Colorado Fires, Betty White, and New Year's Eve Around the World Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Monday, Jan. 3, and we're covering wildfires in Colorado, the passing of an American acting legend, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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Colorado Wildfire

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated and hundreds of homes were destroyed after the Marshall Fire swept through towns northwest of Denver late last week. Officials say close to 1,000 structures were consumed by the flames, making it the most destructive wildfire in state history. No fatalities have been reported, though two people remain unaccounted for.


Officials say the blaze began as a grass fire early Thursday morning, growing to more than 6,200 acres within 24 hours. Dry conditions and exceptionally strong winds—gusts up to 110 mph were reported—fueled the fire's rapid spread. The wind came ahead of an arctic air mass that dumped up to 10 inches of snow in the affected area, slowing down the flames while leaving many who had lost power grappling with subzero overnight temperatures. 


See photos of the aftermath here.

Maxwell Found Guilty

Ghislaine Maxwell, the confidant of deceased sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein, was found guilty last week on sex trafficking-related charges following five days of jury deliberation. Maxwell was convicted on five of six counts, including a charge of sex trafficking of a minor, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years. 


The 60-year-old British socialite stood accused of effectively managing a sex ring for the former financier, recruiting underage girls to be made available for Epstein's wealthy associates. Despite speculation the case would potentially reveal the identities of others who participated in criminal acts with Epstein, the trial focused narrowly on four specific allegations against Maxwell.


In related news, a judge will hear arguments tomorrow on whether to allow a civil lawsuit against Britain's Prince Andrew to proceed. The plaintiff, Virginia Giuffre, alleges she was forced to have sex with the prince at Maxwell's home two decades ago.

Betty White Dies

Iconic actress and comedian Betty White passed away Friday at the age of 99. Her death, which a representative said was due to natural causes, came just three weeks ahead of her 100th birthday.


Beginning in radio, White rose to prominence as the first woman to produce a sitcom with "Life with Elizabeth" in the 1950s. She appeared in a variety of game and talk shows throughout the 1960s before scoring a career-defining role as Sue Ann Nivens on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." In the 1980s, she captured a second signature role as one of the lead characters on "The Golden Girls." Her accolades include five Primetime Emmy Awards, a Grammy, a lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild, and more. 


See some of White's best clips here.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Alabama and Georgia advance in College Football Playoff; will meet in CFP national championship (Jan. 10, ESPN) in rematch of SEC championship game (More) | See full bowl game results here (More)


> Sam Jones, basketball Hall of Famer and 10-time NBA champion, dies at 88 (More) | "Martin" cocreator and Emmy-winning writer John Bowman dies at 64 (More)


> Number of Hollywood female film directors declines in 2021 to 17% after record-breaking 2020 (More) | Rapper Kodak Black arrested for trespassing in Florida (More)

From our partners: We aren't given many 21-month grace periods. Oil checks, doctor appointments, Tax Day ... time speeds by between them. But The Ascent found a new credit card offering 0% intro APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers—possibly the longest we've ever seen to avoid interest charges. Learn more about this five-star card today.

Science & Technology

> Studies suggest omicron COVID-19 variant causes less damage in the lungs, may be partly responsible for lower hospitalization rate (More) | South Africa says its omicron wave has subsided, new cases now less than half of recent peak (More) | US averaging more than 400,000 cases per day; see data (More)


> CES 2022, one of the world's largest electronics and tech shows, begins today; schedule is abbreviated due to COVID-19, will end Jan. 7 with Microsoft, Google, Intel, and others having pulled out (More)


> Methylene glycol, a key molecule involved in ozone reactions in the atmosphere, produced synthetically in a lab for the first time; advance expected to shed light on ozone depletion (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock market indices close out 2021 up for third consecutive year: S&P 500 +26.9%, Dow +18.7%, and Nasdaq +21.4% (More)


> Approximately 3,800 more flights canceled globally yesterday due to weather and staffing shortages from the COVID-19 omicron variant (More)


> Tesla delivered 308,000 cars in Q4, highest quarterly figure ever; 936,000 deliveries in 2021 were up 87% over 2020 (More) | Tesla recalls 475,000 cars due to camera and trunk issues (More

Politics & World Affairs

> South African parliamentary complex severely damaged by fire; man arrested on suspicion of arson (More) | South Korean crosses into the demilitarized zone between North Korea in rare South-to-North defection (More)


> Eric Adams sworn in as New York City mayor; the former police officer and Brooklyn borough president becomes the city's second Black mayor (More)


> Twitter permanently suspends Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's (R, GA-14) personal account; company says Greene violated rules regarding COVID-19 misinformation (More)



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New Year's Eve around the world, in photos.


The past year's most fascinating historical finds.


A stunning shot of Comet Leonard.


Third grade teacher hits full-court shot, reaches hero status


The best national parks to visit in the winter.


Hockey fan diagnoses cancerous mole from stands.


World's oldest person turns 119


Basset hound elected mayor of Colorado town.


Clickbait: Fish rain from the sky in Texas.


Historybook: "Lord of the Rings" author J.R.R. Tolkien born (1892); The US cuts diplomatic ties with Cuba (1961); Apple is incorporated (1977); Author Joy Adamson murdered (1980); Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega surrenders to the US (1990).


"Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected."

- Steve Jobs

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