The Iranian military admitted over the weekend that it shot down Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 last week, killing all 176 people on board. Officials said the plane, which took off shortly after Iran fired a series of missiles at US troops in Iraq, had turned toward a sensitive site and was mistaken for a cruise missile. It was a dramatic shift from Iranian officials who had steadfastly denied any involvement in the aftermath of the strike, despite reports an Iranian military commander raised the possibility within hours of the crash. The incident has also sparked a resurgence of internal tensions in the country. The US killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani Jan. 3 provided a moment of national unity that interrupted escalating, monthslong anti-government protests over fuel prices and a faltering economy. By yesterday, riot police had been deployed in the capital of Tehran as demonstrators returned to the streets.
In related news, Iran's only female Olympic medalist defected.
The NFL Playoffs will have at least one Cinderella story heading into the conference championships after the Tennessee Titans upset the AFC's No. 1-seeded Baltimore Ravens, 28-12, in Baltimore Saturday. Running back Derrick Henry ran for 195 yards and threw for a touchdown in a win that came one week after the team went to Foxboro and beat the defending champion New England Patriots, 20-13. While the upstart Titans finished with just a 9-7 record, they won seven of their final 10 regular-season games and quarterback Ryan Tannehill posted the fourth-highest passer rating in NFL history after taking over in week seven. Tennessee will head to Kansas City next weekend to face the No. 2-seeded Chiefs in the AFC championship game (Sunday, 3:05pm ET, CBS) after the Chiefs completed a historic comeback over the Houston Texans yesterday. The No. 1-seeded San Francisco 49ers will host the No. 2-seeded Green Bay Packers (Sunday, 6:40pm ET, Fox) in the NFC championship.
No. 1 LSU takes on No. 3 Clemson in the college football championship tonight (8pm ET, ESPN).
More Quakes Hit Puerto Rico
A 5.9 magnitude earthquake rocked the island of Puerto Rico Saturday, the latest in a week of convulsions that has killed at least one person and caused at least $110M in damage so far. The most recent tremor follows Tuesday's 6.4 magnitude quake - the territory's worst in over a century - that damaged the Costa Sur Power Plant and knocked out electricity across the island. The plant supplies 25% of Puerto Rico's power and could take up to a year to repair, forcing every remaining plant to run at full capacity to meet demand. The region sits just south of a boundary where the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates slide horizontally to each other (see 101), and scientists say the island is experiencing an earthquake "swarm," where many smaller tremors occur, instead of a single devastating quake.
A volcano erupted in the Philippines yesterday (see video), with experts warning of more explosive activity possible today.
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