US Life Expectancy Drops Again.
Driven in part by the opioid crisis, US life expectancy fell for the second straight year in 2016, from 78.7 to 78.6 years (it was 78.9 in 2014). The report also noted a spike in hepatitis C, likely also due to unsanitary needles during opioid use. Though the drop of 0.1 years is small, it is the first two-year drop since 1962-1963 - and women are still outliving men by five years, 81.1 to 76.1 years on average. The top 10 leading causes of death remained unchanged, but the death rate from unintentional injury jumped almost 10%, led by - again - 63,600 deaths from drug overdoses. See the report in brief here

UN Rejects Recognition of Jerusalem as Capital.
In a largely symbolic vote, the United Nations General Assembly backed a measure calling on the US to withdraw its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The non-binding resolution was approved by 128 states and voted against by nine, including the US, Israel, and a handful of small countries. 35 others abstained from the vote, including Canada and Mexico. The measure follows a controversial - but also mostly symbolic - decision by the Trump administration to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the entire city. Because Palestine views East Jerusalem as their capital, the international community generally recognizes only Israel's sovereignty over West Jerusalem to avoid having to pick sides (historical background). UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said the US would remember "being singled out" by the vote. 

Catalonia Votes for New Parliament.
A highly-anticipated election to seat a new Parliament in the Catalonia region of Spain ended without providing much clarity on the state's future. It was hoped that the vote would provide a referendum on whether the state will continue to seek independence from the central Spanish government, or remain as a semi-autonomous state. Instead, voters gave three separatist parties a combined slim majority - but the Citizen's Party, which wants to remain with Spain, was the largest single party elected. Officials said voter turnout was up 5% over an October 1st referendum that supported independence for the region - which represents almost 20% of Spain's GDP - but saw only 43% voter turnout. Officials will now need to determine which party or coalition leads parliament. 
Happy Holidays! We'll return on Wednesday the 27th.

Sports, Entertainment & Culture.

> WWE CEO Vince McMahon sells $100M of stock; ponders starting new football league (More)
> World-renowned conductor Charles Dutoit accused of sexual assault by multiple women (More)
> Legendary sports broadcaster Dick Enberg dies at 82 (More)

Science & Technology.

> Apple admits it slows down older iPhones, says it compensates for declining battery performance as they age (More)
> Research finds repeated food poisoning can trigger chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease (More)
> Scientists pinpoint gene that turns on resistance to stem rust in wheat, disease threatens one-fifth of global food supply (More)

Business & Markets.

> Eric Schmidt to step down as Alphabet (Google parent) Chairman, to become technical advisor (More)
> Didi Chuxing  - the "Uber of China" - raises $4B at reported $56B valuation for international expansion (More)
> Goldman Sachs establishing cryptocurrency trading desk for clients (More) | Bitcoin & cryptomarkets slide in past 24 hours (More)

Politics & World Affairs.

> Congress on track to pass short-term continuing resolution, will fund government through mid-January (More)
> Facebook drops 'disputed' tag next to possible fake news, will place verified articles on same topic close by instead (More)
> Judge rules Trump not in violation of emoluments clause over property ownership, dismisses suit (More)


Toronto Star | Wendy Gillis. After an officer walks into his station and confesses to murder, an unprecedented investigation reveals the ruinous toll of lethal force on both sides of the gun. (Read)

Magic Leap. 

Rolling Stone | Brian Crecente. An interview with the founder of the secretive $2 billion startup, Magic Leap, whose 'mixed reality' headsets may revolutionize the way humans interact with computers. (Read)

Why Joe Biden Didn't Run.

Vanity Fair | David Kamp. The former Vice President opens up about the impact of the death of his son, Beau, from brain cancer...and the challenges of a 2020 run. (Read)

The Weaponization of Awkwardness. 

The Atlantic | Megan Garber. How society uses awkwardness to prevent people from speaking up in difficult situations. The bigger moral of the story is confrontation is hard. (Read)

The Insane True Story Of How "Titanic" Got Made. 

BuzzFeed | Sarah Marshall. It's hard to remember looking back, but one of the most successful movies of all-time had months of terrible advance press, and executives thought it was 'mathematically impossible' to recoup its budget. (Read)
Rome spent $57,000 on the most depressing Christmas tree in history.

Kids in Netflix-only homes avoid 230 hours of commercials each year

This vintage Christmas map shows Santa across the globe - with some quaint 1950s stereotypes.

This 12-year-old is over Christmas (NYT paywall). 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle release their engagement photos.

See Fortune's list of Top 10 business influencers on social media

Australia ends 100-year-old mystery after wreckage of WWI submarine is found.

Long Island Iced Tea Corp. shares rise 290% after name change to Long Blockchain.

Clickbait: Alt-right group takes credit for Last Jedi backlash, says "too many women". 

Historybook: Beethoven’s 5th Symphony premieres (1808); Lady Bird Johnson born (1912); HBD Maurice & Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees (1949); Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repealed (2010).
-Lady Bird Johnson
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