GUNMEN SEIZE FEDERAL BUILDING IN OREGON "A group of gunmen seized control of an empty federal building in remote Burns, Oregon, on Saturday, announced they planned to occupy the facility for 'years' and called for 'patriots' to join them -- and bring more guns. The men now occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge building include at least two sons of Cliven Bundy, the rancher whose legal battle with the government over grazing rights culminated in an armed standoff with federal authorities near Bunkerville, Nevada, in 2014." [Nick Baumann, Igor Bobic, Jessica Schulberg, HuffPost]
CHINA STOPS TRADING AFTER INDEX PLUMMETS China's Shanghai Index dropped 7 percent Monday. Happy New Year. [AP]
SAUDI ARABIA CUTS DIPLOMATIC TIES WITH IRAN "Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran on Sunday, responding to the storming of its embassy in Tehran in an escalating row between the rival Middle East powers over Riyadh's execution of a Shi'ite Muslim cleric." [Reuters]
BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES NASA predicts this year's El Nino could rival the worst showing in 1997. [Dominique Mosbergen, HuffPost]
MEXICO MAYOR KILLED DAY AFTER TAKING OFFICE The cartels are reportedly behind Gisela Mota's murder. [AP]
THERE ARE FOUR NEW ELEMENTS ON THE PERIODIC TABLE The seventh row is finally complete! [Lee Moran, HuffPost]
BEYONCE IS WRITING AND STARRING IN A FILM ABOUT SAARTJIE BAARTMAN The Internet will probably explode now. [Vulture]
THE RETURN OF THE #OSCARSSOWHITE HASHTAG "There's a strong chance this year's acting awards will once again be heavily, perhaps exclusively, white, despite the efforts of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to diversify the organization." [LA Times]
GEORGE R.R. MARTIN DOESN'T CARE THAT WINTER IS HERE Because The Winds of Winter won't be ready anytime soon, and "Game of Thrones" season six will spoil part of the books. [HuffPost]
MARK ZUCKERBERG BLOWS YOUR NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION OUT OF THE WATER He plans to build a butler with artificial intelligence this year. [HuffPost]
SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE 'PITCH PERFECT' STARS ARE ENGAGED Skylar Astin and Anna Camp better have an a cappella set at their wedding. [HuffPost]
CHINA IS BUILDING ITS SECOND AIRCRAFT CARRIER Check out the first photos of the project. [Popular Mechanics]
NY GOVERNOR ORDERS OFFICIALS TO PROTECT HOMELESS FROM FREEZING TEMPERATURES "New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order on Sunday requiring local officials throughout the state to force the homeless into shelters when temperatures dip below freezing and vowed to defend the edict if challenged in court." [HuffPost]
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ON THE BLOG
UP YOUR HAPPINESS 20 PERCENT "Years of the ‘if only’ game amounts to wishing your life away. Happiness is found in the present moment. It's your one and only life; you're not going to get another one." [HuffPost]
BEFORE YOU GO
~ A happy songs playlist for a happy new year.
~ Heard enough of Adele's "Hello"? Nah, it's not possible. So here's Celine Dion's version.
~ Why you should care about "website obesity."
~ Browns QB Johnny Manziel reportedly was gambling his troubles away in Las Vegas this weekend.
~ Kim Kardashian gave the world the first glimpse at her son, Saint West.
~ Adventures on a dog's final bucket list.
~ May your new year be as fabulous as Bill Murray's 2015.
~ McDonald's is rolling out the McPick 2, a $2, pick two menu.
~ And turns out it wasn't the best idea for Great Britain to tie picking up litter to a campaign called "Clean for the Queen."
Send tips/quips/quotes/stories/photos/events/scoops to Lauren Weber at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter @LaurenWeberHP. And like what you're reading? Sign up here to get The Morning Email delivered to you.