The relationship’s become even more special. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned envoy Daniel Shapiro after the U.S. abstained from Friday’s U.N. Security Council vote to condemn Israeli settlement activity. Previously, all U.S. administrations since 1980 had vetoed such resolutions. A State Department official said the abstention came after years of trying to convince Netanyahu, who called the resolution “shameful,” to pursue peace with Palestinians who see the settlement areas as their own. But President-elect Donald Trump has courted Israeli hardliners, vowing to relocate America’s embassy to disputed ground in Jerusalem.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They didn’t have a chance. A massive operation involving 3,500 people on boats, submersibles, jets and helicopters is working to recover wreckage and bodies after a Russian military plane crashed into the Black Sea Sunday, killing all 92 aboard. The Tu-154, which disappeared from radar minutes after refueling in Sochi, was bound for Syria carrying military personnel, reporters and the famed army choir Alexandrov Ensemble to entertain troops. Authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the crash as Russia observes a national day of mourning for the victims.
Nothing to see here. In public, Donald Trump forcefully denies any conflict of interest between his commercial empire and his pending presidency, rejecting ethics experts’ calls to liquidate the business or enact a blind trust. But behind the scenes, his family’s trying to resolve thorny questions before his inauguration — including dissolving his foundation and bringing in an outside monitor for the Trump Organization. His tumultuous transition continued with the Christmas Eve announcement that Jason Miller won’t be communications director, a reversal that comes amid allegations of an affair.
Batten down the hatches. Typhoon Nina, also known as Nock-Ten, made landfall on the Philippines’ eastern coast yesterday and is expected to reach the capital later today. Three people have died as the storm destroyed the landscape and cleared beaches, causing hundreds of thousands of residents to be evacuated. Though the storm has weakened since yesterday, Save the Children estimates that 1 million people may need emergency shelter from the 149-mph winds. Meanwhile, more than 11,000 travelers have been stranded as ports closed around the country.
Know This: Actress and author Carrie Fisher is in stable condition after a cardiac arrest Friday. Peru and Bolivia are assessing the pollution levels in Lake Titicaca as part of the first stage of a $500 million clean-up project. And A&E has canceled a planned documentary series on the KKK after it emerged that some of the participants were paid.
Remember This Number: 27. That’s how many people were reportedly shot in Chicago in the 48 hours over Christmas weekend, seven of them fatally.
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He was something special. The British singer/songwriter, who sold more than 115 million albums, died “peacefully” at his home in Oxfordshire on Christmas Day of what his longtime manager said was heart failure. Michael, a Londoner, found explosive fame in the early 1980s with Wham! — in 1985, they were the first Western act to perform in China — and later earned solo success with hits like “Faith” and “Father Figure.” Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, he’d been working on a new album and planned to release a documentary in 2017.
What’s Kwanzaa all about? It’s been the subject of jokes and curiosity, but the 50-year-old holiday has unique resonance this year. Kwanzaa was conceived after the violent 1965 Los Angeles Watts riots, born out of a conflict centered on police brutality against Black people. Creating a specifically African-American holiday inspired by African religious traditions was a radical act in the 1960s. Now, it’s mostly practiced by middle-class families connecting new generations to Black pride. But this Kwanzaa feels like a direct link to a turbulent political past.
Listen up. Augmented reality overlays the real world with digital design, but so far those virtual powers are mostly visual. The technology hasn’t been applied to audio until recently, with the advent of augmented aural reality. New VR headphones can alter sound output for individual wearers’ ears and environments, allowing users to cancel out specific background noises, hear different elements of songs and maybe someday soon even receive real-time in-ear translations. But some worry that acoustic filtering will further enable everyone to live in a bubble.
Here’s something for your news feed. A new study in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking found that people who took a week off from the ubiquitous social media platform reported better well-being and life satisfaction, as well as less envy of others. The study of 2,000 people — half of whom ditched Facebook, while the others stayed plugged in — found stronger improvement among those who were already heavy users. Apparently constant exposure to carefully manicured versions of your friends’ lives is not always healthy. Who knew?
Christmas felt like June. With 3.4 seconds left, Kyrie Irving hit a turnaround fadeaway jumper to give Cleveland a 109-108 win against Golden State in a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals, when Irving hit the Game 7 winner. The Warriors added superstar Kevin Durant during the offseason, but he stumbled — with no foul call on defender Richard Jefferson — on the game’s final possession. Stephen Curry’s slump continued with a 4-for-11 night, as coach Steve Kerr said the reigning MVP “can make better decisions.”