Police Arrest Suspect In Fatal 'Swatting' Prank

This 2015 booking photo released by the Glendale, Calif., Police Department shows Tyler Raj Barriss.

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Twenty-five-year-old Tyler Barriss, suspected of phoning in a false 911 call that led to a police raid and a father of two shot dead, was arrested Friday afternoon in South Los Angeles, an LAPD spokesman tells NPR.

Barriss is being held in a Los Angeles County jail without bail, according to LAPD Officer Mike Lopez.

The deadly prank began Thursday when a 911 operator in Wichita, Kan. received a call from a man who claimed he had shot his father and was now holding the rest of his family hostage. When police surrounded a house at the valid Wichita address, a confused 28-year-old man, Andrew Finch, stumbled out his front door. Within seconds, he had been fatally shot.

“Due to actions of a prankster we have an innocent victim. If the false police call had not been made, we would not have been there,” Wichita Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston told reporters Friday.

“We believe this incident is a case of swatting,” said Livingston, referring to an extreme practical joke that’s made headlines in recent years. Instigators call 911 operators within close proximity to their victims —frequently using caller ID spoofing or other measures to conceal their true location — and report severely volatile situations that may warrant a SWAT team response. (Hostage-taking scenarios are common.) The goal is to surprise their unwitting victims with a full-force police response at their doors. Prominent celebrities like Justin Bieber and Ashton Kutcher have been swatted but the prank is most well-known in video gaming communities, where it has been used as a form of revenge.

Speculation surrounding the caller’s motivation has swirled as numerous gamers told the Wichita Eaglethat Thursday’s episode was fallout from a dispute over the game Call of Duty. But Finch’s mother told the Kansan paper, that her son “doesn’t play video games” and had “better things to do with his time.”

The call that sparked the fatal ordeal starts with an erratic male voice telling a 911 operator that he had observed an argument between his parents and then fired a handgun at his father. “I shot him in the head and he’s not breathing anymore,” says the man on audio released by Wichita police. He says he has cornered his mother and little brother in a closet. “I’m just pointing the gun at them, making sure they stay in the closet,” he continues. “I already poured gasoline all over the house. I might just set it on fire … in a little bit, I might.” He then lists the address where the victim, Finch, was present.

Officers soon flanked the house on three sides and readied themselves for a confrontation, Deputy Police Chief Livingston said in his press conference. Finch appeared at the door to the house and, following verbal commands from the officers, stepped forward with his hands up. At numerous points, however, he reached for his waistband. Fearful that Finch was going for a firearm, an officer eventually discharged one round, killing the father of two, said Livingston.

“I heard my son scream, I got up and then I heard a shot,” Lisa Finch, the victim’s mother told the Eagle. She says her son was unarmed. Finch says police later instructed her, her roommmate and her granddaughter to come outside with their hands up, which meant stepping over Finch’s “dying” body.

A little over two years ago, a man also named Tyler Barriss, 22 years-old at the time, was arrested for swatting the KABC-TV studios in Los Angeles.

The FBI’s office in Kansas City, Mo. says its agents are, at the request of local police, now involved in the investigation, the Associated Press reports.

UMG Gaming, which runs tournaments of online video games including Call of Duty also told the AP that the company “is doing everything we can to assist the authorities.”

Authorities have become increasingly stringent in their responses to swatting incidents. Federal prosecutors pursued cases in Maryland and Connecticut in 2015.

Officials do, however, say that there are limits to what can be done to combat swatting. Trey Forgety of the National Emergency Number Association told NPR in 2013 that 911 operators all over the country face 600,000 a day, making spotting a fake difficult.

“We start from a position that every call must be treated as if it is a legitimate call for help,” Forgety said.

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A Soldier Among Those Killed In Bronx Fire After Rescuing Others From Blaze

Firefighters respond to a building fire Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, in the Bronx borough of New York.

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Frank Franklin II/AP

An Army National Guard soldier was among those who lost his life while rescuing several people from a massive fire in an apartment building in New York, Thursday. It was the deadliest fire in the city in more than a quarter century.

Emmanual Mensah, 28, a native of Ghana who immigrated to New York’s Bronx borough about five years ago, had been staying in the Bronx apartment with a family friend, who was married and had four children.

According to reports, Mensah’s body was found in another apartment on the same floor, likely because he was trying to save others from the fire.

“He was trying to help people out of the fire and unfortunately he lost his life. He tried to do his best,” the man’s father, Kwabena Mensah told the New York Post.

The elder Mensah told the New York Post his son was home after completing basic training in Georgia and was scheduled next to head to Virginia. He was a private first class and part of the National Guard’s Recruit Sustainment Program which prepares soldiers for the adjustment between basic training and advanced individual training.

When the fire ripped through the apartment, the elder Mensah said his son turned his attention to saving others.

Mensah also told the New York Post, “He helped his roommate’s wife and children, they were trying to come out to the stairs and he stopped them.” Mensah added, “He told them to come out the window … Then he went in and tried to rescue people out.”

The New York Times reports Mensah had plans to become a military police officer, and once he pulled that family to safety, he saved more people, then went into the building and never emerged again.

The New York Times reports Twum Bredu, Mensah’s uncle who lives next door, said of his nephew, “He brought four people out,” adding, “When he went to bring a fifth person out, the fire caught up with him.”

As NPR has reported, New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said on Friday morning, the fire started in a first floor kitchen by a 3-year-old boy who was playing with burners on a stove. The flames spread quickly, in part because as the boy’s mother fled the burning apartment she left the door open.

The stairway of the apartment “acted like a chimney” according to Nigro, and the flames swiftly moved upstairs giving other residents little time to react.

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Erica Garner, Who Became An Activist After Her Father's Death, Dies

Erica Garner died on TK after suffering brain damage following a heart attack. She is seen here in 2014, leading a protest march in New York City after a grand jury decided not to indict a police officer involved in the chokehold death of her father Eric Garner.

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Activist Erica Garner has died, after suffering brain damage following a heart attack. She was 27 years old.

Her official twitter account announced her death Saturday morning.

She entered the public eye in July 2014 when her father, Eric Garner, died after being put in a chokehold by a New York City police officer. Eric Garner was seen on video saying “I can’t breathe” 11 times before he died.

Erica Garner had been in a coma since Dec. 23, when she had an asthma attack that triggered a heart attack, according to the New York Daily News.

“When her son was born in August, she named her newborn after her father,” the newspaper reports. “Garner suffered her first heart attack shortly after the delivery, with doctors saying the pregnancy stressed her already enlarged heart.”

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Erica Garner became a prominent figure calling for an end to police brutality, as her father’s last words became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement. She began staging weekly “die-ins” on the sidewalk in front of a beauty supply store in Staten Island, the site where the N.Y.P.D. officer put her father in the fatal chokehold.

A Staten Island grand jury did not indict any officers in Eric Garner’s death, sparking more protests across the country. The coroner’s report lists his death as a homicide, but no officer has ever been charged in the case. In 2015, the city of New York settled with his family for $5.9 Million.

In 2016, Erica Garner endorsed Bernie Sanders for president and was the focus of a video ad for the candidate. She told NPR’s Rachel Martin that she supported the Vermont senator because of his record of standing with black people.

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“He’s been, basically, a protester his whole career,” she said. “He’s not scared to go up against the systematic racism that exists in America today.”

In the Sanders video, Garner explained why she became an activist.

“I’m just trying to get the truth out there to tell his side of the story,” she said of her late father. “He was being a loving, caring man that he was, and he was murdered. For a whole year, I’ve protested every Tuesday and Thursday. I feel like a representative for people throughout this whole nation because I’m doing this, I’m speaking out, me being his daughter. And that’s what I want to do, I just want to tell my truths.”

“I’m never giving up,” she said. “I’m never going to forget. And I don’t want the world to forget what happened to my dad.”

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Fresh Air Weekend: Margo Price; The Best Books Of 2017; 'Rethinking Infidelity'

Margo Price’s new album, All American Made, is out now.

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Danielle Holbert/Courtesy of the ShoreFire Media

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Margo Price Sings About The Heartache And Beauty Of Small-Town America: Growing up in Aledo, Ill., the singer-songwriter longed to live somewhere “more romantic.” Then she moved away and her outlook changed: “Now, when I go back, I see the beauty in it.”

Maureen Corrigan Picks Books To Close Out A Chaotic 2017: Fresh Air‘s book critic says her 2017 list is chaotic in a good way. “These books zing off in all directions: They’re fresh, unruly and dismissive of the canned and contrived.”

As Marriage Standards Change, A Therapist Recommends ‘Rethinking Infidelity’: Esther Perel has spent the past six years focusing on couples who are dealing with infidelity. “It’s never been easier to cheat — and it’s never been more difficult to keep a secret,” she says.

You can listen to the original interviews here:

Margo Price Sings About The Heartache And Beauty Of Small-Town America

Maureen Corrigan Picks Books To Close Out A Chaotic 2017

As Marriage Standards Change, A Therapist Recommends ‘Rethinking Infidelity’

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In 'The Nothing,' A Dirty Old Man Lusts For Life

Hanif Kureishi has written plays and movies — notably the screenplay for My Beautiful Laundrette, which was nominated for an Oscar. But he’s also won awards for his short stories and novels.

The British author’s new book is a slender volume called The Nothing. Considering that there is very little sex in the book, it is a dirty book, about a nasty, dirty old man. The protagonist Waldo is in his 80s — he’s “very withered” and “barely mobile,” Kureishi says — when he suspects his younger wife Zee may be having an affair with one of his best friends.

“I wanted to write a character who was a bit older than me, who had lived through the great experiments of the ’60s, you know, involved with the anti-war movement and drugs and new sexuality and so on,” Kureishi says, from his home in London. “And I wondered what would have happened to such an old man now. What would he be doing now? What would he think now? Would he be out of date? And what would his attitude be to the fact that he was someone who was about to lose everything — or to have it, let’s say at least, taken from him.”


Interview Highlights

On the arrival of The Nothing in the United States during a moment unsympathetic to dirty old men

I’ve become very aware of that and interested in that, and in fact I did at one time work very briefly with Harvey Weinstein. So I’m very aware of that. But Waldo, our man, is very much in love with his wife and for a long time, she was very much in love with him. So I have to say that I feel that it’s heartbreaking to see what is happening to him.

One of the things that interested me about writing this character was that I got very interested in older people. And one of the things I noticed, clearly, that happens to older people — and perhaps why they’re so angry and perhaps why our man Waldo is so furious about things — is the fact that their lives are really built around loss. If we live in a society of accumulation, one of the things that happens to you when you get older is that you begin to lose things. You begin to lose your friends, you begin to lose contact with the world. And of course, as you get older you begin to think about how you’re going to lose your very existence, your life. So I wanted to write about a man, as it were, kicking against the bricks. He knows that he’s going to lose everything. But at the same time his voice, like that of a character from Beckett, continues to speak on. And even despite his nastiness, there’s a kind of love of life, of women, of food, of enjoyment, that remains in this old devil of a character.

On sex in the novel, which Waldo appears preoccupied about losing

Well, sex in this book, I guess I would think about in the widest sense, I guess. Sometimes we can think about it in terms of libido. I think more broadly and more interestingly, we have to think about it in terms of eros or some kind of vital spirit, which becomes very diminished as you get older, and harder to come by. And so I wanted to show someone who was, as it were, disappearing — but still has that vital force that I find so central and Freud called the libido in terms of the meaning of life.

On Kureishi’s thoughts on aging after writing about Waldo

I think I feel — and I’m very aware now myself having come out yesterday, coming out of hospital — I’m really aware of how difficult it is as you get older to find pleasures when you are on the brink of losing so much, and of course, when the world is taken over by young people. But like our man Waldo and indeed like Zee in the book — she falls in love with a younger man — she too can find her pleasures and enjoyments. And it seems to me that I hope the book vibrates with some kind of continuous pleasure in living.

Samantha Balaban and Barrie Hardymon produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Patrick Jarenwattananon and Sydnee Monday adapted it for the Web.

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The Photos That Tell Some Of 2017's Biggest International Stories

As 2017 draws to a close, we take a look at powerful photos from around the world that tell some of the year’s most important stories.

Mohammed Mohiedin Anis, known as Abu Omar, 70, sits amid the rubble in his bedroom while listening to music on his gramophone in the formerly rebel-held al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria.

Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images

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Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images

The toll of Syria’s civil war

The war between Syrian rebels and government forces began in 2011 and has displaced millions and left hundreds of thousands dead. Much of Aleppo — Syria’s centuries-old city known as its economic capital and celebrated for its beauty, history and culture — lay in ruins after years of fighting. After President Bashar Assad’s military recaptured the city in late 2016, residents including 70-year-old Mohammed Mohiedin Anis returned and found homes damaged or destroyed. “He played one of his favorite songs,” AFP photographer Joseph Eid told Time magazine — a recording by Syrian singer Mohamed Dia al-Din. “He is so attached to his past and to the things that he always cherished and loved, and without them he will lose his identity,” Eid said. “That’s why he insists on staying and getting back his life again.”

  • Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar evade border guards and trek over the Chittagong hills after crossing the border illegally near Amtoli, Bangladesh, on Sept. 1.

    Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar evade border guards and trek over the Chittagong hills after crossing the border illegally near Amtoli, Bangladesh, on Sept. 1.

    Adam Dean

  • Rohingya refugees scramble off a fishing boat from Myanmar as it nears the beach at Dakhinpara, Bangladesh, on Sept. 14.

    Rohingya refugees scramble off a fishing boat from Myanmar as it nears the beach at Dakhinpara, Bangladesh, on Sept. 14.

    Adam Dean

  • Rohingya refugees cook in  Unchiprang, Bangladesh, on their way to a makeshift camp after crossing from Myanmar, on Sept. 5.

    Rohingya refugees cook in Unchiprang, Bangladesh, on their way to a makeshift camp after crossing from Myanmar, on Sept. 5.

    Adam Dean

  • Recently arrived Rohingya refugees eat in shelters in an informal settlement near Kutupalong, Bangladesh, on Sept. 9.

    Recently arrived Rohingya refugees eat in shelters in an informal settlement near Kutupalong, Bangladesh, on Sept. 9.

    Adam Dean

  • Rohingya refugees clamor for bamboo poles and tarpaulins to build shelters at a makeshift camp near Kutupalong, Bangladesh, on Sept. 3.

    Rohingya refugees clamor for bamboo poles and tarpaulins to build shelters at a makeshift camp near Kutupalong, Bangladesh, on Sept. 3.

    Adam Dean

  • A line of Rohingya refugees continue their walk after crossing the Naf River that separates Myanmar and Bangladesh.

    A line of Rohingya refugees continue their walk after crossing the Naf River that separates Myanmar and Bangladesh.

    Adam Dean/Adam Dean

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The agony of a stateless people

In August, Rohingya Muslims began fleeing in large numbers from Myanmar to Bangladesh. By year’s end, more than 600,000 had crossed into Bangladesh, where many now live in temporary camps. A Myanmar army crackdown, which followed an August attack by Rohingya insurgents on Myanmar police posts and an army base, led to the mass departure of people recognized nowhere as citizens. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and has suggested that the Myanmar military may be guilty of genocide against the Muslim minority group.

Syrian refugee girls (from left) Shahd Alamar, 8, Lana Alkhawaja, 9, Maya Alamar, 4, Amal Sakkal, 8, and Hala Alhalaby, 8, play in a hallway at the former prison of Bijlmerbajes in Amsterdam.

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Muhammed Muheisen/AP

Starting new lives

More than 2.5 million people applied for asylum in European Union countries in 2015 and 2016. Even as many European nations tightened their borders in 2017, migrants continued to arrive. In the Netherlands, 34,000 migrants applied for asylum between November 2016 and October 2017. For some, empty prisons became temporary homes, part of a government effort to shelter newcomers awaiting word on their status. “If a country has no prisoners to put in jail,” a Syrian refugee in the Netherlands told Associated Press photographer Muhammed Muheisen, “it means this is the safest country that I want to be living in.”

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga speaks at a rally in October in Kisumu, Kenya.

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Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

A disputed election

Kenya was thrown into political turmoil with two elections. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s October reelection — with 98 percent of the vote — was rejected by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who boycotted the polls. The October election followed an Aug. 8 vote that Odinga had challenged and the country’s Supreme Court had ruled unconstitutional. Election-related violence resulted in dozens of deaths. The court upheld Kenyatta’s October win, and he was inaugurated in November.

Flowers and tributes were left in Manchester’s St. Ann’s Square honoring the memories of those who died in May’s terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena.

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Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Terrorism in Britain

Twenty-two concert-goers, some of them children, were killed in a suicide attack claimed by ISIS following a performance by Ariana Grande at Britain’s Manchester Arena in May. It was not the only terrorist attack the U.K. sustained in 2017: Others targeted a London mosque and an Underground station, and took place on Westminster Bridge and London Bridge.

A pro-independence demonstrator lies on a Catalan flag on Sept. 20 in Barcelona.

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Armando Gallardo

Catalonia’s independence bid

A showdown between Madrid and Catalonia’s regional government roiled Spain. The central government dismissed Catalonia’s parliament in October, just as the region declared independence. Fearing arrest, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont fled to Belgium and for now, remains in exile. By year’s end, pro-independence parties were back in charge in Catalonia, and tensions looked likely to continue. Meanwhile, Catalans remain divided over whether to split from Spain.

  • Smoke from helicopter gunships rises in the distance as a sniper with the Iraqi army's Emergency Response Unit fires from a rooftop across the Tigris River to ISIS militants in west Mosul in February.

    Smoke from helicopter gunships rises in the distance as a sniper with the Iraqi army’s Emergency Response Unit fires from a rooftop across the Tigris River to ISIS militants in west Mosul in February.

    Tommy Trenchard

  • An Iraqi federal police officer wounded by shrapnel while fighting ISIS in west Mosul receives emergency treatment at a trauma center behind the front line.

    An Iraqi federal police officer wounded by shrapnel while fighting ISIS in west Mosul receives emergency treatment at a trauma center behind the front line.

    Tommy Trenchard

  • An Iraqi girl looks out the window of a bus transporting women and children to a camp for displaced people.

    An Iraqi girl looks out the window of a bus transporting women and children to a camp for displaced people.

    Tommy Trenchard

  • Iraqi Red Cross staff attempt to hand out food to desperate civilians fleeing fighting between government forces and ISIS militants in Mosul.

    Iraqi Red Cross staff attempt to hand out food to desperate civilians fleeing fighting between government forces and ISIS militants in Mosul.

    Tommy Trenchard

  • Civilians wave white flags as they flee a west Mosul suburb during heavy fighting between government forces and ISIS militants in February. Many had been warned by ISIS that they would be killed if they tried to escape.

    Civilians wave white flags as they flee a west Mosul suburb during heavy fighting between government forces and ISIS militants in February. Many had been warned by ISIS that they would be killed if they tried to escape.

    Tommy Trenchard

  • Family photos lie scattered on the floor of a house occupied by ISIS militants in Albu Saif village, outside Mosul.

    Family photos lie scattered on the floor of a house occupied by ISIS militants in Albu Saif village, outside Mosul.

    Tommy Trenchard

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The battle for Mosul

In February, Iraqi troops launched an operation to liberate the western part of Mosul, the last area of the city to remain under ISIS control. ISIS had seized the Iraqi city in 2014, and government forces took back east Mosul in January. The west was finally liberated in July. Thousands of civilians were killed in the battle and much now lies in ruins. Some feared that “recapturing Mosul will be the end of one battle but the beginning of another,” observes freelance photographer Tommy Trenchard, who covered the fight to retake the city.

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening session of the 19th Communist Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People on Oct. 18 in Beijing.

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Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Xi ascendant

Chinese President Xi Jinping touted “a new era” for China as he opened the 19th national congress of the Communist Party in October. “We are closer than any time in history to realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” he said. The congress helped cement Xi’s own power, unmatched by any Chinese leader in years: It gave him a second term as president, formally enshrined his theories in the constitution and approved a new leadership lineup that omitted any clear successor.

President Trump, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (center) and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (left) place their hands on an illuminated globe as First Lady Melania Trump watches during the inauguration of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh in May.

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The ‘glowing orb’

As President Trump made his first overseas trip as president in May, the image of him and the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia laying hands on a large glass sphere lit up social media around the world. Speculation about the object — dubbed the “glowing orb” by both the Washington Post and New York Times — ranged from the stuff of science fiction to fables, fantasy and comic book creations. It was, in the end, a world globe. The event at which it was featured was the inauguration of a Saudi center to fight extremism.

Members of Zimbabwe’s parliament celebrate in Harare after Robert Mugabe’s resignation on Nov. 21.

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Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images

An authoritarian era ends

When Zimbabwe’s military turned against President Robert Mugabe and placed him under house arrest in November, it marked the demise of a ruler who had kept a firm grip on power for 37 years. Mugabe, 93, hung on awhile longer; for nearly a week during his house arrest, he ignored calls to step down. When he finally resigned on Nov. 21, many Zimbabweans, including those in his own party, were euphoric. Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has promised economic revival and a “new and unfolding democracy.” Questions remain about the role of Zimbabwe’s military.

This picture taken on July 4, and released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on July 5, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un celebrating a successful test-fire of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14.

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STR/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea’s tests

North Korea advanced its weapons capability, carrying out nuclear and missile tests throughout the year. In January, Kim Jong Un announced that his country had “entered the final stage of preparation for the test launch of intercontinental ballistic missile.” In July, that launch took place. President Trump vowed to respond with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” But the world continues to grapple with the threat of North Korea’s nukes.

Afghan police gesture to four-year-old Ali Ahmad on Aug. 25 after a suicide attack on a Shiite mosque in Kabul.

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Omar Sobhani/Reuters

Afghanistan’s uncertainty

Violence continued unabated in Afghanistan, which entered its 37th year of conflict. The U.N. documented more than 8,000 civilian casualties in the first nine months of 2017, many attributable to attacks by the Taliban and Afghanistan’s Islamic State affiliate.

When ISIS terrorists attacked the Imam Zaman Shiite mosque in Kabul in August, police made frantic efforts to protect a young boy they saw standing alone in the courtyard. “He had been playing while his grandfather was praying inside when the attack happened and he seemed completely confused by the sound of gunshots and police shouting,” Reuters photographer Omar Sobhani later recalled. The child’s grandfather was killed. The boy “was not able to decide whether the policemen who were calling him were really police or [ISIS],” a relative told Afghanistan’s TOLO News. “By Allah’s help, finally policemen rescued him and took him out.”

Anti-government protesters aim a giant slingshot with a glass bottle containing fecal matter at security forces in Caracas, Venezuela, on May 10.

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Ariana Cubillos/AP

Venezuela’s turmoil

A collapsed economy, severe food shortages and the jailing of opposition leaders were among the hallmarks of a tumultuous year in Venezuela. President Nicolas Maduro and his socialist government were targets of huge protests. By year’s end, the protests had largely dissipated but the country’s problems had not.

(Left) A portrait of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, hangs at Windsor Castle. (Right) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement at Kensington Palace on Nov. 27.

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A royal spouse retires and another joins the family

Britain’s Prince Philip announced in May that he would be retiring from public life in August, at age 96. He and Queen Elizabeth celebrated their 70th anniversary on Nov. 20. A week later, a new royal engagement was announced: Prince Harry, 33, and American actress Meghan Markle, 36, declared their intention to marry in 2018.

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