10 things you need to know today: January 11, 2020

Tim O'Donnell

1.

Iran on Saturday admitted to unintentionally shooting down a Ukrainian passenger jet with 176 people on board this week. Iran's armed forces headquarters released a statement explaining that the aircraft "came close to a sensitive [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] military center at an altitude and flight condition that resembled hostile targeting." The IRGC took full responsibility for the incident, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran "deeply regrets this disastrous mistake," but Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif did link the event to the U.S.'s decision to kill Iranian Major Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike in Iraq earlier this month. "Human error at [a] time of crisis caused by U.S. adventurism led to disaster," Zarif tweeted. [CNN, NBC News]

2.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Friday that she has asked House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to "be prepared to bring to the floor next week a resolution" to initiate President Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate. The House in December voted in favor of two articles of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but Pelosi said shortly after the vote that she was waiting to see whether the trial process would be "fair" in the Senate before transmitting the articles to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The first step will be appointing impeachment managers. Democrats have sought to include additional witnesses in the trial, while McConnell has said Republicans "will not cede our authority to try this impeachment." [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi]

3.

The U.S. tried and failed to kill a second Iranian military leader the night it assassinated Gen. Qassem Soleimani, U.S. officials tell The Washington Post and ABC News. A second top secret mission in Yemen was aimed at killing Abdul Reza Shahlai, who, like Soleimani, is a top commander of Iran's Quds Forces. The officials declined to share details of the still-classified mission, but one did say "If we had killed him, we'd be bragging about it that same night." Shahlai has been active in Yemen as he leads the Iranian military in support of the Houthi rebels fighting the Yemeni government. The U.S. backs the established government in Yemen. [The Washington Post, ABC News]

4.

The Trump administration is reportedly considering expanding its controversial travel ban to a longer list of countries. An obtained document about the expansion doesn't reveal the names of the countries under consideration, but there are reportedly seven additional countries that could be added. The countries currently on the list include Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, and North Korea. Citizens of those nations are barred from entering the U.S., with narrow exceptions. Two anonymous White House sources say the expanded list may include countries President Trump originally wanted in the travel ban, like Iraq and Sudan. It's unclear whether the ban will be expanded, but sources say the rollout could come later this month, on the third anniversary of Trump's initial travel ban announcement. [The Associated Press, BuzzFeed News]

5.

In a statement published Saturday by North Korean state media, Kim Kye Gwan — a foreign ministry official and top adviser to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — said Pyongyang has been "deceived" by the United States and will not engage in talks similar to the one between President Trump and Kim that took place last year in Vietnam. The statement said past denuclearization negotiations with Washington amounted to nothing but "lost time" for North Korea. The news comes shortly after President Trump sent Kim a letter for his birthday. Kim Kye Gwan said Kim does have "good personal feelings" for Trump, but they do not reflect the current state of the relationship between the two countries. [CNN, The Hill]

6.

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen is set to win a second term after a landslide victory Saturday. Votes were reportedly still being tallied Saturday evening in Taiwan, but Tsai locked up the victory. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, she had 57.3 percent of the vote compared to just 38.5 percent from her opponent Han Kuo-yu, who conceded. Tsai favors independence from China and has pointed to the anti-Beijing, pro-Democracy protests in Hong Kong as a warning for what could come in Taiwan. Han's party, meanwhile, is friendly with Beijing. Tsai was reportedly trailing badly in the polls just a year ago, but increasing aggression from Beijing toward Taiwan helped vault her back into office. [The Washington Post, Reuters]

7.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday announced new sanctions on Iran. President Trump alluded to the sanctions in his response to Iran's strikes on military bases in Iraq that housed U.S. military equipment. The sanctions, Pompeo said, are aimed at getting "Iran to simply behave like a normal nation." Mnuchin said the sanctions would affect individuals working with "sectors of the Iranian economy including construction, manufacturing, textiles, and mining," in addition to "Iran's largest steel and iron manufacturers" and Iranian senior officials who assisted in the recent missile attack. These sanctions will continue "until Iran stops its terrorist activities and commit that it will never have nuclear weapons," Mnuchin continued. [The Associated Press]

8.

Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman has died at 79, Omani state media announced Saturday. No cause of death has been confirmed, but he had reportedly been ill for some time. Qaboos was the longest-serving ruler in the Arab world. He was an absolute monarch, who overthrew his "reclusive and ultra-conservative" father in a bloodless coup in 1970 and went on to transform Oman into a modern state. Dissenting voices were silenced throughout his reign, including for a brief moment during the Arab Spring in 2011, but Qaboos was considered popular both in and out of the country. On the international front, he was known for his ability to facilitate talks between countries, including the U.S. and Iran in 2013. Qaboos had no children or brothers, so his cousin Haitham bin Tariq Al Said will take over. [BBC, Al Jazeera]

9.

Former Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who was fired from the company last month, won't receive any severance or separation payments, but Boeing said in a statement that he's contractually entitled to receive $62.2 million in stock and pension awards. Muilenburg's ouster came during a period of crisis at Boeing, which continues to deal with the fallout from two fatal crashes involving its 737 MAX airplane, which is still banned from the sky and faces multiple hurdles from aviation regulation agencies. The crashes resulted from failures in the model's flight control software. The news about Muilenburg's compensation broke the same day Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc., the largest 737 MAX supplier, announced 2,800 layoffs in wake of Boeing freezing production of the plane while it awaits regulators' approval. [The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal]

10.

Drummer Neil Peart of the band Rush died at age 67, a family spokesperson confirmed on Friday. Peart died after being diagnosed with brain cancer; he retired from touring with Rush due to health issues back in 2015. Peart was Canadian born, but was living in Santa Monica, California, in recent years, where he died. "Along with penning impressive lyrics," wrote CBC News, "Peart was renowned for his proficiency on drums and expertly weaving together techniques from different musical genres, blending jazz and big band with hard rock." Rush launched to fame in the 1970s and was inducted into the U.S. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. [CBC News]

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