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Need To Know.
North Korea Open to Talks.
North Korea leader Kim Jong Un said his government would be open to talks with the US, including negotiating a wind-down of the country's nuclear weapons program. The announcement came as Kim hosted a South Korean delegation in Pyongyang - his first in-person meeting with officials from the South since assuming power in 2011. North Korea has accelerated its program of nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles, with the most recent test in late November putting them on a path to threaten the US sometime in 2018. Meanwhile, fresh analysis Monday noted that the North is likely making plutonium again at its Yongbyon reactor, a
key ingredient in nuclear weapons.

Opioids and Tylenol.
The results of a large-scale study called into question the widespread use of opioids for many instances of chronic pain, finding they were no more effective than over-the-counter pain medication. The randomized clinical trial (see abstract) measured how 240 patients with chronic back, knee, or hip pain improved over the course of a year under treatment with either opioid or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen like aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol. Researchers found that over-the-counter medications resulted in lower pain intensity and less adverse side effects - calling into question the prescription of opioids as therapy for chronic pain. The study came out on the same day that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report finding that emergency room visits for opioid overdoses spiked 30% between July 2016 and September 2017. 

About 5 people die from opioid overdose every hour across the country. 

Uber Deploys Self-Driving Trucks.
Uber's fleet of autonomous big rigs has been delivering commercial cargo in Arizona since at least the beginning of 2018, the company said yesterday. The self-driving fleet - which delivered its first test shipment (2,000 cases of beer) over a year ago - currently operates with a backup human driver and is restricted to the highway when in autonomous mode. While Uber has been tight-lipped on details, it acquired self-driving technology startup Otto in 2016, which outfits vehicles with hi-def cameras, traditional radar, and advanced 
light detection and ranging sensors (LIDAR 101). The company laid out its vision for long-haul delivery, which relies on fully autonomous rigs that drop off and exchange cargo trailers at regional nodes (see video), with logistics overseen by a centralized digital system. While the tech is impressive, observers think Uber's success in the field will depend on logistics.

There are close to 2 million tractor-trailer truckers in the US.

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In The Know.

Sports, Entertainment & Culture.

Tony Award winning actress Ruthie Ann Miles in stable condition, daughter dies following NYC car crash (More)
The Bachelor winner Becca Kufrin is named next star of The Bachelorette (More)
> Sale of Weinstein Co. falls apart as female-led investor group learns of further financial problems (More)

Science & Technology.

Washington becomes first state to pass law protecting net neutrality, would prohibit providers from creating internet 'fast lanes' (More)
China tests 60-meter-tall prototype of air purifier that takes in urban smog and billows out clean air (More)
Researchers identify protein that links strenuous exercise with better endurance, drives process that creates more blood vessels and muscle repair (More)

Business & Markets.

Jeff Bezos tops the 2018 Forbes Billionaires List at $112B; includes all-time high of 256 female billionaires (More) | President Trump falls $400M to $3.1B (More)
Gary Cohn, Trump's top economic adviser, to resign - stock market futures fall ~1% (More)
BlackBerry sues Facebook alleging patent infringement of security features and mobile notifications (More)

Politics & World Affairs.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry (D) resigns after affair, pleads guilty to theft of city funds (More)
West Virginia legislature approves 5% pay raise, ending nine-day state-wide teachers' strike (More)
> Justice Department sues California, saying 'sanctuary city' laws are unconstitutional (More)
911 calls reveal that employees at Apple's new campus keep running into glass walls.

The world's 30 most impressive bridges.

The worst moments from an awkward Bachelor finale.
...And fans are sending the runner up money for wine on Venmo after being humiliated

Beloved NFL referee Ed "Hercules" Hochuli to retire

Oldest known message in a bottle found on Western Australia beach

Scientists are working on a pill to replace exercise - here’s what we know.

The 50 most violent cities in the world in 2017

Clickbait: Fictional word from The Simpsons entered into dictionary.

Historybook: Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone (1876); HBD Bryan Cranston (1956); Bloody Sunday as 600 civil rights protestors attacked by police in Selma, Alabama (1965); RIP Stanley Kubrick (1999).

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'When a person cannot choose, they cease to be a person.'
-Stanley Kubrick (paraphrased)

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