Pennsylvania Town Sees Record-Setting Snow.
A Christmas storm brought a record amount of snow to Erie, PA, dumping over 60 inches of white powder on the town between Sunday and Tuesday evenings. The storm shattered the previous two-day record for the state of 44 inches set in 1958, and surpassed the town's 13-day record of 52.8 inches set in 1950. The storm was largely due to a slow moving snow band combined with the so-called "lake effect snow" - where very cold air moves over the warmer waters in the Great Lakes, causing moisture to rise and turn into snow before being dumped on lakeshore towns like Erie. Forecasters expect up to 10 more inches by this evening. See photos here and here.

Holiday Retail Hits 6-Year Peak.

Driven by high consumer confidence, low unemployment, and increased disposable income, brick-and-mortar retailers recorded their strongest holiday sales season since 2011. Sales during November and up to December 24th - excluding automobiles - rose 4.9%, compared with 3.7% during the same time last year, hitting nearly $598B. The numbers are welcome news for retailers struggling in the face of stiff competition from online shopping - though online sales also increased by over 18%. Unlike past years, sales were driven by more than just high-income earners, with shoppers from the middle income brackets opening their wallets. The numbers also coincide with rebounding consumer credit card debt - which hit its highest level since Q3 2008 at $757B.

FBI Software May Contain Russian-Linked Code.
Fingerprint software used by the FBI and nearly 18,000 other US law enforcement agencies contains code developed by a Kremlin-linked company, potentially providing a backdoor into thousands of government systems. The reports surfaced yesterday after two whistleblowers told Buzzfeed News that a subsidiary of the French conglomerate Safran - who won the contract to overhaul the FBI's fingerprint software system - secretly purchased and inserted code from Russian cybersecurity company Papillon Systems. The French company then deliberately concealed the addition from the FBI, reportedly due to the significant ties between Papillon and the Kremlin's spy agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB). Officials are still assessing the risk associated with the code. 
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Sports, Entertainment & Culture.

> Swimmer Katie Ledecky bests Serena Williams for AP Female Athlete of the Year (More)
> Ex-Steelers veteran linebacker James Harrison signs with New England Patriots (More)
> Eminem breaks record as first artist with 8-straight #1 albums as Revival is number one on the Billboard 200 chart (More)

Science & Technology.

> Area of brain responsible for storing odors as long-term memories identified (More)
> Scientists find approach to solve the "folding problem", on track to make designer proteins (More)
> New 250,000 person study confirms link between child and adult obesity and sugar-sweetened drinks (More)

Business & Markets.

> Theranos - blood testing biz under fire for fraudulent activity - receives $100M debt financing for 2018 operations (More)
> Fair.com to acquire Uber's U.S. auto-leasing business (More)
> Fiat Chrysler to recall 1.8M Ram pickup trucks due to faulty park feature (More)

Politics & World Affairs.

> Three cities sue Department of Defense over failure to report some ex-service members to national database, was case in Texas church massacre last month (More)
> After decades of no taxes, Saudia Arabia and UAE to debut 5% value-added sales tax in 2018 (More)
> Democrat candidate asks for delay of tomorrow's tie-breaker drawing in Virginia House election, winner will swing balance of power (More)
Nursing is viewed as the most honest, ethical profession (via Gallup). 

Good friends might be the best thing for your brain as you age.

Sam Adams' founder shares how to drink all night without getting drunk

The year in pictures from the New York Times and from CNN

The most expensive home in the US goes on sale for $500M

Doctors to attempt a risky surgery to remove a basketball-sized tumor from young boy

GoalieUp - Uber for hockey goaltenders - is the most Canadian app ever.

Speaking of apps, Edward Snowden created an app to catch hackers.

Archaeologists in Turkey believe they found the original Santa Claus.  

Historybook: HBD Louis Pasteur (1822); HBD to today's Google icon Marlene Dietrich (1901); Soviet Union invades Afghanistan (1979); Benazir Bhutto assassinated (2007); RIP Carrie Fisher (2016).
-Carrie Fisher
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