Bomb cyclone hits the U.S. and Houthi rebels vow retaliation for strikes: Morning Rundown – PPT News

The U.S. and Britain strike Houthi rebel targets in Yemen. We analyze the rise in Donald Trump’s attacks on those involved in his court cases. And researchers figure out why “the real King Kong” died off.  

Here’s what to know today.

Houthi rebels vow retaliation after U.S.-led strikes in Yemen

The U.S. and Britain launched military strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen, two U.S. officials said yesterday. They targeted multiple 16 locations with fighter jets and Tomahawks fired from Navy ships, and used over 100 “precision-guided munitions of various types.”

President Joe Biden said that the strikes, which were supported by Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands, targeted areas used by Houthi rebels to “endanger freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most vital waterways.” Biden warned in remarks later Thursday that he would “not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary.” 

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The strikes killed at least five Houthi militants and injured six others, the rebels said today, adding the attacks will not go “unanswered and unpunished.”

The Houthis, an Iran-backed group which rose to power in 2011, pledged support for Palestine after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7 and began attacking commercial vessels in the Red Sea, causing businesses to lose hundreds of billions in trade.

The attacks in Yemen, and the Houthi vow of retaliation, raise the risk of broader regional conflict with Iran-backed groups.

Read the full story here. 

More coverage of the conflict in the Middle East:

  • Israel is defending itself at the United Nations’ top court after South Africa presented its case that the war in Gaza amounts to genocide against Palestinians, an accusation Israel’s legal team has called “a libel.” Follow live updates as the case unfolds.
  • What to know about the Houthi rebels

The rise of Trump’s attacks on the justice system

Former President Donald Trump currently faces up to four criminal trials, a defamation case and a verdict in his civil fraud trial in the next year. He has denied any wrongdoing — and, along the way, taken to social media to bash those involved in the cases. According to an NBC News analysis, Trump’s online outbursts are largely tied to developments in his court cases. Our reporters looked at more than 14,000 Trump posts and reposts on Truth Social from April 2022 to Jan. 6, 2024, and found he uses the platform as a megaphone to attack those involved in his cases. 

A federal appeals court judge said Trump’s attacks are an effort to “delegitimize” the justice system. And, he added, “his attacks are having the intended effect.” Read the full story here.

Just yesterday, Trump ranted about the New York civil fraud case against him and his company. During closing arguments, Judge Arthur Engoron permitted Trump to speak for five minutes, during which Trump characterized the case as “a fraud on me” and suggested New York Attorney General Letitia James “hates” him. When he called the case a “persecution,” Engoron interjected to tell Trump’s attorney to “please control your client.” Here’s a recap of the final day of Trump’s civil fraud trial.

Ecuadorian Americans fear for their families’ safety amid outbreak of violence

Orlando resident Katy Carrillo said most of her family lives in Ecuador — some in Quito and others in Guayaquil. They’re all scared, she said, and they try not to leave their homes. But sometimes they have no choice. 

Carrillo’s fear is echoed among other Ecuadorian Americans who have watched from afar as violence overtakes the South American country. Economist and Columbia University professor Augusto de la Torre, who also has family in Ecuador, said “everybody is trapped in great anxiety and fear.” 

This week, Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa said the country “was at war,” after masked gunmen took over a public television station and held staff at gunpoint. The country has been rocked by explosions, abductions and killings, thanks to the rise in power of drug trafficking gangs. The country’s most infamous gang leader, “Fito,’’ disappeared from his prison cell last weekend, prompting a national state of emergency. 

Snowboarder recalls the fight to survive during California avalanche

Jason Parker was taken by surprise this week when an avalanche erupted on the mountain as he was snowboarding and swept him off his feet. When he came to a stop, he was buried underneath about 4 feet of snow. He made a “split-second decision” to punch a 6-inch air hole in front of his face so he could breathe and yell for help — and then waited. Minutes later, a probe hit his back, and Parker heard someone say, “Hey, we’ve got him.” 

A day after the deadly avalanche at the Palisades Tahoe ski resort, Parker described how lucky he feels to be alive.

An intense blast of cold weather described as a “bomb cyclone” is expected to hit across the United States into the weekend and early next week, putting millions under winter weather alerts. It marks the first significant Arctic outbreak of the winter, with temperatures as low as minus-40 forecast in some parts of the Plains. Follow our live blog for weather updates throughout the day.

Bill Belichick: ‘I’ll always be a Patriot’

Bill Belichick’s reign as the New England Patriots head coach has come to an end after 24 seasons and six Super Bowl rings. Team owner Robert Kraft said he and Belichick “mutually agreed to part ways amicably,” and both men suggested at press conferences yesterday that Belichick’s NFL coaching days might not be over yet.  

The announcement of Belichick’s exit from the Patriots triggered a look back at his accomplishments, most notably leading quarterback Tom Brady and the team to Super Bowl titles in 2019, 2017, 2015, 2005, 2004 and 2002. Here are other key moments in his career.

Politics in Brief

Hunter Biden: The president’s son pleaded not guilty to nine tax-related charges during his arraignment in Los Angeles. He has been accused of failing to properly file his taxes and evading tax payments. 

Iowa caucuses: The first-in-the-nation Republican presidential primary is just a few days away. Unlike her opponents, Nikki Haley isn’t setting expectations, except for a “strong” showing

Tax talks: Congress is nearing a $70 billion tax deal that would expand the child tax credit and provide tax breaks for businesses through 2025, three sources with knowledge of the talks say.

Student debt relief: President Joe Biden announced that federal student debt will be wiped out “immediately” for borrowers who took out less than $12,000 in loans and have been paying off their balances for at least 10 years.

Border security: Small signs of agreement in border security negotiations are emerging, including progress on plans to track and rapidly deport more migrants who cross illegally. At least one big sticking point still stands in the way. Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas offered to testify in the House GOP’s impeachment inquiry against him, but the panel leading the impeachment efforts is accusing him of refusing the committee’s request to meet.

Staff Pick: Giant apes’ ‘fatal mistake’

The first line of this story about an ancient giant ape species, sometimes dubbed “the real King Kong,” made me smile: “It did not fall off the Empire State Building.” So, then, how did the Gigantopithecus blacki meet its demise? In a new study, researchers say they not only found out how this species died off — but also roughly when. — Elizabeth Robinson, newsletter editor

In Case You Missed It

  • The Federal Aviation Administration announced an investigation into Boeing after a door plug fell off the fuselage during an Alaska Airlines flight.
  • He’s back! Aaron Rodgers returned to “The Pat McAfee Show” a day after the ESPN host said the NFL star “is done” with the show.
  • EBay will pay $3 million after several of its employees sent live spiders, cockroaches and a fetal pig to a Massachusetts couple who wrote a newsletter critical of the company.
  • Papua New Guinea’s prime minister declared a state of emergency and suspended government and police officials after 16 people were killed in rioting.

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