12.13.2017

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12.13.2017
NEED TO KNOW.
Democrats Win Alabama Senate Race.
Democrat Doug Jones was elected to the US Senate in a special election, beating Republican candidate Roy Moore. Jones led by a 1.5 point margin with over 98% of the vote reported, or about 671,000 votes to Moore's 650,400. Close to 23,000 write-in votes were cast. Moore, dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct with underage girls as a young Alabama prosecutor, had yet to concede the race as of early this morning. Jones, who will become the state's first Democratic Senator in 25 years, saw exceptionally high black voter turnout. President Trump, who won the state by 28 points in 2016, congratulated Jones on his victory. Jones may not be officially seated until the end of December, meaning current interim Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) would vote on any legislation until then, including a final tax reform package should it arrive in time. 

State Health Rankings for 2017 Released.
The United Health Foundation released its annual report ranking the healthiest states in the country - one of the most comprehensive of such rankings, looking at 35 separate factors that assess physical and mental well-being. Massachusetts ranked as the healthiest state, bumping Hawaii from the top spot to second place. Four of the bottom five are southern states - Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama - along with West Virginia, with high rates of child poverty along with smoking and obesity among the general population. The study also highlighted a troubling national trend - premature deaths rose for the third year in a row, a reversal from the 20% decline seen between 1990 and 2015. You can see all the state summaries starting with Alabama here

Trump Signs Defense Authorization Bill.
President Trump signed a sweeping defense bill yesterday, authorizing over $700B in spending for the 2018 fiscal year. The base budget is set at $634B with an extra $66B for the war budget, which acts as a contingency fund. The military would add 20,000 members under the bill while raising pay by 2.4%. Despite being a few months late - the fiscal year starts in October - the bill is an important one, authorizing a wide range of programs and acting as a policy statement on defense and national security. Among interesting adds, Section 355 calls out climate change as a "direct threat" to national security, requiring the Pentagon to report on US vulnerabilities. The bill also requires registration of small personal drones, the development of a national cybersecurity policy, and human rights accountability provisions. 

 
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IN THE KNOW.

Sports, Entertainment & Culture.

> Iconic 80's rock band The Cure announces 40th anniversary concert in London (More)
> Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers announces he's medically cleared to return to field, will start Sunday against Panthers (More)
> Ed Sheeran is named Billboard's Top Artist of 2017 (More)
 

Science & Technology.

> Bipolar disorder linked to faster aging at the DNA level (More)
> Engineers develop 3-D printed microfibers to give structure to artificial organs (More)
> PepsiCo buys fleet of 100 electric Semis from Tesla, biggest purchase to date (More)
 

Business & Markets.

> Wells Fargo/Gallup US Investor optimism poll at highest level since 2000 (More)
> Moscow-based antivirus software firm Kaspersky Lab officially banned in U.S. government (More)
> Europe’s Unibail-Rodamco to buy U.S. mall operator Westfield Corp for $16B (More)
 

Politics & World Affairs.

> US slaps terror charges on suspect in attempted Monday morning NYC bombing (More)
> San Francisco mayor Ed Lee dies unexpectedly, Board of Supervisors President London Breed to become acting mayor (More)
> Secretary of State Tillerson says US 'ready to talk' to North Korea (More)
ETCETERA.
Amazing drone photos from NYC.

A new fossil suggests ancient penguins were 200 lbs and the size of humans.

The best meteor shower of the year, the Geminids, peaks late tonight.

Chance the Rapper trades (funny) jokes with Oscar the Grouch.

Winners of the 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year contest.

2,000-Year-Old Egyptian mummy taken to hospital for cancer screening

In related mummy news, a 3,500-year-old one was uncovered in Egyptian tombs at Luxor

Teens are smoking less marijuana in states where it’s legal.

Clickbait: The 'man flu' is a real thing.

Historybook: HBD Dick Van Dyke (1925); HBD Jamie Foxx (1967); HBD Taylor Swift (1989); European Union announces 10 new countries to join (2002); Saddam Hussein captured by American forces (2003).
"YOU ARE WHAT YOU REPEATEDLY DO WHEN THINGS GET HARD."
-Jamie Foxx
 
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