The House of Representatives has voted to approve a nonbinding war powers resolution aimed at limiting President Trump’s ability to take further military action against Iran without congressional approval. President Trump ratcheted up tensions with Iran by assassinating Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in a targeted drone strike at the Baghdad International Airport last week. Thursday’s 224-194 House vote included three Republicans voting yes and eight Democrats voting no. The resolution now heads to the Senate.
The vote came as Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations blasted the United States at the U.N. Security Council, speaking on behalf of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who was unable to address the Security Council himself after the U.S. denied him a visa in violation of a 1947 U.S.-U.N. agreement. This is Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi.
Majid Takht Ravanchi: “I’m here today to deliver a statement on behalf of his excellency Mr. Zarif, whose visa was denied by the United States in contravention of the Headquarters Agreement. And here is his statement. We are meeting today to discuss a momentous imperative we are all confronted with. The world is at a crossroads. With the end of monopolies on power, one unhinged regime is frantically clamoring to turn back time.”
Thousands gathered in Chicago, New York, Seattle and dozens of other cities to protest war with Iran Thursday night.
The New York Times has obtained video that appears to show an Iranian missile hitting the Boeing 737 jet that crashed shortly after takeoff in Tehran Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board. The crash came hours after Iran fired ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases, which house Iraqi and U.S. troops, in retaliation for General Soleimani’s assassination. This is Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne.
François-Philippe Champagne: “We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies’ and our own intelligence, that indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. This may well have been unintentional.”
Iranian officials have denied allegations they mistakenly shot down the passenger jet, which was en route to Kiev, Ukraine.
The inquiry into the plane crash in Tehran comes as the jet’s manufacturer, Boeing, is facing even more scrutiny over its troubled 737 MAX jet, as released internal emails show Boeing employees talking about deceiving federal regulators and joking about potential safety flaws in the plane’s design ahead of the two fatal plane crashes that killed all 346 people on board in Ethiopia and Indonesia. In one email, an employee wrote, “This airplane is designed by clowns, who are in turn supervised by monkeys.” In another, an employee asked a colleague, “Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t.” In a third, an employee wrote, in apparent reference to interactions with the Federal Aviation Administration, “I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year.” The Boeing 737 MAX has been grounded worldwide.
President Trump is proposing changing the nation’s oldest environmental law to exempt large infrastructure projects, such as pipelines and power plants, from environmental review. If enacted, the changes would exempt agencies from considering the cumulative environmental impacts of projects, which could include studying the climate crisis.
In immigration news, a Mexican asylum seeker died by suicide Wednesday when he slit his own throat after being denied entry into the United States at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge at the Texas-Mexico border. Meanwhile, in Louisiana, two asylum seekers from India are reportedly on the brink of death as their hunger strike against their prolonged detention stretches into its 69th day. Medical staff at the LaSalle ICE immigration jail are force-hydrating the two men. And in Arizona, the chief of the Tohono O’odham Nation says the construction of the border wall on the nation’s land may have unearthed ancient human remains inside the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in the Sonoran Desert.
In election news, six presidential candidates — Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Joe Biden and Tom Steyer — will take to the stage for another Democratic debate in Des Moines, Iowa, next week. All the candidates on stage will be white, after New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and entrepreneur Andrew Yang did not qualify for the debate. Billionaire Tom Steyer qualified after pouring more than $115 million of his own money into his campaign. Billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg did not qualify for the debate, despite spending nearly $170 million of his own money on ads.
In France, at least half a million people flooded the streets across the country Thursday to show their support for the unionized rail workers whose strike against French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempted pension overhaul has now become the longest transportation strike in French history. This is Youlie Yamamoto.
Youlie Yamamoto: “Édouard Philippe dares to say that women are the great winners of the reform. That’s not true, and awful. He knows that women are the biggest losers from the reform. Why? Because he knows that they have different jobs, have to take more care of children, work part-time. So, for sure, they have careers with gaps, shorter careers. So if you take the whole career into account, women will be hit the hardest.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has declared a public health emergency for Puerto Rico, after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake rocked the island early Tuesday, killing at least one person and plunging nearly the entire population into darkness. As of Thursday, electrical power was restored to about half of residents. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority says its goal is to restore power for all residents by Saturday.
In New York, a grand jury indicted the suspect in the Hanukkah attack for five more federal hate crimes Thursday. Grafton Thomas allegedly stabbed at least five Jewish worshipers who were celebrating Hanukkah at a rabbi’s house in Monsey last month. His lawyers say he is mentally ill.
A new study suggests that raising the minimum wage by a dollar an hour could save thousands of people from dying by suicide each year — and that if the minimum wage had been at least $2 an hour higher, nearly 60,000 lives could have been saved between 1990 and 2015. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death in the United States among children and youth ages 10 to 24, with the suicide rate among black youth rising faster than any other racial group.
In Texas, Yolanda Carr has died. She was the mother of Atatiana Jefferson, the African-American woman who was killed by a white police officer in October. Carr had been fighting illness at the time of her daughter’s death, and Atatiana Jefferson — known to family members as Tay — had been her caretaker. Former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean shot Jefferson through her bedroom window while responding to non-emergency wellness check called for by a neighbor who saw Atatiana’s front door had been left open. Dean never identified himself as a police officer. Atatiana’s father also died in November of a heart attack, less than one month after his daughter’s death.