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Today is Black Friday, traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year, and this year is no exception in spite of new surges of the coronavirus. In fact, retailers are predicting a record-breaking holiday shopping season. And retail surveys indicate the majority of American shoppers plan to check out this week's deals, whether in person or online. NPR's retail correspondent Alina Selyukh is at the mall at Prince George's talking to shoppers looking for some of those deals in person in Hyattsville, Md., just outside of D.C. Hi, Alina.

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Joe Biden is wasting no time getting ready for the White House.

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Six U.S. oil executives held for three years in Venezuela were convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms Thursday.

Known as the Citgo 6, the men are all employees of the Houston-based refining company of the same name, which is owned by Venezuela's state oil company, PDVSA.

Five of the men, Gustavo Cárdenas, Jorge Toledo, Jose Luis Zambrano and Alirio Zambrano, and Tomeu Vadell, all U.S. citizens, were sentenced to eight years and 10 months. Jose Pereira, a permanent resident of the U.S., received 13 years, The Associated Press reports.

Yuko Watanabe had to learn a lot of plant names. She lists them with as much confidence as she does her extensive soup menu. Calathea, pothos, Swedish ivy, song of India.

For over a decade, her Yuko Kitchen has fed Los Angeles Japanese comfort food — something like your friend's mom might cook for you after the school, Watanabe says. But this pandemic spring, when streets emptied and her phones grew quiet, a mini-jungle took over the chairs and tables, her cafes pivoting to sell nourishment both for the body and the soul.

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James Wolfensohn, whose reforms as the head of the World Bank Group for a decade made him known as a champion of the world's poor, died Tuesday in New York. He was 86.

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As coronavirus cases surge around the country in record-breaking numbers, Kelly Fields is shouldering a delicate balancing act to keep her restaurant running and her employees safe.

The chef has prepared a menu of Thanksgiving specials and "pies galore" for Willa Jean, a New Orleans establishment she owns, noted for its Southern cuisine.

But, as for other small business owners, the holiday will be yet another test.

Publishing company Simon & Schuster has been sold to its competitor Penguin Random House. The news was announced Wednesday by Simon & Schuster's parent company, ViacomCBS.

The $2.175 billion sale is expected to close in 2021, pending regulatory approvals.

Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Ala., have notified federal labor authorities of their plans to hold a unionization vote, teeing up a potentially groundbreaking labor battle at the retail giant known for its opposition to unionizing.

A filing, posted by the National Labor Relations Board, says Amazon workers at the fulfillment center outside of Birmingham want to form a bargaining unit of all 1,500 full- and part-time employees at the facility, to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

New claims for unemployment benefits jumped last week for the second week in a row, signaling ongoing weakness in the job market as coronavirus infections continue to soar.

The Labor Department reported 778,000 people applied for state benefits in the week ending Saturday, an increase of 30,000 from the previous week.

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We are beginning in Europe, where leaders have been responding to President-elect Joe Biden's key Cabinet picks.

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Just a few months into the coronavirus pandemic, Holly Smith had already made up her mind. She was not going to reopen her restaurant to diners until there was a vaccine. She just didn't think it was safe. When she shared the decision with her staff, they asked: Would the vaccine be mandatory?

Yes, she said. It would be.

When the Department of Health and Human Services released Pfizer's $1.95 billion coronavirus vaccine contract with Operation Warp Speed last Wednesday, the agreement revealed that the Trump administration didn't include government rights to intellectual property typically found in federal contracts.

The Fox News Channel has reached a private settlement with the parents of the slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. The network had baselessly reported in May 2017 that Rich leaked thousands of Democratic party emails to Wikileaks during the height of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Tesla's skyrocketing share prices have made Elon Musk the world's second-richest person, with a net worth of nearly $128 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Musk edged past Bill Gates on Tuesday. Only Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is worth more.

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Brainstorm ideas for a business startup, and winter outdoor dining in Alaska might not top your list.

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Stocks powered through a historic milestone today. The Dow hit 30,000 for the first time ever. President Trump, who's been mostly staying out of the public eye since the election, appeared briefly at the White House to celebrate.

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The Salvation Army's bell ringers, a longtime fixture outside malls and stores around the U.S., are a staple holiday tradition. But this year, with the coronavirus pandemic raging and many stores closed, people won't be hearing as many of those bells ringing.

Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET

Not even the pandemic could keep the Dow from breaking a major milestone: the 30,000-point barrier.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average powered past 30,000 for the first time Tuesday after President Trump allowed the transition process to begin, even as he has yet to concede.

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After a three-year pause, Twitter is going to let you ask for those little blue check marks again.

The company said Tuesday it will start reviewing applications in 2021 under newly released guidelines.

The blue check, which means Twitter has verified a user's identity, is seen as a status symbol on the platform but the process by which the checks were issued has long been murky and inconsistent.

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Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET

The United States has had 77 Treasury secretaries in the last 231 years. So far, they've all been men.

That's about to change.

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to head the Treasury Department, a source close to the transition told NPR on Monday

If confirmed, Yellen would play a leading role in shaping economic policy as the United States continues to dig its way out of the deep hole caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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