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    If you’ve ever had trouble solving a Rubik’s Cube, a good piece of advice is to break it down into steps. It’s worth a shot: That advice is from the man who made it. Ernő Rubik invented the cube in 1974 and has seen his color-matching puzzle go from a classroom teaching tool in Hungary to a worldwide phenomenon with over 450 million cubes sold and a mini-empire of related toys. The latest brain-teaser is called the Phantom, which takes the 3x3 original cube and adds a memory test: Using thermochromic technology, the tiles revert to black unless the heat of the user’s hand keeps them visible.

      Some $3.1 billion was donated to charitable causes in the U.S. in the 24 hours that are called Giving Tuesday. The movement to donate on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving started as a hashtag in 2012 and 10 years later has become a staple of fundraising for nonprofits. Asha Curran is the CEO of the organization GivingTuesday, which grew out of the hashtag. She said despite a difficult economic year, people we as generous as they had the capacity to be.

        Voters in Oregon passed one of the nation's toughest gun control laws, but the new permit-to-purchase mandate is facing a legal challenge with days to go before it takes effect. A federal judge in Portland will hear oral arguments about whether to put a hold on the law after a joint lawsuit from a gun rights group, a sheriff and a gun store owner. Measure 114 requires new gun buyers to attend a hands-on gun safety course in order to get a permit to buy a new firearm. The law also bans magazines over 10 rounds starting Dec. 8.

          A New Hampshire man is accused of posting a fake Craigslist ad for a free trailer with a legislative candidate’s number on the day of the election, sending a flood of unwanted calls that jammed up the candidate’s cellphone. Authorities say 33-year-old Michael Drouin later told investigators he meant it to be a joke. He was indicted on a felony charge of interference with election communications. The state attorney general's office said Wednesday the charge is related to an April 2021 special election to replace Republican New Hampshire House Speaker Dick Hinch, who died of COVID-19 in December 2020. Drouin didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

          Closing arguments at the Trump Organization’s criminal tax fraud trial got off to a rocky start as a lawyer for the company was caught showing jurors portions of witness testimony that had previously been stricken from the official court record. Prosecutors objected to the display about an hour into lawyer Susan Necheles’ presentation on Thursday. Judge Juan Manuel Merchan admonished Necheles and halted arguments so she could remove any other precluded testimony from a slideshow she was showing to jurors. Necheles said she didn’t intend to show any testimony that had been stricken as a result of a sustained objection. Merchan noted that the objections themselves had been removed from the excerpts Necheles showed, but not the objectionable testimony.

          A House investigations panel says financial technology firms “abdicated” their responsibility to screen out fraud in applications for a federal program designed to help small businesses stay open and keep workers employed during the pandemic. The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis launched its investigation in May 2021 after public reports that the firms were linked to disproportionate numbers of fraudulent loans issued under the Paycheck Protection Program. Former President Donald Trump rolled out the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses stay open and keep their workers employed. President Joe Biden maintained the program and directed money to more low-income and minority-owned companies. All told, $800 billion was spent on the program.

          Jacob Harold believes philanthropy needs more “strategic promiscuity” – battling the world’s problems using a variety of approaches. It’s an idea that mirrors his wide-ranging career. Harold was president and CEO of GuideStar before it merged with Foundation Center to form the even larger nonprofit information source Candid, which he co-founded. To boost those chances, Harold wrote “The Toolbox: Strategies for Crafting Social Impact,” which hit bookshelves Thursday. “The Toolbox” offers nine strategies, or tools, philanthropists can use on a problem – from storytelling to behavioral economics to community organizing.

          Predictions of a recession combined with high interest rates and inflation make it a daunting time to enter the real estate market. That doesn’t make it the wrong time in all cases, though. Small-business owners looking for commercial property should consider their business’s growth stage, along with the cost of borrowing and how that might change what down payment they can afford. Startups may be less inclined to buy than well-established businesses. Real estate agents who specialize in the buyer’s industry can often answer any lingering questions.

          Are you struggling to find the perfect present right now? PennyWise Host Teri Barr is talking with Milvionne Chery, a Personal Finance Editor for WalletHub, to learn how a gift card can take the guesswork (and stress) out of your gift-giving.

          Milvionne also shares five important tips you need to know if you plan to purchase any gift cards for others this holiday season.

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          A measure of inflation that is closely monitored by the Federal Reserve eased but remained at an elevated level in October, likely reinforcing the Fed’s intent to keep raising interest rates to cool the economy and slow the acceleration of prices. The report from the Commerce Department showed that prices rose 6% in October from a year earlier. That was down from 6.3% year-over-year increase in September. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called core inflation over the previous 12 months was 5%, less than the 5.2% annual increase in September.

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          China says leader Xi Jinping has urged negotiations on a political solution to the Ukraine conflict in talks with visiting European Council President Charles Michel in Beijing. State broadcaster CCTV quoted Xi as saying that “solving the Ukrainian crisis through political means is in the best interest of Europe and the common interest of all countries in Eurasia." China has made such statements repeatedly in the past, while refusing to condemn Russia's invasion and criticizing sanctions against Moscow. EU officials say Michel's one-day visit is devoted to seeking a balance between the EU’s wish for more exports to China and the need to be firm with Beijing in the defense of democracy and fundamental freedoms.

          Word of anti-lockdown protests in China spread on domestic social media for a short period last weekend, thanks to a rare pause in the cat-and-mouse game that goes on between millions of Chinese internet users and the country’s gargantuan censorship machine. Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the country’s internet via a complex, multi-layered censorship operation that blocks access to almost all foreign news and social media, and blocks topics and keywords considered politically sensitive or detrimental to the Chinese Communist Party’s rule. Videos of or calls to protest are usually deleted immediately. But at moments of overwhelming public anger, experts said, the system can struggle to keep up.

          A Hong Kong court has postponed a pro-democracy newspaper publisher's trial. Jimmy Lai faces a possible life sentence if convicted under a National Security Law imposed by Beijing. Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee asked Beijing to decide whether foreign lawyers who don't normally practice in Hong Kong can be rejected for national security cases. The objection came after judges on Monday approved Lai’s plan to hire British human rights lawyer Timothy Owen. The trial is being delayed until Beijing makes a decision. If Beijing intervenes, that would mark the sixth time the Communist-ruled government has stepped into the city’s legal affairs.

          Google is challenging a record European Union antitrust fine that took aim at the Android operating system’s role in restricting mobile competition and consumer choice. The company said Thursday that it filed the appeal against the $4.3 billion penalty “because there are areas that require legal clarification from the European Court of Justice,” the bloc’s top court. Google had appealed to a lower tribunal, which largely sided with the EU’s executive Commission by slightly lowering the fine from the original penalty issued in 2018. The fine was one of three blockbuster antitrust penalties totaling more than $8 billion that the commission hit Google with between 2017 and 2019.

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