Mr. Trump and Congress are occupied with trying to agree on a short-term spending bill ward off a government shutdown.
• Ferocious wildfires threatening Los Angeles are forcing thousands of evacuations, shutting down schools and highways and leaving California on edge. Check our live briefing.
New fires continue to break out, and winds are expected to strengthen.
• South Korea urged Russian athletes, banned from competing under their own flag in the 2018 Winter Olympics, to compete under a neutral flag. The process is complex, our correspondent writes, and it’s hard to say exactly how many will.
And with tensions on the Korean Peninsula high, Nikki Haley, the American envoy to the U.N., said that it was an “open question” whether American athletes would be able to attend the Olympics.
Separately, in a mystery that has stoked anxiety in Japan, a ghostly armada of boats carrying dead fisherman is washing up on Japanese shores — bearing signs that they came from North Korea.
• We identified the mystery buyer of the Leonardo da Vinci painting of Christ that fetched a record $450.3 million at auction last month.
He’s a little-known Saudi prince with no history as a major art collector — but a close relationship with the 32-year-old Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. The sale took place amid Prince Mohammed’s sweeping crackdown against corruption and self-enrichment.
“Salvator Mundi” appears headed to the new Louvre in Abu Dhabi, where Prince Mohammed has close allies.
• “This belongs to us all.”
That was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, as Australia’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to legalize gay marriage, overcoming years of conservative resistance.
Gay couples can file formal notice with the government as of Saturday, allowing the first same-sex marriages to begin taking place on Jan. 9. The law also automatically recognizes same-sex marriages from other countries.
• We need your help!
We’re bringing together a group of our most dedicated readers to talk about our coverage and connect with our journalists.
The more diverse the participants, the more interesting the discussions. Please see here for details.
• General Electric will cut 12,000 jobs in its power division worldwide in a cost-cutting move that an executive called “painful but necessary.” The company cited global shifts, including overcapacity, growth in renewable energy and the “softening” of traditional power markets.
• To pivot or not to pivot? Letting go of what you thought was a brilliant business idea can be “heart-wrenching” for entrepreneurs, as one of them told our reporter.
In the News
• The memoirs of Hirohito, the Japanese emperor, sold at auction for $275,000, to a Japanese doctor known for right-wing political views. The account suggests that Hirohito feared resisting entry into World War II would plunge his country into civil conflict. [The New York Times]
• China’s military expressed “strong dissatisfaction” over the recent crash of an Indian drone in Chinese-controlled territory along their contested border. [Reuters]
• Nepal held its final round of parliamentary elections, and India and China were watching to see which of their preferred candidates would prevail. [The Washington Post]
• Indonesia’s top tourism spot, the resort island of Bali is taking an economic hit over fears that the Mount Agung volcano could erupt again at any moment. [The New York Times]
Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.
• Recently promoted? Our tips on how to manage a team. /
• Choosing the best apps for your child’s tech requires some forethought.
• Recipe of the day: Try a new take on an old favorite with crisp smashed potatoes.
• Science, not fiction: Neurologists say they were able to “inject” knowledge into monkeys, who were able to interpret direct stimulation of their brains as they played a game. The development suggests that some brain damage might be able to be mitigated.
• A study from Denmark found that women using birth control pills and I.U.D.s that release hormones face a slightly higher risk of breast cancer than those using methods without hormones.
• What is a “porg”? We can help with that and other Star Wars questions. “The Last Jedi” opens in theaters around the world over the next month.
Jerry Garcia once said the Grateful Dead was like licorice: “Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.”
The Grateful Dead broke up on this day in 1995, four months after Mr. Garcia’s death, and after playing more than 2,300 concerts over 30 years.
Even Mr. Garcia may have underestimated how long die-hard love for the band would last — or how it would evolve, as seen in a trip through the Times archives.
In a 1973 article, “The Grateful Dead Makes a Real Good Hamburger,” our reporter called the band “experts in the art and science of showing people another world.” Another Times writer liked the band’s “feathery locomotive groove.”
Our coverage wasn’t always approving: In “Just What the Tie-Dyed Crowd Wanted,” from 1989, we noted that “Grateful Dead shows are as iffy as blind dates,” and this year we referred to the band’s history as a “30-year hippie-pirate soap opera.”
More recently, the Dead have been praised as music business pioneers. They favored the now common formula of touring over selling records, and were first to encourage fans to make and trade concert recordings.
Your Morning Briefing is published weekday mornings and updated online. Browse past briefings here.
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