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Iran admission, NFL playoffs, storms, Critics' Choice awards: 5 things you need to know this weekend - USA TODAY

13 January 2020

Editors USA TODAY

Published 6:17 AM EST Jan 11, 2020

Iran admits firing missile at airliner, says it was a mistake

Early Saturday Iran admitted publicly that its military "unintentionally" shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, culminating days of intense back-and-forth between the U.S. and Iran as the two nations volley threats and accusations at one another. The statement came Saturday morning and blamed "human error" for the shootdown that killed 176 people and added the plane was mistaken for a "hostile target" after it turned toward a "sensitive military center" of the Revolutionary Guard. It also said those responsible for the strike on the plane would be prosecuted. The jetliner, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines, went down on the outskirts of Tehran during takeoff just hours after Iran launched a barrage of missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq. 

  • What we know: More information on Iran admitting its own missile downed Ukraine plane 
  • Calm after missiles, then a plane crash. How Tehran horror unfolded
  • Trump administration hits Iran with new economic sanctions
  • Trump vs. Tehran: Iraqis stuck in the middle in battle for Middle East influence

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Wild potpourri of weather in the forecast

A large, powerhouse storm is poised to deliver a variety of nasty weather to the central, southern and eastern U.S. this weekend. Widespread severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and tornadoes are expected across the South on Saturday, while heavy rain and flooding are possible from the Plains to the Mississippi and Ohio valleys. Meanwhile, heavy snow and ice will lead to dangerous travel from the Plains to New England. 

  • Are you shoveling your snow wrong? Here's what you need to know
  • How to keep your pets safe in tough winter weather

Democrats hit the trail ahead of Tuesday's debate

Six candidates out of the 13 Democrats running for president made it to the January debate stage and all six of them will be out campaigning and trying to reach voters this weekend. Former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg will both be in Las Vegas on Saturday and Buttigieg will move east and attend an event in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday. Businessman Tom Steyer, who qualified for the January debate near the deadline, will be in North Carolina Saturday. Finally, Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar are scheduled to be at events in Iowa on both Saturday and Sunday. The heavy action on the trail comes on the heels of a new poll that shows Sanders leading in Iowa for the first time. It also comes ahead of Tuesday's debate, which is being held in Des Moines and is being hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register, part of the USA TODAY Network. It is the last primary Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.

  • Sanders takes the lead: Vermont senator is first in Iowa poll for the first time, just weeks before the Iowa caucuses
  • Candidates' reactions: 2020 Democrats send prayers to troops after Iranian attack
  • New Hampshire poll: Four-way race among Buttigieg, Biden, Sanders and Warren

Welcome to the best weekend on the NFL calendar

The divisional round of the NFL playoffs begins Saturday afternoon as the NFC’s top-seeded 49ers host the Minnesota Vikings, who are coming off one of the more surprising playoff upsets in the last few seasons. The Saturday night matchup features the AFC No. 1 seed Baltimore Ravens, led by MVP frontrunner Lamar Jackson, hosting the Tennessee Titans, fresh off their upset of the dynastic New England Patriots. On Sunday, a pair of epic quarterback matchups await. First, Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) and DeShaun Watson (Texans) face off in what will potentially be the first of many January standoffs in the playoffs. Next up is Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers hosting longtime playoff adversary Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks (it will be a white scene at Lambeau). Can’t decide who’s got the edge? USA TODAY Sports' experts have you covered.

  • Column from Jarrett Bell: As Ravens ready for playoff run with Jackson, Ozzie Newsome's influence is undeniable
  • Rare talent: Ravens' Patrick Ricard is the NFL's only true two-way player
  • No supplemental discipline: Seahawks' Clowney avoids fine for hit that injured Eagles QB Wentz

Murphy will be honored at Critics Choice Awards

The glittery awards season continues with the 25th Critics' Choice Awards on Sunday, where Martin Scorsese's Netflix triumph "The Irishman" leads the film field with 14 nominations, including best picture and director. The mob drama's stars are also up for top honors: Robert De Niro is nominated for best actor, while Al Pacino and Joe Pesci are competing for supporting actor. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and "Little Women" could also have a big night; they've got 12 and nine nominations, respectively. Also on Sunday, funnyman Eddie Murphy will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, and he's up for best actor for his role in Netflix’s "Dolemite Is My Name." The awards will be given out at 7 p.m. ET on CW.

  • Oscar nominations 2020: Who's in for sure – and who may get snubbed
  • 'Dolemite Is My Name' (and Obama's urging) spurred Murphy's return to stand-up
  • NAACP Image Awards nominees: 'When They See Us,' Murphy's 'Dolemite,' Lizzo all make the cut

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