Friday morning news: January 3, 2020

Pentagon issues stern warning to Iran » A U.S. airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport has killed Iran’s top military commander.  

General Qassem Soleimani was head of Iran’s elite Quds Force. He was also the architect of Tehran’s proxy wars in the Middle East. 

Iran carries out many attacks through proxy militia groups. The Pentagon says it was one such group that attacked the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on New Year’s Eve. And that came after a December 27th rocket attack that killed one American.

Those acts prompted Defense Secretary Mark Esper to make this declaration on Thursday…

ESPER: The game has changed, and we’re prepared to do what is necessary to defend our personnel and our interests and our partners in the region. 

The nighttime attack followed hours later. 

The Defense Department said it killed Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” And it said Soleimani of approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. 

The airstrike also killed multiple leaders of Iran-backed militias. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the strike a “foolish escalation” and an act of terrorism. He added—quote—“The US bears responsibility for all consequences.”

Castro ends presidential campaign » Former Obama housing secretary Julián Castro is dropping out of the presidential race. 

CASTRO: But with only a month until the Iowa Caucuses, and given the circumstances of this campaign season, I have determined that it simply isn’t our time. 

Castro heard there in a video announcement on Thursday. 

The former San Antonio mayor was the only Latino in the 2020 field. And his campaign had pushed the Democratic field on immigration, charging that many of his rivals were too moderate on the issue. But his message didn’t resonate with enough voters to climb from the back of the pack. And he failed to qualify for recent presidential debates. 

He had not yet released his end-of-year fundraising numbers, but by October he had raised less than $8 million total. In contrast, Bernie Sanders announced on Thursday that he brought in  $35 million in the previous three months alone.

Trump admin announces details of flavored e-cigarette bans » The Trump administration on Thursday filled in the details of new bans on most flavored e-cigarettes. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the federal government will soon block sales of fruit, candy, mint, and dessert flavors from small, cartridge-based e-cigarettes. 

AZAR: That means all flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes, except for tobacco and menthol. Youth overwhelmingly prefer cartridge-based e-cigarette products, and the two flavors that we are not prioritizing, tobacco and menthol, are much less likely to be used by kids. 

The flavor ban will also entirely exempt large, tank-based vaping devices. Those are mainly sold in vape shops that cater to adult smokers.

The administration says the move will help to curb underage vaping without gutting the multibillion-dollar vaping industry. 

And President Trump suggested ahead of the announcement that the flavor bans might be temporary.

Judge rules doctors can remove baby from life support » A Texas judge has ruled that a hospital can remove an 11-month-old girl from life support against her mother’s wishes. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Ft. Worth say little Tinslee Lewis is in pain and there’s nothing more they can do for her.

After the hospital decided to remove the girl from life support, her mother, Trinity Lewis, pleaded with the Texas Fourth Court of Appeals to step in.  But on Thursday, Judge Sandee Bryan Marion sided with the hospital. 

Tinsley was born prematurely in February with a rare heart defect and other ailments and has never left the hospital. She stopped breathing in early July. Doctors then sedated her and placed her on a ventilator. 

Her mother said that despite her sedation, Tinslee smiles, stares, and squeezes her hand. Her care team does not think those actions are purposeful and says Tinslee is suffering.

The hospital said it would wait seven days to do anything, giving the girl’s mother time to appeal.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Interpol issues wanted notice for fugitive former Nissan exec » Interpol issued a wanted notice Thursday for former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn after he jumped bail in Japan and fled to Lebanon.

Ghosn was facing trial on financial misconduct charges. His escape has baffled and embarrassed authorities.

Lebanese Justice Minister Albert Serhan said Thursday that Lebanon—quote—“will carry out its duties,” suggesting for the first time that authorities there may bring Ghosn in for questioning. 

But he said the former auto exec did enter the country on a legal passport. And he appeared to cast doubt on the possibility that Lebanon would extradite to Japan.

World Series hero Don Larsen dies » Don Larsen, the only man ever to pitch a perfect game in the World Series, has died. 

Larsen was never an all-star, and was an unlikely hero in the 1956 “Fall Classic” for the Yankees. Larsen started game 2 against the cross-town rival Brooklyn Dodgers, but when he failed to make it through the 2nd inning, he didn’t think he’d get another chance. But on the morning of October 8th, he found a baseball in his shoe, the signal from manager Casey Stengel that he would start Game 5.

LARSEN: I knew I’d be in the bullpen, which all of us were going to be used in some fashion, but I didn’t think I’d start again, so I was very surprised when I started the fifth game. 

He pitched a perfect game, meaning no opposing hitters reached base. The Yanks went on to win the series in seven games, and Larsen was named World Series MVP. 

He pitched a total of 14 years in the big leagues for six different teams. 

Larsen died of esophageal cancer while in hospice care in Idaho. He was 90 years old.

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) In this Oct. 10, 2019 file photo, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary and Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro waves as he takes the stage during the Power of our Pride Town Hall in Los Angeles. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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