Well that’s over. From rainbow pyrotechnics in Sydney celebrating legalized gay marriage to firing a more festive type of rocket in Pyongyang to a cacophony of fireworks in Berlin, the globe’s inhabitants marked the passage into the next year of the Gregorian Calendar tonight. Authorities were vigilant about threats of violence, including in Houston, where police found that a drunken guest had ammunition and an AR-15 rifle stashed in a hotel hosting one of the city’s biggest New Year’s parties. Police didn’t believe he posed a threat, however, and the party will go on.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They were talking. That’s what Douglas County deputies were doing some 20 miles south of Denver before a gunman barricaded in a bedroom began shooting. He killed one deputy and wounded four colleagues before shooting it out for two hours with other authorities before he, too, was killed. The gunman fired “at least 100 rounds,” said Douglas County’s sheriff, explaining that his three wounded deputies were hit in areas not protected by body armor, along with a policeman from nearby Castle Rock, and the injured officers are hospitalized in stable condition.
It might help. That’s what Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said about anti-government protesters whose demonstrations continued for a fourth day today. But violence must stop, he said, echoing Revolutionary Guards warnings that unrest would be met with an “iron fist.” Two demonstrators have reportedly been killed while others have attacked government buildings and authorities across 13 cities. Videos of people chanting “Death to Khameni” — the country’s unelected supreme leader, have appeared on social media. U.S. President Donald Trump expressed solidarity with the dissidents, but Rouhani said the “enemy” had “no right to sympathize with Iranians.”
The outcome was real. Los Angeles police on Friday detained a man in a “swatting” case involving a 911 call that precipitated another man’s death. Tyler Barriss, 25, of L.A., a convicted bomb threat prankster, is suspected of becoming upset over an online game and sending Wichita, Kansas, police to what he mistakenly thought was his rival’s address. Told they’d be confronting a gunman who’d already shot someone, police fatally shot unarmed Andrew Finch, 28, believing he was reaching for a weapon. The officer who fired is on leave, and Barriss faces extradition to Kansas.
“The sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.” That’s what President Donald Trump told the New York Times Thursday, saying that he believes Russiagate special counsel Robert Mueller is “going to be fair.” He’s reportedly heard from his lawyers that Mueller will exonerate him early in the new year. Trump also suggested in the impromptu Times session that he expects Justice Department protection, which he admiringly maintained his predecessor received. So “witch hunt” talk may get a rest — at least until the president decides there may really be a case against him.
Even his hashtags are “illegal.” The efforts by Alexei Navalny to become president of Russia couldn’t be more quixotic. YouTube’s reportedly apologized for blocking one of the opposition leader’s videos containing banned hashtags, translated as #Navalny2018 and #strike. The latter refers to the boycott, already threatened with a legal crackdown, urged by the disqualified challenger to incumbent Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, Moscow says Washington’s refused a pact forbidding election meddling — either way — while Kremlin Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sarcastically lamented that Russia doesn’t get enough credit for interfering in many nations’ polls.
The storm has yet to pass. The official death toll of Hurricane Maria, which roared across Puerto Rico in September, stands at 64. But this month it became clear that it’s much higher, and poverty mixed with rotting infrastructure means a second disaster is unfolding. At least half of the island remains without electricity, meaning sometimes fatal consequences for water purification, hospital care and communication. As officials finally begin to acknowledge other storm-linked deaths — estimates surpass 1,000 — Maria may become America’s deadliest natural disaster in living memory.
They shall not harm humans. While many across the developed world fret over the coming tide of automation destroying human jobs and livelihoods, Swedes don’t share that anxiety. Surveys find that 80 percent of them report positive views about robots and artificial intelligence, while 74 percent of Americans worry about it. What’s the disconnect? Not only does Sweden have a strong unemployment safety net, but also its companies don’t treat their employees like machines: As firms prosper, workers share the spoils, engendering trust. Then again, they might feel differently after androids start running HR.
The Week Ahead: The Republican tax overhaul becomes effective Monday, just after Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who voted for it, said the bill “probably went too far” in helping corporations. Monday, New Year’s Day, is will also feature Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses parade and Oklahoma and Georgia universities playing in the Rose Bowl. And Democrat Doug Jones, the unlikely winner of Alabama’s junior seat in the U.S. Senate, will be sworn in Wednesday as the body reconvenes.
Know This: A bus collided with a truck in western Kenya today, killing at least 30 people. Erica Garner, who became a Black Lives Matter activist after her father’s police chokehold death, died at age 27 after a reportedly asthma-induced heart attack. A man shot himself Saturday in Las Vegas after killing two casino guards. And neighbors of the Colorado house where Vice President Mike Pence is vacationing have unfurled a rainbow “Make America Gay Again” banner and fed chili to Pence’s Secret Service detail.
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Everyone’s welcome. Undocumented immigrants are finding refuge in U.S. churches — the only option many have to being deported to a violent homeland or enduring detention. The “sanctuary movement” was started in houses of worship during the 1980s before spreading to colleges and cities, and at least 32 congregations have opened their doors this year. As the Trump administration turns up the pressure on the undocumented, threatening to cut federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities, church doors are the one threshold immigration agents won’t cross — even if there’s no legal barrier.
It’s too good — for anyone. A noticeable chunk of the world’s most valuable retail space, along the streets of Manhattan, is sitting empty these days. In recent years, thousands of individual businesses have moved out, often replaced by national chains. Then even they move out, leaving “for lease” signs behind. The trend, reflected nationwide in closings eclipsing those of the 2008 financial crisis, is blamed on online retailers like Amazon. But observers say it’s also sky-high rents sought by institutional investors, content to write off vacancies as long as their portfolios’ value grows.
Oh, you thought targeted gene editing was futuristic? Welcome to 2018: Research teams around the world are looking beyond CRISPR, DNA editing tech’s first generation, to the next leaps forward. Those include the potential to transform nucleotides, which could correct mutations, anti-CRISPR proteins that act as an off-switch for the unruly process, and new enzymes that target RNA that governs cell operation. These technologies could help treat short-term illnesses while enabling gene drives, or modifications that might proliferate, say, through a mosquito population and make it malaria-free.
It was more than just a “bad boy” image. An investigation into the culture at Vice Media, a Canadian magazine turned millennial media powerhouse, entailed interviews with two dozen women who said they saw or experienced sexual harassment at the company. That may be a wake-up call for those hoping a younger generation, raised in a progressive environment, might foster zero tolerance for treating female employees like office perks. The company has apologized, saying it’s introducing new training and safeguards — and that it’s committed to closing the pay gap by 2019.
It’s all downhill to him. Bad luck stalks freestyle skiing phenom Torin Yater-Wallace. He’s 22, and has already been a destitute couch-surfer — thanks to his dad’s fraud conviction. Before the last Winter Olympics, a doctor accidentally skewered one of his lungs, impairing him into 26th place. And in 2015, he was comatose with a rare bacterial infection. But he’s been sticking landings since his teens, and plans to compensate for 2014 with some gold-medal jumps, flips and twists in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where the Winter Games begin Feb. 9.