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Lee-wire
AP
Perils abroad, full plate at home, as Trump opens 2nd year

WASHINGTON — The glamour of his holiday break behind him, President Donald Trump returned to the White House on Monday night to face a hefty legislative to-do list, critical midterm elections and perilous threats abroad.

Trump is starting his second year in office after a lengthy sojourn at his private Palm Beach club, capped by a New Year's Eve bash. Before his departure, he fired angry tweets at Iran and Pakistan, slamming Islamabad for "lies & deceit" and saying the country had played U.S. leaders for "fools," a reference to frustrations that Pakistan isn't doing enough to control militants.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif tweeted that his government was preparing a response that "will let the world know the truth."

Meantime North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Monday the United States should be aware that his country's nuclear forces are now a reality, not a future threat. To that, Trump only said: "We'll see."

The president is hoping for more legislative achievements after his pre-Christmas success on taxes. He plans to host Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin at Camp David this weekend to map out the 2018 legislative agenda.

Republicans are eager to make progress before attention shifts to the midterm elections. The GOP wants to hold House and Senate majorities in 2018, but must contend with Trump's historic unpopularity and some recent Democratic wins.

The president concluded 2017 with his first major legislative achievement — a law to cut taxes, beginning this year, for corporations and individuals at an estimated cost of $1.5 trillion added to the national debt over 10 years. The tax overhaul also will end the requirement, in 2019, that all Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine. That's a key component of the Obama-era health law that that Republicans have been unable to repeal; other features of the law remain intact.

The White House has said Trump will come forward with his long-awaited infrastructure plan in January. Trump also has said he wants to overhaul welfare and recently predicted Democrats and Republicans will "eventually come together" to develop a new health care plan.

Ryan has talked about overhauling Medicaid and Medicare and other safety-net programs, but McConnell has signaled an unwillingness to go that route unless there's Democratic support for any changes. Republicans will have just a 51-49 Senate majority — well shy of the 60 votes needed to pass most bills — giving leverage to Democrats.

Congress also has to deal with a backlog from 2017. It must agree on a spending bill by Jan. 19 to avert a partial government shutdown.

In addition, lawmakers have unfinished business on additional aid for hurricane victims, lifting the debt ceiling, extending a children's health insurance program and extending protections for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Trump has said he wants money for a border wall in exchange for protecting those immigrants.

Trump spent his last day in Florida as he spent most other days — visiting his golf course and tweeting.

On Pakistan, he said: "The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"

It was not immediately clear why the president decided to comment on Pakistan. The U.S. has long accused Islamabad of allowing militants to operate relatively freely in Pakistan's border regions to carry out operations in neighboring Afghanistan. In August, the United States said it would hold up $255 million in military assistance for Pakistan until it cracks down on extremists threatening Afghanistan.

On Iran, Trump kept up his drumbeat in support of widespread anti-government protests there. He tweeted Monday that Iran is "failing at every level" and it is "TIME FOR CHANGE."


Local
breaking featured
'She did her job': Dog credited for saving Clear Lake couple from fire

CLEAR LAKE | If it weren't for a 14-year-old dog, Doug Wilson and Lisa Wood might not have gotten out of their basement alive.

Wilson and Wood, both of Clear Lake, were sleeping this Saturday in the basement at 908 Seventh Ave. N. when they started to hear barking from their dog, Princess.

It was about 4 a.m. when Wilson heard that barking, and discovered a fire had started in electrical wires behind a wall right above them, near the top of the staircase. Wood said Princess probably saved their lives.

"She was whining to him," Wood, 52, said. "And then she's looking toward the fire, and kept looking and started barking."

Wilson said that the fire, if it hadn't been contained, probably would have traveled down the staircase, trapping him and Wood. After Princess alerted him about it, he plugged the hole in the wall near where it started, and alerted everyone in the house to call the fire department and evacuate.

"Me and her probably wouldn't have gotten of the basement," Wilson, 56, said.

The fire did cause extensive damage to various areas of the first floor of the house, he added. The Clear Lake Fire Department, Clear Lake Police Department and Ventura Fire Department all responded, and officials estimated the fire caused more than $25,000 in damage.

Clear Lake Police officers were first to get to the building, and saw heavy smoke along the roofline, according to a press release from the Clear Lake Fire Department. When the CLFD arrived, firefighters entered through the back door and found the fire in the entry way wall and attic.

They quickly extinguished the blaze, and spent about 90 minutes at the house, along with other first responders.

Wood said she and Wilson had been staying in the basement of the property, owned by Gerald Arnold, her father.

Wilson added that they are staying at a friend's house right now, and waiting to see how much their fire insurance will cover. 

"She's brilliant," Wood said. "She's a really fun dog ... and I would have never woke up, because I've been taking NyQuil pills to sleep."

"She's a real smart dog," Wilson added. "She's a good one ... she did her job."


Lee-wire
AP
At least 13 dead in Iran protests

TEHRAN, Iran — Protests across Iran saw their most violent night as "armed protesters" tried to overrun military bases and police stations before security forces repelled them, killing 10 people, Iranian state television said Monday.

Later in the day, Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency said an assailant using a hunting rifle killed a policeman and wounded three other officers during a demonstration in the central city of Najafabad, about 200 miles south of Tehran.

It was the first report of a police officer dying during five days of unrest and raised the death toll to at least 13.

The demonstrations, the largest to strike Iran since its disputed 2009 presidential election, began Thursday in Mashhad over economic issues and have expanded to several cities, with some protesters chanting against the government and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Hundreds of people have been arrested.

Iranian state television aired footage of a ransacked private bank, broken windows, overturned cars and a firetruck that appeared to have been set ablaze. It said 10 people were killed by security forces during clashes Sunday night.

"Some armed protesters tried to take over some police stations and military bases but faced serious resistance from security forces," state TV said.

In a later report, state TV said six people were killed in the western town of Tuyserkan and three in the town of Shahinshahr. It did not say where the 10th person was killed.

Earlier Monday, the semi-official ILNA news agency quoted Hedayatollah Khademi, a representative for the town of Izeh, as saying two people died there Sunday night. He said the cause of death wasn't immediately known, though authorities later described one of the deaths as the result of a personal dispute.

Two protesters also were killed during clashes late Saturday in Doroud, some 200 miles southwest of Tehran in Lorestan province, authorities have said.

On Sunday, Iran blocked access to Instagram and the popular messaging app Telegram used by activists to organize.

President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged the public's anger over the Islamic Republic's flagging economy, though he and others warned that the government wouldn't hesitate to crack down on those it considers lawbreakers.

That was echoed Monday by judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, who urged authorities to confront rioters, state TV reported.

"I demand all prosecutors across the country to get involved and the approach should be strong," he said.

Rouhani also stressed Monday that Iran "has seen many similar events and passed them easily."

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been tweeting in support of the protesters, continued into the New Year, describing Iran as "failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration."

"The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years," he wrote. "They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!"

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling the protesters "brave" and "heroic," said in a video posted to YouTube on Monday that the protesters sought freedom, justice and "the basic liberties that have been denied to them for decades."

He criticized the Iranian regime's response to the protests and chided European governments for watching "in silence" as the protests turn violent.

While some have shared Trump's tweets, many in Iran distrust him because he has refused to re-certify the nuclear deal and his travel bans have blocked Iranians from getting U.S. visas.

State TV has reported that some protesters invoked the name of the U.S.-backed shah, who fled into exile just before Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution and later died.

Iran's economy has improved since its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which saw Iran agree to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the end of some international sanctions.

That improvement has not reached the average Iranian, however. Unemployment remains high, and official inflation has crept up to 10 percent again. A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40 percent, which the government has blamed on a cull over avian flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the economic protests.

While the protests have sparked clashes, Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard and its affiliates have not intervened as they have in other unauthorized demonstrations since the 2009 election.

It wasn't immediately clear if the Guard would change its posture given the reported attacks on police stations and military bases. In Tehran on Monday, streets were calm, though a heavy police presence was noticeable.

Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri , the Guard commander and deputy chief of staff for Iran's military, said Monday that Trump's support of the protesters "indicates planning by the U.S. for launching a new sedition in Iran."


Local
New Mason City mayor to give state-of-the-city message Tuesday

MASON CITY | Newly-elected Mayor Bill Schickel will give his "state of the city" message at the City Council meeting Tuesday night.

It is not a new setting for Schickel, who has been elected mayor four times and most recently has been an at-large member of the City Council.

Schickel said the theme of his message will be "A New Beginning for Mason City."

Mayoral state-of-the-city messages are a long-standing Mason City annual tradition in which the mayor typically evaluates the city's strengths and weaknesses and outlines goals for the future.

"As always, the public is invited," Schickel said. "It will be a great time to meet the newly-elected council members."

The new council members are Tom Thoma, at-large; Will Symonds, Second Ward; and John Jaszewski, Fourth Ward.

In a Globe Gazette interview shortly after his election, Schickel said his top goal would be to guide the success of the River City Renaissance project.

In his last act as a councilman Thursday night, he was part of the unanimous council vote approving G8 Development as the developer of a downtown hotel -- a key component in the Renaissance project.

The council meets at 7 p.m. in the Mason City Room of the public library.

Schickel, who is general manager if KCMR radio, announced Friday he will be holding regular office hours at City Hall from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Fridays, beginning Jan. 5. 


Schickel