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Need to Know
US Embassy Attacked 
The US deployed 750 troops to the Middle East and may mobilize up to 3,000 more after Iraqi protesters breached the US embassy Tuesday. The mob broke into the Baghdad compound and set fire to the reception area before pulling out. Demonstrations resumed Wednesday, though protesters did not enter the compound on the second day. The violent demonstrations were sparked by retaliatory US airstrikes in western Iraq that killed more than two dozen members of the Iran-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah, a group that is part of Iraq's complex and loosely organized Popular Mobilization Forces (what is that?). The Iraqi government called the attacks a violation of the country's sovereignty; US officials pinned blame for the protests on Iran but called on Iraq to protect the US embassy.

The protests come as anti-Iranian sentiment in Iraq was surging, in conjunction with broader demonstrations over a lifeless economy and government corruption. 
Markets Dominate in '19
US stock markets closed out some of the strongest annual gains of the last decade Tuesday, capping a year that saw record highs in the three major indices. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the year up 22.3% (to 22,538), the S&P 500 rose 28.9% (to 3,230), while the Nasdaq was up a whopping 35.3% (to 8,972). It was the best year since 2013 for the latter two, fueled by technology stocks which rose 48%: Apple (up 86%) and Microsoft (up 55%) in particular accounted for 15% of the S&P 500's growth. The gains extended the longest bull market in US history - when markets rise at least 20% from the previous low without dropping more than 20% from the most recent high - an upswing that began on March 9, 2009, at the nadir of the Great Recession. The strong performance comes amid low unemployment (3.6%) and rising income inequality, which sit at a 50-year low and high, respectively.  

Here is a great review of the biggest business trends of the 2010s
CRISPR Researcher Jailed
China sentenced a prominent scientist to three years in prison for allegedly carrying out a clandestine research program to genetically modify human babies, officials announced Monday. The researcher, He Jiankui, gained worldwide notoriety in October 2018 after announcing that he used CRISPR gene-editing to confer HIV-1 resistance on in-vitro fertilized twin embryos - apparently unbeknownst to the Chinese government. Moreover, the announcement was made only after the babies were born and appeared to be healthy, keeping research under wraps for months. The technique is capable of making precise alterations at specific locations in DNA (see 101), but can also cause unpredictable changes to the DNA around where the edit occurs, which may not be realized until the subject grows older. The news caused an uproar in the scientific community, with critics calling the efforts reckless and unethical. 
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In the Know
Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> David Stern, former NBA commissioner who oversaw major growth of the league for 30 years, dies at 77 (More) | Basketball community reacts to Stern’s death (More)
> 2019 domestic box office hauls in $11.4B, down 4% from 2018’s high but one of top three years of all time; 20th Century Fox, Disney combine for 40% of box office market (More)
> Picasso painting Bust of a Woman worth $26.5M is vandalized at Tate Modern art gallery in London (More)
Science & Technology
> Century-old tuberculosis vaccine found to offer near-complete protection when injected intravenously instead of into the skin (More)
> Researchers demonstrate first chip-to-chip transfer of information using quantum teleportation; multiphoton states were transported through silicon photonic circuitry (More) | What is quantum entanglement? (More)
> Cross-section analysis of juvenile T. Rex fossils suggests species could slow growth during periods of food scarcity; study also casts doubt on the existence of Nanotyrannus species (More)
Business & Markets
> Carlos Ghosn - former CEO of Nissan arrested in November 2018 for financial misconduct - flees Japan to Lebanon after being smuggled out of house arrest by private security company (More)
> President Trump scheduled to sign phase one trade deal with China at White House on Jan. 15 (More)
> Anti-robocall law passes, aims to reduce the more than 30 billion robocalls Americans receive per year (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announces end to self-imposed moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles (More)
> Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to seek immunity from corruption charges; Netanyahu was indicted in November over allegations he traded political favors worth hundreds of millions for gifts and positive press coverage (More)
> Eight killed on New Year's Eve as bushfires continue to rage through Australia; officials evacuate thousands from coastal towns ahead of triple-digit heat and high winds expected to fuel fires (More)
We Just Had the Best Decade in Human History
Spectator USA | Matt RIdley. The world faces an array of challenges, many of which have no clear solution or face odds that seem insurmountable. But that masks tremendous progress that has been made in areas like health, poverty, the environment, and more. (Read)
My Semester With the Snowflakes
Medium/GEN | James Hatch. As one of the oldest freshmen in Yale's class of 2023, Hatch - a former Navy SEAL - discovers everything he thought he knew about coddled college students turned out to be wrong. (Read)
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Cities around the world ring in the new decade (w/photos). 
...or does the decade begin next year
Seven science-based ways to keep your New Year's resolutions.

From our partners: Here's why you might be overpaying for renters or home insurance. #Ad
The attitudes and opinions that shaped the last decade
TS Eliot letters to be unveiled after six decades
Amazon is opening a homeless shelter... inside its headquarters
Rowing team becomes the first to cross the perilous Drake Passage unassisted.
One relationship tale with a very unexpected plot twist ($$, WashPo).
Clickbait: Reporter quits job on air after winning the lottery but before checking the payout
Historybook: Reconquista completed (1492); Viet Cong achieve first major victory of Vietnam War (1963); President Ronald Reagan sworn in as CA governor (1967); President Jimmy Carter ends US-Russia detente (1980); HBD actress Kate Bosworth (1983).
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