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Iraq’s al-Asad airbase, which houses US troops, hit with a rocket attack.

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  • ‪• 2 joint bases in Iraq attacked by 12 missiles‬
  • ‪• Iraqi Casualties Reported‬
  • ‪• Iran Air Force deployed‬
  • ‪• Trump may address nation ‬
  • ‪• White House security increased‬
  • ‪• NYPD is closely monitoring the events

    ‬Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi bases that hold US troops in what appears to be retaliation for the American airstrike that killed a top Iranian general last week, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

    A US official told CNN that there were no initial reports of any US casualties, but an assessment of the impact of the strikes is underway. There are casualties among the Iraqis at Ain al-Asad airbase following the attack, an Iraqi security source tells CNN. The number of casualties and whether the individuals were killed or wounded was not immediately clear.

    White House aides are making plans for a possible address to the nation by President Donald Trump, according to two officials.

    The attack comes days after the US killed top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in an airstrike in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The administration has sought to cast that strike as an attempt to de-escalate tensions with Iran, but Tehran has vowed revenge for the killing, which it says was an “act of war” and “state terrorism.”

    In a statement, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC, said the attacks were “hard revenge” for the death of Soleimani. The IRGC said in the statement that any country housing US troops could be subject to “hostile and aggressive acts” and called on American citizens to demand the government remove US troops from the region.

    “To the Great Satan (a reference to the US) … we warn that if you repeat your wickedness or take any additional movements or make additional aggression, we will respond with more painful and crushing responses,” the statement read.

    Jonathan Hoffman, a Pentagon spokesperson, said Tuesday evening that Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at the al-Asad airbase, which houses US troops, and American and coalition forces in the town of Erbil. Hoffman said the Pentagon is assessing the damage done by the attacks.

    “In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners,” Hoffman said in a statement. “These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region.”

    “As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region.”

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley arrived at the White House following the attack.

    Qatri al-Obeidi, a commander in the nearby town of al-Baghdadi, said that the shelling has stopped for now.Trump visited the base in December 2018 to visit troops after Christmas. Vice President Mike Pence also visited the base in November 2019. The attack followslast week’s deadly US drone strike that Trump ordered to kill Soleimani.

    Iranian state TV reported that the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, “has hit U.S. Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq with tens of missiles.” The IRGC warned the US of of more “crushing responses in case of new aggression,” according to state TV. The IRGC said it will target any regional state that becomes a platform for US aggression, a second banner on state TV read.

    Esper’s office called the office of the Prime Minister of Iraq at around 7 pm ET on Tuesday, according to a diplomatic source. There were difficulties getting through as it was the middle of the night in Baghdad. Eventually the two offices were able to connect and the source says there has been “communication between the US and Iraqi governments at the highest level.”

    CNN reported earlier on Tuesday that US forces and air-defense missile batteries across the Middle East were placed on high alert overnight Monday to possibly shoot down Iranian drones as intelligence mounted about a threat of an imminent attack against US targets, according to two US officials.

    CNN reported on Friday that part of the intelligence that led to the decision to kill Soleimani included threats to al-Asad air base.

    A source familiar with the intelligence showed the vehicle mounted rockets, known as Grad trucks, and other military weaponry were moving closer to US interests, particularly the al-Asad air base, CNN reported.

    Other targets of concern included the US air base in Qatar and US interests in Kuwait. The source noted on Friday that these threats have existed for several months but that the intelligence indicated growing urgency because of how close the missile trucks were getting to US interests.

    The attack came hours after Esper told CNN that the US is not seeking a war with Iran but it is “prepared to finish one.”

    “We are not looking to start a war with Iran, but we are prepared to finish one,” Esper said during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

    Trump was briefed on the reports of rocket attacks, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.

    “We are aware of the reports of attacks on US facilities in Iraq. The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team,” Grisham said.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was discussing the situation in Iran when she was handed a note with news of the attack, lawmakers who attended the meeting said.

    Rep. Dan Kildee, a Michigan Democrat, said she paused the discussion to tell the members of the Steering Committee of the news.

    “Pray,” Pelosi told members, according to Rep. Debbie Dingell.

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    US Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Clinic Protest Zone Limits In Chicago, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

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    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday left in place policies in Chicago and Pennsylvania’s capital Harrisburg that place limits on anti-abortion activists gathered outside abortion clinics.

    The justices declined to hear two appeals by anti-abortion groups and individual activists of lower court rulings upholding the cities’ ordinances.

    The Chicago policy bars activists from coming within eight feet (2.4 meters) of someone within 50 feet (15 meters) of any healthcare facility without their consent if they intend to protest, offer counseling or hand out leaflets. The Harrisburg measure bars people from congregating or demonstrating within 20 feet (6 meters) of a healthcare facility’s entrance or exit.

    Both cases pitted the free speech rights of anti-abortion protesters against public safety concerns raised by women’s healthcare providers regarding demonstrations outside clinics. There is a history of violent acts committed against abortion providers.

    At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the ordinances violate free speech rights protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

    The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year upheld the Chicago ordinance, which was introduced in 2009. The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Harrisburg in 2019. That measure was enacted in response to disruptions by protesters outside two abortion clinics in the city.

    The cases did not directly implicate abortion rights. In a major ruling on Monday, the struck down a Louisiana law placing restrictions on doctors that perform abortions.

    Also on Thursday, the court directed a lower court to reconsider the legality of two Indiana abortion restrictions – one that would require women to undergo an ultrasound procedure at least 18 hours before terminating a pregnancy and another that would expand parental notification when a minor seeks an abortion. The lower court had struck down both measures.

    Abortion remains a divisive issue in the United States. The Supreme Court in its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalized abortion nationwide, finding that women have a constitutional right to the procedure. In recent years, numerous Republican-governed states have sought to impose a series of restrictions on abortion.

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    Federal Judge Reverses Trump Asylum Policy Due To Government Failing To Abide By Administrative Procedure Act

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    (Law & Crime) — A federal judge appointed by President Donald Trump on Tuesday evening overturned the Trump Administration’s second and most restrictive asylum policy, all because the government failed to abide by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the judge reasoned.

    In a 52-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly of Washington, D.C. held that in enacting the rule, which required immigrants to seek asylum in any country they passed through before they could claim asylum in the U.S., the Trump administration “unlawfully dispensed” with mandatory procedural requirements allowing the public to weigh in on proposed rule changes.

    Kelly, who was appointed to the court in 2017, rejected the Trump administration’s assertion that the asylum rule fell within exceptions to the APA permitting the government to disregard the notice-and-comment requirement if there’s “good cause” such commentary is unnecessary or if the rule involves a military or foreign affairs function.

    “[The court] also holds that Defendants unlawfully promulgated the rule without complying with the APA’s notice-and-comment requirements, because neither the ‘good cause’ nor the ‘foreign affairs function’ exceptions are satisfied on the record here,” Kelly wrote. “Despite their potentially broad sweep, the D.C. Circuit has instructed that these exceptions must be ‘narrowly construed’ and ‘reluctantly countenanced.’ The Circuit has also emphasized that the broader a rule’s reach, ‘the greater the necessity for public comment.’ With these baseline principles in mind, the Court considers whether either the good cause or foreign affairs function exception applies here. Neither does.”

    According to Kelly, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) generally allows any person physically in the U.S. seeking refuge to apply for asylum — with some exceptions for immigrants who have committed certain crimes or who had previously been “firmly resettled” prior to arriving in the U.S.

    “The Court reiterates that there are many circumstances in which courts appropriately defer to the national security judgments of the Executive. But determining the scope of an APA exception is not one of them,” Kelly wrote. “As noted above, if engaging in notice-and-comment rulemaking before implementing the rule would have harmed ongoing international negotiations, Defendants could have argued that these effects gave them good cause to forgo these procedures. And they could have provided an adequate factual record to support those predictive judgments to which the Court could defer. But they did not do so.”

    Claudia Cubas, the Litigation Director at CAIR Coalition, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, praised the decision as removing an “unjust barrier to protection” for those in need.

    “By striking down this rule, Judge Kelly reaffirmed two fundamental principles. The protection of asylum seekers fleeing for safety is intertwined with our national values and that the United States is a country where the rule of law cannot be tossed aside for political whims,” Cubas said.

    Read the full opinion below:

    Asylum Ban Decision by Law&Crime on Scribd

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    US Supreme Court Rules Public Funds Allowed For Religious Schools In State Tax Credit Program

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    USA Today writes:

    The Supreme Court delivered a major victory Tuesday to parents seeking state aid for their children’s religious school education. The court’s conservative majority ruled that states offering scholarships to students in private schools cannot exclude religious schools from such programs.

    The decision was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who has joined the liberal justices in three other major rulings this month. It was a decision long sought by proponents of school choice and vehemently opposed by teachers’ unions, who fear it could drain needed tax dollars from struggling public schools.

    Read the US Supreme Court ruling here or below.

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