The United States Men's National Soccer Team will miss the 2018 World Cup for the first time since 1986 after losing to Trinidad and Tobago - a country with a population just over 1.3 million - in the qualifying round of play. The US  started the evening in a great spot, needing only a win or draw to effectively clinch a birth in the Cup. Instead, the 2-1 loss on a water-logged pitch - combined with improbable wins by Honduras, who stunned Mexico, and Panama, who beat Costa Rica with a goal in the 88th minute - caused the US to finish 5th out of 6 teams in the regional qualifying round (top four advance). While it doesn't help that Panama scored what looked to be a phantom opening goal, many blame the loss on persistent poor defensive playThe 2018 World Cup will be hosted by Russia - see who has qualified so far. 

The next steps in the independence saga for Spain's Catalonia region took a perplexing turn yesterday as the head of its regional government, Carles Puigdemont, signed and then suspended a declaration of independence. The move disappointed many of the two million supporters that turned out in last week's chaotic referendum, which was outlawed by the central government - Puigdemont had spent the week setting the stage for a clean break. In reality, for Catalonia to achieve true independence, the Spanish government would need to militarily abandon the region - while it may not have the military means to separate from Spain it wields a large economic lever, accounting for almost 20% of the country's GDP. In a twist, the picturesque Aran Valley may split from Catalonia if independence goes through - they support the Spanish government. 

Ayla Albayrak.
Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak was sentenced to more than two years in Turkish prison after being accused of engaging in terrorist propaganda. Albayrak, who holds dual Turkish and Finnish citizenship, was jailed in absentia - she is currently in the United States - over a 2015 story about the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party that was published in the Journal, an American publication (article in question here). The decision is another step in Turkey's ongoing crackdown on press freedom (see Freedom House report), and will complicate the already-worsening US-Turkish relations - currently plagued by the arrest of a Turkish employee at the US consulate in Istanbul. 

Learn something new? Share below and help us grow.

Sports, Entertainment & Culture.

> Multiple women share accounts of sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein in New Yorker exclusive (More)
> Memo to NFL owners outlines plan to discuss anthem controversy at league meeting next week (More) | Speculation that league will require players to stand for anthem (More)
> Running back Adrian Peterson traded from New Orleans Saints to Arizona Cardinals (More)

Science & Technology.

> Publishers threaten to pull down up to 7 million papers from ResearchGate, world's largest scientific paper resource, over copyright infringement (More)
> Scientists link first trimester fevers with face, heart defects in newborns (More)
> Deep ocean wind farms could generate up to 5x the electricity of land-based wind (More)

Business & Markets.

> Wal-Mart projects 40% e-commerce growth next year, shares rise 4.5% to $250B+ value (More)
> Russia's Central Bank follows China, South Korea, blocks sale of cryptocurrencies (More) | Bitcoin, Ethereum, other cryptocurrencies remain stable (More)
> Tujia - the AirBnB of China - raises $300M at $1.5B valuation (More)

Politics & World Affairs.

> Reports say North Korea hacked South Korea's military last year, recovered US war plans including 'decapitation' attack to remove NK leader (More)
> Supreme Court upholds life sentence of bin Laden's "media officer", held at Guantánamo (More)
> Death toll from Northern CA wildfires grows to 17, over 150 still missing (More)
Two studies say men are more selfish than women.

See how many hours you need to work to pay rent in each state.

Western NY town passes law so parents of bullies could face jail time.

Data: Just 3% of Americans own about 50% of country’s guns.

Watch how the US military refuels B-52 warplanes in midair.

Photos: Best & worst baseball uniforms in history (from Esquire).

Deep Dives: Shipwreck excavation off Greek coast uncovers rare bronze statues (w/ cool dive photos). 

Christie's will auction off last privately held Da Vinci painting for $100M.

Meet the Porgs: the newest adorable Star Wars sidekick your kid is going to love.
Really Threading the Needle There: San Antonio high school changes name from Robert E. Lee High to Legacy of Educational Excellence (L.E.E. HS).

Historybook: Earthquake kills 300,000 in India (1737); Yellow fever breaks out in Philadelphia, kills 5,000 (1793); RIP Meriwether Lewis (1809); HBD Eleanor Roosevelt (1884); Apollo 7 launches (1968); Saturday Night Live debuts (1975); Reagan and Gorbachev meet in Iceland (1986).
-Eleanor Roosevelt
Got feedback? We're waiting to hear from you. Drop us a line at [email protected].

Check out past editions here.

Join a community of over 3.6 million intellectually curious individuals.

100% free. Unsubscribe anytime.

Don't miss out on the daily email read by over 3.6 million intellectually curious readers.