Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:
1. GEORGE MICHAEL DIES OF HEART FAILURE AT 53
He was blessed with sensual good looks and an exquisite voice, attributes he used to become first a teenybopper heartthrob and then a mature solo artist.
2. WHAT RUSSIA’S JET CRASH PROBE FOCUSES ON
As the nation holds a day of mourning for the 92 victims, a minister says a pilot error or a technical fault – not terrorism – is likely to be the cause of the tragedy.
3. WHY U.S. ELECTIONS ARE STILL VULNERABLE TO HACKING
Paperless electronic machines make it almost impossible to have a meaningful recount. They also raise the possibility that attackers could rig polls in ways that might not ever be detected.
4. TRUMP’S PICK FOR ENVOY TO ISRAEL HAS ALL SIDES ON EDGE
David Friedman has no diplomatic experience and his beliefs clash sharply with core canons of U.S. policy.
5. FROM OBAMA, A FINAL CHRISTMAS TRIBUTE TO THE TROOPS HE’S LED
He tells marines at a base in Hawaii that serving as commander in chief has been the privilege of his life.
6. WHICH PROBLEMS AWAIT CUBAN PRESIDENT IN 2017
Raul Castro faces a possible recession and a new U.S. administration promising to undo measures that gave many Cubans expectations of a better future.
7. FLEEING WAR, SOUTH SUDANESE CREATE BOOMING CAMPS IN UGANDA
Many local Ugandans who were once refugees themselves see the newcomers as welcome.
8. CHINA RESUMES TIES WITH SAO TOME
This is a triumph for Beijing over rival Taiwan after the African nation abruptly broke away from the self-ruled island last week.
9. HOW SMALLER SKI RESORTS TRY TO STAY COMPETITIVE
From baking doughnuts for skiers to displaying local art, they rely on personality to compete with megaresorts.
10. WNBA OFFERS PLAYERS SECURITY APP FOR SAFETY OVERSEAS
“It’s great the league is doing that and showing they care,” Indiana Fever star Marissa Coleman says.