Gunmen in cars opened fire Friday in Baghdad's Khilani Square. leaving at least 15 people dead and 60 wounded, Iraqi security and medical officials said. At least two of the dead were policemen.
Protesters fearing for their lives ran from the plaza to nearby Tahrir Square and mosques to take cover. It wasn't immediately clear who did the shooting.
The attack came as anti-government demonstrators occupied parts of Jumhuriya, Sinak and Ahar bridges in a standoff with security forces. All the bridges lead to or near the heavily-fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq's government.
"We are under live fire now with electric power cut, the wounded and martyrs are here and the bullets were fired in Sinak Bridge," said one protester, who did not give their name for fear of retaliation.
The attack came a day after a string of suspicious stabbing incidents targeting demonstrators left at least 13 wounded in Baghdad's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Iraq's leaderless protest movement.
Those attacks by unknown perpetrators occurred as demonstrators supporting political parties and Iran-backed militias withdrew from the Square . The incidents Thursday fueled paranoia among protesters, who immediately implemented self security measures to uncover saboteurs within the square.
At least 400 people have died since the leaderless uprising shook Iraq on Oct. 1, with thousands of Iraqis taking to the streets in Baghdad and the predominantly Shiite southern Iraq decrying corruption, poor services, lack of jobs and calling for an end to the political system that was imposed after the 2003 U.S. invasion.
Security forces dispersed crowds with live fire, tear gas and sonic bombs, leading to fatalities.
Earlier, Iraq's highest Shiite religious authority called for the formation of a new government within the allotted deadline, and without foreign interference, as the clock ticks down on lawmakers to select a new premier following the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi last week.
Thousands of anti-government protesters from across southern Iraq had joined demonstrators in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protest movement in the capital, hours after the sermon, according to security officials.
"We hope the head of the new government and it's members are chosen within the constitutional deadline and according to the aspirations of the people and away from outside influence," the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said in his weekly Friday sermon in the holy city of Najaf. The sermon is always delivered by a representative.
He added that the Shiite religious establishment would not take part in the government formation process.
Parliament had 15 days since his stepping down was formally recognized by lawmakers last Sunday to name a new nominee, per the constitution.
Since the U.S. invasion of 2003, government formation in Iraq has been based on brokering consensus among political factions and their foreign allies, primarily the U.S. and Iran. President Barham Salih launched talks immediately after Abdul-Mahdi's resignation by making rounds with different political blocs. Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force and the architect of its regional security apparatus, also came to Baghdad to meet with key officials.
Lawmakers made headway in passing a key reform bill to change the membership of Iraq's controversial Independent High Electoral Commission, the body tasked with overseeing polls, in a session Thursday night. Anti-government protesters consider IHEC a corrupt and partisan institution and its commissioners working in favor of political parties. The new law seeks to select commissioners primarily from the judiciary.
Protesters are also calling for early elections and reforms to have a greater influence in electing their representatives.
Al-Sistani, Iraq's most powerful religious figure who's opinion holds sway over Iraqis, also said peaceful protesters should increase their ranks and push out saboteurs, while respecting the role of the "indispensable" security forces.
Following the sermon, thousands of protesters traveled to Baghdad from across southern Iraqi provinces and marched on Tahrir Square, including from Dhi Qar, Diwanieh, Karbala, Najaf, Babylon and Missan, security officials said, chanting the slogan "Sistani, we are his soldiers."
Security officials requested anonymity in line with regulations.
President Donald Trump knows he has fierce Democratic adversaries in Congress. But there is also ample push-back from the Judiciary branch, where black-robed judges who sit in courtrooms just blocks from the Capitol and in New York City have repudiated his view of executive power.
Federal judges in the last two months have accused Trump administration lawyers of "openly stonewalling" and of regarding presidents as kings while also deriding Justice Department legal positions as "extraordinary," "exactly backwards" and just plain "wrong."
Taken together, the court rulings eviscerate the administration's muscular view of executive power just as the impeachment inquiry against Trump accelerates. And they embolden Democrats in their pursuit of investigations into Trump's government and finances.
"We're not accustomed to seeing presidents suffer as many defeats in the courts as this president," said William Howell, a University of Chicago political scientist.
The administration at least temporarily lost its bid to shield former White House counsel Don McGahn from being questioned by Congress. It argued unsuccessfully to withhold secret grand jury testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. And lawyers for the president have tried to keep the president's financial records away from Congress. In each instances, judges have overruled them.
To be sure, some of the most stinging losses have come from Democratic-appointed judges, and all could be overturned on appeal — well after the impeachment inquiry has ended, or after congressional Democrats have lost their appetite for the desired testimony or records. The Supreme Court, for instance, has already put on hold a lower court ruling directing Trump to produce his financial records in a case that falls outside the impeachment inquiry.
And another test that awaits — a former White House official's challenge of a congressional subpoena — may yet be decided in the administration's favor by a judge nominated by Republican George W. Bush.
For the moment, though, the defeats undercut White House arguments that executive branch witnesses and documents are outside the reach of congressional inquiry and make it unlikely that the administration's expansive vision of presidential powers will form lasting legal precedent.
Other administrations have tangled with Congress, of course, and been forced to provide documents. But the rapid succession of losses in such high-profile cases has been startling, along with the colorful, sometimes cutting, language of the judges who have ruled against Trump.
When the administration argued that McGahn was "absolutely immune" from having to testify, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote that no such principle existed and dismissed as "neither precedential nor persuasive" Justice Department legal opinions the government had cited.
"Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings," Jackson wrote. "This means they do not have subjects, bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control."
She said the administration's assertion of absolute testimonial immunity for senior White House aides had "no foundation in law" and had distorted "established separation-of-powers principles beyond all recognition."
In October, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell told a Justice Department lawyer that though she was a well-respected attorney, her arguments in a case over whether the department had to produce grand jury testimony from Mueller's investigation were "extraordinary" — and not in a good way.
When the lawyer asserted that a judge in 1974 shouldn't have authorized the release similar grand jury material from the Watergate investigation involving President Richard Nixon, Howell shot back, "Wow. OK. As I said, the department is taking an extraordinary position in this case."
Weeks later, she ordered the administration to give the House transcripts of grand jury testimony. That order has been appealed, delaying the immediate disclosure of records. A federal appeals court heard arguments last month.
A New York judge in a case over whether Trump could be forced to hand over tax returns expressed similar exasperation when he asked a lawyer for Trump if he was really suggesting that the president could not be investigated while in office even if he shot someone in Manhattan.
"That is correct. That is correct. Yes," was the answer from attorney William Consovoy.
In directing that Congress could see Trump's banking records, a federal appeals panel in New York ruled just this week that the public interest in the information outweighed "the risk of a Chief Executive's distraction arising from disclosure of documents reflecting his private financial transactions."
Part of what's unusual about the spate of defeats is that administrations have tended to eventually resolve disputes through compromise, but that has not been this White House's style, said Joshua Blackman, a South Texas College of law professor.
Former Bush White House counsel Harriet Miers initially resisted a court directive that she appear before Congress to testify about the firing of U.S. attorneys, but ultimately did so under the Obama administration under an agreement reached with Congress.
"Traditionally, when you have these sorts of disputes between the executive branch and Congress, there's often litigation but the parties work out settlements," Blackman said. "That is, a Cabinet official will testify but on a limited scope of topics. The Congress and the president reach some sort of deal."
"Here," he added, "the position from the outset is, 'we're not going to honor any of these subpoenas at all.' So as a result, it's all gone to the courts."
Still, other than the disappointment of losing and the stinging rhetoric from judges, it is not yet apparent what practical impact the rulings will have, said Blackman, who believes the administration's goal all along has been to drag out the requests to the point when the information might no longer be needed.
The Supreme Court's action, for instance, probably means Democrats will not have the records before an expected vote on impeachment by year's end. And a case on whether McGahn must appear before the House Judiciary Committee to discuss the Mueller report is headed for appeals court arguments next month.
Even if, for instance, McGahn is ultimately forced to testify, the president could still try to assert executive privilege to prevent him answering certain sensitive questions.
"We're still a long way," Blackman said, "from Don McGahn saying anything of use.""
The U.S. Navy sailor who fatally shot two people at Pearl Harbor before killing himself was unhappy with his commanders and had been undergoing counseling, a military official said Friday.
Gabriel Romero, 22, also faced non-judicial punishment, which is a lower-level administrative process for minor misconduct, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters not made public. He used his two service weapons in the attack, the official said.
Romero also wounded a 36-year-old man in the attack Wednesday at the naval shipyard within the storied military base before turning the gun on himself, authorities said. That victim is in stable condition at a hospital.
In a second attack at a Navy base this week, a shooter opened fire in a classroom building Friday at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida — leaving four people dead, including the assailant, and multiple people wounded.
The Pearl Harbor shooting came just days before a ceremony to remember those who perished in the Japanese bombing 78 years ago that propelled the U.S. into World War II.
Security will be beefed up as usual for the annual event that is expected to draw survivors, veterans, dignitaries and others Saturday to honor the more than 2,300 Americans killed on Dec. 7, 1941.
Military officials said Friday at a news conference that they had not found a motive yet for the shooting but that there's no evidence of domestic terrorism. They said the isolated attack, witnessed by shipyard employees in an area with thousands of workers, unfolded in about 23 seconds.
Romero, who was from Texas and enlisted in the Navy two years ago, was dead when authorities arrived, and he was armed for his job standing watch and providing security for the fast attack submarine USS Columbia, which is at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for maintenance, officials said.
Retired Army Col. Gregory Gross, a former military judge, said that just because Romero faced non-judicial punishment doesn't automatically mean he should have been taken off watch duty.
"It could have been something as simple as you were late for work," said Gross, who presided over part of the court-martial for the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood in Texas.
But if the misconduct were something like assault, then it would have been easy to take Romero off watch duty and take away his weapons, Gross said.
"All it takes is for the commander to say, 'You're not getting a weapon,' and he would be taken off that watch," he said.
It was not known if Romero knew his victims, Roldan Agustin, 49, and Vincent Kapoi Jr., 30.
Agustin was born in Laoag City, Philippines, and moved to Hawaii when he was 2, according to his mother, Ida Agustin.
"He's a good man," she told The Associated Press through tears.
"I'm so sorry, anak ko, I'm still shaking," she added Friday, using the phrase "my child" in Ilocano, a Filipino language.
Family members said Roldan Agustin served in the Navy and retired from the Army National Guard, then became a metals inspector at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.
In a statement, his brother said Agustin enjoyed working on cars with his friends and spending time with family.
"We will forever remember Roldan to be humble and honest, and a generous and patient man," the statement said.
Tara Kapoi said her husband, Vincent, grew up in Waianae, a town on the west side of Oahu.
"We don't know what happened," she said Thursday, asking for privacy.
A family statement described him as an "easy-going, fun-loving, 'let's do this' man." Services were scheduled for Dec. 15.
He was a metals inspector apprentice, the Navy said.
College roommate Daniel Vu described Kapoi as a soft-spoken and hardworking "family guy" who woke up at 3 a.m. to work at the fishing docks to pay for tuition. Kapoi graduated from the University of San Francisco in 2011 and was proud of his Native Hawaiian and Filipino heritage, Vu told news website Honolulu Civil Beat.
"He was very giving, very generous and willing to sacrifice a lot," Vu said.
Jamie Hiranaka, president of the union representing the three workers, said they were all inspectors who checked welding and other work.
The union, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 121 Hawaii, said it's trying to help employees get through the shooting that produced "fear, terror, sadness and grief."
"Some were witnesses, others heard the gunshots, others locked down into the closest building they could find, but most were locked in their offices not knowing (what) was happening," a union statement said.
Mass shootings and gun violence are rare in Hawaii. The state had the lowest gun death rate among U.S. states in 2017, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The islands have strict firearms laws, including a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines.
The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard repairs, maintains and modernizes the ships and submarines of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which is headquartered at Pearl Harbor. The base is the home for 10 destroyers, 15 submarines and Air Force units.
President Donald Trump said Friday in a tweet that he will hold off on designating Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations.
Trump said all the work had been completed and he was statutorily ready to issue a declaration but had decided to delay at the request of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
There was no immediate confirmation from Mexico, but the government had pushed back against Trump's plan, saying such a step by the U.S. could lead to violations of its sovereignty.
"All necessary work has been completed to declare Mexican Cartels terrorist organizations," Trump wrote on Twitter. "Statutorily we are ready to do so."
"However, at the request of a man who I like and respect, and has worked so well with us, President Andres Manuel @LopezObrador— will will temporarily hold off on this designation."
Under pressure from Trump's threat to impose tariffs, Mexico has pressed thousands of national guard troops into service to help block Central American migrants from traveling through Mexico to reach the U.S.
In place of designating the cartels as terrorist outfits, Trump said the U.S. and Mexico instead will "step up our joint efforts to deal decisively with these vicious and every-growing organizations."
Trump had said in a radio interview just last week that he "absolutely" would move ahead with designating the drug cartels as terrorist organizations, attributing American deaths to drug trafficking and other activity by the cartels.
"I've been working on that for the last 90 days," Trump said in the interview when host Bill O'Reilly asked whether such a designation would be forthcoming.
O'Reilly had asked if Trump would designate the cartels "and start hitting them with drones and things like that?''
Trump replied: "I don't want to say what I'm going to do, but they will be designated."
Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard sought meetings with U.S. government officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Ebrard also said on Twitter that he would use diplomacy to "defend sovereignty."
Quick with a joke and unsparing in her mockery of President Donald Trump, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and her Midwest sensibility show signs of gaining traction in Iowa, her neighboring state and where her presidential ambitions rise and fall.
She regularly ignites laughter while campaigning, as she did Friday with a line about a mishap involving her hair during last month's Democratic debate.
But what's helping Klobuchar, 59, gain traction at a key moment in the intensifying campaign for the Iowa caucuses, more than a punchy campaign style, is a self-assured sense of the possible and a bold recitation of what she has done.
"Make it simple: a nonprofit option, insurance that you can buy into to compete with the insurance companies," Klobuchar told 50 people crammed into a coffee shop in small-town Indianola, south of Des Moines, on Friday. "So this is where you start."
Klobuchar is banking on a litany of compromise legislation in the Senate during her two terms and a bipartisan tone to help spur a glimmer of hope in her campaign in Iowa, the nation's first voting state.
"She's a lot more realistic than a lot of them," said Maxine Willadson, 64, a registered nurse who later attended a campaign event in the back of a restaurant in rural southern Iowa. "I think she speaks to us. I can relate to her."
Klobuchar, who long struggled to catch on, has benefited from lively debate performances and a sense of curiosity among those Iowans like Willadson — she also likes former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg — who are anxious the far-reaching agendas of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are too costly and politically unpopular.
"What I do is find common ground where I can find it and stand my ground where I must," Klobuchar said in Chariton.
She has also pointedly noted that a woman of Buttigieg's age and experience — 37 and mayor of a city of about 100,000 residents — would likely not be considered a viable presidential prospect.
The result has been an influx of money that has allowed her to build up her Iowa staff, though not on the scale of her rivals. Still, Klobuchar had added five offices around the state to the 10 she had.
Also noteworthy, this week she added to her team veteran Iowa Democratic campaign operative Norm Sterzenbach, a former Iowa Democratic Party executive director who had been an adviser to former Rep. Beto O'Rourke's 2020 presidential campaign.
Klobuchar was on a three-day trip through Iowa, including lightly populated counties in her quest to campaign in each of Iowa's 99 counties before the Feb. 3 caucuses. By Saturday, she planned to have campaigned in her 70th.
Pertinent to the authenticity she is working to build, she is keenly familiar with not just Iowa's congressional politics, but also with the individual legislative gains Iowa Democrats made in 2018, as well as details of the conservative agenda of Iowa's GOP-controlled Statehouse.
It's aimed at making her central argument that a candidate with a winning record across a big diverse Midwestern state is best suited to lead the Democratic ticket against the Republican Trump, who swept to victory by reversing decades of Democratic wins in the upper Midwest.
There are signs it's got potential. The Des Moines Register-CNN-Mediacom Iowa Poll conducted last month showed Klobuchar rising to a distant fifth, behind Buttigieg, Warren, Biden and Sanders. A brighter spot for her: Nearly 40% of likely caucus participants were still considering her, a jump of more than 10 percentage points in the past month.
Klobuchar, pugnacious with her policy and political savvy, is unafraid to tease her would-be supporters about their legendary, thorough deliberations.
"Let's get moving on that!" she told her Indianola audience. "It's less than 60 days away!"