Colin Dwyer

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."

Peru's former President Alberto Fujimori left a hospital in Lima on Thursday night, wheeled out to the adoring cheers of supporters who had gathered for the occasion. For the first time since 2009, when he was convicted of human rights crimes, the newly pardoned Fujimori could greet the outside world in person as a free man.

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.

For nearly five decades, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has been technically free for all, the price of admission but a suggestion offered at the front door. All visitors could pay what they wished — or what they were able.

That 1970 policy is set to change later this year: Beginning March 1, adults who live outside New York state and who are out of school will have to pay $25 to enter the museum. Seniors will pay $17, and students outside the tri-state area — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — will pay $12. Children under 12 will still enter for free.

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.

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.

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.