Phone Use by Children Under Scrutiny.
Worry over the effects of extended phone use in young children is no longer just for concerned parent groups - two influential Apple shareholders are pushing the company to examine the effects of phone addiction on kids. The two investors - Jana Partners and the California State Teachers' Retirement System - own more than $2B in Apple stock and sent a letter to the company's Board of Directors urging action. Research has uncovered links between extended phone use in teens and pre-teens decreased attention spans, less sleep, decreased empathy, and high chances of having a risk factor for suicide. 

Record Price Tag for Natural Disasters in 2017.

A new report tallies 2017 as the most expensive year on record for damage from natural disasters in the US. The total, estimated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, hit a staggering $306B, blowing past the previous record of $215B set in 2011 (see report). The frequency of high-impact disasters is also increasing, with 16 disasters that inflicted over $1B on their own in 2017 - the most since 2011 and almost 3x the 30-year average of 5.8 billion-dollar events (adjusted for inflation). While the list includes hailstorms in Colorado and droughts in the High Plains, the major damage was done by hurricanes, with Harvey, Irma, and Maria accounting for $265B in damage. Experts said while changes in climate play a factor, so does poor urban planning and deteriorating infrastructure. 

Protected Status US Salvadorans Removed.
The White House removed temporary protected status (TPS) for US Salvadorans, putting in peril the status of up to 200,000 people who relocated to the US. The program grants temporary immigration status to citizens in cases where their countries are experiencing disruptions like natural disasters, civil war, or other issues. Salvadorans living in the US under the current protected status will have to return home by September 2019 or face deportation. A 2017 report found that 51% of Salvadorans with the status had been in the country over 20 years, and 34% had homes with mortgages. In a statement, officials said only Congress has the ability to provide permanent legal status for those living under TPS. El Salvador is the fourth country to have such protections expire in the past four months. 
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Sports, Entertainment & Culture.

> Alabama defeats Georgia in overtime to win the College Football Playoff national championship (More) | Alabama's 5th title in nine seasons (More)
> BAFTA Film Awards (British version of the Oscars) nominations announced; The Shape of Water leads with 12 nominations (More)
> NFL announces Pink will perform national anthem at Super Bowl (More)

Science & Technology.

> CRISPR gene editing in humans hits hurdle, some people's immune system may attack, prevent the treatment (More) | What is CRISPR? (More
> Scientists identify gene mutations linked to severe obesity (More)
> Self-driving startup Aurora partners with chipmaker Nvidia on autonomous vehicles (More)

Business & Markets.

> GoPro Q4 revenues fall 37%, announces layoffs and exits drone business (More)
> Hershey and Ferrero bidding on Nestle's US confectionery business (Butterfinger, Baby Ruth) - sources valuing biz unit up to $2.5B (More)
> BioPharam biz Celgene to buy blood-disease biotech firm Impact Biomedicines for up to $7B with earnouts (More)

Politics & World Affairs.

> In symbolic move, North Korea will send delegation to compete at Winter Olympics in South Korea next month (More)
> Ahead of potential Utah Senate bid, source says Mitt Romney underwent procedure to remove prostate cancer last summer (More)
> Regulators reject Administration plan to aid coal and nuclear power plants (More)

Any Journalist's Nightmare. 

Columbia Journalism Review | Meg Dalton. What happens when new subjects commit suicide as a result of investigative reporting? In mid-December, Danny Ray Johnson, a former firebrand pastor turned Kentucky state politician, took his own life amid an investigation by Louisville Public Media into molestation allegations. Can journalists carry blame for pursuing a story

Editor's note: You can listen to the 5-episode podcast, The Pope's Long Con, which followed the investigation. Johnson took his own life between episodes two and three. (Listen here, also on iTunes and Google Play)

Most images of black holes are illustrations. 

Vox | Brian Resnick. An ironic trait of black holes that has plagued researchers for years, is that even when you are very close you still can’t exactly capture an image of one - they are simply too tiny, too dense, and too chaotic. Most images of black holes are just illustrations conceived through the analysis of other astrometric instruments, like X-ray telescopes. Through a series of beautiful photos and simple diagrams, find out how astronomers are piecing their pictures together in order to make a full one.
Americans are identifying as independents at a 42% clip.

Most dads feel like they don't have enough family time (data from Pew Research).  

College students are mining Bitcoin in their dorms while colleges foot the bill.

Photos of Princess Charlotte as she heads off to the first day of school

Survey says up to 33% of NFL fans boycotted the NFL this season

Men named Michael outnumbered female CEOs presenting at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

The top ten places to find a job in 2018

Google memo author files suit over discrimination against conservative white men.  

The busiest air routes in the world may not be what you think

Historybook: Common Sense published by Thomas Paine (1776); HBD Richard Nixon (1913); HBD Joan Baez (1941); HBD Kate Middleton (1982); iPhone makes its debut (2007).
-Joan Baez
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