1

A Common Thread

"This is one of a growing number of internment camps in the Xinjiang region, where by some estimates 1 million Muslims are detained, forced to give up their language and their religion and subject to political indoctrination. Now, the Chinese government is also forcing some detainees to work in manufacturing and food industries." And some of the fruits of their forced labor is landing on our shores, appearing in the aisles of our stores, and ending up in your drawers. Isolationism is an illusion invented by politicians looking to stir fear. We are all interconnected. And what that means in terms of America's role in the world will be a big story in 2019. In the meantime, from AP:
Chinese internment camp factory sends sportswear to US.

+ "Slavery typically conjures up images of ships transporting black Africans across the Atlantic, or the death marches of the trans-Saharan slave trade. But this modern-day version has added a cruel twist — this time, people from sub-Saharan Africa are often selling themselves into slavery, believing they are buying a ticket from a life of conflict, poverty, or repression to a glittering future in Europe." Buzzfeed: Inside The Country Where You Can Buy A Black Man For $400.

2

Wall Stall

"We have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion." And with that comment from Sarah Sanders, the White House appears to be backing off its threats to shut down the government if Congress failed to provide wall funding. (How about if we keep the broader government open but just shut down the White House for a couple weeks?)

3

Tired of All the Flynning

By most accounts, Michael Flynn was going to have a quick hearing and get a sentence that didn't involve any jail time. The judge in the case wasn't ready to make that concession. The sentencing has been delayed while Flynn is given the opportunity to cooperate a little more. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan: "Arguably, this undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably, you sold your country out." (Arguably, he's not the only one...)

+ President Trump is being forced to shut down his foundation. That's bad news for all those organizations that depended on the financial support. (In other words, the Trump family.) "Under the terms, the Trump Foundation can only dissolve under judicial supervision — and it can only distribute its remaining charitable assets to reputable organizations approved by my office."

+ The investigations into Trump's business dealings extend well beyond the Russia investigation. As Bloomberg's Timothy O'Brien explains: "Trump may emerge as a brazen grifter who, by aspiring to the White House like a wizened, soiled version of Icarus, flew beyond the boundaries of his own luck and abilities and delivered his business, children and well-being into the hands of prosecutors." (In the modern day version, instead of flying too close to the sun, Icarus sits too close to a wall of televisions all playing Fox News...)

4

You Gotta Be Yanking Our Chain

"Just blame Bruce Lee. Back in 1974, New York state decided to ban the possession of nunchucks as lawmakers feared they were becoming enticing tools of violence among hooligan children and street criminals who were exposed to the weapons on TV. They were so dangerous, lawmakers believed, that not even karate teachers could keep them in a locker at home." WaPo: Right to bear ... nunchucks? Federal judge strikes down ban on weapon as violation of Second Amendment.

+ CNN: Trump administration officially bans bump stocks.

5

The Meteorite Stuff

"Speed is vital in the case of a witness fall—when a meteor is seen hitting the Earth—because rival groups will be vying for the same otherworldly prize. At times the competition includes a French father-son duo, a Russian team known for long hunts in places accessible only by helicopter, and a pair from Oregon who hunt with what they claim is a team of meteorite-sniffing dogs. It can be a shifty business, and distrust is common." Josh Bearman and Allison Keeley in Wired: The Mad Scramble To Claim The World's Most Coveted Meteorite.

6

Photo Balm

Often the story of the year is best told in pictures. And Bloomberg has a particularly good collection. The Year in Pictures 2018.

7

Devils and Dust

"For decades, government regulators had evidence of excessive and toxic mine dust exposures, the kind that can cause PMF, as they were happening. They knew that miners like Kelly and Smith were likely to become sick and die. They were urged to take specific and direct action to stop it. But they didn't." NPR and Frontline: An Epidemic Is Killing Thousands Of Coal Miners. Regulators Could Have Stopped It.

8

Penny in Heaven

She directed Big and Awakenings. She "was the first woman to direct a film that grossed more than $100 million, the first woman to direct two films that grossed more than $100 million, and she was only the second woman director to see her film Oscar-nominated for best picture." But before all that, she was Laverne. The most-excellent Penny Marshall has passed away at the age of 75.

9

Yippee Ki Yay or Nay?

"Ok, enough bickering and fighting. Let's settle this once and for all in the only way I know how – going into a topic in way too much detail. As we prepare to enter the year 32 ADH (a.k.a. After Die Hard), the world is gripped by a constantly nagging question." Using data to determine if Die Hard is a Christmas movie.

+ The 20 Best Christmas Movies of All Time.

+ 25 Wonderful Facts About It's a Wonderful Life.

10

Bottom of the News

"Young Americans' long work hours might mean they're less likely to come home every night in time to roast a chicken instead of ordering takeout, but many of them seem to have turned to weekend baking as a salve for the ambient anxiety of being alive in 2018. There's a good reason for that: Baking actually can be really relaxing." The Atlantic on The Rise of Anxiety Baking. (I'm pretty sure anxiety baking means something different in Northern California...)

+ The New Yorker: Is the Air Fryer the New Instant Pot? (If I buy one, put it in my cupboard, and never take it out, then yes.)