of its prey.

10. And finally, around the world in five kids’ games.

Hand-clapping games are played in schoolyards everywhere, in every language. Eventually they find their way to New York City — in Haitian Creole, Korean, Spanish, Arabic and Polish, just to name a few.

But unlike nursery rhymes, lullabies or children’s songs, these games are conceived of, built upon and passed along by kids, largely girls. And each game — typically a series of choreographed hand claps accompanied with a song — reflects a unique identity of the community it comes from. We sent a team of journalists to capture the spirit and imagination of these games.

Have a delightful weekend.


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