National News

5 things for January 2: The Koreas, Iran protests, cold weather

Posted December 23, 2017 2:04 p.m. EST

— If you're already planning that first getaway of the new year, check out the 18 best places to visit in 2018. Now here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. North and South Korea

The new year has brought new hope for better relations on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea proposes high-level talks with North Korea as early as January 9 to let the North participate in the Winter Olympics next month in Pyeongchang, South Korea. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has long lobbied for closer relations with the North, also sees the talks as a chance to ease tensions between the two nations. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un brought up the idea of the North going to the Olympics during his (unusually civil) New Year's Day address, where he also declared his hope "for (a) peaceful resolution with our southern border."

2. Iran protests

At least a dozen people have been killed in protests raging across Iran. The demonstrations, the largest in the country since 2009's so-called Green Movement, started with concerns over a stagnant economy and the rising cost of living, but they have morphed into an outcry against the regime. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani downplayed the protests, saying, "This is nothing." Some social media sites, which have been used to galvanize the protests, were restricted, but otherwise Iran officials haven't launched a big crackdown -- yet.

3. Sexual harassment

The national reckoning over sexual harassment and assault has mostly focused on the entertainment, media and political worlds. But women in all fields are battling against sex harassment in the workplace. Now big names in the entertainment world are teaming up to do something about it. Shonda Rhimes, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Meryl Streep are just some of the donors behind Time's Up, a comprehensive plan to fight sex harassment in all industries. Time's Up has already put together a $13 million legal defense fund. The group also encourages women to wear black at Sunday's Golden Globe Awards as a sign of solidarity.

4. Weather

Baby, it's cold outside, and it'll stay that way for a good portion of the country all week. The National Weather Service says parts of the United States will be in a "prolonged period" of below average temperatures through the weekend. More than 100 million people from Montana to Maine will be under wind-chill advisories or warnings today. Temperatures will barely be in the teens in the Northeast and near zero in the Great Lakes by the end of the week. And don't even think about heading down South for relief. Freeze warnings stretch from Texas to Florida, and temps in the Southeast will stay 10 to 15 degrees below average.

5. Travel

Holiday travelers headed home hit a serious speed bump on New Year's Day. An outage of the Customs and Border Protection's computer systems caused huge lines at airports across the country Monday night for passengers trying to get through passport control. Customs and Border Protection said that "there is no indication the service disruption was malicious in nature," and the systems were back online after a couple of hours.

At least flying in 2017 was safer than ever. There were no crashes of commercial passenger jets last year, according to a report from the Aviation Safety Network. The 44 people killed in crashes last year died in either cargo planes or small commercial aircraft. Airliner accidents have been on a steady decline for about 25 years, mainly because of advances in technology and changes to pilot training.


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