theNewsWorthy: Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019


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All the news stories mentioned in today's episode are listed with links below, so you can spend as much -- or as little -- time as you want perusing the latest happenings...

White House Briefing:  President Trump invited leaders from both parties to the White House for a briefing today on border security in hopes of “making a deal” and ending the government shutdown. Some Democrats call it a stunt, and it’s not clear if they’ll show. Read more: Wall Street JournalAPUSA Today

Shutdown Continued:  It’s day 12 now, and President Trump and Democrats are still blaming each other. The Federal Communications Commission will mostly stop operations by mid-day tomorrow if the shutdown continues. The Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo will close today. Though some of the National Parks are open, trash, human waste and illegal off-roading are starting to overwhelm them. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are still working without pay or forced to take unpaid leave.
Read more: ReutersAPThe Washington Post, TechCrunch

Russia Detains American:  Russia has detained an American man named Paul Whelan and claims he’s a spy. His family says he’s a former U.S. Marine who was traveling there for a wedding. Experts say this could be retaliation for the arrest of a Russian woman, Maria Butina, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to influence American politics.
Read more: CNNWall Street JournalNPR

North Korea’s Speech:  Kim Jong Un started the new year with a message for the U.S. The North Korean leader said he would be willing to meet with President Trump for a second time and may stop building atomic bombs, but he also said if sanctions on North Korea continue, all bets are off.
Read more: New York TimesNPRPolitico

Chicago Homicides Down:  The number of homicides in Chicago in 2018 is down from the year before. The police department credits 1,000 new officers in recent years and the availability of new high-tech tools. Though the FBI’s numbers won’t be out until later this year, it looks like the murder rate across the U.S. in 2018 also fell -- the largest one-year drop in five years.
Read more: ABC NewsAPNew York Times

New Laws in 2019:  A new year means new laws are going into effect. For example, in Washington state, you now have to be 21 to buy a semi-automatic assault rifle; in Hawaii, terminally ill patients are permitted to end their lives with the help of a doctor; in California, you’ll have to ask for a plastic straw if you want one at a full-service restaurant. There are also minimum wage increases in states across the country.
Read more: CBS NewsWall Street JournalNBC News

NASA’s Success:  NASA’s first image of Ultima Thule has been sent back to Earth, and more pictures are expected this week and over the next two years. So, the mission was a success! The New Horizons spacecraft reached the mysterious icy rock formation 4 billion miles away, making it the farthest exploration in the history of humankind.
Read more: APTech InsiderNASA on Twitter

Driverless Car Attacks:  Waymo, a driverless car company connected to Google, has had nearly two dozen attacks on its test cars in just one Arizona city. A report says vandals have thrown rocks, slashed tires and even tried to run them off the road. Analysts say concerns over safety and jobs may be the reason, but a Waymo spokesperson said most people have been welcoming and the tech could make roads safer.
Read more: New York Times

Netflix Record:  The Netflix original film Bird Box set a new record, with 45 million accounts streaming the horror movie within its first week. Netflix says it’s the biggest debut for the streaming service yet. Keep in mind: there’s no third party verifying the number (like they do with box office figures).
Read more: VarietyThe Verge

 Box Office Winner:  Speaking of the box office, Aquaman was number one again over the holiday weekend.
Read more: THR

Mega Millions Jackpot:  The New Year’s Day Mega Millions jackpot is the eighth largest in its history. A single (still unknown) winner’s ticket sold in New York is now worth $425 million. Check the numbers here.
Read more: ABC NewsCNNUSA Today

Voice Donations: Google’s voice-activated assistant now works with Network for Good, a non-profit that processes donations for charities. Google hopes this makes it easier for people to give back to the causes they love.
Read more: Mashable