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Trump Announces New Sanctions on Iran Unless the Nation’s Behavior Changes



US President Donald Trump(C) speaks about the situation with Iran in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington, DC, January 8, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that Iran seems to have been’ standing down,’ and that in Iran’s missile strike no Americans or Iraqis were injured at two U.S. military bases.

Speaking at the White House, Trump appeared determined to deescalate the crisis by not repressing the strikes militarily. Instead, he said the US would put in place new economic sanctions immediately “unless Iran changed its conduct” following America’s most brazen and direct assault since 1979, when the U.S. embassy was taken over in Tehran. The attack took place days after Trump authorized the targeted killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force. He added that Americans should be “very grateful and happy” with the result.

He reiterated his position that “Iran will never get a nuclear weapon” in order to re-emplace the nuclear deal in 2015, from which Trump retired in the U.S. He also announced that he would request that NATO “be much more involved in the Middle East process.”

Missile were launched from Iran on Tuesday hit the Ayn Al-Asad Air Base and other areas in and around Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard assumed responsibility for the attack and said it was a reprisal act of the death of Commander Quds Force Major General Qassem Soleiman who was murdered in a U.S. drone strike last week.

Trump wrote on Twitter following a missile strike, that on Tuesday evening an appraisal of casualties and damage was carried out but that it was “so far, so good!” He added that America had the “most powerful and well-equipped army of the world.” Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Javad Zarif said on Twitter that the missile strike was a proportionate measure of “self defense” under Art The article requires members to protect themselves if an armed attack takes place before appropriate steps are taken by the Security Council to preserve international peace and security.

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Twins non-tender three relievers; outright Jake Cave



Twins non-tender three relievers; outright Jake Cave

The Twins opted to non-tender a trio of arbitration-eligible relievers — Danny Coulombe, Juan Minaya and Trevor Megill, whom they claimed off waivers earlier in the day — ahead of Major League Baseball’s Tuesday night deadline.

The Twins came to terms with relievers Tyler Duffey ($3.8 million), who posted a 3.18 earned-run average in 2021, on Tuesday, and Caleb Thielbar, who finished the season 7-0 with a 3.23 ERA ($1.3 million). Jharel Cotton, who the Twins claimed off waivers earlier this offseason, agreed to a deal worth $700,000.

All other arbitration-eligible players — reliever Taylor Rogers as well as catcher Mitch Garver and infielder Luis Arraez — were tendered a contract.

Rogers, who is coming off an all-star season that was cut short by a July finger injury, is due a raise that is projected to be $6.3 million, per MLB Trade Rumors, in his final season before reaching free agency. Garver is projected to earn $3.1 million per MLBTR and Arraez $2.0 million.

Outfielders Byron Buxton and Jake Cave were also arbitration eligible, but the Twins on Sunday reached a deal with Buxton on a seven-year, $100 million extension that will begin in 2022, and had previously agreed to terms on an agreement with Cave for the 2021 season earlier this month.

Cave was subsequently outrighted to Triple-A to make room on the 40-man roster for Megill, who the Twins claimed off waivers from the Chicago Cubs earlier in the day before non-tendering him.

Megill, a 27-year-old right-hander, posted an 8.37 earned-run average in 28 appearances last year out of the Cubs’ bullpen, spanning 23 2/3 innings. Coulombe and Minaya, who were both non-roster invites last year, each pitched in 29 games last season for the Twins out of the bullpen.

The moves are part of a flurry of activity around the league as teams prepare for an expected work stoppage. The non-tender deadline was supposed to fall on Thursday, but it was moved up as the Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire at 10:59 CST Wednesday.

Last year, the Twins avoided arbitration, agreeing to terms with all arb-eligible players in December.

Typically, the last chance to agree to terms comes in January with arbitration hearings shortly after that, but this winter all transactions will be on pause until an agreement is struck between MLB and the MLB Players Association.

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Biden promotes infrastructure jobs and projects in Rosemount speech



Biden promotes infrastructure jobs and projects in Rosemount speech

President Joe Biden promoted his recent $1.2 trillion infrastructure law as a way to create jobs and train highly skilled and well-paid workers during a campaign-style speech at Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount on Tuesday.

In his first visit to Minnesota since his election to the presidency, Biden said the law that he signed last week will build roads, bridges, public transit, internet connections, ports and airports that will restore America’s claim as a world economic leader.

Speaking to a hand-picked audience in the college’s massive heavy-duty truck shop, he said that since signing the law he has been “trucking all over the country to show” it “will change lives for the better. … The impact will last for generations.”

Biden’s speech at the college was part of a burst of campaign-style appearances that he is making to try to persuade voters that the infrastructure law will actually improve their lives. He said the once-in-a-generation investment will pump money into the economy and provide good-paying jobs that will vastly upgrade the nation’s aging infrastructure.

Minnesota state and local governments are projected to receive $6.8 billion in federal grants over the next decade, including $4.8 billion for roads and bridges, according to the White House.

“It starts with road and bridges,” the president said, noting that Minnesota has 661 bridges and about 5,000 miles of highways that are in “poor condition.”

“It might fix the County Road 42 train crossing,” a source of traffic jams in Rosemount, Biden said, sparking cheers from the audience.

All the improvements will provide jobs for students like those Dakota County Tech trains in such areas as construction management and trucking, he said.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Angie Craig said she invited the president to deliver his speech at the school because of its strong construction management and trucking programs.

Craig, who introduced Biden along with Gov. Tim Walz and U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, represents the south suburban 2nd Congressional District, the most politically competitive one in Minnesota. She was re-elected to a second term by just 2 percentage points in 2020.

Republicans charged that Democrats brought Biden into the district to “save Craig’s floundering political career,” as Craig’s 2020 and announced 2022 GOP challenger Tyler Kistner put it.

Biden won Minnesota last year by 7 percentage points over then-President Donald Trump. But since then the president’s approval ratings have sunk to a new low of 42 percent, on average, according to a Real Clear Politics summary of 15 national polls conducted in November.

The president opened his Rosemount speech by renewing his plea for Americans to take steps to limit the spread of the virus, including getting vaccinations and booster shots. “Get it done today,” he said.

Most of the approximately 100 invited guests in the crowd were supportive state and local government officials, educators and other community leaders.

Before delivering his remarks, Biden met with a group of students in a garage housing a bulldozer, backhoe and a tanker truck, the Associated Press reported. He stressed the importance of education as part of the infrastructure package.

Hours before he arrived at the college, dozens of protesters, many carrying Trump signs and American flags, lined the four-lane highway across from the campus.

Republicans generally greeted Biden’s visit with a litany of criticisms, most of which had little to do with infrastructure.

In emailed statements, coordinated bursts of tweets and a morning Zoom call with reporters, leading Minnesota Republicans sought to blame Biden for a host of current troubles, from inflation and global supply chain problems to his coronavirus response and the surge in murders across the nation.

When it came to infrastructure, the criticisms weren’t specific.

When a reporter asked whether infrastructure needs in their own districts — a reason such plans historically have had bipartisan support — outweighed any negatives, U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber, who represents the 8th District that includes northeastern Minnesota, acknowledged that he has projects needing work.

“Nobody wants an infrastructure piece of legislation more than I do,” said Stauber, who sits on the House Transportation Committee. “I’m committed to rebuilding our roads and bridges.”

He seemed to suggest, as others did, that a failing of the infrastructure plan was that it wasn’t big enough — for Minnesota at least.

“If we look at it, a total of one half percent out of the trillion-plus dollars comes to Minnesota,” Stauber said. According to figures supplied in a White House fact sheet on the plan, about 1.3 percent of the total plan includes “new federal investment” in Minnesota, which has about 1.7 percent of the nation’s population.

Biden said the “bipartisan infrastructure law” is a sign he can work across the aisle to get things done. The law passed with solid Republican support.

Dave Orrick contributed to this report.

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Detective: Brothers detailed how Jussie Smollett staged hoax



Detective: Brothers detailed how Jussie Smollett staged hoax

CHICAGO — Two brothers arrested for an alleged attack on Jussie Smollett recounted for Chicago police how the ex-“Empire” actor orchestrated the hoax, telling them via text message to meet him “on the low,” paying for supplies and holding a “dry run” in downtown Chicago, a lead investigator testified Tuesday.

Taking the stand as prosecutors began their case against Smollett, former police detective Michael Theis said he initially viewed the actor as a victim of a homophobic and racist attack and that police “absolutely” didn’t rush to judgment as Smollett’s defense attorney alleged during opening statements Monday.

Theis, who now is assistant director for research and development for the Chicago Police Department, said roughly two dozen detectives clocked some 3,000 hours on what they thought was a “horrible hate crime” in January 2019. He said they were excited when they were able to track the movements of two suspected attackers using surveillance video and cellphone and records from ride-sharing services.

“The crime was a hate crime, a horrible hate crime,” Theis said, noting Smollett — who is Black and gay — reported that his attackers put a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him. He said the case had become national and international news and that “everybody from the mayor on down” wanted it solved, a reference to then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Smollett is charged with felony disorderly conduct for making what prosecutors say was a false police report about the alleged attack. The class 4 felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have said if Smollett is convicted he likely would be placed on probation and perhaps ordered to perform community service.

After police arrested Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo — brothers who also worked on the set of “Empire” in Chicago — as they returned to Chicago from Nigeria, the men said Smollett wanted to stage the attack because he was unhappy about how the TV studio handled hate mail the actor had received, Theis said. He said investigators checked out the brothers’ account — including that the actor picked them up days before the attack and drove them around the downtown neighborhood where he lived and talked about what would happen — and corroborated their version of events using GPS, cellphone records and video evidence. Police found no instance where they concluded the men were lying, he added.

“At the end of the investigation, we determined that the alleged hate crime was actually a staged event,” Theis said, and the Osundairo brothers were released.

Jurors were shown surveillance video of the brothers buying supplies, including a red hat they told police Smollett wanted them to wear to resemble supporters of then-President Donald Trump, and a piece of clothesline police said was later fashioned into the noose. Jurors also saw a still image from a video that Theis said showed Smollett returning home the night of the alleged attack, with the clothesline draped around his shoulders. The clothesline was wrapped around his neck when officers arrived, Theis said, leading detectives to believe Smollett may have retied it.

Muhammad Baig, the first officer on the scene after Smollett’s manager reported the attack, said he asked Smollett if he wanted to take the rope off his neck and “he responded by saying that he’d like to take it off but he wanted us to see it first.” He also said Smollett asked officers to turn off their body-worn cameras, which they did.

Defense attorney Nenye Uche said during opening statements Monday that Smollett “is a real victim” and that the brothers attacked Smollett because they didn’t like him “because of who he is.”

On Tuesday, Uche suggested the brothers were homophobic, asking Theis on cross-examination about a homophobic word one of the brothers used. Theis said there was a message containing a slur but that he doesn’t know if that makes the man homophobic. Uche also asked Theis if he was aware one of the brothers attacked someone at the TV studio because he was gay.

“One individual said it happened, but I don’t know that it happened,” Theis said.

Uche also sought to discredit the police investigation, suggesting detectives ignored possible leads. And he said a $3,500 check the actor paid the brothers was for personal training so he could prepare for an upcoming music video, not for carrying out the hoax, as prosecutors allege. Theis said Tuesday that the memo on the check said it was for “nutrition” and “training.”

The brothers will testify during the trial, but it’s unknown if Smollett will.

Uche has portrayed the siblings as unreliable, and said when police searched their home they found heroin and guns.

Special prosecutor Dan Webb told jurors that Smollett told police he was attacked by Trump supporters, inflaming political divisions nationwide.

Webb said Smollett thought the TV studio didn’t take hate mail he received seriously. Police haven’t determined who wrote the letter, which included a drawing of a stick figure hanging from a tree and “MAGA,” a reference to Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign slogan. Webb said Smollett told the brothers to shout racial and homophobic slurs and “MAGA” during the staged attack.

Uche also suggested that a third attacker was involved. One area resident said she saw a white man with “reddish brown hair” who appeared to be waiting for someone that night, according to police reports. She told a detective that when the man turned away from her, she “could see hanging out from underneath his jacket what appeared to be a rope.”

Uche referenced the woman during his cross-examination of Theis on Tuesday, and Theis acknowledged that he saw that statement but did not send a detective to re-interview her. He said the woman had seen the man a few hours before the alleged attack and that “the rope was a different color.”

Outside the courtroom, Smollett’s brother said it has been “incredibly painful” for the family to watch Smollett be accused of something he “did not do.”

“We’re confident in his legal team, and we look forward to people hearing the actual facts of this case,” Jojo Smollett said.

Judge James Linn expects the trial to last about one week.

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