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Judge Temporarily Blocks WeChat Ban

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A federal judge has temporarily blocked the U.S. ban of the WeChat app.

What We Know:

  • President Trump previously banned WeChat downloads in the U.S. with an executive order. In a preliminary injunction, Judge Laurel Beeler ruled in favor of the plaintiffs – a group of American WeChat users. Judge Beeler wrote that the plaintiffs raised “serious questions” that the WeChat ban threatens their First Amendment rights.
  • “The plaintiffs’ evidence reflects that WeChat is effectively the only means of communication for many in the community, not only because China bans other apps, but also because Chinese speakers with limited English proficiency have no options other than WeChat,” Beeler wrote. Judge Beeler also wrote that the executive order does not provide sufficient evidence that it is purely about national security concerns regarding China and that there are alternatives to an outright ban.
  • Australia has also taken action with WeChat by banning it from government devices.
  • The Commerce Department has placed restrictions on the TikTok and WeChat apps. The implementation of the TikTok restrictions has been delayed because President Trump recently announced that TikTok had reached an approved deal with Oracle and Walmart to operate in the U.S. The judge’s ruling not only blocks the WeChat ban, but it also blocks government efforts to restrict other companies from hosting WeChat’s internet traffic.
  • The lawsuit challenging the executive order was filed by the U.S. WeChat Users Alliance. The group is a nonprofit representing the interests of U.S. WeChat users. WeChat is used by 1.2 billion people around the world and by approximately 19 million people in the U.S. The group’s lawyers pointed out the president’s overwhelming anti-China sentiments, such as his numerous “China virus” and “Kung-Flu” quotes.

This action quite literally happened at the last minute. WeChat was set to cease operating in the U.S. at midnight on Sunday. The WeChat ban is now blocked thanks to the U.S. WeChat Users Alliance lawsuit and Judge Beeler’s ruling.

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Sagar is a Digital Intern at UnmutedCo. He graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in Trumpet Performance and Economics. Sagar writes for Black News Alerts and the BNA Daily Podcast. He also produces the BossFM Morning Show.

Business

Under Armour Launches Curry Brand

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Under Armour is launching an offshoot brand for their biggest star athlete: Stephen Curry.

What We Know:

  • Under Armour announced the launch of Curry Brand on Monday. Steph Curry and Under Armour have a longstanding relationship and he is their most visible and popular athlete.
  • The new line will feature athletic apparel for a number of sports, mainly basketball and golf. Curry Brand’s first basketball sneakers will be available starting December 11. Curry has said that playing multiple sports growing up was a big part of his development.

“I always played other sports, got exposed to a lot of different skill sets and people, and that was big in my development. I feel like whatever a kid is interested in, we want to be able to present an opportunity to kind of live that out. We are going to start with basketball, and we want to make sure we have the product, programming and the arenas they would be able to go to and participate and hopefully scale out and brand out from there.” – Steph Curry

  • Under Armour hopes that Curry Brand will help them reach younger consumers like their competitor Nike. According to Piper Sandler’s biannual survey, Nike is far and away the favorite apparel brand for teens whereas Under Armour is on the “no longer worn” list.
  • Curry Brand will act similar to Nike’s relationship with the Jordan Brand. Michael Jordan was the face of the NBA and Nike for a long time and Jordan Brand has become one of the most iconic brands of all time. Under Armour is hoping that Curry’s status as one of the best and most popular players in the NBA will help the brand grow.
  • Curry has played his entire career with the Golden State Warriors and is largely recognized as the greatest shooter of all time and one of the best players ever. He is a two-time league-MVP and three-time NBA Champion. He will also be the highest-paid player in the NBA this season, slated to earn just over $43 million for 2020-2021.

The Curry Brand will also partner with the Oakland Unified School District and Positive Coaching Alliance to improve youth access to sports, particularly in lower-income communities.

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Thanksgiving Day Online Sales Hit Record $5.1 Billion

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As the coronavirus pandemic continues into the holidays, many shoppers are turning to online retail. This influx of customers has led to record sales. 

What We Know: 

  • According to Adobe Analytics data, Thanksgiving Day sales hit a new record. Thanksgiving saw a record $5.1 billion spent, increased spending of almost 22% from last year. Adobe analyzed traffic and transactions from 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers. 
  • To precaution traditional holiday traffic, many retailers have extended their Black Friday deals. Stores have done this in hopes of discouraging customers from rushing into stores for only one day. 
  • Customers seem to be avoiding stores all together by buying online. The Adobe Analytics Holiday Forecast 2020 predicts that online holiday spending will surpass $189 billion this year. In surveys conducted by Adobe, one-third of customers will be done with their holiday shopping by Black Friday. In another survey, Adobe predicts that 51% of customers plan to support small businesses on Small Business Saturday. 
  • Taylor Schreiner, Director of Adobe Digital Insights, commented, “We are seeing strong growth as consumers continue to move shopping from offline to online this year. New consoles, phones, smart devices, and TVs that are traditional Black Friday purchases are sharing online shopping cart space this year with unorthodox Black Friday purchases such as groceries, clothes, and alcohol, that would previously have been purchased in-store.” 
  • Black Friday also saw new records. Customers spent $9.03 billion this year compared to last year’s $7.4 billion. This is an increase of 21.6% from last year. Hot items include video game consoles and videogames, LEGOs, Barbies, Hot Wheels, and technology such as Airpods, Apple Watches, Amazon Echos, Samsung TVs, and HP Laptops. 

With the pandemic staying persistent into the winter, it seems that more customers will gravitate towards online shopping rather than the traditional brick and mortar option. Overall, Adobe predicts a 20% to 30% increase in online sales from last year. 

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Florida Walmart Evacuated after Black Friday Parking Lot Fire

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Hernando County Sheriff's deputies evacuated the Brooksville, Florida, Walmart after a fire in a parking lot close to the building. Hernando County Sheriff's Office

Black Friday got off to a real blow-up in Florida due to a trailer exploding outside a Walmart just a few minutes after opening for deal seekers.

What We Know:

  • Hernando County Sheriff’s office described that a sheriff’s officer was already located outside the store in Brooksville to control a possible stampede of customers when he heard an explosion just after Walmart opened at 5 am.
  • After hurrying to the scene and reviewing the three parked tractor-trailers, the deputy was able to help the only occupant to safety. The fire seemed to have started in one of the trailers, then spread to the nearby two trailers as fire squads arrived at the scene.

  • The department stated in a Facebook post:

“As other deputies arrived on scene, they responded to the store to assist with evacuating the store, as the three tractor-trailers were parked very close to the building.”

  • Officials later stated in a post that after the fire was extinguished, customers were finally allowed in at 8 am, three hours after the original opening time.
  • The sheriff’s office mentioned it was not clear what caused the explosion, which is still being investigated. Fortunately, there were no injuries as a result of the explosion/fire.
  • It was not immediately known how many customers had been trying to get into the store at the time, with many reports perceiving there was not the usual rush of deal seekers this year among the pandemic.

According to Adobe Analytics, which measures sales at 80 of the top 100 US online retailers, Black Friday was predicted to generate $10 billion in online sales, a 39 percent boost from last year. On the Monday after Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday is expected to remain the biggest online shopping day of the year with $12.7 billion in sales, a 35 percent jump.

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