Colin Dwyer

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.

Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET

Nearly three months since Catalans cast their votes for independence from Spain, setting off a weekslong showdown between their regional government and Madrid, Catalonia opened its polls again on Thursday — and promptly put pro-independence parties back in control, by a very slim margin.

Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET

The United Nations General Assembly has overwhelmingly rejected the Trump administration's decision to recognize the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. By a 128-9 vote Thursday, the diplomats gathered in New York City ignored U.S. objections and approved a nonbinding resolution calling on countries to avoid moving their embassies to Jerusalem.

It has been roughly eight months since cholera first took hold in war-torn Yemen. In that brief span, the waterborne disease has exacted a staggering toll on the country's population — and that toll only continues to rise by the day.

The number of suspected cases of cholera has crossed one million, the International Committee of the Red Cross announced Thursday. Of those who have contracted the disease since April, the World Health Organization believes more than 2,200 people have died of it — almost a third of whom are children.

Venus Williams will not be charged in the collision that led to the death of a passenger in another car in Florida earlier this year, according to multiple media outlets quoting local police. The decision marks a reversal from authorities' initial assessment of the accident, which had laid fault primarily with the longtime tennis icon.

A federal judge declared a mistrial Wednesday in the case against rancher Cliven Bundy, his two sons and another self-styled militiaman. The men had been charged with conspiracy and assault after their 2014 dispute over cattle-grazing rights in Nevada developed into an armed standoff with federal agents.

For the past few days, the weather in Southern California granted firefighters a rare reprieve. Winds dropped, humidity ticked up a tad — and for a brief span, at least, firefighters had a little natural help reining in the massive Thomas Fire northwest of Los Angeles, which they had 60 percent contained by Wednesday morning.

But that lull didn't last long.

Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney has filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics, saying the organization sought to silence her claims of sexual abuse against disgraced team doctor Larry Nassar last year.

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

Pluck just about any Christmas carol off FM radio, and you've got a decent shot it'll be lauding the merits of a tree — a glorious yuletide pine with "lovely" branches, say, or with happy campers rockin' around it. In other words, carolers typically try to avoid comparing their Christmas tree to a toilet brush.

Saudi authorities said Tuesday they intercepted a missile fired from Yemen at the kingdom's capital, Riyadh. Videos on social media purport to show the missile, which Houthi rebels say they had aimed at a Saudi royal palace, exploding in a white cloud over the city's skyline.

Updated at 12:30 a.m. ET Tuesday

Officials say three people are confirmed dead in the derailment of an Amtrak passenger train that plummeted off an overpass in Washington state. Part of the train was left dangling over a busy freeway between Olympia and DuPont at the height of the morning commute Monday.

It's time to find out what, if anything, our "mysterious interloper" has to say.

When the cargo ship El Faro set out from port in Jacksonville, Fla., en route to Puerto Rico, there was little indication of trouble. A gathering weather system named Joaquin was still just a tropical storm. But within days, Joaquin had swelled into a major hurricane — and a broken El Faro lay almost three miles below the surface of the sea, along with all 33 members of its crew.

Updated at 10:30 p.m. ET

Following a federal court ruling, the Pentagon has confirmed it will allow openly transgender individuals to enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1. The Trump administration had resisted that deadline in court, seeking to have its ban on new transgender troops reinstated — but on Monday, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly upheld an earlier decision to temporarily block President Trump's ban.

Just what is Mikhail Saakashvili doing?

Georgian president, Ukrainian governor, stateless fugitive — in the past decade, he's played all these roles, among others. But now that he's perched in a tent community near the parliament building in Kiev, an opposition leader surrounded by a huge group of restive followers, the question of who this bombastic politician is and what his aims are has become more pressing than ever.

Trouble is, the answer to the question will vary wildly depending on whom you ask.

Michael Slager, the white former police officer who was filmed killing an unarmed black man in North Charleston, S.C., has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. In sentencing Slager, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to a federal civil rights violation, the judge ruled Thursday that he committed second-degree murder and obstruction of justice.

Just one month after announcing his resignation in Saudi Arabia, jolting the region and leaving onlookers bewildered, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has formally withdrawn that resignation. He declared his official decision after a Cabinet meeting Tuesday near Beirut, at which Lebanon's president and high-ranking ministers endorsed his call for the country to stay out of the affairs of other Arab countries.

Former Rep. Corrine Brown has been sentenced to five years in prison for pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors who believed their money was going to charity. A federal judge on Monday sentenced the Florida Democrat, who was voted out of office last year, on 18 crimes ranging from conspiracy to fraud.

Updated at 12:55 p.m. ET Tuesday

Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former Yemeni president who spent more than three decades in power before he stepped down in 2012, was killed after violence consumed the country's capital over the weekend. A member of Saleh's own party told NPR that Saleh had died, even as graphic video purporting to show his body circulated on social media Monday.

Houthi rebels, Saleh's erstwhile allies, ambushed and killed him during a rocket-propelled grenade attack on his vehicle as he tried to leave Sanaa.

It happened in the span of a few confused minutes.

Moments after hearing that his 20-year sentence for war crimes had been upheld, Slobodan Praljak defied the admonitions of his judges, declared his innocence a final time — and with eyes wide, as if shocked himself at what he was doing, put a tiny glass to his lips and gulped deeply. "I just drank poison," he exclaimed after lowering the glass. And the presiding judge asked for the curtains to be closed.

Jim Nabors, the comic actor best known for his years playing Gomer Pyle, one of TV's most lovable goofs, has died at the age of 87. Nabors' husband, Stan Cadwallader, confirmed to The Associated Press that the actor and singer died at home in Honolulu.

The Aspen Institute has unveiled the nominees for its first-ever fiction prize, a potpourri of 20 works plucked from across the world. Novels, short story collections, English-language or in translation — whatever their differences, each of the nominees "illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture," in the estimation of Aspen Words Literary Prize judges.

Arkansas prosecutors have dropped their case against James Bates, whom they had charged with first-degree murder partly with the help of evidence collected by an Amazon Echo smart speaker. On Wednesday, a circuit court judge granted their request to have the charges of murder and tampering with evidence dismissed.

The prosecutors declared nolle prosequi, stating that the evidence could support more than one reasonable explanation.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

More than five years after militants stormed a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, killing four Americans including the ambassador, the Libyan man charged with orchestrating the siege has been convicted of terrorism charges. Yet in its verdict Tuesday, the jury acquitted Ahmed Abu Khatallah of the most serious charges against him, including murder.

Do you need computer skills to be a competent doctor?

That's one of the central questions surrounding a difficult case unfolding in New Hampshire this month: Anna Konopka, an octogenarian doctor who eschews computers and has been practicing medicine for the better part of six decades, surrendered her license under a September agreement with the state's board of medicine — partly because of multiple complaints related to her record keeping, Merrimack Superior Court Judge John Kissinger said.

For a while, Tom Colella had found his escape at the bottom of a bag of crunchy corn snacks. But it was not to last.

Earlier this month in western Australia, the Fair Work Commission, a workplace tribunal, found that the electrician — who was fired last year — had indeed been fired for good cause: He had been ditching work while on the clock, the commission concluded, and had hidden his whereabouts from his employer by MacGyvering a Faraday cage out of an empty bag of Twisties.

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