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January 7, 2020

A Ukrainian International Airlines flight with 180 passengers and crew onboard crashed just after takeoff from Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport early Wednesday, en route to Kiev, Iranian state media reported. The Iranian news reports attributed the crash to unspecified mechanical problems, and civil aviation spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh said a team of investigators is at the site of the wreckage. "The plane is on fire but we have sent crews," Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran's emergency services, told state TV, "and we may be able to save some passengers." Iran's Red Crescent later said there's no chance of finding survivors.

FlightRadar24 said the airliner appeared to stop sending data about two minutes into the flight.

Hours before the crash, Iran had fired more than a dozen missiles at Iraqi military bases that house U.S. and other allied forces. No U.S. casualties have been reported. There is no apparent connection between the two events, but the crash does contain elements from the largest news stories of 2019: U.S.-Iran hostilities, Ukraine, and Boeing's 737 — though this was a 737-800 jet, not the troubled 737 MAX, which has been grounded worldwide for 10 months. Peter Weber

January 7, 2020

Puerto Rico's string of tremors continued Tuesday morning as another earthquake knocked out power and left at least one person dead.

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake rocked Puerto Rico early on Tuesday, centered off the island's southern coast, CNN reports. At least one person, a 73-year-old man, was killed, while at least eight have been injured, The Associated Press reports.

This comes one day after Puerto Rico was struck by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake, which followed several quakes ranging from 4.7 to 5.1 in magnitude rocking the island since Dec. 28. A 6.0 aftershock followed Tuesday's earthquake about three hours later, per AP.

Although a tsunami watch was issued by local authorities on Tuesday, it was later canceled, and the United States National Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat, The New York Times reports. Víctor Huérfano, director of Puerto Rico's Seismic Network, told AP this is expected to be "the largest quake for now." Brendan Morrow

January 3, 2020

The United States is reportedly set to deploy thousands of additional troops to the Middle East after President Trump authorized a drone strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

About 3,000 more Army troops will be deployed to the Middle East, The Associated Press reports, citing American defense officials. CNN also reports that thousands of troops will be deployed from the Immediate Response Force of the 82nd Airborne Division, which was previously on prepare-to-deploy orders. NBC News' Courtney Kube and The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, are reporting the number of troops that will be deployed is about 3,500.

This comes after Trump ordered a strike that killed Soleimani in a major escalation of tensions with Iran that has drawn condemnation from Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday, "we cannot put the lives of American servicemembers, diplomats and others further at risk by engaging in provocative and disproportionate actions."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the strike was necessary to disrupt an "imminent attack" in the region, although The New York Times reports, citing a Defense Department official, that there "was nothing new in the threat presented by the Iranian general."

In response to Friday's news, CBS News' Kathryn Watson observed, "Trump campaigned on staying out of endless wars in the Middle East. He blasted his predecessors for sending U.S. troops there. And here we are." Brendan Morrow

January 2, 2020

General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force and among the country's most powerful figures, was reportedly killed in an American airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, early Friday morning. "At the direction of the president, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qassem Soleimani," the Pentagon said, accusing him of "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region." The assassination of Soleimani comes after Iran-backed Iraqi militias attacked the American embassy in Baghdad earlier this week to avenge the deaths of several militia members killed in another U.S. airstike. "[B]e prepared for all sorts of Iranian retaliation against U.S. diplomatic and military personnel," Council of Foreign Relations President Richard Haass warned on Twitter shortly after reports of the general's death first emerged. Nico Lauricella

December 28, 2019

A truck filled with explosives blew up in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Saturday reportedly killing at least 90 people and wounding dozens more in the Somali capital.

An international organization, which did not wish to be named, reported the death toll was more than 90, and a Somali MP also tweeted that he had been told the same. Police officers, students, and two Turkish nationals were reportedly among the victims, Reuters reports.

The blast was the latest in a series of deadly events in the country this year, and while the Al Qaeda-linked Islamist group al-Shabaab regularly carries out attacks to undermine the government, no terrorist organization immediately claimed responsibility for Saturday's bombing. In the past, though, al-Shabaab has refrained from claiming responsibility for larger attacks that result in major public backlash, Reuters reports.

Somali Prime Minister Hassan Khayre said he appointed a national committee to respond to the victims and assist in the evacuation of those seeking medical care abroad. Read more at Reuters and The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

December 23, 2019

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced five people to death in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Saudi public prosecutor's office on Monday announced the sentencing of five men directly involved in Khashoggi's murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, while another three received a total of 24 years in prison for covering up the crime and other offenses, The New York Times reports.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed by Saudi agents in 2018 after arriving at the Saudi consulate to pick up marriage paperwork. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has denied ordering the killing, but a CIA assessment concluded he did.

The names of the suspects in the secret trial have not been released. The public prosecutor's office said Monday a top aide to the crown prince who the United States sanctioned, Saud al-Qahtani, was not tried due to a lack of evidence. The Washington Post reports the prosecutor's office says another senior aide, Ahmed al-Assiri, was exonerated as well. Brendan Morrow

December 17, 2019

Rick Gates, President Trump's former campaign aide, has just been sentenced to 45 days in jail.

Gates' sentencing came Tuesday after he pleaded guilty in 2018 to lying to the FBI and conspiracy to conceal income earned from his and former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort's work lobbying for Ukraine, The Washington Post reports. In addition to 45 days in jail, he was also sentenced to 36 months probation and must pay a $20,000 fine and complete 300 hours of community service, CBS News reports. He'll be able to serve his sentence on weekends.

Gates, who was the Trump's campaign's deputy chair, reached an agreement to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston said this month that he "worked earnestly to provide the government with everything it has asked of him and has fulfilled all obligations under his plea agreement." He testified in Manafort's trial, as well as the trial of former Trump adviser Roger Stone.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Tuesday that Gates has "in a very real way accepted responsibility for his actions," and "he's been at this long enough and under such onerous circumstances that one can believe in the transformation," The Daily Beast reports.

CBS News notes that Gates was one of six Trump associates charged in connection to the Mueller probe, while The Washington Post's Aaron Blake notes that Trump's associates "have now been sentenced to nearly 11 combined years in prison since he became president." Brendan Morrow

December 13, 2019

Impeachment is headed to the full House.

The House Judiciary Committee voted Friday to advance both articles of impeachment against President Trump to the whole House. The vote was along party lines, with both the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress articles receiving 23 votes for and 17 votes against.

Friday's vote comes after weeks of investigations by and testimonies for the House Intelligence Committee from witnesses to Trump's decisions with Ukraine and pushes for the country to investigate the Bidens. The judiciary committee then heard evidence from the intelligence committee and drafted the two articles against Trump. The committee debated those articles on Thursday for 14 hours, and while they were supposed to vote at the conclusion of those debates, House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) adjourned the committee at 11 p.m. for a vote the next morning.

As of right now, the full House is expected to take its vote on impeachment next Wednesday, after it votes on a spending deal to prevent a government shutdown and before it votes on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement that Democrats worked out with Trump earlier this week. Kathryn Krawczyk

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