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The oceans are warming up faster than thought, the U.S. shutdown remained a logjam, and Norway disclosed the kidnapping of a tycoon’s wife. Here’s the latest:
Oceans are warming far faster than we thought
A new analysis reports that ocean temperatures are rising 40 percent faster on average than previously thought. The finding has dire implications.
The oceans have been absorbing most of the heat trapped by greenhouse gas emissions, offering a buffer against climate change. Their escalating temperatures are already killing off marine ecosystems, raising sea levels and making hurricanes more destructive.
Continued heating will only make those effects more catastrophic, scientists say. “2018 is going to be the warmest year on record for the Earth’s oceans,” said Zeke Hausfather, an author of the study. “As 2017 was the warmest year, and 2016 was the warmest year.”
A grim milestone for the U.S. government shutdown
The partial government shutdown entered its 21st day, tying it for the longest such one in American history.
Developments: Senate Republicans tried to broker a compromise on Thursday, and their efforts swiftly disintegrated. Vice President Mike Pence insisted that the White House would settle for nothing less than a border wall, and Democrats, as ever, rejected one. The White House was considering diverting relief money from storm- and fire-ravaged Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and California to pay for a wall.
Impact: Many farmers are near or at a financial breaking point. “I may lose the farm, but I strongly feel we need some border security,” one farmer in Missouri said.
More: President Trump canceled a trip to the Davos economic conference in Switzerland later this month and visited the U.S. southern border near McAllen, Tex., where crime is near a 30-year low despite his portrayal of a border “crisis.” Two of our reporters are traveling the border’s length.
Pompeo takes shots at Obama’s Middle East policies
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a speech in Cairo, declared that the U.S. would take a more activist role in the region. He also rejected much of President Barack Obama’s human-rights-based approach there, outlining an approach that is based on a close alliance with authoritarian rulers.
Mr. Pompeo — whose remarks came almost exactly a decade after Mr. Obama delivered a landmark speech in the same city — denounced the former president for, he said, underestimating “the tenacity and viciousness of radical Islam” and for his policies on Iran. Here are the many ways Mr. Pompeo departed from Mr. Obama. We also fact-checked the speech.
Confusion: Mr. Pompeo apparently sought to reassure jittery nations with his declaration that “when America retreats, chaos follows” and that the U.S. would “expel every last Iranian boot from Syria,” but the effect was confounding to many, coming weeks after President Trump’s impulsive announcement that U.S. forces would leave Syria.
Go deeper: The U.S. has spent $8 billion to build a strong Afghan air force but it is still struggling, which could complicate Mr. Trump’s efforts to pull out of the country.
An abduction shocks Norway
The wife of a wealthy Norwegian businessman has been kidnapped, and demands have been made for a large ransom paid in cryptocurrency, the police revealed this week.
Details: Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen went missing from the couple’s home on Oct. 31, but the drama had played out in secret until the police made it public. They said that they have a line of communication with people claiming to be her captors who are demanding a ransom — said to be as high as 9 million euros — in a cryptocurrency called Monero. Whether she is still alive is unclear, and three men are being sought for questioning.
Effects: The case is dominating headlines in Norway. It has highlighted worries that the egalitarian-minded country’s practice of publishing people’s tax returns could be handy to kidnappers. And it has led to calls for cryptocurrencies, which are favored in criminal activities, to be banned or regulated.
Here’s what else is happening
Michael Cohen: President Trump’s former personal lawyer, who implicated the president in a scheme to pay hush money to two women who say they had affairs with Mr. Trump, has agreed to testify publicly before Congress on Feb. 7, setting up a blockbuster airing of scandal.
Russia investigation: The presence of a dozen Ukrainian political and business figures in Washington for the celebrations surrounding President Trump’s inauguration has been under investigation by federal prosecutors interested in potential influence-peddling.
Snow: Once-in-a-generation heavy snowfall has left at least six people dead and brought travel and tourism to a halt in parts of the Alps.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Law enforcement officials in Nevada investigating a sexual-assault accusation against the soccer star have obtained a warrant for a sample of his DNA.
Brexit: Prime Minister Theresa May does not appear to have a Plan B if lawmakers in Parliament vote against her unloved plan for withdrawal, as seems likely. Underlining the country’s tensions, a TV movie about the Brexit campaign starring Benedict Cumberbatch has set off anger and angst.
Democratic Republic of Congo: The U.N. Security Council is set to meet to discuss the disputed outcome of the country’s presidential election. The victory of the president-elect, Felix Tshisekedi, been called into question by, among others, Belgium and France.
Ford: The automaker said it would lay off “thousands” of the 68,000 workers it employs in Europe and close a factory in France. Tougher emissions rules and declining demand have been hurting profits.
Forced marriages: After public outrage, the British government announced that it will no longer require British women forced into marriages abroad to pay the government for the cost of helping them escape, acknowledging that they “may have endured particular suffering.”
Venezuela: President Nicolás Maduro was inaugurated for a second term after an election last year that was widely considered illegitimate — and despite a plummeting economy and skyrocketing violence, hunger and migration. Our team explains how he has clung to power.
Vintage tanks: As President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia promotes the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany as a cornerstone of nationalist fervor, he has a pressing need for T-34 tanks for military parades, museum shows and film shoots. So it was with great fanfare that Russia took in a consignment of old tanks from the Lao People’s Army.
Tips for a more fulfilling life.
The Irregulars’ dinner tonight is part of a five-day celebration in Manhattan featuring a lecture, a memorabilia sale and parties with other groups of Sherlock Holmes fans, including the Baker Street Babes. (The first female members of the Irregulars weren’t admitted until the early 1990s.)