Space: Nasa's Voyager 2 is now the second human-made object to zip away from the sun into the space between the stars. Voyager 2 last month exited "this bubble that the sun creates around itself," longtime Nasa mission scientist Ed Stone said. The spacecraft is now beyond the outer boundary of the heliosphere, some 18 billion km from Earth. It's trailing twin Voyager 1, which reached interstellar space in 2012 and is now 21 billion km from Earth. Interstellar space is the vast mostly emptiness between star systems. Even though they are out of the sun's bubble, the Voyagers are still technically in our solar system, Nasa said. Scientists maintain the solar system stretches to the outer edge of the so-called Oort Cloud. It will take about 30,000 years for the spacecraft to get that far.
United States: Snowed-in Southerners made the best of a day without work or school while officials warned that roads remained treacherous after a wintry storm dropped snow, sleet and freezing rain across five states. Accidents on snow-covered interstates caused major delays over the weekend. Hundreds of flights were cancelled and drivers in North Carolina and Virginia got stuck in snow or lost control on icy patches. The storm was blamed for at least three deaths in North Carolina.
Britain: A British court handed charismatic Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya a substantial setback by ruling he should be extradited to India to face financial fraud allegations. Judge Emma Arbuthnot endorsed the Indian Government's request for Mallya's extradition and said she would send the case to Britain's Home Secretary for review and action. Mallya, who in 1983 became chairman of an alcohol company once led by his father, was a leading figure among India's business elite. He launched Kingfisher Airlines and had an ownership stake in India's Formula One racing team. Mallya is accused by India of money laundering and conspiracy involving hundreds of millions of dollars. He has denied wrongdoing. The judge described the 62-year-old Mallya in unusually personal terms, suggesting Indian banks might have been fooled into making bad loans by "this glamorous, flashy, famous, bejeweled, bodyguarded, ostensibly billionaire playboy who charmed and cajoled these bankers into losing their common sense." Mallya can still appeal the ruling, which was made in Westminster Magistrates' Court.
Russia: Two Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers arrived in Venezuela, a deployment that comes amid soaring Russia-US tensions. Russia's Defence Ministry said a pair of Tu-160 bombers landed at Maiquetia airport outside Caracas following a 10,000km flight. It didn't say if the bombers were carrying any weapons and didn't say how long they will stay in Venezuela. The ministry said a heavy-lift An-124 Ruslan cargo plane and an Il-62 passenger plane accompanied the bombers to Maiquetia. The Tu-160 is capable of carrying conventional or nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. Code-named Blackjack by Nato, the massive warplane is capable of flying at a speed twice exceeding the speed of sound.
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Egypt: Authorities have quietly introduced restrictions on the sale of yellow reflective vests, fearing opponents might attempt to copy French protesters during next month's anniversary of the 2011 popular uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, security officials and retailers said. They said industrial safety equipment dealers have been instructed not to sell yellow vests to walk-in buyers and to restrict business to wholesale sales to verified companies, but only after securing police permission. They were told offenders would be punished, the officials said without elaborating.
Brazil: Researchers from Brazil's National Museum say that they have recovered more than 1500 pieces from the debris of a massive fire. The items found include Brazilian indigenous arrows, a Peruvian vase and a pre-Colombian funeral urn. In October, researchers recovered skull fragments and a part of the femur belonging to "Luzia," the name scientist gave to a woman who lived 11,500 years ago. The progress was announced, along with details of a US$205,000 donation from the German Government for conservation equipment. The museum in Rio de Janeiro is one of the world's oldest. It housed more than 20 million pieces before being gutted by a massive fire on September 2. Authorities have yet to say how the fire started.
United States: The Hawaii Department of Agriculture is importing four brown tree snakes to be used to train dogs to detect the dangerously invasive species and hopefully prevent the snakes from establishing themselves in the islands. Jonathan Ho, acting manager of the department's plant quarantine branch, said the Hawaii Board of Agriculture approved a request for the sterile, male snakes to be used in the dog detection program, West Hawaii Today reported. "The primary focus is for the brown tree snakes," Ho said at a meeting in Honolulu last week. "However, Hawaii has no species of snakes and the dogs do generalise, so any type of snake we would take action upon." The snakes will be used to train four Jack Russell terriers and terrier mixes to seek out the snakes that could enter Hawaii by plane, ship or cargo carrier. Brown tree snakes invaded Guam and nearly wiped out the island's bird species, Ho said. Hawaii has several species of protected and endangered birds.
Panama: City frogs and rainforest frogs don't sing the same tune, researchers have found. A study examined why Panama's tiny tungara frogs adapt their mating calls in urban areas — an unexpected example of how animals change communication strategies when cities encroach on forests. These frogs take advantage of the relative absence of eavesdropping predators in cities to belt out longer love songs, which are more alluring to female frogs. Tungara frogs don't croak like American bullfrogs. To human ears, their distinctive call sounds like a low-pitched, video-game beep. To female frogs, it sounds like pillow talk. Every evening at sunset, the 2.5cm male brown frogs crawl into puddles to serenade prospective mates. The female frog selects a mate largely based on his love song.
Researchers found that the urban frogs call faster, more frequently and add more embellishments — a series of staccato "chucks" on the end of the initial whine — compared with those in the forest. Those fancy urban love songs are three times more likely to attract the ladies, as scientists learned by playing back recordings of both city and forest frog calls to an audience of female frogs in a laboratory. Thirty of 40 female frogs hopped over to the speaker playing the urban frog calls, the researchers report in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
North Korea: The Trump Administration has imposed sanctions on three senior North Korean officials for human rights abuses in the isolated country. US officials say the sanctions are intended to call attention to "brutal" censorship and human rights abuses as well as the death of American captive Otto Warmbier. The Treasury Department says the officials have important roles in government agencies previously placed under sanctions. It was not clear what role any had in the treatment of the 22-year-old student from Ohio who died after being detained in North Korea last year. The sanctions freeze any US assets the officials may have and make it illegal for any US entity to conduct financial transactions with them.