SCOTUS to Hear Colorado Cake Case Today.
The Supreme Court will hear one of the most anticipated cases on this year's docket today in Masterpiece Cakeshop, vs Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case, which stems from the 2012 refusal of a baker to make a wedding cake for a gay couple based on religious objections, focuses on whether using the state's anti-discrimination laws to compel service would violate the baker's first amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion. Analysts believe the justices may rule against Masterpiece Cakes - the court declined to even hear a similar case in 2014 by a New Mexico photography studio who refused service to a gay couple and was subsequently fined. See a full preview here

Trump Scales Back Two National Monuments.

President Trump reduced the size of two national monuments in Utah by nearly 2 million acres, the largest such rollback in the nation's history. The move scales back Bears Ears national monument - a pair of buttes long considered sacred by the region's Native American tribes (see photos) - by 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante (photos) by about 50%. While conservative groups have argued the current protected area is too large - the law says the designated areas should be kept as small as is reasonable - environmental groups have already filed suit blocking the action. Both are designated as monuments, as opposed to national parks - national monuments are designated based on their cultural value (see difference).

Olympic Body to Announce Russia Penalties Today.
The International Olympic Committee is expected to announce penalties against Russia for a widespread, state-sponsored doping scandal during the 2014 Olympics. A 2015 investigation concluded that over 1,000 Russian athletes across more than 30 sports had participated in the scheme between 2011 and 2015, which established an elaborate system for Russian athletes to swap their urine for clean samples prior to tests. Russian state security was even implicated. Many critics are pushing for the harshest penalty - an outright ban from the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

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Sports, Entertainment & Culture.

> Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Bryce Love named finalists for Heisman Trophy - college football's annual MVP award - to be awarded Saturday (More)
> Colin Kaepernick, President Trump, Robert Mueller among candidates on shortlist for Time's 2017 Person of the Year to be announced Wednesday (More)
> House of Cards to resume production of 6th season without Kevin Spacey (More)

Science & Technology.

> Facebook rolls out messenger app for pre-teens with built in parental controls (More)
> Amniotic fluid, a rich source of stem cells usually discarded, can now be harvested (More)
> First baby born via womb transplant in US delivered in Dallas hospital (More)

Business & Markets.

> Investors bet on tax reform, Dow hits record high led by bank stocks - JPMorgan, BofA, Wells Fargo & Citi all jump 2% (More)
> American nest eggs at all time high; average 401(k) balance approaching $100k, 52% of families hold retirement accounts (More)
> Hellobike - China's "Uber for bikes" - raises $350M; has 80M users (More)

Politics & World Affairs.

> Yemen's ex-President killed by Houthi rebels, heightens tension of Iran-Saudi Arabia proxy war (More)
> Supreme Court lets Trump travel ban go into full effect while appeals process (More)
> Republican National Committee restores funding to Roy Moore campaign after Trump endorsement (More)

Civil Forfeiture in Wyoming. 

Vox | German Lopez. Phil Parhamovich was driving down I-80, returning from a gig his band played, when Wyoming police pulled him over for speeding. After issuing a $25 ticket, police pressured Parhamovich into searching his vehicle - where they found $91,800 meant to buy a music studio in Wisconsin. Police seized the cash under civil forfeiture law, and Parhamovich has spent the year fighting to get it back (Update: After the article was published a Wyoming judge ordered the money returned). 

Peele and Gerwig Flip the Script. 

Vanity Fair | Rebecca Keegan. Greta and Jordan weren’t the names you thought you'd be talking about over the holidays. In Hollywood, different voices are a breath of fresh air. The success of Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele has been unprecedented, but the two young directors have created two of the best-reviewed films of 2017 - “Lady Bird” and “Get Out.” Get into the indie state of mind and check out these intimate interviews with the film industry’s new elite.
Exposure to innovation creates more inventors (new study from NBER). 

Check out the stunning winners of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait prize.

See the largest employer in every state

Top 25 news photos of the year (from the Atlantic).

A 'Do Not Resuscitate' tattoo caused confusion in an emergency room and sparked an ethics debate.

Start-up launches first-ever flushable pregnancy test.

Rolling Stone's 10 best movies of 2017

Gay Men used to earn less than straight men - now they earn more

Clickbait: China launches first-ever electric cargo ship, will use it to haul coal

Historybook: HBD Martin Van Buren (1782); RIP Mozart (1791); HBD Walt Disney (1901); Prohibition on alcohol ended (1933); RIP Nelson Mandela (2013).
-Nelson Mandela
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