Росія: історика Дмитрієва перевели в інститут Сербського для психіатричної експертизи

Відомого в Україні дослідженнями історії розстрілів у карельському урочищі Сандармох голову карельського «Меморіалу» Юрія Дмитрієва в Росії перевели в Інститут імені Сербського. Про це повідомляє у Facebook група «Справа Дмитрієва».

В установі історик буде проходити амбулаторну психіатричну експертизу, призначену судом. У повідомленні групи відзначили, що ця процедура може зайняти 30 днів.

Раніше стало відомо, що Дмитрієва помістили в психіатричне відділення московського слідчого ізолятора «Бутирка».

Міський суд російського Петрозаводська 27 грудня відмовився продовжити арешт історикові від 28 січня 2018 року. Відтак 28 січня Дмитрієва звільнять з-під варти. За рішенням суду, йому буде заборонено покидати місто без дозволу, поки триває розслідування. Суд також постановив Дмитрієву пройти психіатричну експертизу.

Також суд задовольнив прохання прокуратури провести ще одну експертизу фотографій його прийомної дочки. Раніше сьогодні на суді оприлюднили висновки експертів «Федерального департаменту незалежної судової експертизи». У них ішлося, що російський історик Юрій Дмитрієв, який ініціював вивчення історії розстрілів в урочищі Сандармох, не причетний до виготовлення порнографії. Він фотографував прийомну дочку без одягу для спостереження за її фізичним розвитком.

61-річного історика Юрія Дмитрієва заарештували в грудні 2016 року. Його звинувачують за статтею про «виготовленні фотографій порнографічного характеру» за знімки прийомної дочки. Сам історик стверджує, що він фотографував дівчинку для спостереження за її фізичним розвитком і звітів перед органами опіки.

«Меморіал» визнав Дмитрієва політв’язнем. Правозахисники вважають, що кримінальна справа стосовно історика «має політичний мотив і націлена на те, щоб активіст припинив свою діяльність щодо вшанування пам’яті жертв сталінських репресій».

На захист Дмитрієва, в тому числі перед президентом Росії Володимиром Путіним, багато разів виступали російські громадські й культурні діячі.

Library of Congress Will No Longer Collect Every Tweet Created

The U.S. Library of Congress says it will no longer collect every single tweet published on Twitter as it has been doing for the past 12 years. 

The library said this week that it can no longer collect everything across the entire social media platform because of recent changes Twitter has made, including allowing longer tweets, photos and videos. 

It said in a blog post this week that its first objective with collecting and archiving tweets was “to document the emergence of online social media for future generations.” The library says it has fulfilled that objective and no longer needs to be a “comprehensive” collector of tweets. 

The Library of Congress said it will still collect and archive tweets in the future, but will do so on a more selective basis. It said going forward “the tweets collected and archived will be thematic and event-based, including events such as elections, or themes of ongoing national interest, e.g. public policy.”

The library said it generally does not collect media comprehensively, but said it made an exception for public tweets when the social media platform was first developed. 

The library said it will keep its previous archive of tweets from 2006-2017 to help people understand the rise of social media and to offer insight into the public mood during that time. “Throughout its history, the Library has seized opportunities to collect snapshots of unique moments in human history and preserve them for future generations,” it said.

“The Twitter Archive may prove to be one of this generation’s most significant legacies to future generations. Future generations will learn much about this rich period in our history, the information flows, and social and political forces that help define the current generation,” it said.

Fugitive Catalonian Leader Seeks Talks With Spain

Catalonia’s fugitive former president has called for Spanish authorities to open negotiations regarding the restitution of what he calls his “legitimate government.”

Carles Puigdemont said via social media channels from Brussels on Saturday that Spain should “recognize the election results of Dec. 21 and start negotiating politically with the legitimate government of Catalonia.”

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy deposed Puigdemont and his Cabinet after Catalonia’s regional parliament voted in favor of a declaration of independence from the rest of the country in October.

But pro-secession parties, including one led by Puigdemont, won the most seats in elections last week.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid a judicial investigation into suspicions of rebellion by him and his government. He did not say Saturday if he plans to return to Spain, where an arrest warrants awaits him.

Rajoy said Friday that he plans to convene Catalonia’s newly elected parliament Jan. 17.

In-house rules of Catalonia’s parliament require that a candidate to form a government be present.

Polish Climbers Attempt Record Winter Ascent of K2

A group of Polish mountaineers set off for northern Pakistan on Sunday to attempt to be the first to scale K2, the world’s second highest peak, in wintertime.

K2, in the Karakorum mountains along the border between China and Pakistan, is notorious for high winds, steep and icy slopes — and high fatality rates for climbers. In winter months, scant snowfall means the summit approach can turn into bare ice.

More than 70 people have died climbing the peak, many of them at the Bottleneck, where a wrong step can send a climber hurtling off the South Face, where bodies are unlikely to be recovered.

Team member Adam Bielecki, 34, told Reuters that the chance to make history is a “strong motivation” for the Polish group.

Polish climbers have written a “beautiful chapter” of exploring peaks of more than 8,000 meters (26,247 feet), and scaling K2 in winter would “the last chapter of this book.”

The Polish team includes 13 mountaineers led by Krzysztof Wielicki, 67, who in 2003 headed a winter expedition of K2 that was unable to clear the 8,000 meter threshold.

K2, slightly shorter than Mount Everest, is 8,611 meters (28,251 feet) high.

Wielicki told Reuters that his team would begin their ascent on Jan. 8 or 9 and, if successful, expect to return to base camp by mid-March.

Pakistan is a hot destination for climbers. It rivals Nepal for the number of peaks higher 7,000 meters (22,966 feet) and it has five of the world’s 14 summits higher than 8,000 meters.

Bielecki said the group expects to be away from home for around three months.

“If you ask me what’s the hardest part of the expedition or what I fear the most, it’s actually the separation from my family,” he said.

Turkey Rages After Coup ‘Plotter’ Is Granted Asylum in Greece

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Saturday slammed a decision in Greece to grant asylum to a Turkish helicopter co-pilot, who fled the country after last year’s failed coup, as “politically motivated” and warned of a negative impact on bilateral relations.

The co-pilot — who flew seven other Turkish military officers to Greece — was granted asylum after Greek authorities ruled that his human rights would be at risk, despite repeated requests for his extradition by Ankara.

The decision “again reveals that Greece is a country that protects and embraces plotters,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that the ruling was “politically motivated.”

“Greece has not shown the support and cooperation we expect from an ally in the fight against terrorism,” the statement added.

The ruling is an embarrassment to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who asked for the officers to be extradited during a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in December, as part of the first official visit to Athens by a Turkish president in 65 years.

Late Saturday evening, Tsipras tried to contain any fallout from the asylum ruling by calling for the decision to be annulled.

“The Greek government filed on Saturday a request for annulment of the asylum decision taken the day before by the asylum authority,” the office of the Greek prime minister said.

Co-pilot’s denial

The co-pilot, who landed in the Greek city of Alexandroupoli hours after the putsch was defeated on July 15, 2016, had denied being part of the coup attempt.

Despite Turkey’s assertions, the asylum judges said there was no evidence to suggest the co-pilot had participated in a plot to unseat Erdogan.

According a judicial source, the ruling took into account reports from human rights groups and the Council of Europe that warned Turkey has regularly committed human rights abuses against coup suspects.

A ruling on the seven other military officers is expected to be made in the coming weeks.

In January, the Greek Supreme Court blocked the extradition of the officers, saying that they would not have a fair trial in Turkey.

More than 140,000 people, including judges, lawyers, journalists and academics, have been sacked or suspended in Turkey since the failed coup, while 55,000 people have been arrested over suspected links to U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkey claims Gulen ordered the attempted coup, something he denies.

World Cities on Alert Ahead of New Year’s Eve Festivities

Hundreds of thousands of law enforcement, military and security officials will be deployed in cities around the world to keep New Year’s Eve revelers safe as they gather to welcome 2018.

In the United States, New York City officials announced they would use two-step screening, snipers, street closures and specially trained dogs to secure Times Square, where an estimated 2 million people will gather to watch the annual ball drop at midnight.

In Las Vegas, 300 National Guard troops will join more than 1,500 police officers to keep safe the city’s famed Strip, home to a number of casinos, resorts and hotels. The security precautions to protect the expected crowd of more than 300,000 will include snipers positioned on rooftops and double the number of emergency response teams from previous years.

In South America, Rio de Janeiro police plan a security force of 12,000, nearly 20 percent more officers than last year, for New Year’s events. Military police say they are suspending vacations for security personnel to ensure there are enough police officers on duty.

​Patrols in London

In London, a record number of armed officers and canine units will patrol celebrations and the city’s Underground subway system, although Metropolitan Police said they had received no specific threat. Steel and concrete barricades will ring main events that will be attended by an estimated 500,000 people, police said.

In Germany, all major cities, including Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Cologne, announced there would be enhanced police presence at all celebrations. They declined to reveal details.

In Africa, after at least nine people were killed Friday outside a church in suburban Cairo by a gunman on a motorcycle, Egyptian authorities have beefed up security for New Year’s Eve and Orthodox Christmas.

In an attempt to prevent further terrorist attacks, the Interior Ministry has raised the security alert to the maximum level throughout the country. The ministry has ordered heightened security near vital institutions such as churches and embassies.

More security patrols will be deployed to streets, squares and other areas where celebrations will be held.

In Istanbul, police have arrested 120 people with suspected links to Islamic State militants ahead of the New Year’s celebrations. The city also plans to more than double the number of police officers on the streets to prevent a repeat of last year, when a man armed with an assault rifle killed 39 Turks and foreigners at a nightclub. Police have also canceled some public celebrations in key districts of Turkey’s largest city.

​Preparations in India

In India, more than 30,000 security personnel will guard the popular gathering sites across Mumbai. In the southern tech hub of Bengaluru, officials plan to deploy more than 15,000 officers, as well as use drones, security cameras and canine units. A 500-member, all-female police squad will also be deployed to ensure there is no repeat of last year, when several women were harassed and molested in the streets by male revelers.

In Australia, one of the first places to ring in the new year, security officials are guarding against any kind of terror attack on New Year’s Eve. Officials said police officers would be out in force on the ground, in the air and on the sea as part of the largest security operation in the country.

More than 1 million people are expected to gather in the center of Sydney and at least half that number in Melbourne to watch fireworks displays. Police said Melbourne’s city center would be on lockdown and remain closed until 6 a.m. New Year’s Day to protect the crowd.

Police in Melbourne last month arrested a man for allegedly planning to shoot revelers on New Year’s Eve.

Російські танкери останніми місяцями постачали паливо морем до КНДР – Reuters

Російські танкери постачали морем паливо в Північну Корею щонайменше тричі протягом жовтня і листопада, повідомила у п’ятницю, 29 грудня, інформаційна агенція Reuters з посиланням на два високопоставлені західноєвропейські джерела.

Таким чином, заявили ці джерела, продаж нафти або нафтопродуктів Росією став порушенням санкцій щодо Пхеньяна.

Москва 30 грудня відкинула таке звинувачення.

«Російські судна перевантажували свій вантаж північнокорейцям просто в морі», – заявив один з анонімних коментаторів Reuters. За словами джерела, передача нафти або нафтопродуктів відбувалася кілька разів.

Інше джерело повідомило, що не було доказів участі саме Росії як держави у цих передачах палива.

«Немає жодних доказів того, що це підтримувалося російською державою, але ці російські судна кидають рятувальне коло Північній Кореї», – сказав коментатор з питань безпеки у Європі.

У МЗС Росії заявили, що країна дотримується санкцій проти Північної Кореї.

«Росія повністю дотримується режиму санкцій… Ми хотіли б нагадати, що на постачання палива, тобто продуктів нафтопереробки, є, безумовно, квоти, але нема повної заборони», – сказали в коментарі російській агенції «ТАСС».

Державний департамент США закликав Росію та інших членів ООН «чітко дотримуватися» санкції стосовно Північної Кореї і співпрацювати з метою «блокування заборонених ООН дій, зокрема передачі чистої нафти і вугілля на судна Північної Кореї».

Disasters Pounded North America in 2017 but Were Down Globally

North America couldn’t catch a break in 2017. Parts of the United States were on fire, underwater or lashed by hurricane winds. Mexico shook with back-to-back earthquakes. The Caribbean got hit with a string of hurricanes.

The rest of the world, however, fared better. Preliminary research shows there were fewer disasters and deaths this year than on average, but economic damages were much higher.

While overall disasters were down, they smacked big cities, which were more vulnerable because of increased development, said economist and geophysicist Chuck Watson of the consulting firm Enki Research.

In a year where U.S. and Caribbean hurricanes caused a record $215 billion worth of damage, according to insurance giant Munich Re, no one in the continental U.S. died from storm surge, which traditionally is the No. 1 killer during hurricanes. Forecasters gave residents plenty of advance warning during a season where storms set records for strength and duration.

“It’s certainly one of the worst hurricane seasons we’ve had,” National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini said.

The globe typically averages about 325 disasters a year, but this year’s total through November was fewer than 250, according to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at the University of Louvain in Belgium. They included flooding and monsoons in South Asia, landslides in Africa, a hurricane in Ireland, and cyclones in Australia and Central America. Colombia experienced two different bouts of floods and mudslides.

Lower tolls

Disasters kill about 30,000 people and affect about 215 million people a year. This year’s estimated toll was lower — about 6,000 people killed and 75 million affected.

Was it a statistical quirk or the result of better preparedness? Experts aren’t certain, but say perhaps it’s a little bit of each.

“This has been a particularly quiet year,” said Debarati Guha-Sapir, who heads the disaster research center. “The thing is not to be … complacent about this.”

But quiet depends on where you live.

The U.S. had gone more than a decade without a Category 3 storm or larger making landfall on the mainland. The last few Septembers — normally peak hurricane month — had been particularly quiet, but this year, Harvey, Irma, Jose and later Maria popped up and grew to super strength in no time, said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.

“September was just bonkers. It was just one after the other. You couldn’t catch a break,” he said.

There were six major Atlantic hurricanes this year; the average is 2.7. A pair of recent studies found fingerprints of man-made global warming were all over the torrential rains from Harvey that flooded Houston.

Researchers at the University of South Carolina estimated that economic damage from this year’s disasters, adjusted for inflation, were more than 40 percent higher than normal, mostly because of Harvey, Irma and Maria. By many private measures, Harvey overtook Katrina as the costliest U.S. hurricane, but the weather service hasn’t finished its calculations yet.

Much of the hurricane-related damage and deaths in the Caribbean — from storm surge and other causes — is still unknown. The National Hurricane Center hasn’t finished tallying its data.

Uccellini of the weather service said warmer than normal waters and unusual steering currents made the hurricanes especially damaging, combined with booming development in disaster-prone areas. 

“We are building in the wrong places. We are building in areas that are increasing in risks,” said Susan Cutter, director of the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at the University of South Carolina.

​Devastating wildfires

Wildfires blazed nearly year-round in the U.S., fanned by relentless winds and parched conditions. About 9.8 million acres of land have burned, mostly in the West, nearly 50 percent more than the average in the past decade. A wildfire that ignited in early December in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties northwest of Los Angeles grew to be the largest in California history.

Scientists connect drier weather after heavy rains — leading to buildup of fuel that can catch fire and burn easily — to a combination of man-made warming and a natural La Nina, the climate phenomenon that’s the flip side of El Nino, said Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb.

Worldwide, drought affected significantly less land and fewer people this year, and heat waves were less severe compared with those in the past.

Landslides were more frequent and deadlier this year, mostly because of the Sierra Leone landslide that killed 915 people, Guha-Sapir said.

Earthquakes worldwide were dramatically down. As of mid-December, there had been only seven earthquakes of magnitude 7 or larger compared with about 15 in a normal year. Two powerful quakes struck Mexico in September, including one that hit on the anniversary of the devastating 1985 Mexico City quake.

The back-to-back Mexico quakes were unrelated, said geophysicist Ross Stein of Temblor Inc., a company that provides information about seismic risk. 

“We have to remember that coincidences really do happen,” he said. 

Третій день протестів у Ірані – сутички з поліцією, жбурляння активістами каміння та підпали

У третій день протестів проти корупції і підвищення цін в Ірані відбулися численні протестні акції, в ході яких відбулися сутички протестувальників із поліцією, є повідомлення про затримання. Акції відбулися у Тегерані, Шахрікорді, Керманшаху, Зенджані, Доруді та інших містах.

Перська служба ВВС повідомила, що в деяких містах протестувальники підпалювали урядові будівлі і поліцейські машини.

Напівофіційне інформагентство Fars повідомило, що близько 70 студентів зібралися перед Тегеранським університетом і жбурляли каміння в поліцію. У відеороликах з соцмереж повідомили про сутички біля університету демонстрантів з поліцією, яка для розгону застосувала сльозогінний газ.

Також у соцмережах очевидці повідомляли, що щонайменше два демонстранти були розстріляні іранськими силами безпеки в західному місті Доруд 30 грудня. Втім підтвердження цієї інформації немає.

До столиці Ірану влада стягнула велику кількість силовиків. У Міністерстві внутрішніх справ країни закликали людей «не брати участі в незаконних зборах».

Протестні акції відбулися на тлі провладних. Раніше сьогодні державне телебачення Ірану заявило, що мітинги на підтримку уряду 30 грудня мають відбутися у понад 1200 містах. 

Про кількість постраждалих і затриманих під час акцій протесту у суботу офіційної інформації немає, тоді як за попередні два дні маніфестацій у різних містах країни були заарештовані десятки людей.

Сполучені Штати засудили арешти, президент Дональд Трамп попередив Тегеран про те, що «світ спостерігає» за подіями, а влада має поважати права людей. Речник МЗС Ірану Бахрам Гасемі 30 грудня заявив на державному телебаченні, що «іранський народ не несе відповідальності за брехливі і безпринципні висловлювання офіційних осіб США чи пана Трампа».

За останній період ціни на багато основних продуктів харчування зросли в Ірані на 40 відсотків. За даними Центробанку країни, інфляція становить близько 10 відсотків. Безробіття в цьому фінансовому році склало 12,4 відсотка, що майже на півтора відсотка більше, ніж торік. Із 80 мільйонів населення Ірану – близько 3,2 мільйони громадян є безробітними.

Чоловік, який утримував у заручниках людей в Харкові, – раніше судимий місцевий житель – поліція

В обласному управлінні Нацполіції в Харківській області повідомили, що затриманий в ході спецоперації чоловік, який взяв у заручники в поштовому відділенні кількох людей, є раніше судимим місцевим жителем.

«Чоловіка, що погрожував підірвати відділення «Укрпошти» разом із заручниками, було затримано. Його особу вже встановлено, це харків’янин 1977 року народження, раніше судимий за різними статтями Кримінального кодексу України», – повідомили в харківському управлінні поліції.

У поліції уточнили, як проходила операція: силовики ухвалили рішення про штурм будівлі, і коли звідти виходила одна із утримуваних жінок, зайшли до приміщення і затримали порушника.

За даними поліції, 30 грудня о 14:40 до правоохоронців надійшло повідомлення про те, що до відділення «Укрпошти» на вулиці Шевченка у Харкові увійшов чоловік в масці з метою пограбування. Зловмисник забарикадувався у відділку та заявив про захоплення заручників – усього 11 людей. Через деякий час він відпустив двох дітей та трьох жінок. До переговорів силовики залучили батька чоловіка, який утримував людей. Після того, як силовики увірвалися до будівлі, всіх заручників було звільнено. Ніхто не постраждав. За фактом події поліція відкрила кримінальне провадження за статтею про «захоплення заручників», що передбачає для затриманого до 15 років ув’язнення в разі визнання винним.

Media Group: 81 Reporters Died, Threats Soared in 2017

At least 81 reporters were killed doing their jobs this year, while violence and harassment against media staff has skyrocketed, the world’s biggest journalists’ organization says.

 

In its annual “Kill Report,” seen by The Associated Press, the International Federation of Journalists said the reporters lost their lives in targeted killings, car bomb attacks and crossfire incidents around the world.

 

More than 250 journalists were in prison in 2017.

 

The number of deaths as of December 29 was the lowest in a decade, down from 93 in 2016. The largest number were killed in Mexico, but many also died in conflict zones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

 

The IFJ suspected but could not officially confirm that at least one other journalist was killed Thursday in an attack by an Islamic State suicide bomber on a Shiite cultural center in Kabul, in which at least 41 people died.

 

IFJ President Philippe Leruth said that while the drop in deaths “represents a downward trend, the levels of violence in journalism remain unacceptably high.”

He said the IFJ finds it “most disturbing that this decrease cannot be linked to any measure by governments to tackle the impunity for these crimes.”

 

Eight women journalists were killed, two in European democracies – Kim Wall in Denmark, who died on the submarine of an inventor she was writing about, and Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who was blown up by a bomb placed in her car.

 

Beyond the deaths, the IFJ warned that “unprecedented numbers of journalists were jailed, forced to flee, that self-censorship was widespread and that impunity for the killings, harassment, attacks and threats against independent journalism was running at epidemic levels.”

 

Turkey, where official pressure on the media has been ramped up since a failed coup attempt in July 2016, is becoming notorious for putting reporters behind bars. Some 160 journalists are jailed in Turkey –  two-thirds of the global total – the report said.

The organization also expressed concern about India, the world’s largest democracy, where it said that attacks on journalists are being motivated by violent populism.

 

Countries with the highest numbers of media killings:

 

Mexico: 13

 

Afghanistan: 11

 

Iraq: 11

 

Syria: 10

 

India: 6

 

Philippines: 4

 

Pakistan: 4

 

Nigeria: 3

 

Somalia: 3

 

Honduras: 3

 

Annual NYC Taxi Driver Calendar Is Out: Meet Mr. December!

Readying for his first television interview, Alex Wang gazes at his reflection in the back window of his yellow cab. Wiping his windswept mane behind the ear, he adjusts his red Shanghai Tang jacket and takes a swig of steaming tea.

“Ahh,” he pauses emphatically, “warms your whole body.”

Wang opens the front door and reaches deep inside, revealing a glossy 2018 calendar. On the cover is a shirtless male model, sprawled on his belly atop a yellow taxicab trunk, licking a spiral rainbow-colored lollipop the size of his face.

“It’s me!” he laughs, self-deprecatingly, pointing to his photo. “So ugly, you are!”

The 68-year-old Wang, an 18-year taxicab veteran, self-proclaimed “karaoke king” and “bit of a comedian” from China, flips through the months, each featuring a New York taxi driver. Most are foreign-born, representing seven different countries, and many are middle-aged, reflecting the key demographics of the city’s yellow cab fleet: 96 percent immigrant, median age 46.

 

WATCH: Is It Hot in Here, or Is It New York’s 2018 Taxicab Models?

 

The NYC Taxi Drivers Calendar’s co-creators, Philip and Shannon Kirkman, came up with the idea five years ago as a tongue-in-cheek alternative to the famous chisel-chested firefighter pin-up — a steamy parody with the dual-function of celebrating the city’s diversity, while also giving back.

To date, the couple has donated more than $60,000 worth of proceeds to University Settlement, a nonprofit that serves immigrant and low-income families with education, housing, and health services.

​Turning taxi drivers into models

Shannon, the calendar’s photographer, describes the end product’s humor as uniting.

“Particularly when the news is tough, it’s something that you can kind of take a step back, and relax and celebrate with,” Shannon said. “We laugh a lot during the shoots.”

Philip, the calendar’s creative director, explains that the process of turning a taxi driver into a model, during a two-hour shoot, can prove challenging.

“I always think about how courageous it is for these drivers, because it is an open set,” Philip said. “We literally park the cab in front of a fire hydrant in most cases, and there’s people walking by and looking and taking pictures.”

Among the fearless models are pucker-lipped Dan — who sports a bow-tie, cuffs, and not much else before a vintage late 60s-era checker taxicab — and Hassan, who seductively watches you as he eats a messy slice of birthday cake decorated with his own smiling portrait.

Of the year’s 12 participants, only one is a woman, indicative of a male-dominated industry in which 99 percent of New York City yellow cab drivers are men.

Bangladeshi-native Nipa, featured in both the inside cover and October, is the third woman ever to be included in the calendar. Her depiction as a strongwoman was intentional.

“It’s been a tough year for women,” Shannon said. “We felt like we really wanted to put Nipa in a position of power, in a position of strength.”

​‘A little’ fame

Come winter, cover model Wang can be seen enthusiastically squirting a bottle of baby oil across the hood of his vehicle, in his official December photo.

Wang, who started his life in the U.S. as a restaurant deliveryman 37 years ago, says being a taxi driver has been the most rewarding job and career for him.

“Every [time a] passenger comes in … I practice my English,” Wang says. “I see lots of beautiful places, lots of landmarks of New York.”

Everywhere he drives, Wang proudly displays his roots, but there is no place he would rather call home. And now that he has found “a little” fame, he plans to make sure everyone knows about it.

“I will show all the passengers,” he says. “I was in a taxi calendar, and [I was] the cover man. Alex Wang!”

Beatles’ Ringo Starr Knighted in UK Honors List

Ex-Beatles drummer Ringo Starr has been knighted in Queen Elizabeth’s New Year’s honors list, along with Bee Gees singer Barry Gibb and author Michael Morpurgo, while ballet dancer Darcey Bussell becomes a dame.

Ringo, 77, real name Richard Starkey, joined the Beatles as a replacement drummer for Pete Best in 1962 and occasionally sang lead vocals, notably in “Yellow Submarine” and “With a Little Help from my Friends.”

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a Beatle in 1988 and again in 2015 for his solo career after the group split up.

Gibb, 71, is the British musician who co-founded the Bee Gees with his brothers Robin and Maurice, and went on to record a string of pop classics including “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever” from the film Saturday Night Fever.

English author Morpurgo, 74, is best known for children’s novels like War Horse and was Children’s Laureate from 2003 to 2005.

Bussell, 48, is a former principal dancer with the Royal Ballet and currently one of the four judges in the long-running BBC TV ballroom contest Strictly Come Dancing.

The New Year’s honors have been awarded since Queen Victoria’s reign in the 19th century and aim to recognize not just well-known figures but those who have contributed to national life through often selfless and unsung contributions over many years.

In that category, Margaret Jamieson, of the Blue Door charity shop on the Scottish island of Orkney, is recognized, along with Geoffrey Evans, a local councilor in Falmouth, Cornwall, for over 40 years.

Actor Hugh Laurie receives the CBE medal, as does author Jilly Cooper and the former editor of British Vogue magazine Alexandra Shulman.

England women’s cricket captain Heather Knight is made an OBE while hip hop artist Richard Cowie, aka Wiley, is made an MBE, along with Paralympian athlete Stefanie Reid.

The biannual honors list is released on the Queen’s official birthday in June and at the end of each year.

Wall Street Ends Strong Year on Quiet Note

There were no fireworks on Wall Street for the last trading day of the year, as U.S. stocks closed out their best year since 2013 on a down note, with losses in technology and financial stocks keeping equities in negative territory for the session.

Major indexes hit a series of record highs in 2017, lifted by a combination of strong economic growth, solid corporate earnings, low interest rates and hopes for a tax cut from U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.

The benchmark S&P 500 surged 19.5 percent this year, the blue-chip Dow 25.2 percent and Nasdaq 28.2 percent, as each of the major Wall Street indexes scored the best yearly performance since 2013.

The market has also remained resilient in the face of tensions in North Korea and political turmoil in Washington. The S&P 500 only saw four sessions all year with a decline of more than 1 percent while the CBOE Volatility index topped out at 15.96 on a closing basis, well below its long-term average of 20.

What will 2018 bring?

“The real question is what happens as we head into 2018,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research in New York. “There is an awful lot of optimism built into share prices right now that could set us up for disappointment.”

Among sectors, the technology index has been the best performer, up 37 percent and led by a gain of 87.6 percent in Micron Technology.

Telecom services, down 5.7 percent, and energy, down 3.7 percent, were the only two sectors to end the year in the red.

The rally is widely expected to extend into 2018, boosted by gains from a new law that lowers the tax burden on U.S. corporations.

Last day a down day

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 118.29 points, or 0.48 percent, on Friday to close at 24,719.22, the S&P 500 lost 13.93 points, or 0.52 percent, to 2,673.61 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 46.77 points, or 0.67 percent, to 6,903.39.

For the week, the Dow lost 0.13 percent, the S&P 500 shed 0.36 percent and the Nasdaq lost 0.81 percent.

Apple declined 1.08 percent after issuing a rare apology for slowing older iPhones with flagging batteries.

Goldman Sachs lost 0.68 percent after saying its fourth-quarter profit would take a $5 billion hit related to the new tax law.

Amazon fell 1.4 percent after Trump targeted the online retailer in a call for the country’s postal service to raise prices of shipments in order to recoup costs.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.46-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.91-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 36 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 81 new highs and 20 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 4.94 billion shares, compared to the 6.4 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

Ukraine Kidnappers Free Bitcoin Analyst After $1 Million Ransom Paid

Kidnappers in Ukraine have released an employee at a United Kingdom-registered cryptocurrency exchange after getting more than $1 million in bitcoins as ransom, an adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister told Reuters on Friday.

Pavel Lerner, a leading analyst and expert in blockchains, or decentralized public ledgers, was abducted by unknown masked people on December 26, according to a statement by his company, EXMO Finance, on its website.

“This is the first such case in Ukraine linked to bitcoins,” Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, said in a phone text message.

It was unclear who paid the ransom. Lerner’s work at EXMO did not involve access to the financial assets of its users, the company said, adding that the platform was operating normally.

“At the moment, he is safe, and there was no physical harm inflicted on him,” the statement said.  “Nevertheless, Pavel is currently in a state of major stress. Therefore, he will not provide any official comments in the coming days.”

News of the release came as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies rebounded after two days of losses partly related to regulators toughening rules on digital currencies in an effort to curb excessive speculation. Many digital currencies surged in value this year.

Balaclavas

Strana.ua, a local news website, had earlier reported that six gun-toting men in dark clothing and balaclavas had snatched Lerner and pushed him into a minibus with stolen number plates.

Police have begun a criminal investigation after a man was kidnapped in the Obolon district of Kyiv, Oksana Blyshchyk, the Kyiv police spokeswoman, said by phone without revealing the name of the victim.

EXMO has 900,000 users as of December 2017, according to its website.

“We would like to note that the story of Pavel’s abduction has overgrown with rumors that might tamper with the official investigation,” EXMO said in its statement. “That said, EXMO currently refrains from any comments or suggestions of own versions of the possible scenario, in the nearest future.”

Separately, the company announced Thursday that it had been hit by a denial-of-service attack.