Amtrak Train Derails Outside Seattle.
At least three people are dead and over 100 injured after an Amtrak train derailed about 50 miles south of Seattle, WA. The accident left two carriage cars dangling over I-5 (see photos). The high speed train was reportedly traveling over 80 mph in a 30 mph zone - automatic safety equipment that slows the train failed to engage. It was the inaugural run of a new service meant to provide rush hour travel between Seattle and Portland - an addition to Amtrak's Cascade line that travels from Vancouver to Eugene, OR. The line is Amtrak's 8th busiest, with over 792,000 passengers each year. The crash happened at a point that underwent a $181M upgrade to improve rail lines for Amtrak's high speed trains. The mayor of Lakewood, a small nearby town, predicted an accident just weeks ago - though he was equally concerned about pedestrians wandering onto the high speed routes. 

Trump Releases National Security Strategy.
President Trump released his 'America First' doctrine, outlining the administration's broader national security strategy. The 55-page document (see full report) primarily casts the US in an international struggle for influence with countries like Russia and China. In what many viewed as the most striking segment of the strategy, the report specifically refers to the two countries as 'competitors' and 'revisionist powers' who are direct threats to US security and interests. The primary thrust of the strategy is to strike a balance between a shift away from multilateral agreements like the Paris Climate Accord, while still working with allies on key security issues like North Korea

Puerto Rico Reviews Hurricane Death Toll.
Governor Ricardo A. Rosselló ordered a review of all deaths on the island of Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria in the face of a suspiciously low official death count. While the official death count is only 64, a number of independent analyses estimate the toll to be over 1,000. The discrepancy comes in part from not counting deaths attributable to the aftermath - for example, power has been largely knocked out since the September 20th storm, hampering critical emergency care facilities. A recent investigation found deaths from sepsis (NYT paywall) jumped 50% since the storm - possibly from lack of adequate medical facilities to treat the harmful bacterial infection. The updated recount would look at each recorded death since the storm to determine whether the storm and its after effects played a role. 

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Sports, Entertainment & Culture.

> ESPN President John Skipper resigns citing substance addiction; former president George Bodenheimer to take over in interim (More)
> NBC's The Office in talks for revival in 2018-2019; Steve Carell will not return (More)
> Los Angeles Lakers retire Kobe Bryant's jersey numbers 8 & 24 (More)

Science & Technology.

> Electric cars make cobalt, key material for batteries, hottest commodity of 2017 (More)
> Scientists confirm there was life on earth as early as 3.5 billion years ago (More)
> Mechanism that trims individual neurons, allowing them to grow to precise lengths, identified (More)

Business & Markets.

> Hershey, Campbell announce healthy snacks acquisitions amid increasing consumer preference for healthy foods (More)
> Richard Branson becomes chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One; raises $50 million from international investors (More)
> Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway achieves milestone as stock hits $300k per share (More) | Check out Buffett's annual letters to shareholders - a treasure trove of business advice (More)

Politics & World Affairs.

> Judge Alex Kozinski, prominent judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, steps down over harassment charges (More)
> South Africa elects Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed Jacob Zuma as President (More)
> Charlottesville police chief resigns after report on white supremacist rally (More)

Deliverance From 27,000 Feet. 

New York Times | John Branch. With beautiful visuals, including camera shots from the ill-fated expedition, this story details the attempt of four Bengali climbers who died trying to summit Mt. Everest. Often, for cultural and practical reasons (like accessing bank accounts) it is essential to recover bodies of dead relatives - in this case, retrieval is more dangerous than the ascent

How Obama Let Hezbollah Off the Hook. 

Politico Mag | Josh Meyer. The DEA was investigating how Iran-backed Hezbollah financed its early operations - namely by selling cocaine in the US and laundering it through things like selling used cars - until the Obama administration put the brakes on the program over the Iran nuclear deal
Before he was Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi, Adam Driver was a Marine (TED Talk, 2015).

Mystery donor drops $200,000 check into Salvation Army red kettle in Minnesota

Do a data deep dive into the 2017 American Values survey.

30 beautiful winter wonderlands from across the globe.

Risk of teen depression and suicide linked to smartphone use.

How much people earn associated with how they experience happiness.  

George Lucas tops Forbes list of America's wealthiest celebrities.  

20% of Americans view government as nation's top problem in 2017 (data from Gallup).  

Top science photos of the year.

Historybook: ‘The American Crisis’ published by Thomas Paine (1776); HBD NHL (1917); President Eisenhower’s Christmas is first radio broadcast from space (1958); President Clinton is impeached (1998).
-Thomas Paine
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