What to Know
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the United States should be aware that his country's nuclear forces are now a reality, not a threat
Influenza was reported as widespread by 36 states last week, with some states reporting deaths from the virus, according to the CDC
On the last day of the year, "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" surpassed "Beauty and the Beast" as the top grossing film in North America for 2017
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U.S. Should Know North Korean Nuclear Force Is a Reality, Kim Says
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said 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 gray 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. 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. The New Year's address is an annual event in the North and is watched closely for indications of the direction and priorities Kim may adopt in the year ahead.
Mom, Dad, 3 Sons From NY Killed in Costa Rica Plane Crash, Family Says
Five family members from Westchester were among 10 Americans killed when a plane crashed in Costa Rica this weekend, a family member and neighbors confirmed. A mother, father and their three children from Scarsdale, New York, were aboard the plane. It's believed the five were on a sightseeing tour at the time. Bruce and Irene Steinberg, and their teenage sons, Matthew, William and Zachary, were killed, Bruce Steinberg's sister confirmed with NBC News. Several neighbors confirmed a photo of the Steinbergs and said the community was devastated by the news. The plane was carrying five other U.S. citizens and two local crewmembers when it crashed in a wooded area, killing everyone on board, authorities said. Information about the other U.S. citizens wasn't immediately known.
New Year's Eve Ball Drop 2nd Coldest on Record
Times Square had the second-coldest New Year’s Eve celebration on record and coldest in 100 years with a forecast of nine degrees as the ball dropped. The teeth-chattering forecast didn't put off some party-goers who planned to ring in the New Year in Times Square. The coldest Times Square New Year's Eve was 100 years ago in 1917, when the temperature was one degree at midnight. The second coldest was in 1962, when it was 11 degrees at midnight. This year had the temperature at nine degrees, with a wind chill at five below zero, at midnight, according to forecasters. Parts of the tri-state have already broken records for the coldest New Year’s Day on record, meteorologists said.
Flu Widespread in 36 States, Deaths Reported, CDC Says
Influenza was reported as widespread by 36 states last week, with some states reporting deaths from the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Twenty-one of the 36 states experienced high levels of activity in the week ending Dec. 23, according to the CDC report. Almost a dozen total deaths have been reported. Experts had said that the flu season may be more severe this year, with the dominant strain being H3N2. And the vaccine available in the U.S. was reported as only 10 percent effective in preventing illness from H3N2. However, while those vaccinated can still get sick, they typically experience a milder form of the illness. The CDC began bracing for the season in September, campaigning for flu vaccinations and advising the public about influenza symptoms, which can appear suddenly.
“Star Wars” Passes 'Beauty and the Beast' as Top 2017 Earner
On the last day of the calendar year, "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" has surpassed "Beauty and the Beast" as the top grossing film in North America in 2017. It also topped the charts for the weekend for the third time, but just barely — Dwayne Johnson's "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" is close on its tail. According to studio estimates, "The Last Jedi" will add $52.4 million over the weekend bringing its domestic total to $517.1 million. "Beauty and the Beast," also a Disney release, netted out with $504 million for the year. With the weekend's earnings, "The Last Jedi" will also cross the $1 billion mark globally — even before it opens in China on Jan. 5. But "Star Wars" is facing some hefty competition still, from the likes of The Rock, Jack Black and Kevin Hart, whose "Jumanji" sequel took in $50.6 million in its second weekend in theaters to take second place. The Columbia Pictures film has earned a stunning $169.8 million to date and could even reach $300 million domestically by the end of its run.