10 things you need to know today: January 9, 2020

Trump says Iran "appears to be standing down" after missile strike, Ukraine bars flights through Iranian airspace after crash, and more

Trump speaks about Iran
(Image credit: ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

1. Trump: Iran 'standing down' after missile strike

President Trump on Wednesday called for a diplomatic effort to defuse days of rising tensions with Iran, hours after Iran hit two Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers with more than a dozen missiles but caused no casualties. "Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world," Trump said in a televised White House statement. Trump said the U.S. would impose new sanctions, and repeated his vow to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. He also expressed openness to negotiating with Tehran, and urged Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China to "break away from the remnants" of the 2015 nuclear agreement they made along with then-President Barack Obama, and "work together" toward a new deal.

The New York Times

2. Ukraine bars flights through Iranian airspace after crash

Ukraine banned flights through Iranian airspace on Wednesday after a Ukrainian passenger jet crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran, killing all 176 people on board. Several other countries had already barred their planes from entering Iranian or Iraqi airspace due to military strikes exchanged by the U.S. and Iran. Investigators searched for clues about what caused the crash after recovering the plane's flight data recorders. Iran said an aircraft malfunction appeared to have downed the Boeing 737-800, but some aviation experts disagreed. Former Federal Aviation Administration accident investigation chief Jeff Guzzetti said the fiery crash had "all the earmarks of an intentional act." "I just know airplanes don't come apart like that," Guzzetti said.

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The Washington Post

3. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to 'step back' from royal family

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced Wednesday that they were stepping back as "senior" royals, and would divide their time between the U.K. and North America while working toward financial independence. "This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter," they said. The BBC reported that other royals did not appear to have been consulted and were "disappointed." Prince Harry recently spoke out against "bullying" his wife faced in the media. "There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behavior," he said.

BBC News The Guardian

4. 2 rockets land in Baghdad's Green Zone

Two small rockets landed Wednesday near Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, where the embassies of the U.S. and other Western nations are located, the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State said. The Iraqi military said the Katyusha rockets landed inside the Green Zone, but there were no reports of casualties. There have been numerous rocket strikes in the Green Zone in recent weeks. Wednesday's rocket fire came a day after Iran launched more than a dozen precision-guided missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops. There were no casualties in the missile strikes, which Iran launched in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian military commander, Qassem Soleimani, last week.


5. Pelosi says House to vote on war powers resolution

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement Wednesday that the House would vote Thursday on a war powers resolution aiming to limit President Trump's ability to order military action against Iran. Pelosi said the measure was necessary because Trump decided to kill Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani with a drone strike "without consulting Congress," endangering U.S. soldiers, diplomats, and others "by risking a serious escalation of tensions with Iran." The effort to repeal the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force is something Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) championed for some time. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is also proposing a similar resolution in the Senate, which Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have said they would support. The resolution is unlikely to pass the Senate.

NBC News USA Today

6. Lawmakers slam Trump administration briefing on Soleimani strike

Democrats and a couple of key Republicans on Wednesday harshly criticized Trump administration officials who gave two classified briefings about the drone strike that killed top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said it was the "worst briefing" on a military matter he had ever heard, calling it "insulting." Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he agreed with Lee's take. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) said the briefing left lawmakers with "no idea" whether Soleimani posed an imminent threat. Vocal allies of President Trump said the officials made a solid case justifying the strike. "The fact that he was plotting further attacks to kill Americans made it clear that it was time to take him out," said House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).

NBC News

7. Appeals court stays ruling that blocked Trump diversion of money for wall

A federal appeals court on Wednesday put a hold on a lower court ruling that had blocked the Trump administration from diverting money Congress allocated for military construction projects to use on construction of President Trump's border wall. A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, lifted the injunction issued last month by U.S. District Judge David Briones of El Paso, Texas. In the 2-1 ruling, the appeals court judges noted that the Supreme Court had rejected a similar injunction, and granted a stay on Briones' ruling pending the Trump administration's appeal. Briones ruled that Congress approved the $3.6 billion for 127 Defense Department construction projects, so the administration should not use the money for anything else.

USA Today The New York Times

8. Ghosn slams Japan justice system after fleeing house arrest

Former Nissan chair Carlos Ghosn defended himself Wednesday in his first public appearance since escaping from house arrest in Japan and fleeing to Lebanon, where he holds citizenship. Ghosn, who was arrested multiple times in Japan starting in November 2018 on charges of financial misconduct, described the Japanese justice system as "inhumane" and "anachronistic." He spent 130 days in Japanese prison before being placed under house arrest. He said he was only allowed outside of his cell for 30 minutes every day, and was given the chance to shower just twice a week. He also recalled being interrogated for up to eight hours every day with no lawyer present, alleging there are tapes of his prosecutor telling him his situation would worsen if he didn't confess.

The New York Times

9. Cancer death rate makes biggest yearly drop ever

The nation's cancer death rate dropped by 2.2 percent from 2016 to 2017 in the biggest one-year decline ever, the American Cancer Society said Wednesday in a report published online in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The rate has fallen by 29 percent since 1991. "Every year that we see a decline in cancer mortality rate, it's very good news," said Rebecca Siegel, director of surveillance research at the American Cancer Society and lead author of the report. Experts said reduced smoking rates and improved lung cancer treatment helped drive the decline. Cancer still is the leading cause of death for American men and women, after heart disease.

The New York Times

10. Comedy screenwriting legend, actor Buck Henry dies at 89

Buck Henry, a screenwriter most famous for The Graduate (1967), What's Up, Doc? (1972), and To Die For (1995), died Wednesday. He was 89, and his wife, Irene Ramp, said the cause of death was a heart attack. Born Henry Zuckerman, Buck Henry was the son of silent film star Ruth Taylor and a prominent stockbroker. The Graduate, directed by childhood friend Mike Nichols, was Henry's first screenwriting job. It got him the first of two Oscar nominations, along with a directing nod for the 1978 Warren Beatty movie Heaven Can Wait. Henry also co-created Get Smart, and won a 1967 writing Emmy for the TV spy spoof hit. Henry, who often appeared onscreen, also hosted Saturday Night Live 10 times during its first five seasons.

The Hollywood Reporter The Washington Post

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.