December 29, 2017

A 3-year-old boy playing with his family's gas stove started a four-alarm fire in the Bronx on Thursday that left 12 people dead and four others with critical injuries. "He had a history of playing with the burners," New York City Fire Department Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said Friday, as reported by WABC-TV's N. J. Burkett.

The victims include a baby and several children, NBC New York reports. Speaking to reporters, Mayor Bill de Blasio called it "the worst fire tragedy we have seen in this city in at least a quarter-century" and an "unspeakable tragedy." Jeva Lange

4:27 p.m. ET
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

President Trump's newest hire is already wrapped up in the administration's scandal of the moment.

Incoming National Security Adviser John Bolton's super PAC in 2014 bought Cambridge Analytica data collected from Facebook profiles, per a contract obtained by The New York Times. That makes Bolton's super PAC one of the firm's first customers, the Times noted.

The John Bolton Super PAC spent almost $1.2 million on "behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging," which used data compiled from Facebook users. Bolton's PAC was aware the data came from Facebook, whistleblower Chris Wylie confirmed to the Times.

Connections to Cambridge Analytica have surfaced in multiple Republican campaigns since Saturday, when Wylie revealed how the company breached Facebook to build databases of user information. Trump's campaign was the most notable, but Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as well as now-Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson both paid the firm during their presidential runs in 2016, ABC News reported. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:53 p.m. ET

South Korea wants its government workers to stop working so hard.

Federal employees are putting in too many overtime hours, BBC reports, so the local government is taking extreme measures to make sure they head out on time: Employee computers will be automatically powered down at 8 p.m. sharp every Friday.

The local government in Seoul, South Korea's capital city, is rolling out the new initiative starting later this month, BBC reports, in an effort to stop a "culture of working overtime." In April, the shutdown will start a bit earlier, at 7:30 p.m. By May, the initiative's final phase, the workday will end at 7 p.m.

Government employees in South Korea work an average of 2,739 hours a year, about 1,000 hours more than their counterparts in other developed countries. Lawmakers have been trying to crack down on overworked employees, reducing the maximum for weekly work hours from 68 to 52 earlier this month.

The South Korean government will consider exemptions for the new lights-out policy, reports BBC, and more than two-thirds of government workers have already asked to be excluded. The Verge reports that this is not the first instance of government-regulated screen time in the country: Children were previously barred from playing online video games past midnight unless they had parental permission. Read more at BBC. Summer Meza

3:18 p.m. ET

Foreign adoptions by U.S. parents dropped 12 percent in 2017, per State Department statistics released Friday.

American families only adopted 4,719 children from other countries last year, down from 5,372 in 2016. And it's only the latest fall in a chronic decline; international adoptions peaked at 22,884 in 2004 and they've fallen dramatically ever since, per The Associated Press.

Nearly 40 percent of adopted children came from China in 2017, which is consistently the No. 1 home country for foreign-adopted children.

Russia usually took the No. 3 spot until the U.S. banned Russian adoptions in 2014. Adoptions from several other countries have also seen suspensions in the past few years, AP notes.

The decline in foreign adoptions is a worldwide trend, though AP notes that the U.S. still accounts for half of that shrinking number. Read more here. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:25 p.m. ET

President Trump announced plans to expand U.S. nuclear capabilities during his signing of the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill Friday, pledging to create the "most powerful nuclear force on Earth."

The president leaned heavily on his praise of increased military and defense funds within the federal spending bill, which he said he signed reluctantly after threatening a veto earlier Friday.

"We're spending a lot of money on nuclear, our nuclear systems, to upgrade and in some cases brand new, whether it's submarines, nuclear submarines, and others," he said.

Trump claimed that building up the U.S. nuclear arsenal would mean that no other country would "come even close" in capability.

"We'll have by far the most powerful nuclear force on Earth and it will be absolutely in perfect shape and condition and hopefully, praise be to God we don't ever have to use it," he said. Watch his remarks below, via Fox News. Summer Meza

2:15 p.m. ET
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

In his usual disappointing fashion, Punxsutawney Phil spotted his shadow on Groundhog Day and promised six more weeks of winter.

That was seven weeks ago. So with the Northeast freshly coated by another massive storm, a Pennsylvania sheriff is coming after the dishonest rodent.

The Monroe County Sheriff's office put up a wanted poster accusing a brown-haired, 20-pound suspect of "deception," WBRE reported.

The groundhog is still at large, but the public is encouraged to phone in tips on the fugitive's whereabouts. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:04 p.m. ET

President Trump addressed recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program during his signing of the omnibus spending package Friday, telling young immigrants brought into America illegally as children: "The Republicans are with you."

Trump further insisted: "The Democrats fought us. They just fought every single inch of the way. They did not want DACA in this bill." He added that he wants "the Hispanic community to know and DACA recipients to know that Republicans are much more on your side than the Democrats, who are using you for their own purposes."

Trump announced in September that he would end DACA earlier this month, but a number of court rulings have blocked the president from successfully terminating the Obama-era protections. Jeva Lange

1:45 p.m. ET

President Trump on Friday reluctantly signed the $1.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress, after writing on Twitter earlier in the morning that he was "considering a VETO." With his tweet, Trump had built up the hopes of some critics who are angry about a resulting budget deficit of more than $800 billion this year, including Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who urged Trump to "please do" veto the measure.

Trump said he signed the bill "to take care of our military," but vowed, "I will never sign another bill like this again." He called for Congress to give him the power of a line-item veto for spending bills and to kill the legislative filibuster in the Senate. "Nobody read it," he said of the legislation he signed. "It's only hours old. Some people don't even know what's in it."

The omnibus provides $1.6 billion for the border wall, far short of what the White House wanted, but it also increases spending on the military and border protection. It does not address the DACA program, which provides protections for young undocumented immigrants. Jeva Lange

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