Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Colin Dwyer

More than a month after the Thomas Fire took hold in California's Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, firefighters have reached 100 percent containment of the deadly blaze. The announcement Friday marks a hard-fought triumph over the wildfire, which earlier this month became the largest in modern state history.

The Thomas Fire has been blamed for two deaths and the destruction of more than 1,000 structures. Its historic toll in Southern California — more than 280,000 acres ravaged — also led to another deadly disaster: the mudslides this month in Santa Barbara County.

Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET

One day after President Trump referred to African nations as "shithole countries," adding that the U.S. should want immigrants from countries such as Norway rather than from Haiti or El Salvador, the countries that came in for the president's criticism are offering some responses of their own.

It may have taken a marathon — but the party leaders who walked into a negotiating room in Berlin roughly 24 hours earlier emerged Friday morning with smiles on their faces and a preliminary deal in hand.

Nearly two weeks after Logan Paul posted a YouTube video depicting an apparent suicide victim — and just over a week after he removed it and apologized — the online video platform has announced it is scaling back its relationship with the vlogging star.

Authorities in Myanmar have brought formal charges against two Reuters reporters who were arrested last month as they reported on the government's treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority. Prosecutors said Wednesday that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had violated Myanmar's Official Secrets Act — a colonial-era law that bears a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

Carles Puigdemont aims to return to office as president of Catalonia — despite the fact it's unlikely he'll actually return there in person. He's currently living in Belgium, facing immediate arrest if he goes back home.

A ban on the manufacture of microbeads, those tiny bits of plastic used in some exfoliating cosmetic products, took effect Tuesday in the U.K. The move bars manufacturers from putting them in skin lotions, toothpastes or any other items intended to be rinsed off — and it presages a ban on the sale of such products that will take effect there in July.

For a few fleeting hours Sunday, people perched in the arid heights of northwest Algeria caught sight of something rarely seen: the Sahara Desert, shrouded in white. Residents of Ain Sefra, a small town surrounded by the Atlas Mountains of Northern Africa, walked outside to find a dusting of snow underfoot — and more than a foot of it crowding the town's outer boundaries.

Pfizer has announced plans to end its research efforts to discover new drugs for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. The pharmaceutical giant explained its decision, which will entail roughly 300 layoffs, as a move to better position itself "to bring new therapies to patients who need them."

For those who have been in the grips of the winter weather buffeting the Northeastern U.S. and Nova Scotia, suffering the throes of bitter winds and whipping snow, there might be some solace in knowing that somewhere in the world, warmth still exists.

In fact, so much warmth exists, it is literally melting a major roadway in Australia.

Alex Trebek, the face of the Jeopardy! franchise for more than three decades, will be taking time off from the syndicated game show while he recovers from brain surgery. He announced the hiatus in a video posted to the show's online accounts Thursday.

A federal trial in New York City, which saw a Turkish banker tried on allegations of evading U.S. sanctions on Iran, ended Wednesday with his conviction on five of six charges — including bank fraud and several conspiracies to defraud American financial institutions.

Across the country, U.S. residents have awakened to a new year, new resolutions — and a whole host of new rules to keep track of. Hundreds of new state laws took effect across the country Monday, and they're sure to reshape the political and legal landscape in the coming months.

They run a vast gamut — from recreational marijuana and paid leave time, to traveling barbers and exotic pets — so you'll have to forgive us if we pick just a few to focus on. Here is a glimpse of some notable new laws, in brief.

As China steps into the new year, it is doing so without a once-thriving facet of its economy: the ivory trade. The country's ban on the domestic sale and processing of ivory and its products took effect on Sunday, making good on a commitment Chinese authorities made at the beginning of 2017.

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