Benedict XVI, reluctant pope who chose to retire, dies at 95
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a reluctant pope who never wanted to be pontiff. So it should have come as little surprise that with a few words uttered in Latin on a Vatican holiday in 2013, Benedict ended it all. He announced that he would become the first pope in 600 years to resign. His dramatic exit paved the way for Pope Francis’ election and created the unprecedented arrangement of two popes, living side-by-side in the Vatican gardens. And it likely won’t be a one-off, given that Francis himself has said Benedict “opened the door” for other popes to follow suit. The Vatican announced Saturday that Benedict, the former Joseph Ratzinger, had died at age 95.
Time zone by time zone, another new year sweeps into view
NEW YORK (AP) — New Year’s celebrations are sweeping across the globe, ushering in 2023 with countdowns and fireworks — and marking an end to a year that brought war in Europe, a new chapter in the British monarchy and global worries over inflation. The new year began in the tiny atoll nation of Kiribati in the central Pacific, then moved across New Zealand and Asia before being greeted in Europe. For many, at least for a day, thoughts focused on possibilities, even elusive ones like world peace. But Russian attacks continued to target Ukrainian power supplies, leaving millions without electricity. There were no big celebrations in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, where an air raid alarm was heard shortly after midnight Saturday.
Ukraine conflict casts shadow on Russia as it enters 2023
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s New Year’s address to the nation usually is rather anodyne and backed with a soothing view of a snowy Kremlin. Putin lashed out at the West and Ukraine this year with Russian soldiers in the background. The conflict in Ukraine cast a long shadow as Russia entered 2023. Cities curtailed festivities and fireworks. Moscow announced special performances for soldiers’ children featuring the Russian equivalent of Santa Claus. An exiled Russian news outlet unearthed a video of Volodymyr Zelenskyy who is now Ukrainian president and depised by the Kremlin telling jokes on a Russian state television New Year’s show just a decade ago. Putin spoke in a nine-minute video shown on state television on Saturday.
Chief justice: Judges’ safety ‘essential’ to court system
WASHINGTON (AP) — Chief Justice John Roberts is praising programs that protect judges, saying that “we must support judges by ensuring their safety.” Roberts’ comments in an annual, year-end report about the federal judiciary follow recent security threats to the justices. Roberts and other conservative Supreme Court justices were the subject of protests, some at their homes, after the May leak of the court’s decision that ultimately stripped away constitutional protections for abortion. Justice Samuel Alito has said that the leak made conservative justices “targets for assassination.” Polls following the abortion decision show public trust in the court is at historic lows.
Suspect in Idaho killings plans to waive extradition hearing
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A suspect arrested in connection with the slayings of four University of Idaho students plans to waive his extradition hearing so he can be quickly brought to Idaho to face murder charges. That is according to his defense attorney. Authorities in eastern Pennsylvania arrested Bryan Christopher Kohberger, a 28-year-old Ph.D. student at Washington State University, on Friday. Kohberger defense attorney Jason LaBar said Saturday that Kohberger is eager to be exonerated, and said people should wait to pass judgment until after a fair trial. Moscow Police Captain Anthony Dahlinger said Saturday that investigators believe Kohberger is the person responsible for all four of the killings. Dahlinger says more information will be released once Kohberger is returned to Idaho.
NKorea’s Kim orders ‘exponential’ expansion of nuke arsenal
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to increase production of his country’s nuclear warheads “exponentially.” State media reported Sunday that Kim called for drastically boosting the country’s military power to protect its national interests as the U.S. and its allies apply more military pressure on North Korea. The official Korean Central News Agency cited Kim as saying North Korea is compelled to boost the production of nuclear warheads “exponentially” to mass-produce tactical nuclear weapons. It said Kim has also ordered the manufacturing of a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile with a swift, retaliatory attack capability. Kim also reportedly said North Korea will launch its first military spy satellite in the near future.
Taxes fall, wages rise and jaywalking OK’d by new state laws
Taxes will be falling and wages rising as new laws take effect Sunday in numerous states. The new year will bring higher minimum wages in 23 states. More than a dozen states will enact tax cuts. The January list of new laws also includes several affecting personal liberties. Alabama will become the 25th state to allow concealed handguns without a permit. In California, police will no longer be able to stop pedestrians for jaywalking, unless they are in immediate danger of being hit by a vehicle.
No. 3 TCU upsets No. 2 Michigan 51-45 in wild CFP semifinal
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Max Duggan accounted for four touchdowns, TCU returned two interceptions for scores and the third-ranked Horned Frogs withstood a frenetic second-half surge by No. 2 Michigan to win the Fiesta Bowl 51-45 and advance to the College Football Playoff national championship. TCU, the most unlikely team to ever reach the four-team playoff in its nine-year history, has one more game to play in its improbable season and it will come against either No. 1 Georgia or No. 4 Ohio State on Jan. 9 at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood, California. The Horned Frogs will try to win the program’s first national championship since 1938.
Arizona governor’s tenure defined by push right, Trump feud
PHOENIX (AP) — Republican Doug Ducey spent his eight years as Arizona governor outmaneuvering Democrats to advance GOP priorities and he reshaped the state in a decisively conservative direction. Ducey, who leaves office on Monday, cut taxes, expanded school choice, restricted abortion and built a makeshift wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Yet he’s ending his two terms with a limited national profile and the enmity of GOP foot soldiers who are angry that he refused to overturn the 2020 election to keep Donald Trump in power. Democrat Katie Hobbs is set to become governor, but a Republican-controlled legislature will limit her ability to undo much of what Ducey enacted.
‘Atmospheric river’ dumps heavy rain, snow across California
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A powerful storm is bringing drenching rain or heavy snowfall to much of California as the state gets ready to usher in a new year. Flooding and rock slides have closed portions of roads in northern California. In the high Sierra Nevada, as much as 2 feet of snow could accumulate into early Sunday. Chains or four-wheel drive are being required for vehicles on many roads through the mountains. The National Weather Service in Sacramento says the atmospheric river storm is pulling in a long and wide plume of moisture from the Pacific Ocean. One ski resort south of Lake Tahoe closed a chair lift because of flooding.
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