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Hard Numbers: Santa sees holiday sales surge, Ukraine scores a win at sea, Catholic monasteries busy brewin’ beer, Opposition candidates cry fraud in Congo

Santa does his holiday shopping

Santa does his holiday shopping

(Photo by Telmo Pinto/NurPhoto
3.1: The Christmas spirit proved stronger than inflation this December, with American retail sales rising 3.1 percent over the same period last year. But Santa Claus can’t take all the credit. The holiday sales surge was largely driven by a healthy labor market and wage gains, suggesting that although inflation is hurting Americans’ pocketbooks, the overall US economy remains strong.

360: As the Ukraine War grinds into a stalemate on land, at sea Kyiv scored a win against Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet when it destroyed a 360 foot warship at port in Russian-occupied Crimea. The successful attack came as Ukrainian officials acknowledged that they had lost the month-long battle to maintain control of the eastern city of Marinka.

13: The Christmas season is a busy time for Catholic monasteries around the world, but especially for 13 Trappist monasteries across Europe, responsible for producing the world’s supply of Trappist beer. Trappist beer – often lauded as the best, as well as the holiest, beer – flies off the monastery’s shelves at Christmas, with the sole UK monastery selling nearly a third of the 105,000 liters it produces each year over the holiday season.

18: The 18 opposition candidates in Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election plan to march on the capital city, Kinshasa, on Wednesday over alleged election fraud. Although the official results won’t be released until December 31st, early results show the incumbent Felix Tshisekedi far ahead of his challengers, winning almost 79% of the 6.1 million votes counted so far.

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