• The White House confirmed this week that CIA Director and current Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un earlier this month, in part to arrange a summit with President Trump.  Pompeo is the highest level U.S. official to meet with North Korea since 2000. Though it does not guarantee successful continued engagement with the isolationist country, the meeting may signal a willingness to reconcile with the United States and other historic enemies. [BBC]
  • A woman was killed and seven others injured Tuesday when a Southwest flight en route to Dallas suffered an engine explosion, which broke a window and caused the cabin to depressurize.  The female pilot has been praised after landing the plane without further incident following the accident. [New York Times; BBC]
  • Raul Castro, who succeeded his brother, Fidel, in 2008, stepped down as President of Cuba Thursday.  The new leader, Miguel Diaz-Canel, will be the island nation’s first non-Castro ruler since its 1959 revolution against the authoritarian government of Fulgencio Batista. [Reuters]
  • The entire island of Puerto Rico lost power Wednesday due to a fault on a transmission line. Though this is the first island-wide blackout since Hurricane Maria devastated infrastructure seven months ago, full service has not been restored at any point since September 20th.  [NPR]
  • Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom said goodbye to the last in a long line of corgis this week after 14-year-old Willow was put down following a fight with cancer.  Over 80 years the Queen has owned 30 corgis, starting with a dog named Dookie brought home by King George VI in 1933. [Washington Post]
Source: Chris Van Wyk

FACT OF THE WEEK: The endangered Mary River Turtle, above, grows green algae from its body like hair and is capable of breathing through its genitals. [LiveScience]