January 10, 2020

U.S. and allied Western intelligence services say they have persuasive evidence from satellites and intercepted communications that Iran shot down a Ukrainian International Airline flight Wednesday morning, likely by mistake, killing all 176 people onboard. Iran denies any responsibility. The airliner crashed just minutes after taking off from Tehran's airport en route to Kyiv and hours after Iran fired missiles toward U.S. forces in Iraq in retaliation for America's targeted killing of Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani.

Using video from Tehran and information from intelligence officials, U.S. new media have plausibly pieced together what happened to Ukrainian International Airline Flight 752. The plane's 167 passengers and nine crew "most likely faced horrifying final moments, starting with an explosion as the missiles detonated just outside it, sending shrapnel and debris spiraling through the fuselage," The New York Times reports. "The plane turned back toward the airport, then began its uncontrolled descent toward the ground." CBS Evening News visually recreated the incident.

"We know that plane was sending out a signal identifying itself as a commercial airliner," CBS News' Kris Van Cleave reported. "It was flying away from the conflict zone. And that radar operator that lit up the plane should have been able to see that it originated from the airport." The Russian-made surface-to-air system is operated by three to four people "tracking nearby aircraft by radar," the Times explains. "But determining friendly civilian aircraft takes skill, and mistakes are possible, particularly in charged situations."

Sixty-three passengers were Canadian but most were Iranian, suggesting Tehran didn't down the passenger jet on purpose. "The Iranian military could have positioned the system, which is designed to operate at medium to low altitudes and intercept both aircraft and guided weapons, to defend the airport if officials believed the United States military was intending to counterattack after Iran's ballistic missile strikes," the Times speculated. That's unlikely to comfort those who love and mourn the victims. Peter Weber

4:03 p.m.

The prosecution described Harvey Weinstein as a "sexual predator and rapist" with a "complete lack of empathy" as opening arguments in his rape trial officially began.

Assistant district attorney Meghan Hast told jurors Wednesday that they "will come to see" over the course of Weinstein's trial that he is "not a harmless old man" but rather a "sexual predator and rapist" who "kept his rape victims close, close as he could, to make sure they couldn't report it," per The Hollywood Reporter.

Hast also said that the trial is ultimately "about the defendant's desire to conquest," adding that "it's for his complete lack of empathy that he must be held accountable."

Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 80 women, is facing sexual assault and rape charges, and he has pleaded not guilty. At the center of the New York trial is Mimi Haleyi's allegation that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006 and Jessica Mann's allegation that Weinstein raped her in 2013.

The defense on Tuesday previewed that it would seek to discredit Weinstein's accusers by referencing "loving" email exchanges with him, and attorney Damon Cheronis did so Wednesday. Cheronis told jurors it's "not true" that Mann "wanted to break free from" Weinstein, citing emails including one in which Mann writes to Weinstein, "It would be great to see you again and catch up," per USA Today.

But Hast told jurors that Mann "tried to have some sort of relationship with the defendant" after he allegedly raped her, as she "felt trapped," but Weinstein "became more demanding and violent, more violent and disgusting." USA Today reports the prosecution "is expected to introduce expert witnesses who will testify that this is not uncommon behavior by accusers after a sexual assault."

If convicted, Weinstein is facing possible life in prison. His trial is expected to last about two months. Brendan Morrow

3:56 p.m.

As House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) delivered his remarks during Wednesday's impeachment proceedings, several senators — on both sides — reportedly grew restless.

Some lawmakers, like Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), were reportedly standing for the last hour of Schiff's presentation, while Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) were caught roaming around. A few folks were reportedly waiting impatiently by the door, and others like Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), who was caught taking a quick snooze during Tuesday's portion of the trial, felt the need to get their blood pumping and left the room completely.

It appears that Schiff could sense the atmosphere and subsequently gave everyone a 10-minute warning, but that reportedly just propelled people to bolt for the door even more quickly. All told, there were somewhere between 20 and 30 empty chairs by the end of the speech.

Sure, it's not the best look for elected members of the upper chamber deliberating over something as historic as impeachment, but they've had a long couple of days. Sometimes you just need to stretch your legs. Tim O'Donnell

3:31 p.m.

Wuhan, China, is on lockdown following the outbreak of a coronavirus in the city.

The Chinese government decided Wednesday that it was necessary to quarantine the city, which is home to more than 11 million, by shutting down intra-city public transportation. Outbound flights and trains will also be canceled for the time being as efforts to learn more about the virus and how it spreads continue.

The illness is believed to have started in Wuhan and has spread to several other countries, including a reported case in the United States. Overall, there have been more than 500 confirmed cases and 17 deaths.

Despite the preventative measures being taken in Wuhan, the World Health Organization said Wednesday that it wasn't ready to declare the outbreak a global emergency. That could very well still happen — and soon — but at the moment things apparently aren't clear enough for the United Nations agency to issue that designation. Tim O'Donnell

3:26 p.m.

Kansas Jayhawks forward Silvio De Sousa has been suspended indefinitely by the team for his role in an ugly brawl at the end of Tuesday night's Kansas-Kansas State game, ESPN reports.

"I have suspended Silvio De Sousa indefinitely pending the final outcome of the review by KU and the Big 12 Conference," Jayhawks coach Bill Self said in a statement. "As I said last night, we are disappointed in his actions and there is no place in the game for that behavior."

The melee — which occurred in the disabled seating section of Kansas' Allen Fieldhouse — began after De Sousa blocked a shot by Kansas State's DeJuan Gordon in the closing moments of Kansas' 81-60 victory. De Sousa stood above the fallen Gordon as an apparent taunt, Gordon's teammates confronted De Sousa, and a wild fight quickly ensued, with De Sousa at one point brandishing a stool. De Sousa was suspended for the entire 2018-19 season after being implicated in the FBI's investigation into corruption in college basketball, and though he was supposed to sit out the current season, Kansas successfully — and now, regrettably — appealed the ban. Jacob Lambert

2:36 p.m.

Republicans weren't the only ones displeased with the address House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) gave to the Senate during Tuesday's impeachment proceedings. Democrats were also hoping for a little more decorum, The Washington Post reports.

Several Democratic senators, while much tamer in the criticism of Nadler, indicated they think his accusations that Republicans were participating in cover-ups and treachery took things too far. "When I make an argument, it's about the fundamentals — witnesses, documents, and the evidence," said Sen. Robert Casey Jr. (D-Pa.). "I think that's better."

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) agreed that tensions were running high on both sides (Democrats also thought President Trump's defense team went overboard) Tuesday, adding that it was "necessary" and "appropriate" for Chief Justice John Roberts to remind "us that we have to maintain decorum and respect for one another throughout this process."

In comparison to Nadler, House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) shone in the eyes of Democratic lawmakers. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), for example, didn't respond directly to a question about Nadler, instead opting to praise Schiff, while Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said Schiff's words were "the most insightful."

On Wednesday, Schiff appeared to make a concerted effort to keep the peace during his opening remarks, and he even jumped in and answered a question directed at Nadler during a pre-trial exchange with reporters. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

2:35 p.m.

Try as he might, Trump just can't reinvent the facts on this one.

Somehow, Trump stuck a very incorrect notion into a question about Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk in a Wednesday interview with CNBC's Squawk Box. After praising Musk because he "does good at rockets," Trump suggested "he's one of our great geniuses" who "we have to protect." After all, Trump said, we have to "protect Thomas Edison" and "people who came up with the light bulb and the wheel and all of these things."

One wouldn't think it has to be said, but the wheel was invented thousands of years before the United States existed and it's not exactly clear who did it. The oldest wheel dates to at least 3000 B.C. and was found, coincidentally, in modern-day Slovenia. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:19 p.m.

Democrats officially kicked off their opening arguments in the impeachment trial of President Trump Wednesday with a bit of a shift in tone after one particularly contentious late-night exchange.

Near the end of an impeachment trial session beginning Tuesday, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on the Senate floor accused Republican senators of "voting for a cover up" as he argued in favor of an amendment to subpoena former National Security Adviser John Bolton, per The Wall Street Journal. Nadler also suggested Republicans were engaging in "treacherous" behavior, The Washington Post reports.

Republicans throughout the day on Wednesday slammed Nadler for his statement; Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told CNN it was "insulting and outrageous," while Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said the comment "offended her" and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a press conference, "To my Democratic colleagues, you can say what you want about me but I am covering up nothing."

Following this criticism, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) began Democrats' opening arguments Wednesday with a less combative tone, thanking senators for having "paid attention to every word and argument you heard from both sides" the day before.

"I want to begin today by thanking you for the conduct of the proceedings yesterday and for inviting your patience as you go forward," Schiff added. "We have some very long days yet to come."

CNN's Kaitlan Collins noted Schiff appeared to be addressing Republican criticism with his opening comments, although Republicans weren't the only ones not thrilled with the tone of Tuesday night's debate. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), for instance, conceded to The Washington Post that Nadler "could have chose better words." Brendan Morrow

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