AP PHOTOS: New Year’s Eve observances around the world
People around the world are welcoming 2018 with traditional fireworks displays, partying and an array of local traditions.
One of the first countries to welcome the new year was Australia, where fireworks exploded over the iconic Sydney Opera House as people watched from boats in the harbour nearby.
Hundreds of couples took part in a mass wedding ceremony in Jakarta, Indonesia, on New Year’s Eve designed to help the poor who were unable to afford a proper wedding.
Buddhists lit candles during New Year celebrations at Jogyesa temple in Seoul, South Korea.
In some other places, the tone was more sombre. Just hours after a fireworks display over the Taedong River in Pyongyang, North Korea, leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year’s Day speech the country had achieved the historic feat of “completing” its nuclear forces despite U.S. opposition.
People gather in frigid Times Square for 2018 celebration
NEW YORK (AP) — New Yorkers, celebrity entertainers and tourists from around the world gathered in a frigid Times Square on Sunday to mark the start of 2018 with a glittering crystal ball drop, a burst of confetti and midnight fireworks.
It was only 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12 Celsius) in the city at 10 p.m., making it one of the coldest New Year celebrations on record — and one of the least crowded. Some of the metal pens, usually packed with people, were only half-full. Some revelers, bundled up in hats, gloves, face masks and numerous layers of clothing, jogged to keep warm, others bounced and danced. Some stood and shivered.
Remle Scott and her boyfriend, Brad Whittaker, of San Diego, arrived shortly after 9 a.m., saying they were trying to keep a positive attitude as temperatures hovered in the teens. Each was wearing several layers of clothing.
“Our toes are frozen, so we’re just dealing with it by dancing,” Scott said.
Some wore red scarfs that read “Happy New Year” and others donned yellow and purple hats as a pizza deliveryman sold pies to the hungry crowd.
5 Colorado deputies shot, 1 fatally, in ‘ambush’ attack
DENVER (AP) — A man fired more than 100 rounds at sheriff’s deputies in Colorado early Sunday, killing one and injuring four others, before being fatally shot himself in what authorities called an ambush. Two civilians were also injured.
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said deputies came under fire almost immediately and were shot “very, very quickly” after entering a suburban Denver apartment and trying to talk with the suspect, who was holed up inside a bedroom.
“They all went down almost within seconds of each other, so it was more of an ambush-type of attack on our officers,” Spurlock said. “He knew we were coming and we obviously let him know that we were there.”
The Douglas County coroner identified the suspect as 37-year-old Matthew Riehl.
A YouTube user named Matthew Riehl posted a YouTube video Dec. 13, saying he wanted to replace Spurlock and railing against the sheriff and other officers in profane, highly personal terms.
10 US citizens, 2 locals killed in Costa Rica plane crash
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — A plane carrying 10 U.S. citizens and two local crewmembers crashed in a wooded area, killing all aboard Sunday, Costa Rica’s government said.
The Public Safety Ministry posted photographs and video of the crash site showing burning wreckage of the plane in Guanacaste, northwest Costa Rica.
Authorities said Sunday evening that so far they had only a list of passengers provided by the airline and were awaiting official confirmation of their identities.
A family in the suburbs of New York City said five of the dead Americans were relatives on vacation. They identified them as Bruce and Irene Steinberg and their sons Matthew, William and Zachary, all of Scarsdale.
“We are in utter shock and disbelief right now,” Bruce Steinberg’s sister, Tamara Steinberg Jacobson, wrote on Facebook. She also confirmed the deaths in an interview with NBC News .
Trump rings in ‘fantastic’ new year at Palm Beach club
PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump predicted a “fantastic 2018” on Sunday night as he strolled down a red carpet to bid farewell to 2017 with an exclusive bash at his private club.
Accompanied by first lady Melania Trump and son Barron, a tuxedoed Trump spoke to reporters as he entered the gilded ballroom at Mar-a-Lago. He said the stock market will continue to rise and that companies are going to continue to come into the U.S.
Asked for his reaction to North Korea leader Kim Jon Un’s remarks about having a nuclear button on his desk, Trump responded by saying, “We’ll see.”
Guests gathered in the ballroom included senior White House advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Trump’s sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. and Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin.
Earlier in the day, Trump capped 2017 with a video self-tribute touching on what he sees as the high points of his achievements and rhetoric from his first year in office. He gave a plug to American exceptionalism, too.
Kim says US should know North Korean nuclear force a reality
TOKYO (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Monday the United States should be aware that his country’s nuclear forces are now a reality, not a threat. But he also struck a conciliatory tone in his New Year’s address, wishing success for the Winter Olympics set to begin in the South in February and suggesting the North may send a delegation to participate.
Kim, wearing a Western-style grey suit and tie, said in his customary annual address his country had achieved the historic feat of “completing” its nuclear forces and added he has a nuclear button on his desk.
“The U.S. should know that the button for nuclear weapons is on my table,” he said during the speech, as provisionally translated by the AP. The official transcript of his address was expected to be released shortly. “The entire area of the U.S. mainland is within our nuclear strike range. … The United States can never start a war against me and our country.”
Kim also called for improved relations with the South, an idea mentioned in speeches more often than it is met. He said the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics would be a good opportunity to showcase the status of the Korean nation.
He said the North and South could meet urgently to discuss the North sending a delegation.
Roberts: Judiciary will review sexual misconduct policies
WASHINGTON (AP) — Chief Justice John Roberts used his annual report on the federal judiciary Sunday to promise a careful evaluation of its sexual misconduct policies and to highlight the work of court employees following the year’s destructive hurricanes.
Roberts touched only briefly on the issue of workplace sexual misconduct, which has in recent months brought down men in entertainment, politics and the media. In December, prominent federal appeals court judge Alex Kozinski retired following accusations by women that he had touched them inappropriately, made lewd comments and shown them pornography.
“Events in recent months have illuminated the depth of the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, and events in the past few weeks have made clear that the judicial branch is not immune,” Roberts wrote, without mentioning Kozinski by name.
Roberts had previously asked that a working group examine the judiciary’s workplace conduct policies, with a report expected by May 1. Roberts wrote that the group will examine whether changes are needed in a number of areas, from codes of conduct to the handling of misconduct complaints.
“I have great confidence in the men and women who comprise our judiciary. I am sure that the overwhelming number have no tolerance for harassment and share the view that victims must have clear and immediate recourse to effective remedies,” the chief justice wrote in the 16-page report.
Anticipation high as California rolls out retail pot sales
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Californians may awake on New Year’s Day to a stronger-than-normal whiff of marijuana as America’s cannabis king lights up to celebrate the state’s first legal retail pot sales.
The historic day comes more than two decades after California paved the way for legal weed by passing the nation’s first medical marijuana law, though other states were quicker to allow the drug’s recreational use.
From the small town of Shasta Lake just south of Oregon to San Diego on the Mexican border, the first of about 90 shops licensed by the state will open Monday to customers who previously needed a medical reason or a dope dealer to score pot.
In November 2016, California voters legalized recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older, making it legal to grow six plants and possess an ounce of pot. The state was given a year to set retail market regulations that are still being formalized and will be phased in over the next year.
“We’re thrilled,” said Khalil Moutawakkil, founder of KindPeoples, which grows, manufactures and sells weed in Santa Cruz. “We can talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of the specific regulations, but at the end of the day it’s a giant step forward, and we’ll have to work out the kinks as we go.”
Iran protests go on as social media apps blocked, 2 killed
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The largest protests to strike Iran in nearly a decade continued unabated Sunday, despite a government move to block access to Instagram and a popular messaging app used by activists to organize, with even President Hassan Rouhani acknowledging the public’s anger over the Islamic Republic’s flagging economy.
Rouhani and other leaders made a point to warn that the government wouldn’t hesitate to crack down on those it considers lawbreakers amid the demonstrations, which began Thursday over the economic woes plaguing Iran.
“Those who misused cyberspace and spread violence are absolutely known to us and we will definitely confront them,” Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said on state television.
The outpouring of public discontent — the most widespread since protests following Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election — have been fanned by messages sent on the Telegram messaging app, which authorities blocked Sunday along with the photo-sharing app Instagram, which is owned by social media giant Facebook.
Many of the country’s 80 million people are learning about the protests and sharing images of them through Telegram. On Saturday, Telegram shut down one channel of the service over Iranian government allegations that it encouraged violence, which its moderator denied.
Solar eclipse, loveable baby hippo warmed hearts in 2017
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — It wasn’t all doom and gloom in 2017. The year was also filled with awe-inspiring moments that united us and warmed the heart.
The first total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. in a century bought millions together in what some could only describe as a primal experience. Thousands of immigrants took the oath of citizenship, realizing their dreams of becoming Americans. And one adorable baby, Fiona the hippopotamus, became a story of survival as she overcame the odds and tumbled into the world’s heart.
The stories provided some lighthearted moments amid a series of deadly mass shootings, terrorist attacks, hurricanes, wildfires, sexual harassment scandals and other tragic news in 2017.
Here’s a look at a few of the moving, unifying and just plain fun moments of 2017: