The News You Need To Read This Morning

The undeniable politics of the World Cup, the first Black person to lead a party in Congress, and the Facebook Poke in 2022.

This is an excerpt from Incoming, BuzzFeed News’ morning newsletter dedicated to making sense of this chaotic world we live in. Join the club here.

Hakeem Jeffries is the next head of the House Democrats, becoming the first Black person to lead a party in Congress

Nancy Pelosi in blue standing next to Hakeem Jeffries in a suit

As Democrats in the House of Representatives head into the minority in the next Congress, for the first time in almost two decades they won't be led by Nancy Pelosi.

Democratic House members officially voted Wednesday to elect her replacement as Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who had been running unopposed. Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced earlier this month she'd be stepping down as leader of the House Democrats but remaining in Congress. Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts was elected as whip, while Rep. Pete Aguilar of California was elected as caucus chair.

Jeffries is 52 — three decades younger than Pelosi — and his expected election had been touted as a generational change for the Democrats. The new leader of the Democrats said in a letter declaring his candidacy that his "three operating principles" would be empowering all members to do more, prioritizing their security after the attack on the Capitol, and reclaiming the majority in the 2024 elections.

Accountability for Russia

  • The president of the European Commission proposed putting together an international court to prosecute Russia for possible war crimes. According to the New York Times, developing such a court would require overcoming "significant procedural hurdles," and that buy-in from the Kremlin seems extremely unlikely.

  • Senior US official Elizabeth Rood said that the government "has put a significant proposal on the table" regarding Russia's release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. However, the Guardian reports, Russia has yet to offer a serious response.

SNAPSHOTS

Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie has died at age 79. "She passed away peacefully at hospital this morning, Wednesday, November 30th 2022, following a short illness. She was in the company of her family," McVie's family said in a statement.

A Filipina woman who was brutally attacked in a hate crime at her apartment building said she has "lost my peace of mind." Tammel Esco was sentenced to 17.5 years in prison for repeatedly punching and stomping on the 67-year-old woman in March 2022. Stop AAPI Hate, a group that tracks reports of hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, received almost 11,500 reports of hate incidents from March 2020 to April 2022.

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's divorce has been finalized after a two-year battle. This is the rundown of their child support, custody, and mediation arrangements.

Spotify Wrapped is out and people are basing their whole identities around it. What began as a marketing campaign for Spotify has morphed into a paradox of image and self-reflection (and also…a very successful marketing campaign).

Iranian players may be out of the World Cup, but they stole the show anyway

A huge Iranian flag; in the background is a row of Iranian soccer players

In the days leading up to Iran’s World Cup match against the US, the stakes were as high as could be, Albert Samaha writes: Only one of these teams would advance, while the other would have to wait four more years until their next World Cup opportunity. And last week, before their first game of the tournament, Iranian players refrained from singing their national anthem, in an act of solidarity with the Iranians protesting 22-year-old Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody.

Iran’s government then ordered the players to end their protest, threatening to imprison and torture their loved ones back home, CNN reported, though players have publicly denied this. Before their second game on Friday, Iranian players mouthed the words to the national anthem with grimaced or tearful faces. Meanwhile, US players haven’t been part of any protest effort this World Cup, despite host country Qatar's draconian anti-LGBTQ laws and the deadly labor conditions involved in building the soccer stadium.

Part of what makes the World Cup so exciting is that serious geopolitical issues are inextricable from fans’ investment in the competition. Uruguay hosted and won the first World Cup in 1930 with a victory in the final against Argentina, the country it once shared a federation with after gaining independence from Spain in the early 19th century. West Germany won three World Cups during the decades of partition, and Croatia reached the tournament final for the first time 27 years after the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

Now, we know how the match ended, with the US winning by one goal. But even as I cheered my American brethren’s success, it occurred to me that I was cheering on the villain who ends the journey of this World Cup’s plucky protagonist. Iran’s people care more about soccer than the US’s, and Iran’s players are risking more than any other team to condemn injustice at a World Cup clouded by human rights abuses and suppression of dissent.

IMAGE OF THE DAY

Sydney opera house in the background; floating sparkly Volkswagen in the foreground

Facebook tried to end the Poke, but what is dead may never die

an animated hand with a blue cuffed sleeve reaching out to POKE

The Poke, of course, is a very early feature on Facebook through which you send someone a notification that they’ve been “poked.” In the past, a poke might have seemed flirty or annoying. But in 2022, it’s a twee little wink. A whimsical notion. A harmless trifle.

I went on a poking spree recently after I discovered the long-lost Poke page. It was wonderful. Friends I hadn’t talked to in forever texted or messaged me about it. “I haven’t been poked in 8 years 😂,” a friend who lives far away texted. Another friend messaged “OMG WHY ARE YOU POKING ME?” and then we caught up after a few years in which we hadn’t talked. (He had just been laid off from Meta, ironically.) Another friend who lives far away messaged in response and told me he was expecting his first child next month. A former coworker messaged me, “have you been hacked?”

This is exactly what I want out of a social media interaction. I’m desperately lonely but too exhausted to have a meaningful conversation with someone; I just want to let them know, Hey, I’m still here. Hi. I want a low-effort way of connecting with another human. Frankly, what do you have left but to just poke someone?

Still reading, eh? Seems like you might want to get this in your inbox. No pressure though. Just some food for thought.

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