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U.S.: ISIS USED MUSTARD AGENT IN IRAQ "The United States believes Islamic State militants likely used mustard agent in an attack on Kurdish forces in Iraq earlier this week, the first indication the militant group has obtained a banned chemical weapon." And here's what mapping a year of ISIS terror attacks looks like. [Reuters]
15 ATTORNEYS GENERAL FILED SUIT TO BLOCK EPA'S POWER PLANT REGULATIONS The lawsuits are the first of many expected in light of the new U.S. regulations on carbon emissions. [Reuters]
U.S. FLAG TO FLY OVER EMBASSY IN CUBA TODAY "Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in Cuba on Friday morning to attend a flag-raising ceremony at the American Embassy and to give a lift to the effort to rebuild ties after more than half a century of hostility. But Mr. Kerry’s visit — the first by a secretary of state since Edward R. Stettinius Jr. made a short trip to Havana in 1945 — also reflects the balance that the Obama administration is trying to strike between working with an authoritarian government and supporting Cuba’s beleaguered dissidents." [NYT]
WATCH OUT FOR 'GODZILLA EL NINO' Batten down the hatches, a storm that could be the most powerful in 65 years is a'coming. [Nick Visser, HuffPost]
'THE BAIL TRAP' "Every year, thousands of innocent people are sent to jail only because they can’t afford to post bail, putting them at risk of losing their jobs, custody of their children -- even their lives." [NYT]
JOE BIDEN FURTHER EXPLORING '16 BID The vice president, while still grappling with running, appears to be moving that way. Former Vice President Al Gore shot down rumors he would jump in the race through a spokeswoman. [NYT]
CONNECTICUT DEATH PENALTY RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL The state's 4-3 Supreme Court ruling will convert the sentences of the 11 inmates on death row to life in prison without parole. [Kim Bellware, HuffPost]
OIL PRICES HIT LOW "U. S. oil prices slid to a more-than six-year low Friday on escalating concerns about the mismatch between global supply and demand." [WSJ]
THE U.S. AMBASSADORS CHANGING THE NAME OF THE GAME "Designer Michael Smith and his partner of 15 years, James Costos, are used to being photographed in their Los Angeles and Palm Springs homes. Smith's cachet in the architectural world is expansive -- but their move to Spain two years ago has put them in a new kind of spotlight. Costos was named the United States Ambassador to Spain in 2013; the duo are one of the first same-sex couples to make an embassy their home, a fact worth noting in the overwhelmingly Catholic country." [HuffPost]
ON THIS WEEK'S 'SO THAT HAPPENED' The team talks to Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and HuffPost's own Ryan Reilly about the charges filed against them almost a year after they were arrested in Ferguson. [HuffPost]
WHY ALL THE MODELS ARE FROM THE MIDWEST They're taller -- we've been saying there's something in the water there for YEARS. [The Atlantic]
JIMMY FALLON TO HOST 'TONIGHT SHOW' FOR SIX MORE YEARS More lip sync battles, please. [AP]
YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW HOW OFTEN YOU SHOULD BE WASHING YOUR SHEETS AND TOWELS Too.much.laundry. [HuffPost]
AN ODE TO THE DIVING BOARD With some great action photos. [NYT]
THE OBAMACARE 'SAFETY NET' "The Obamacare health insurance exchanges appear to be doing a good job when it comes to one of their most important yet underappreciated functions: offering a fallback option to people who lose their health coverage during the year. Already this year, almost half a million people have taken advantage of that safety net, a new government report shows." [HuffPost]
ON THE BLOG
AMBASSADOR CATHERINE RUSSELL TALKS ENTREPRENEURSHIP WITH ZOHRA BARAKA "Here in Africa, if you educate a woman, it's for the whole family. When a woman comes to ask me [to supply] an order, she is the first person I'll give it to, because you are assured the money will educate the children." [HuffPost]
BEFORE YOU GO
~ This airline makes you step on a scale before boarding. Yeah, not into that, especially when flying back after the holidays.
~ This guy is growing an ear out of his arm.
~ Four instructors and 40 Army Ranger students were hit by lightning while learning "lightning protection protocols." We take it they'll need a refresher course.
~ Here's Stephen Curry being Stephen Curry.
~ Check out this iPhone hack to show how much service you really have.
~ Can you outsmart New York Times readers?
~ Looking through the dead's database.
~ Why "Sesame Street" is headed to HBO.
~ Flying the world's longest commercial flight.
~ NBC has officially fired Donald Trump from "Celebrity Apprentice."
~ Does Britney Spears have her mojo back?
~ Meet the Facebook bounty hunter.
~ Twitter cut the character limit from direct messages.
~ You, too, can help fund the real-life building of Minas Tirith.
Send tips/quips/quotes/stories/photos/events/scoops to Lauren Weber at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter @LaurenWeberHP. And like what you're reading? Sign up here to get The Morning Email delivered to you.