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Iran vows revenge for US attack that killed powerful general
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iran has vowed to retaliate after a U.S. airstrike in Iraq killed the mastermind of its interventions across the Middle East. Tensions between the two countries have soared. Reflecting concerns about retaliation, the United States said Friday that it was sending nearly 3,000 additional troops to the Middle East. Nearly 24 hours after the attack, Iraqi officials and Iranian-backed militias in Iraq reported another deadly airstrike. An Iraqi government official reported a strike on two vehicles north of Baghdad. Another security official who witnessed the aftermath said five people were killed. The Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces confirmed the strike, saying its medics were targeted. An American official denied the U.S. was behind the reported attack.
BC-IRAQ-AIRPORT ATTACK-THE LATEST
The Latest: Iran urges UN to condemn 'criminal act' by US
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iran’s U.N. ambassador is urging the U.N. Security Council to condemn what Tehran calls “a criminal act” of “state terrorism” by the United States that led to “the horrific assassination” of the country’s top military commander. Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi says Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani played “a significant role” in helping some countries “in combatting and defeating the most dangerous terrorist groups,” including the Islamic State. In letters sent Friday to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council president, Ravanchi says the U.S. airstrike targeting Soleimani “clearly invalidates the claim of the United States that it is fighting terrorism."
Australian PM calls up reservists as fire threats escalate
SYDNEY (AP) — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called up about 3,000 reservists as the threat of wildfires has escalated in at least three states. He says 23 deaths have been confirmed so far this summer, including two on Saturday, and “we are facing another extremely difficult next 24 hours.” Morrison also confirmed his scheduled visits to India and Japan later this month have been postponed. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian says her state was facing "another terrible day" and called on people in areas threatened by the fires to leave while they can. Officials are warning the fires could move “frighteningly quick.” Embers carried by the wind have the potential to spark new fires or enlarge existing blazes.
Indonesian capital reels from floods that leave 47 dead
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Tens of thousands of Indonesians are crammed in emergency shelters waiting for floodwaters to recede in and around the capital, Jakarta, as the death toll from massive New Year's flooding reached 47. Monsoon rains and rising rivers submerged 12 cities and districts in greater Jakarta and caused landslides in the city's outskirts that buried a dozen people. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman says at least 47 people had drowned or been electrocuted since rivers broke their banks Wednesday after extreme torrential rains throughout New Year's Eve. Three elderly people died of hypothermia. It was the worst flooding since 2007, when 80 people died.
HONG KONG-CHINA-MYSTERY ILLNESS
Hong Kong steps up response to mystery disease from China
HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong authorities have activated a newly created “serious response" level as fears spread about a mysterious infectious disease that may have been brought back by visitors to a mainland Chinese city. The government launched a new response plan Saturday for infectious diseases of unknown cause. It had earlier stepped up temperature checks at border crossings. At least 44 people have been infected in the city of Wuhan, and five possible cases have been reported in Hong Kong. The outbreak has revived memories of the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic, which killed more than 700 people in mainland China, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
Trump portrays himself as defender of faith for evangelicals
MIAMI (AP) — President Donald Trump highlighted his record on religious liberty as he addressed a group of evangelical supporters in Miami. Trump spoke Friday to more than 5,000 Christians at a megachurch just days after he was the subject of a scathing editorial in Christianity Today magazine that called for his removal from office. But thousands of the faithful lifted their hands and prayed over Trump as he began speaking and portrayed himself as a defender of faith. Some of Trump's address resembled his standard campaign speech. But he also cited his support for Israel, installation of federal judges, prison reform and a push to put prayer in public school.
US long watched Soleimani, but feared risks of a strike
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's decision to target Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani is a sharp departure from the previous two administrations. The Bush and Obama administrations both weighed striking Soleimani but decided the risks were too high. Officials said they were concerned about Iranian retaliation and also worried that killing Soleimani wouldn't have an effect on Iran's regional provocations and support for terror groups. Trump said Friday that Soleimani should have been taken out years ago.
Iranian cyberattacks feared after killing of top general
BOSTON (AP) — Security experts say Iran’s retaliation for the United States' targeted killing of its top general is likely to include cyberattacks. While they say the U.S. power grid is quite resilient, Iranian state-backed hackers could inject malware that triggers major disruptions to the U.S. public and private sector. Potential targets include manufacturing facilities, oil and gas plants and transit systems. Iranian state-backed hackers carried out a series of disruptive denial-of-service attacks that knocked major U.S. banks' websites offline in 2012 in response to U.S. sanctions. Two years later, they wiped servers at a Las Vegas casino.
Democratic states appeal Obamacare ruling to Supreme Court
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic-led states are asking the Supreme Court for a fast-track review of a recent appeals court decision that declared a key part of the Obama-era health law unconstitutional and cast a legal cloud over the rest of it. If granted, that could put the fate of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the 2020 election. Defenders of the law are hoping for a hearing and a decision by the summer. Last month, an appeals court ruled that the law's now-toothless requirement for Americans to have health insurance is unconstitutional, but sidestepped a decision on the rest.
McConnell and Pelosi give no signs of budging on impeachment
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress opened the new year with the Senate deadlocked over President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is indicating he has little interest in hearing from witnesses as Democrats are demanding. The process is in flux. McConnell is hoping for a speedy acquittal of the president, but the trial cannot begin until House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sends over the articles of impeachment. Pelosi is refusing to do so until Republicans provide details on the trial. She said McConnell is an accomplice in Trump's cover up. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said senators need to hear the "whole truth” as they weigh Trump's removal from office.
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