Conditions Worsen in CA Wildfires.
Continuing dry conditions and near-hurricane force winds have increased the severity of the wildfires ravaging the outskirts of Los Angeles. Bone dry conditions - since October 1st the region has gotten just 0.11 inches of rain compared to the normal 2 inches - combined with gusty Santa Ana winds from inland desert regions (explainer) are driving the massive brush fires faster than local emergency squads can respond. The fires have burned through more than 100,000 acres since Tuesday night and 200,000 face evacuation orders. Forecasts say the conditions could persist for a week or more

Congress (sort of) Avoids Shutdown.
Both the House and Senate passed a short-term funding stopgap bill to avoid a government shutdown. The bills extend funding for federal operations until December 22nd - the deadline to extend funding was tomorrow night at midnight. The timing is designed to leverage the holiday break into forcing legislators to make a deal - Republicans want an increase in defense funding while Democrats want any increase matched by non-defense funding. Democrats also want to see a resolution to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program which protects young undocumented immigrants that was ended by the President over the summer. 

Officials Inch Towards Brexit Agreement.
British and European Union (EU) officials made progress in negotiations for Britain to exit the EU (also known as the "Brexit") on Friday (see Brexit 101). One of the thorniest issues is how to handle the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Trade and travel currently flow unimpeded across the border because both are members of the EU - but North Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and will leave the EU along with Britain. A deal was struck to avoid a 'hard' border - which could stoke historic tensions from decades of sectarian fighting between the two. Britain is scheduled to officially break on March 29, 2019, but negotiations must be wrapped up in time for parliament to approve a deal. 
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Sports, Entertainment & Culture.

> Team USA gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar sentenced to 60 years in jail on child pornography charges (More)
> American Film Institute releases annual lists of Top 10 films and TV Series of the Year (More)
> Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield wins Davey O'Brien (Best Quarterback), Maxwell (Best Player) Awards (More) | Heisman Trophy ceremony Saturday; odds and preview (More)

Science & Technology.

> Boeing reiterates that it plans on beating SpaceX to Mars (More)
> Researchers accidentally discover gut molecule that blocks 'hunger hormone', may treat diabetes and anorexia (More)
> 530-million-year-old eye fossil found, pushes back date of the evolution of one of the most complex organs (More)

Business & Markets.

> GE Power to cut 12k jobs as renewables replace coal & fossil fuels (More)
> VC firm First Round Capital issues annual State of Startups report (More)
> Compass - real estate rental and sales platform - raises $450M from Softbank's Vision Fund at $2.2B valuation (More)

Politics & World Affairs.

> Ex-officer in fatal SC shooting of unarmed Walter Scott gets 20-year prison sentence (More)
> Sen. Franken (D-MN) resigns over sexual misconduct allegations, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton likely to appoint Lt. Gov. Tina Smith as interim (More)
> Two students and gunman killed in New Mexico school shooting (More)

Millions Are Hounded for Debt They Don’t Owe. One Victim Fought Back, With a Vengeance. 

Bloomberg | Zeke Faux. After a collector calling about a debt he didn't owe threatened to rape his wife, Andrew Therrien wanted payback. He got it - and uncovered a conspiracy at the same time. (Read)

Tales of War and Redemption. 

American Scholar | Phil Klay. A long but moving piece by a military public affairs officer who served in Iraq, with a narrative around his friend and army chaplain, on squaring faith with the violence of war. (Read)

Portugal’s Radical Drugs Policy is Working. 

The Guardian | Susana Ferreira. The country decriminalized the possession of small amounts of nearly all drugs in 2001 and has seen dramatic drops in overdoses, HIV infection, and drug-related crime. So why hasn't the world copied it? (Read)

An Oral History of the 1997 Heisman Race. 

ESPN | Chris Low. Interviews with players and coaches involved in the greatest Heisman class of all time, which featured three Hall-of-Famers and one all-time bust. (Read)

Raising a Teenage Daughter. 

California Sunday | Elizabeth Weil. Some say there isn't much difference between raising a toddler and raising a teenager - just like there isn't much difference between an apple falling and quantum physics. (Read)
The best time of day to get things done.

The strange world of celebrity money handlers.

The 50 best songs from 2017 (according to Thrillist). 

The wealthiest 1% of American households own 40 percent of the country's wealth, highest in 50 years

Flickr's Top Photos Of The Year.

See which college degrees the fastest and slowest-growing salaries in 2017

People Listen (and Remember) better with their right ears, study finds.  

Ultra violet is the 2018 color of the year.

Robots: There are 170,000 fewer retail jobs in 2017 - and 75,000 more Amazon robots.

Historybook: US declares war on Japan (1941); HBD Jim Morrison (1943); John Lennon murdered (1980); RIP John Glenn (2016).
-John Glenn
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