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News Wrap: UK’s House of Commons approves Jan. 31 for Brexit

In our news wrap Thursday, Britain’s House of Commons gave final approval to the country’s leaving the European Union on January 31st. The bill will become law once the House of Lords gives its pro forma consent. Also, officials responding to fires in southeastern Australia have ordered more evacuations before a new round of high winds and extreme heat. Friday temperatures could top 110 degrees.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: There was new talk of retaliation from Iran over the U.S. killing of General Qasem Soleimani.

    President Hassan Rouhani warned of — quote — "a very dangerous response" if the U.S. strikes again.

    A top Revolutionary Guard commander said the retaliation didn't end with Iran's missile attacks on bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq.

  • Amir Ali Hajizadeh (through translator):

    This slap by Iran was actually a sign for another operation. Next actions must be taken by resistance cells in the region, and those actions will be taken.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Meanwhile, President Trump said there is no need for further U.S. action. but he suggested he could order new strikes if circumstances change, and he said, "I wouldn't even mind doing it."

    In Britain, the House of Commons gave final approval today to leaving the European Union on January 31. That followed the sweeping victory by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his ruling Conservatives in last month's elections. The bill becomes law once the House of Lords gives its pro forma consent.

    Officials in Southeastern Australia have ordered new evacuations before a new round of high winds and extreme heat. Temperatures could top 110 degrees tomorrow.

    In New South Wales, firefighters have been using controlled burns this week, in hopes of denying fuel for the approaching flames. The fires have killed 27 people so far.

    Back in this country, the Trump administration proposed a major overhaul of environmental assessments for a wide range of projects. It would eliminate or limit reviews for oil pipelines, for some roads and other construction.

    President Trump and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said, too often, crucial work is hampered by red tape.

  • Elaine Chao:

    We all care about the environment. What we're talking about are cumbersome, unnecessary, overly burdensome, duplicative, and outdated regulations. Many of these regulations have not been updated, modernized in decades.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We will look at the details of the proposal later in the program.

    White House officials said today that construction on a southern border wall will now resume. A federal appeals court on Wednesday allowed the use of $3.6 billion in military construction funds to pay for wall sections.

    Separately, migrant detentions at the border fell again in December to 40600. That is down from 144,000 last May.

    Facebook has reaffirmed today that it will not ban or fact-check political ads. The social media giant said that it will add so-called transparency features to give users slightly more control over how many political ads they see.

    In contrast, Google has imposed limits on political ads, and Twitter has banned them outright.

    And Wall Street rallied again on hopes that the risk of war between Iran and the U.S. is easing. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 211 points to close near 28957. The Nasdaq rose 74 points, and the S&P 500 added 21.

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