In our news wrap Friday, a gunman killed two and wounded at least three others at a popular bar in Tel Aviv. A manhunt was launched for the unidentified shooter. Also, Bavaria's top security official says there's no longer any concrete indications of a specific terror threat, after police in Munich evacuated train stations on concerns that Islamic State extremists planned to attack.
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This New Year's Day was marred by violence in Israel after a gunman opened fire on a popular bar in Tel Aviv, killing two people before fleeing the scene. At least three others were wounded. The city's mayor said it appeared to be — quote — "a terrorist attack motivated by nationalism." A manhunt is under way for the shooter, who has yet to be officially identified.
With extremist violence on the rise in the Middle East, the United Nations reported the number of deaths in Iraq last month rose to 980 people. That is up from 888 in November. More than half of those killed were civilians.
In Germany, Bavaria's top security official says there's no longer any concrete indications of a specific terror threat. Police in Munich evacuated two train stations on New Year's Eve, after word that Islamic State extremists planned to attack them. Officials said the overall terror threat in Europe remains high, and security was still tight today, with some 100 extra officers deployed.
Despite security threats, people around the world welcomed the start of a new year today with fireworks, celebrations, and well-wishes.
At the Vatican, Pope Francis marked the Catholic Church's World Day of Peace by urging people to respect the fundamental rights of all.
POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter):
Sometimes, we ask ourselves how it is possible that human injustice persists unabated, and that the arrogance of the powerful continues to demean the weak, relegating them to the most squalid outskirts of our world. All of us are called to immerse ourselves in this ocean, to let ourselves be reborn, to overcome this indifference which blocks solidarity, and to leave behind the false neutrality which prevents sharing.
Meanwhile, in his annual New Year's speech, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for reunification talks with South Korea, but he blamed Seoul for mistrust between the two nations.
And in the U.S., the 127th Rose Parade rolled down the streets of Pasadena, California. Security was tightened for the more than 700,000 spectators who turned out for the event, but authorities said there were no known threats.
Officials in Dubai are investigating what caused a massive New Year's Eve fire at a high-rise luxury hotel. It became engulfed in flames two hours before midnight, as crowds of revelers gathered nearby. Smoke continued to billow out of the 63-story building today, as firefighters worked to cool it down. There were no fatalities, but 14 people were treated for minor injuries.
The world's most polluted city slashed the number of vehicles allowed on its streets today. Authorities in New Delhi, India, kicked off a two-week test that alternates the days private cars may be driven based on whether their license plates end in an odd or even number. Authorities hope the initiative will help combat record levels of air pollution in the capital.
Back in this country, weary Missouri residents found some relief today from the record-setting floods that have swept across much of the state. Major interstates in the Saint Louis area reopened to traffic as high waters retreated. But, for other communities downstream, the worst is yet to come.
Floodwaters began to recede near many of the hardest-hit Saint Louis suburbs, where the surging Meramec River damaged hundreds of homes. Meanwhile, crews worked through the night and into the morning, desperately trying to restore services in Missouri. They reopened two major transportation arteries, Interstates 55 and 44, which had been flooded for days. But recovery efforts for those forced to flee have only just begun.
Residents in the Saint Louis suburb of Valley Park, where the Meramec crested at a record 44 feet, returned for the first time today to survey the damage. Meanwhile, farther downstream, the threat of additional flooding remained high.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner ordered the National Guard to active duty and told residents to brace for more damage.
GOV. BRUCE RAUNER, Illinois:
I'm mostly concerned about Alexander County at the moment south here. It's going to be 50 feet down there; it's cresting right now. And we were just told an hour ago that it's breached the levee. The levee is going to wash away. And we're — we have been asking everybody in Alexander County to evacuate.
And officials warn the high waters could travel south to Arkansas and Tennessee.
Louisiana has also declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the flooding that is to come. So far, the floodwaters have been blamed for at least 22 deaths.
President Obama is exploring unilateral steps he can take to address gun violence. In his first weekly radio address of 2016, he said his staff has been looking into potential executive actions. Mr. Obama will meet Monday with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to explore options to keep guns out of the hands of — quote — "an irresponsible, dangerous few."
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
I get too many letters from parents, and teachers, and kids to sit around and do nothing. The gun lobby is loud and well-organized in its defense of effortlessly available guns for anyone. The rest of us are going to have to be just as passionate and well-organized in our defense of our kids.
The president will reportedly take action to set a — quote — "reasonable threshold" for when sellers need to seek a background check.
The new year also ushered in a host of new laws; 14 states and several cities raised the minimum wage. California and Massachusetts increased it to $10 an hour, while Seattle's minimum hourly wage rose to $13. New legislation in Texas has made it easier to openly carry guns. And Hawaii became the first state in the nation to raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21.
We also mark the passing of two talented entertainers. Natalie Cole, the daughter of jazz legend Nat King Cole, died overnight in Los Angeles following a series of health problems. The R&B singer first made a name for herself with the 1975 breakout hit "This Will Be," and went on to win nine Grammy Awards. In 2010, Cole performed the gospel song "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" at the White House.
Natalie Cole was 65 years old.
Actor Wayne Rogers also died Thursday in Los Angeles, after he developed pneumonia. Rogers was best known as Army doctor "Trapper" John McIntyre on the "MASH" television series in the 1970s. He played the role for the first three of the show's 11 seasons. Wayne Rogers was 82 years old.