Tribune News Service

International Budget for Monday, January 13, 2020

Updated at 0100 UTC (8 p.m. U.S. EST Sunday).

Additional news stories, including full U.S. coverage, appear on the MCT-NEWS-BJT and MCT-NEWSFEATURES-BJT.


^Defense chief admits he 'didn't see' evidence for Trump claim that Iran planned embassy attacks<

^USIRAN-ESPER:LA—<President Trump's senior aides struggled Sunday to reconcile conflicting statements over the reasons for killing a top Iranian general, including Trump's assertion that attacks were being actively planned against a quartet of American embassies.

At the same time, the White House walked a careful line over anti-government protests that flared for a second day in Tehran. Crowds there and in other major Iranian cities marched amid anger over the government's admission that its forces accidentally downed a Ukrainian passenger jet last week, killing all 176 aboard, most of them Iranian.

In a round of interviews on news talk shows, top administration officials were eager to call attention to dissenting voices within Iran. But they also tried to avoid giving the impression that the demonstrations dovetailed with an American desire to undermine the Tehran government.

800 by Laura King in Washington. MOVED


^Iran's leaders face a second day of protests amid rage over downing of Ukrainian plane<

^USIRAN-PROTESTS:LA—<Anti-government protests continued for a second day across Iran amid fury over the military's admission it had downed a Ukrainian International Airlines jetliner near Tehran last week, killing all 176 of its passengers.

The demonstrations mark yet another crisis for Iran's leaders, who have been blamed for a weakening economy even as they cope with the Trump administration's targeted killing of a top general, Qassem Soleimani, in Iraq. The downing of the commercial aircraft, which military leaders acknowledged Saturday they had done by mistake, came after their firing missiles at military bases in Iraq as a response to the White House.

700 by Nabih Bulos and Sarah Parvini in Baghdad. MOVED


Also moving as:


850 by Yasna Haghdoost and Aoyon Ashraf in Beirut. MOVED



^Fury at air crash cover-up puts Iran's leaders back on defensive<

^USIRAN-REGIME:BLO—<Inside Iran, the admission by authorities that they accidentally shot down a passenger jet packed with Iranian students last week has shattered a brief moment of unity, putting its leadership on the back foot again after only recently quelling nationwide protests.

The fact that Iran appears to have spent days giving false justifications for the crash, which killed all 176 people on board, added to the anger, sparking protests and a crackdown from the government. Iran's admission came only after the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia said they had intelligence indicating that the plane was struck by an Iranian missile, which Iran at first vehemently denied.

1200 (with trims) by Marc Champion, Arsalan Shahla and Golnar Motevalli in Tehran, Iran. MOVED


^Rockets injure four Iraqi soldiers at airbase hosting US military<

^USIRAQ:DPA—<A volley of rockets hit an Iraqi airbase north of the capital Baghdad on Sunday, injuring four Iraqi air force personnel, the army said.

Eight rockets struck the Balad airbase, which is hosting U.S. personnel, the military media center added in a brief statement, according to Iraq's official news agency INA.

300 by Ali Saleh and Eliyahu Kamisher in Baghdad. MOVED

^Hong Kong protesters rehearse for 'anti-communist march'<

^HONGKONG:BLO—<Thousands of people gathered in a square in Hong Kong's city center on Sunday afternoon for a peaceful rally under the watchful gaze of riot police who kept their distance from the event while patrolling the area.

The authorized meeting was held by Hong Kong Civil Assembly Team, which described it as a "pre-march assembly" for a rally scheduled for next Sunday that is billed as a "universal siege on communists." Next week's event will call on the international community to sanction the Hong Kong government for not responding to protesters' demands, organizers said.

350 by Venus Feng in Hong Kong. MOVED


^Pelosi says McConnell looks for 'cover-up' of Trump impeachment<

^IMPEACHMENT:BLO—<House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was "unusual" for her counterpart in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to back a resolution aimed at dismissing the impeachment case against President Donald Trump.

"Dismissing is a cover-up," Pelosi said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

McConnell on Friday was the 13th co-sponsor of a resolution by Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri to alter Senate rules and dismiss Trump's impeachment if Pelosi didn't send over the impeachment articles within a specified time.

600 by Ros Krasny and Billy House in Washington. MOVED


^Trump aide 'concerned' Russia may be trying to undermine Biden<

^USRUSSIA-BIDEN:BLO—<The U.S. government is "concerned" about a report that Russia may be attempting to undermine Democrat Joe Biden's presidential campaign, President Donald Trump's top national security official said Sunday.

Trump has warned his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, not to conduct any such election tampering, National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said on ABC's "This Week."

"He's absolutely told Putin to make sure that that doesn't happen," he said.

250 by Alan Levin in Washington. MOVED


^Warren tries to ease Iowans' concerns about electability<

^WARREN:BLO—<Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren barnstormed across Iowa this weekend, seeking to put to rest questions about her electability and her ability to build a coalition to defeat Donald Trump.

With less than a month before the Feb. 3 Iowa Caucuses, the Massachusetts senator is trying to regain her momentum in a state where she had been the front-runner in the fall. A Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa poll released Friday showed Bernie Sanders in the lead in Iowa, while Warren was virtually tied with Pete Buttigieg. National front-runner Joe Biden was in fourth place.

As her campaign put on about 15 events in the state ahead of the Democratic presidential debate in Des Moines on Tuesday, she portrayed herself as the most effective Democratic standard-bearer against Trump in November. She sought to reassure caucus goers that her sweeping progressive agenda wouldn't be an impediment to building a broad coalition if she became the Democratic nominee.

1050 by Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou in Washington. MOVED


^Can Amy Klobuchar pull off a surprise in Iowa's presidential caucuses?<

^KLOBUCHAR:LA—<Amy Klobuchar, campaigning across Iowa in the first days of the new year, told voters about a text a friend sent her after a surge in polls and fundraising.

"It had autocorrected by mistake, it said congratulations on your insurgency," she said to laughs from a few hundred people gathered at the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids. "I'm happy to take those words! That's fine by me, and I think that's what you're seeing all over this state and all over this country!"

Klobuchar's optimism may be overstated — the Minnesota senator is in single digits in nearly every state and national poll, including an Iowa survey released Friday by the Des Moines Register and CNN, and she trailed her main rivals for the Democratic nomination by more than $10 million in the fundraising quarter that closed Dec. 31.

But Iowa political experts say her day job representing a neighboring state, her Midwestern values and the work she has put into meeting voters in big cities and small towns in every corner of the state could result in a surprise payoff when Iowans caucus on Feb. 3.

1500 by Seema Mehta in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. MOVED


^Trump impeachment could sideline Klobuchar<

^KLOBUCHAR-IMPEACHMENT:MS—<House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to send articles of impeachment to the Senate ends her long standoff with Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, clearing the way for a Senate trial. But it couldn't come at a worse time for Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, one of four senators contending for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The trial of President Donald Trump, which Senate Republicans might be eager to put behind them, could come in the next few weeks. That's just as the Democratic candidates are making their final pitches to voters in Iowa, where the first-in-the-nation caucuses take place on Feb. 3.

200 by Kevin Diaz in Minneapolis. MOVED


^Bloomberg will spend to beat Trump, even if he's not the nominee<

^BLOOMBERG:BLO—<Michael Bloomberg said Saturday he's willing to spend a lot of money — but "hopefully not" as much as $1 billion — to help any Democratic nominee defeat President Donald Trump, even if he loses the nomination.

Bloomberg, who joined the Democratic presidential contest Nov. 24, said in an interview that he plans to keep "a chunk" of his 500-person ground game operation working to defeat Trump, regardless of who wins the primary contest.

The New York Times asked Bloomberg if he would spend $1 billion to defeat Trump and said he didn't rule it out.

750 (with trims) by Mark Niquette in Waco, Texas. MOVED


^'Deeply disturbing and deeply troubling': Baltimore police investigate after 12 are shot, five fatally, Saturday<

^BALTIMORE-VIOLENCE:BZ—<Five people were killed and seven others injured in several separate shootings Saturday in Baltimore, police said Sunday.

The violence started early in the morning in East Baltimore with a multiple shooting that killed a 28-year-old woman in East Baltimore and continued throughout the day.

"It goes without saying that the level of violence in the city yesterday was deeply disturbing and deeply troubling," Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said.

900 by Wilborn P. Nobles III in Baltimore. MOVED

^Puerto Rico slightly more likely to be hit by major quake in coming week, USGS predicts<

^PUERTORICO-QUAKE-USGS:MI—<Puerto Rico is slightly more likely to be hit with an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 or higher over the next week, the U.S. Geological Survey said, after an intense aftershock Saturday led the agency to tweak its statistical models.

In an "Aftershock Forecast" updated Sunday, the USGS said the chance of a magnitude 6.0 earthquake or higher was 11% — up from 7% a week ago. However, the chance of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake remained at just 1%.

400 by Jim Wyss in San Juan, Puerto Rico. MOVED


^California sends disaster specialists to help Puerto Rico recover from earthquakes<

^PUERTORICO-QUAKE-CALIF:LA—<California was sending a team of disaster specialists on Sunday to help Puerto Rico recover from a series of earthquakes that caused more than $100 million in damage along the island's southern coast, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services announced.

The deployment of 35 specialists came in response to a request for assistance from the Puerto Rican government to the California Governor's Office, Cal OES said in a news release.

300 by Alex Wigglesworth in Los Angeles. MOVED


^Postal Service unveils Year of the Rat stamp for Lunar New Year<

^POSTALSERVICE-STAMP:LA—<The Postal Service booth did a brisk business Saturday among the street food stalls, vendors and carnival rides that filled Garvey Avenue in Monterey Park during the city's popular Lunar New Year Festival.

"First day of issue! Lunar New Year stamps, get 'em right here," said Rob Lindbloom, a local post office official who waded into the crowd holding a sheet of new postage stamps high above his head. "Commemorate the Year of the Rat!"

The Year of the Rat stamp is the first in a new series the Postal Service is launching to celebrate Lunar New Year, which occurs each year on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The rat is the first animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac, which restarts on Jan. 25 with the Lunar New Year.

600 by Tony Barboza in Monterey Park, Calif. MOVED



^Buoyed by its Golden Globes win, '1917' comes in strong at the box office<

^MOVIE-BOXOFFICE:LA—<Boosted by its Golden Globes best picture win, Universal and Dreamworks' "1917" unseated Disney's "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" from the top spot at the box office after three weeks of dominance, adding an unprecedented $36.5 million in its third weekend for a cumulative $39.2 million.

The $90 million historical battlefield drama from director Sam Mendes expanded into wide release over the weekend after winning best picture, drama and best director awards at last weekend's ceremony. It was anticipated to earn $20 million to $25 million. Globally the film has earned $60.4 million.

600 by Sonaiya Kelley in Los Angeles. (Moved as an entertainment story.) MOVED




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