10 things you need to know today: January 5, 2020

Trump, Iran trade warnings over target sites, Al Qaeda-linked group attacks base in Kenya used by U.S. military, and more

Hossein Dehghan.
(Image credit: NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images)

1. Trump, Iran trade warnings over target sites

President Trump on Saturday warned Iran that the United States has chosen 52 targets for retaliatory attacks should Tehran react militarily to Washington's airstrike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani earlier this week. The targets, Trump tweeted, include some sites in Iran that are "important" to the nation's culture. Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Hossein Dehghan, the military adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told CNN in an exclusive interview Sunday that Iran's response to Soleimani's death "for sure will be military and against military sites," adding that no U.S. military staff, vessel, or base "will be safe." Dehghan, however, maintained Tehran still wants to avoid full-fledged war between the two countries.


2. Al Qaeda-linked group attacks base in Kenya used by U.S. military

Fighters from al-Shabab, an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group, attacked a Kenyan air base used by the United States military Sunday. Four al-Shabab militants were reportedly killed, but the attack was repulsed and the airstrip secured with no other casualties, Kenya Defence Forces said in a statement. In an earlier statement, al-Shabab said the raid resulted in "severe casualties" on American and Kenyan troops stationed at the air base, but U.S. Africa Command reiterated Kenya's statement and said the terrorist group — which has a history of overstating its strikes — was exaggerating the seriousness of the situation in an attempt to "bolster their reputation." There were unverified reports, however, that U.S. aircraft, helicopters, and vehicles were destroyed.

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The Financial Times Al Jazeera

3. Soleimani's body arrives in Iran, thousands gather to mourn in streets

The body of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq this week, arrived in his home country Sunday, reportedly drawing tens of thousands of mourners to the streets in the Iranian cities of Ahvaz and Mashhad, a day after thousands gathered for a funeral procession in Baghdad. His remains will next go to Tehran and Qom for public mourning processions Monday, and then Soleimani's burial will take place in his hometown of Kerman on Tuesday. It is reportedly the first time Iran honored a single man with a multi-city ceremony, lending credence to the outsized influence Soleimani is said to have held in the country.

The Associated Press The Washington Post

4. At least 30 killed in strike against Libyan military academy

At least 30 people were killed and 33 others wounded in an attack on a military academy in Tripoli, Libya, on Saturday evening, the health ministry of the internationally-recognized Libyan Government of National Accord said in a statement, and the number of casualties may still be rising. Tripoli is facing a rebel offensive from military commander Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army, which was blamed for the airstrike. Libya's foreign ministry called for an emergency session from the United Nations Security Council and wants Haftar investigated for alleged war crimes, but the LNA has denied involvement in the attack. In response, the GNA said it targeted a LNA air base with an airstrike.

Reuters BBC

5. Dozens arrested as Hong Kong protests continue

Hong Kong police made dozens of arrests Sunday following scuffles with the city's pro-democracy, anti-government protesters. Thousands of demonstrators marched in Sheung Shui, an area of Hong Kong near the mainland China border. The protesters were reportedly focused on "parallel traders" from China who buy duty free goods in Hong Kong and sell them at a profit on the mainland, which locals say pushes up prices in Hong Kong, leading to overcrowded neighborhoods. Organizers asked the crowd to disperse immediately once the rally ended, but some protesters remained in the area, prompting riot police to force them out with batons and pepper spray.

The South China Morning Post Reuters

6. Firefighters gain 'upper hand' on some fires in Australia, but blazes could continue for months

Wildfires continued to plague Australia on Sunday as one firefighter described the previous 24-hour period as "one of our worst days ever." Photographs from the state of New South Wales showed a deserted, smoke-filled landscape beneath blazing red skies, as a result of 146 fires burning across the state, including 65 that remain uncontained. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service did say, however, that firefighters have "gained the upper hand on several dangerous fires" as conditions eased. No total fire bans are in place for Monday. But the flames could still blaze for months, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. Morrison, who has received criticism for his handling of the fires, has announced the creation of a recovery agency to aid those who have lost homes and businesses in the fires.


7. 2 inmates escape Mississippi prison after statewide violence in corrections system

Mississippi authorities are reportedly searching for two inmates who are believed to have escaped the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman following "major disturbances" across the state's corrections system which were reportedly partly provoked by gangs and have resulted in five deaths and several other injuries this week. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said he has directed "the use of all necessary assets and personnel" to find the inmates — 42-year-old David May and 27-year-old Dillion Williams — who escaped. All state prisons across Mississippi remained on lockdown Saturday with prisoners confined to their cells and no visitations allowed. The high number of deaths in Mississippi's corrections system this week was described as "surreal" and officials promised to prosecute aggressors "to the full extent of the law."

The Washington Post AL.com

8. Japan's justice minister defends country's justice system, calls Carlos Ghosn's escape inexcusable

Japan's Justice Minister Masako Mori said Sunday that former Nissan chair Carlos Ghosn's escape from house arrest and flight to Lebanon was inexcusable, while promising to strengthen Japan's immigration checks. Mori also defended Japan's criminal justice system in a statement, saying it "protects the basic human rights of an individual and properly carries out appropriate procedures to disclose the truth of various cases." Ghosn was under house arrest on charges of financial misconduct — he maintained his innocence and fled the country, which has been criticized for its high conviction rate, long detentions, and drawn out trials. Prosecutors are now saying Ghosn should never have been moved from prison to house arrest because his network of connections made it easy for him to escape.

The Guardian Fox Business

9. 77th Golden Globe Awards to air Sunday night

The 77th Golden Globe Awards will take place Sunday at 8 p.m. E.T. on NBC. Ricky Gervais, whose biting humor doesn't always sit well with his Hollywood audience, will return to the stage in Los Angeles for the fifth time as the ceremony's host. As for the awards themselves, Netflix leads the field in total nominations thanks to films like Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story and Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, which are both up for best picture in the drama category alongside fellow Netflix film, The Two Popes, as well as 1917 and Joker. Best picture in the musical or comedy category nominees are Dolemite is My Name, Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Rocketman.

IndieWire NBC News

10. Texans rally to beat Bills, Titans stun Patriots in AFC wild card games

The Tennessee Titans shocked the football world after defeating the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, 20-13, on the road in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Saturday night in an AFC wild card game. The Titans won thanks to defense and the ground game — running back Derrick Henry picked up 182 yards on 34 carries. After the game, 42-year-old Patriots quarterback Tom Brady says it's unlikely he'll retire after the loss, but it's unclear if he'll be back in New England next season. Earlier in the day, the Houston Texans rallied behind spectacular play from quarterback Deshaun Watson to beat the Buffalo Bills in overtime, 22-19. It's the NFC's turn on Sunday. The New Orleans Saints will host the Minnesota Vikings at 1:05 p.m. E.T. on Fox followed by the Seattle Seahawks taking on the Philadelphia Eagles at 4:40 p.m. E.T. on NBC in Philadelphia.


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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.