Here’s what you need to know:
• American intelligence officials will brief Congress today on their investigation of allegations that Russia hacked the presidential election, before President-elect Donald J. Trump gets briefed on Friday.
Mr. Trump continued to raise questions about the intelligence on his preferred platform, Twitter, making common cause with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.
• Our special report looks at how private tech companies that aid governments in the surveillance of citizens have created cybertools that have proved adept at political espionage.
Cases include hacking attacks related to the election in the U.S., another in Mexico, and the 2014 breach of internal Sony files that was attributed to North Korea.
• The bitter partisan fight over the fate of President Obama’s signature health care law will play out in Congress over the coming weeks.
More than 20 million Americans are insured under the law.
Mr. Obama went to Capitol Hill to urge Democrats to fight off a Republican effort to gut the law, while Mr. Trump insisted the program would “fall of its own weight.”
• Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said he supported a pardon for Sgt. Elor Azaria, a soldier found guilty of manslaughter on Tuesday in a case that has polarized Israelis.
The killing in the West Bank, caught in chilling completeness in a video that quickly drew attention worldwide, shows Mr. Azaria shooting a Palestinian assailant in the head as he lay wounded on the ground.
• China is shaking the landscape of pro soccer, offering giddying sums to attract foreign stars as part of the government’s efforts to transform the country into a soccer superpower. (China’s men’s team is ranked 82nd in the world, just ahead of the Faroe Islands.)
One example: A Chinese club offered Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo $105 million a year, but he declined, according to his agent.
• Already need a break? Here’s our roundup of 52 places to go in 2017.
The choices, culled from hundreds of recommendations from our globe-exploring travel writers, range from the bucolic and secluded (the Ryukyu Islands in Japan) to industrial urban landscapes (the South Bronx).
Some suggestions in Europe: a post-crisis art boom in Athens and art-inspiring landscapes in the Norwegian Arctic.
• Federal Reserve officials expect Donald J. Trump’s election to resultin somewhat faster economic growth in the U.S., but they see little chance of a boom.
• With a few exceptions, the fastest-growing jobs in the U.S. are predominantly those held by women, while the fastest-declining ones are mostly male.
• High-definition televisions, smart-home systems, drones, artificial intelligence: The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas showcases the latest gadgets through Sunday.
• Our tech columnist examines how governments around the world are increasingly reacting to perceived threats from mighty corporations like Apple, Facebook and Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
• The dollar fell. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.
In the News
• In Turkey, accusations of U.S. involvement in terrorist attacks, including the New Year’s Day nightclub massacre, reflect how far the country has drifted from its NATO allies. [The New York Times]
• Ramush Haradinaj, a former prime minister of Kosovo, was detained in France on a Serbian warrant alleging war crimes. [Balkan Insight]
• Romania’s Parliament approved a new left-leaning coalition government. [The New York Times]
• Damascus, the Syrian capital, has been afflicted by a water shortage. [The New York Times]
• Britain appointed a well-respected diplomat, Tim Barrow, as its new top envoy to the European Union. [The New York Times]
• The police in Berlin detained a Tunisian man who dined with Anis Amri, the suspect accused of driving a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, the night before the attack. [Deutsche Welle]
• “There’s nothing wrong with me psychologically,” Dylann S. Roof told the jury at the beginning of the sentencing phase of his trial on charges of killing nine people at a church in South Carolina. [The New York Times]
• The European Union spends about $1 billion a year on services related to its 24 official languages. Some want to add Turkish — and perhaps drop English.
• The Royal Shakespeare Company’s performance of “The Tempest” is perhaps the most elaborate use of motion capture ever attempted in live theater.
• “Eat what you love” is the only cooking rule that Ruby Tandoh, a food writer with a cult following in Britain, endorses.
• From new looks in Washington and Paris to Serena Williams’s wedding, 2017 is going to be a year to remember in fashion history, writes our fashion critic.
• Strange bursts of radio waves were traced to a distant galaxy, but don’t get too excited. “We’ve joked about spaceship battles and death stars blowing up,” an astronomer said, “but we think we can explain it with ordinary physics.”
Thailand’s resort island of Phuket is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, with a well-earned reputation as a playground for the ultrarich.
Starting today, millionaires and billionaires will gather at the Royal Phuket Marina to party at one of the largest and most exclusive yacht shows in the world.
While the posh atmosphere has helped the island flourish in modern times, Phuket partly owes its existence to the heroic acts of two women.
In 1785 Burmese forces were at the gates of Thalang, then the largest city on Phuket. The governor had just died, and the defenders were hopelessly outnumbered. That was when Lady Chan, the governor’s widow, and her sister, Lady Mook, persuaded Thalang’s women to impersonate male soldiers and hold positions on the city’s walls.
The invaders were tricked and retreated. The brave sisters were revered as national heroes and given honorary titles from the king.
To this day, many Thais leave incense and offerings at a monument to the two, above, asking for protection before leaving the island, whether for work, an education or maybe a quick jaunt on a yacht.
Charles McDermid contributed reporting.
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