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5 things to know for January 8: Iran, Ukraine, Australia, impeachment, Venezuela

The future of speed is here: The world’s first 350-kph (that’s about 217-mph) driverless bullet train is now in service in China.

Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door.

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1. Iran

Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases where US troops are housed. No casualties have been reported, but the attack has made Iran’s message clear: It will not be bested in this perilous conflict with the US. After the attacks, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that Iran did not “seek escalation or war” and claimed the attacks were a proportional response to a series of US actions beginning with an airstrike last week that killed a top Iranian general. President Trump tweeted on the ballistic missile attacks, saying last night, “All is well!” However, precautions are being taken to avoid further disaster: Major airlines are diverting flights away from Iranian airspace, and the US Embassy in Jordan has asked personnel to stay home and maintain a low profile. Follow live updates here.

2. Ukrainian airline crash 

A Ukraine International Airlines plane bound for Kiev crashed just minutes after takeoff from Tehran’s international airport in Iran, killing all 176 people aboard. The crash was due to technical difficulties, an Iranian news agency reported, and Iran’s Civil Aviation Authority said it launched an investigation. Initially, the Ukrainian Embassy in Tehran said terror or rocket attacks had been ruled out as causes of the crash. But it retracted that statement, saying, “Information on the causes of the plane crash is being clarified by the commission.” Passengers from seven countries were on the 737, and almost half were Iranian nationals. Follow live updates as the situation develops.

3. Australia

Australia is still suffering a spate of historic wildfires. Hundreds of millions of animals have perished in the blazes, and the environment will take years to bounce back from the trauma. With all this catastrophe, who in the world would deliberately start a bushfire? Police have charged at least 24 people with doing just that in New South Wales, where the crisis is as its worst. In the last two months, NSW Police said they’ve taken legal action against 183 people for fire-related offenses. Most are violations of the statewide fire ban or relate to people discarding cigarettes or matches (a fire hazard, obviously).

4. Impeachment

It looks like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s attempt to force cooperation from the Senate in an impeachment trial has come up short. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he has enough votes to set impeachment trial rules without Democratic support. Pelosi has been holding on to the two articles of impeachment since last month in hopes McConnell and other Senate Republicans would negotiate the ground rules of the impeachment trial. But if McConnell already has the votes, that doesn’t really matter. Democrats still want a deal up front to hear from witnesses and get documents for the trial, but McConnell says he wants to wait on those issues until after opening statements. Pelosi penned a letter to Democratic colleagues in response to McConnell’s decision saying Republicans should immediately publish their plans for the trial so Democrats can start preparations.

5. Venezuela

The ongoing crisis in Venezuela reached a chaotic high during a showdown between the country’s opposition lawmakers and members of the military. Some background: In mid-2019, opposition leader Juan Guaido tried to wrest power from President Nicolas Maduro; he declared Maduro illegitimate, and the country’s been in a state of flux ever since. Over the weekend, pro-government lawmakers blocked Guaido from attending a vote to choose the new leader of the National Assembly. Guaido was expected to win the role, but instead, a small faction of pro-government lawmakers named a rival politician to it. Yesterday, Guaido and other opposition lawmakers were stopped from entering the National Assembly building by soldiers in riot gear. But they forced their way in and swore in Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president. The US has voiced support for the move, saying Guaido is the only legitimate president. Still, other countries have expressed alarm.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Uber and Hyundai have teamed up to develop flying taxis

So … planes?

Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand Goop is getting a Netflix series

Sadly, it’s not called “A Very Goopy Special.”

Bonnaroo lineup includes headliners Lizzo, Tame Impala and Tool

Hey, we actually know who those people are!

2 men tried to cash in a forged lottery ticket they cobbled together with glue 

Points for creativity?

Genetically enhanced ‘mighty mice’ just made it safely back from the International Space Station 

They were part of a health experiment. And they’ve been to space?! These mice have some stories to tell.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“So was Facebook responsible for Donald Trump getting elected? I think the answer is yes, but not for the reasons anyone thinks. He didn’t get elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica. He got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser. Period.”

Andrew Bosworth, a top Facebook executive, who told colleagues in an internal memo that he believes Facebook’s platform and algorithms led to President Trump’s 2016 election and may lead to the same result in 2020

TODAY’S NUMBER

500+

The number of earthquakes of magnitude 2 or greater that have shaken Puerto Rico since December 28. Thirty-two were magnitude 4 and above. Some residents slept outside last night as a precaution after yesterday’s 6.4 magnitude quake, and experts say the tremors may not be over.

TODAY’S WEATHER

AND FINALLY

Pleased to meet you! 

CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) is underway in Las Vegas, so expect lots of sometimes-cool, sometimes-unsettling new tech, like this very happy robot butler. (Click here to view.)

CNN