‘Start Here’: Protests at US embassy in Baghdad wind down and FDA plans to ban most flavored vape pods


Here’s what you need to know to start your day.

It’s Thursday, Jan. 2, 2019. Let’s start here.

1. 2 days of rage

Iranian-backed militiamen began to retreat yesterday after two days of clashes around the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The militiamen and their supporters came to protest U.S. airstrikes over the weekend which killed dozens of their fighters.

ABC News’ James Longman tells ‘Start Here’ how it started, and retired Marine Col. and current ABC News contributor Stephen Ganyard says “this is all about domestic Iraqi politics.”

2. Rudy on the stand?

President Trump spoke to the press about a number of topics at a New Year’s Eve celebration at his Mar-A-Lago club in Florida, including North Korea, Iran and impeachment.

ABC News’ Kyra Phillips tells us that Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was also in attendance, signaled that he’d be willing to testify at any upcoming impeachment trial.

3. Flavor fight

The president says his administration is set to announce a new vaping policy this week that could include a ban on the sale of certain flavored vape pods.

ABC News’ Stephanie Ebbs tells “Start Here” that any plan from the Trump administration so far does not address the rash of lung injuries and deaths believed to be caused by illicit THC vape cartridges.

“Start Here,” ABC News’ flagship podcast, offers a straightforward look at the day’s top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or the ABC News app. Follow @StartHereABC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for exclusive content and show updates.

Elsewhere:

‘New strategic weapons’: There will never be denuclearization in the Korean peninsula if the United States continues its “hostile policies” against the regime, Kim Jong Un vowed this week in front of his central committee members.

‘It’s beautiful’: Dispensaries in Illinois were doing brisk business on New Year’s Day as recreational weed went on sale to adults a day after the governor pardoned more than 11,000 people convicted of low-level marijuana crimes.

‘Meaningful new protections’: President Trump has signed a new law aimed at tackling the scourge of illegal robocalls.

From our friends at FiveThirtyEight:

Borrowing a page from Bloomberg News, the FiveThirtyEight crew is offering up their 2019 list of coulda, shoulda, woulda — enviously entitled, “Damn, We Wish We’d Written These 17 Stories.”

Doff your cap:

Some airlines reward travelers with upgrades or discounts. But this year Japan Airlines is going one step further.

In what company officials say is an effort to get travelers to discover less-visited cities, the airline is giving away 50,000 free round-trip flights this summer.

There’s just one catch: The free flights have to depart from and return to Tokyo or Osaka only.



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