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Trump Dismisses Dispute Over Whether Possible Soleimani Attack Was Imminent

VOA News By Ken Bredemeier WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Monday dismissed as irrelevant questions about how imminent a threat Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani posed to American interests in the Middle East when Trump ordered a drone strike that killed him. Trump offered no evidence supporting his claim that Soleimani was about to blow up four embassies, after key officials declined Sunday to say they had seen such a specific threat. On Twitter, Trump said the mainstream news media and "their Democrat Partners are working hard to determine whether or not the future attack by terrorist Soleimani was…
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Uber, Postmates Sue to Challenge California’s New Labor Law

By Associated Press SACRAMENTO, CALIF. - Ride-share company Uber and on-demand meal delivery service Postmates sued Monday to block a broad new California law aimed at giving wage and benefit protections to people who work as independent contractors. The lawsuit filed in court in Los Angeles argues that the law set to take effect Wednesday violates federal and state constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. Uber said it will try to link the lawsuit to another legal challenge filed in mid-December by associations representing freelance writers and photographers. The California Trucking Association filed the first challenge to the law…
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Man Sentenced to 15 Years for Role in Slovak Journalist Murder

By Reuters PRAGUE - A Slovak court handed a 15-year prison sentence to a man charged with facilitating the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak in 2018 in a plea deal on Monday, a spokeswoman said. The killing of Kuciak and his fiancee, both 27, at their home outside Bratislava in February 2018 sparked mass protests against corruption in the central European nation, shaking the government. The case will play a role in a parliamentary election due in February. FILE - Suspects in the 2018 slaying of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova are escorted by armed police…
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US-China ‘Phase One’ Trade Deal to be Signed January 15

By AFP WASHINGTON - A partial new trade agreement will be signed in the middle of next month, President Donald Trump said Tuesday, announcing that he will also then travel to China for continued talks. "I will be signing our very large and comprehensive Phase One Trade Deal with China on January 15," Trump tweeted moments before Wall Street was due to open. "The ceremony will take place at the White House. High level representatives of China will be present." Trump said he would then travel to Beijing to continue negotiations "at a later date." Word of the deal, and the…
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World Welcomes 2020

By VOA News People across the world are gathering for traditional celebrations to welcome the year 2020. Revelers in New Zealand and other Pacific islands were among the first to celebrate the new year with fireworks displays. Events elsewhere in the world are being overshadowed by other concerns, including in Australia where the fireworks show in Sydney is going forward as other communities in the country cancel theirs due to fears of making a wildfire crisis worse. In Hong Kong, the usual fireworks show was canceled due to what officials said were security concerns in the city that has seen…
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Iraqi Protesters Attack US Embassy Compound in Baghdad

By VOA News Hundreds of Iraqi protesters stormed the perimeter of the embassy compound in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, setting fire to one of its gates with some reportedly entering the building. Most of those involved in the attack appear to belong to pro-Iranian Shi'ite parties, which are upset about a airstrike on a pro-Iranian Kataeb Hezbollah militia base in the Iraqi border town of al-Qaim, which killed at least 25 ;The mob of angry attackers used crowbars and street signs to smash the steel doors of the Embassy, after breaching the perimeter of the compound and setting fire to…
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Reed Scores Big Wins for National Security & RI Workers in NDAA

Congress Approves Bipartisan NDAA to Enhance National Security, Support Troops, & Deliver Victories for Working Families NDAA authorizes funding for 2 Virginia-class submarines; expands paid family leave for millions of workers; includes major military housing reforms; accelerates national security innovation, eliminates ‘widow’s tax’ on Gold Star families, and strengthens cyber defenses and oversight WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to strengthen national security and help working families, the Senate voted 86 to 8 today to approve the conference agreement for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. The FY 2020 NDAA defense policy bill authorizes $ billion…
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Europe Postpones Launch of Planet Mission, Seeks Soyuz Fix

by AP SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - European space officials on Tuesday postponed the launch of a three-year mission to study planets in other solar systems shortly before it was due to blast off. The European Space Agency announced that the launch from Kourou, French Guiana, of the Characterising ExOPlanets Satellite (CHEOPS) mission would be delayed by at least a day. It had been scheduled for 0854 GMT (3:54 EST). ESA Director of Science Guenther Hasinger tweeted that "a software error in the Fregat upper stage" of the Soyuz rocket was responsible for the postponement. "With this complex mission, we…
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US Congress Approves Russia-Europe Gas Pipeline Sanctions

By Agence France-Presse WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Tuesday to slap sanctions on companies working on Russia's Nord Stream pipeline, sending a bill to President Donald Trump that is sure to antagonize European nations counting on the project's natural gas. The measure, inserted into a huge annual defense spending bill, passed 86 to eight after easily clearing the House of Representatives last week. It aims to halt further construction of the $ billion pipeline being built under the Baltic Sea and is set to double shipments of Russian natural gas to Germany. The German-Russian Chamber of Commerce said last week the…
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Supreme Court Lets Stand Ruling Protecting Homeless

by VOA News The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a case that would allow cities to make it a crime to sleep on the streets. The court let stand a ruling by a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, which struck down a couple of local laws in Boise, Idaho that made it a crime for homeless people to sleep on the streets when no alternative shelter is available. The Ninth Circuit includes various western states that have a problem of astronomical real estate prices resulting in growing homelessness.…
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