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World Monthly Headline News December 2019 Page 1


Deutsche Bank payments to Saudi royal adviser probed

German prosecutors investigate two former employees for suspected bribery
By Olaf Storbeck in Frankfurt and Stephen Morris and Arash Massoudi in London January 26 2020

Deutsche Bank paid $1.1m to secure the wealth management business of a senior Saudi royal, according to an internal probe that led to two former staff being reported to criminal prosecutors. The scandal in the wealth management division, which involved payments to the wife of the royal’s financial adviser, highlights the legal and reputational risks to a unit that is central to the German bank’s turnround hopes. The money transfers were arranged in 2011 and 2012 alongside other perks for the adviser’s family, including an internship and a seminar at a Swiss ski resort, according to the results of the probe, seen by the Financial Times. The internal investigation between 2014 and 2016, codenamed Project Dastan, found the Deutsche employees involved were trying to retain the wealthy client and win additional business. Some of the pay and perks violated Deutsche’s policies on anti-corruption and gifts and entertainment, the probe found.

Coronavirus is now in 13 countries outside China - as death toll spikes

Channel 4 News

Britain has changed its travel advice advising against all but essential travel to the whole of mainland China, as a result of the new coronavirus.

Earthquake hits between Cuba and Jamaica

CBS Evening News

The Caribbean was hit by a powerful 7.7 magnitude earthquake. It was centered between Cuba and Jamaica, and felt in Miami. Manuel Bojorquez reports.

Israel's Netanyahu indicted in corruption cases, hours before Mideast peace plan announced

By Oren Liebermann and Amir Tal, CNN

Jerusalem (CNN) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was formally indicted on corruption charges Tuesday, just hours before he was set to meet President Donald Trump for the unveiling of the US administration's long-anticipated Middle East plan. Netanyahu has been charged with bribery and fraud and breach of trust in three separate corruption cases. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit submitted the indictment in Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday shortly after Netanyahu withdrew his request for parliamentary immunity, a request he was almost certain to lose. Netanyahu has insisted he is innocent, calling the investigations an "attempted coup" driven by the left and the media. The charges in court mean that Netanyahu will be the first sitting prime minister to face trial in the country's history. A trial date has not been set yet, but the legal process could possibly take years. Under Israeli law, Netanyahu does not have to resign upon indictment. Instead, he only has to resign if he is convicted and that conviction is upheld through the appeals process.

First on CNN: 50 US service members diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries after Iranian missile strike

By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent

Washington (CNN) Fifty US military personnel have now been diagnosed with concussions and traumatic brain injuries following the Iranian missile attack on US forces in Iraq earlier this month, according to a statement Tuesday from the Pentagon. That's an increase of 16 from late last week when the Pentagon said 34 cases had been diagnosed. "As of today, 50 U.S. service members have been diagnosed with TBI," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell said in the statement. "Of these 50, 31 total service members were treated in Iraq and returned to duty, including 15 of the additional service members who have been diagnosed since the previous report. 18 service members have been transported to Germany for further evaluation and treatment. This is an increase of one service member from the previous report. As previously reported, one service member had been transported to Kuwait and has since returned to duty," the statement added. Several Pentagon officials told CNN that the number of diagnosed cases is likely to continue to change. Approximately 200 people who were in the blast zone at the time of the attack have been screened for symptoms.

What will Palestinians lose if Israel annexes Jordan Valley?

Annexation of territory would cut West Bank from River Jordan, which feeds over 80,000 hectares of agricultural lands.

The Jordan Valley, which accounts for almost a third of the occupied West Bank, "will be under Israeli sovereignty", according to the long-delayed plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unveiled by US President Donald Trump on Tuesday. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who joined Trump for the announcement of the plan, has been adamant that the Jordan Valley falls under full Israeli control and become an important part of its eastern border.

Does Trump's US-Israeli plan make Middle East peace impossible?

The White House launched a 'conceptual map' of what the West Bank and Gaza Strip would look like.

Standing beside a grateful Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump unveiled his Middle East plan, which is referred to as the "Deal of the Century", on January 28. The plan promises a better life for the Palestinians if they give up their hopes for freedom. The Palestinians were not involved in the making of the 80-page brochure and were not invited to the launch party. So, what are the prospects for Trump's "ultimate deal" for the Middle East? Join Steve Clemons and his panel in a discussion of the timing and content of the plan.

Caribbean earthquake of 7.7 prompts office evacuations in Miami

A powerful 7.7-magnitude earthquake has struck in the Caribbean, prompting brief tsunami warnings and office evacuations as far away as Florida.

The quake hit between Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cuba at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the US Geological Survey (USGS) said on Tuesday. Buildings shook and tremors were felt across the Caribbean, but there were no immediate reports of casualties. Some offices were temporarily evacuated in Miami and parts of Jamaica. Warnings by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) were later withdrawn. The PTWC initially said "hazardous tsunami waves" were possible for coasts located within 300km (186 miles) of the earthquake's epicentre. This included parts of Belize, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, it said. But in an update at around 20:45 GMT, the PTWC said the "tsunami threat had now largely passed". Seismologist Dr Lucy Jones tweeted: "The M7.7 Jamaican quake produced sideways motion on the fault, so the tsunami risk is low."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is officially going to trial on corruption charges

The leader dropped his push for immunity on the same day Trump unveils his Middle East peace plan.
By Jen Kirby

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has — finally, officially, for real this time — been indicted on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. The indictment was a long time coming. In fact, the right-wing leader had already been indicted in November, sort of. But Netanyahu threw a wrench in the works, asking the Israeli parliament, called the Knesset, to grant him immunity from prosecution as a sitting prime minister. On Tuesday, he officially withdrew that request, allowing prosectors to formalize the indictment. Which means Netanyahu, the man who has led Israel since 2009 and overseen a dramatic rightward shift in its politics, is going to trial.

And it’s happening right as he’s preparing for yet another election in March. The announcement also came just a few hours before Netanyahu was scheduled to meet with President Trump on Tuesday, as the administration prepares to unveil its long-delayed, and already maligned, plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Netanyahu has denied the charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three separate cases, which he’s called “trumped up” and part of a “witch hunt.”

Trump’s Israel-Palestine “peace plan” is a con

The proposal destroys the prospects for any real deal and brings Israel meaningfully closer to “apartheid.”
By Zack Beauchamp

Donald Trump’s “peace plan” isn’t a plan for advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. It’s a plan for scuttling them. The president released the long-awaited political framework of his “Peace to Prosperity” plan on Tuesday afternoon after a White House ceremony featuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The proposal is missing a signature feature of every prior peace plan: a path to a viable Palestinian state. It divides up the Palestinian territories and surrounds them by Israel, and gives Israel total control over Palestinian security — allowing a future Palestinian government to exercise full control over its own land only when Israel deems it acceptable. It’s a kind of state-minus: a Palestine without much of its land and subservient to Israel for basic functions.

“Trump can try to make this a Palestinian state by calling it a state. But it ain’t ever gonna whistle,” writes Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy. Needless to say, the Palestinians cannot and will not agree to such humiliation, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already ruled it out. “No, no, and no,” he has said. “Jerusalem is not for sale. All of our rights are not for sale or bartering.” In fact, the Trump administration didn’t even have a role in writing the plan: It was put together primarily by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, in consultation with the Israeli government. The notion that this is a good-faith effort to make peace is laughable. So if the “peace plan” isn’t a peace plan, then what is it?

7.7-magnitude earthquake strikes between Jamaica and Cuba, one of the strongest on record in Caribbean

By Matthew Cappucci and Jason Samenow

One of the strongest earthquakes on record in the Caribbean, 7.7 magnitude, struck about 70 miles northwest of Montego Bay, Jamaica, shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday. Minor shaking was felt as far north as Florida, while more moderate shaking was reported in Jamaica. Shaking was also reported in the Cayman Islands and Cuba. Initial reports of damage from the region have been spotty. In South Florida, where shaking was felt when the earthquake struck, multiple buildings were evacuated in Miami. Several aftershocks, including a magnitude 6.1 tremor about 35 miles southeast of the Cayman Islands at 4:55 p.m. eastern, followed the initial quake.

U.S. Surveillance Craft Crashes in Taliban-Held Area in Afghanistan

Military says at least two Americans were on board Air Force plane
By Nancy A. Youssef in Washington and Ehsanullah Amir in Kabul

A U.S. military aircraft with at least two American service members on board crashed into Taliban-controlled Afghan territory on Monday, defense officials said, posing a complicated search and recovery effort. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said the plane was an Air Force E-11, an electronics surveillance aircraft. There was no indication the crash was caused by enemy fire, said Army Col. Sonny Leggett, spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The Defense Department wouldn’t say how many were on board or whether there were casualties. A U.S. defense official said the Pentagon believes mechanical failure caused the crash. The plane was part of a group of aircraft assigned to the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron which is based in Kandahar, the official said. The risk of recovery aircraft coming under Taliban attack has hampered the recovery mission, the U.S. official said. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, speaking alongside his French counterpart at a Pentagon briefing Monday, refused to discuss details of the crash.

Mortar Attack Damages Part of U.S. Embassy Compound In Baghdad

By Bill Chappell

A mortar attack landed a rare direct hit on the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad's Green Zone on Sunday night, damaging buildings and reportedly leaving at least one person with minor injuries. Iraq's prime minister condemned the strike, saying it could turn the country into a battlefield and complicate efforts to get the U.S. to withdraw troops from Iraq. "I heard the explosions and then the 'take cover' warning — the sirens that sound from the embassy," NPR's Jane Arraf reports from Baghdad. She adds, "This is a fairly regular occurrence, small rocket attacks or mortars fired into the Green Zone, but they very rarely actually hit the embassy. This one did."

Analysis by Jonathan Marcus

The US military has confirmed one of its planes crashed in eastern Afghanistan on Monday. Col Sonny Leggett said: "While the cause of crash is under investigation, there are no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire." The aircraft crashed in Deh Yak district, Ghazni province, an area with a strong Taliban presence. It is unclear how many people were on board. Col Leggett denied Taliban claims that additional aircraft had crashed. Taliban social media accounts have posted unverified footage showing a burnt-out plane with US Air Force markings. The video shows a Bombardier E-11A - the type of jet used by the US Air Force for electronic surveillance over Afghanistan. Afghan authorities had initially said the crash plane belonged to state-owned airline Ariana, but the company quickly said all its planes were accounted for.

China says coronavirus can spread before symptoms show -- calling into question US containment strategy

By Elizabeth Cohen, Senior Medical Correspondent

(CNN) China's health minister Ma Xiaowei had some very bad news Sunday about the Wuhan coronavirus: He said people can spread it before they have symptoms. "This is a game changer," said Dr. William Schaffner, a longtime adviser to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's much harder to contain a virus -- to track down a patient's contacts and quarantine them immediately -- if the patient was spreading the disease for weeks before they even realized they had it.

"It means the infection is much more contagious than we originally thought," said Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "This is worse than we anticipated." A spokesperson for the CDC was not immediately available for comment on Sunday. If the Chinese health minister is right -- and there are those that doubt him -- that means the three confirmed cases in the United States might have been infectious while flying from Wuhan to California, Illinois and Washington state. The Wuhan coronavirus has killed more than 50 in China and infected thousands there, and spread as far away as the US, France and Canada.

15 people die from coronavirus in one day; death toll rises to 41, Chinese officials say

By Ryan W. Miller and Grace Hauck - USA TODAY

Fifteen people died from coronavirus in Wuhan, China on Friday, bringing the death toll to 41 people, Chinese officials said in a statement online. A second case of the virus was confirmed in the U.S. Friday, along with three cases in France. The victims in China were between the ages of 55 and 87 years old, the statement said. In Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located, 180 new cases of coronavirus were reported Friday, bring the total number of people affected to more than 1,000 worldwide. French health officials confirmed the first three cases in Europe. At a press conference Friday afternoon, Health Minister Agnes Buzyna identified two of the patients as a 48-year-old man in the southwestern city of Bordeaux, who had passed through Wuhan; and another person in Paris, who had also traveled to China. Both were hospitalized. Buzyna did not immediately provide details about the third patient.

Hong Kong declares a state of emergency in response to five confirmed coronavirus cases

Globally, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen to 1,354.
By Catherine Kim

Hong Kong declared a state of emergency on Saturday in response to growing concern over the spread of a coronavirus that first surfaced in the Chinese city of Wuhan, announcing it will close schools for three weeks and impose a limited transportation ban. Chief Executive Carrie Lam held an urgent meeting with health officials Saturday morning to discuss the mysterious virus, which has — in limited numbers — begun to affect people across the globe.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are currently over 1,400 confirmed cases worldwide: while most have occurred in mainland China, 38 cases have been confirmed in 13 places abroad as well — including five cases in Hong Kong. According to Reuters, an additional 122 people are suspected of having the virus and are undergoing precautionary treatment. The first case in Hong Kong was confirmed on Wednesday; four new cases surfaced by Friday night — all involving people who had visited Wuhan.

In response, Hong Kong is taking precautionary measures, according to the Hong Kong Free Press: schools and universities, which are already closed for the Lunar New Year, will not open until February 17. Transportation from Wuhan will be cancelled until further notice. And major public events, including annual Lunar New Year celebrations and a marathon next month, have been scrapped.

Locust outbreak in Kenya is worst in 70 years: "Even cows are wondering what is happening"


Katitika, Kenya – The worst outbreak of desert locusts in Kenya in 70 years has seen hundreds of millions of the bugs swarm into the East African nation from Somalia and Ethiopia. Those two countries have not had an infestation like this in a quarter-century, destroying farmland and threatening an already vulnerable region with devastating hunger. "Even cows are wondering what is happening," said Ndunda Makanga, who spent hours Friday trying to chase the locusts from his farm. "Corn, sorghum, cowpeas, they have eaten everything." Even a small swarm of the insects can consume enough food for 35,000 people in a single day, said Jens Laerke of the U.N. humanitarian office in Geneva.

Who is Dmytro Firtash? The man linked to $1 million loan to Giuliani ally has a shadowy past

The billionaire oligarch is “at the dead center of the greatest corruption operation in Ukraine’s history,” said a former senior U.S. diplomat.
By Tom Winter, Ken Dilanian and Dan De Luce

In September, one month before Lev Parnas was indicted on campaign finance charges, his wife received wire transfers from a bank account in Russia. The sum was $1 million, and the source was a lawyer for Dmytro Firtash, according to a court filing by U.S. prosecutors. Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch who made a fortune in the natural gas trade, is perhaps the most enigmatic figure in the scandal that has played a key role in President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

A billionaire with alleged ties to the Russian mob, Firtash is facing bribery-related charges in the U.S. and fighting extradition from Vienna. He once attempted to buy and redevelop the famous Drake Hotel in New York with the now-incarcerated Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman. And he’s seen by Ukrainian anti-corruption activists and Western governments as a corrupt instrument of Russia.

Exactly why the money was sent to the wife of Parnas — the former Trump donor and Rudy Giuliani associate who has since turned on the president — is unclear. But Firtash provided key documents that Giuliani used to further his discredited claim that former Vice President Joe Biden engaged in wrongdoing in Ukraine.

US arranging charter flight to evacuate diplomats out of China amid coronavirus outbreak, official says

By Veronica Stracqualursi and Steven Jiang, CNN

(CNN) The US government is arranging a charter flight to evacuate diplomats from the Chinese city that has become ground zero for a new deadly strain of coronavirus, a US official with knowledge of the matter told CNN Saturday. The United States has a contract with a transporter to evacuate diplomats from the US consulate in Wuhan, China. The consulate is closed and all US diplomats are "under ordered departure," the official said. Details of the flight plan are still being finalized and the source said "a lot depends on what the Chinese authorities will allow us to do," adding that Beijing has been "very cooperative." The State Department and White House have not yet responded to CNN's request for comment on the matter. The Wall Street Journal first reported the planned evacuation.

Protesters Mass in Baghdad, Demanding U.S. Leave Iraq

A national march against the presence of United States forces, organized by a populist Shiite cleric and armed groups with ties to Iran, drew a crowd estimated at 200,000 to 250,000.
By Alissa J. Rubin and Falih Hassan

BAGHDAD — Throngs of Iraqis gathered on the streets of the capital, Baghdad, on Friday to protest the United States military presence at the behest of a leading populist cleric and armed forces with ties to Iran.

The demonstration came three weeks after the United States launched a drone strike in capital that killed the Iranian commander Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani and a prominent member of the Iraqi government, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, with close ties to the Popular Mobilization Forces, some of whom are close to Iran.

Days later, at the urging of the Iraqi prime minister, the Parliament endorsed a measure demanding the expulsion of foreign forces from Iraq, which in the minds of most Iraqis meant American troops. The protest on Friday was the first designed specifically to denounce the American presence in Iraq since the parliamentary measure.  

Saudis Tried to Kidnap Me on U.S. Soil, Regime Critic Says

RENDITION
Abdulrahman Almutairi is a Saudi social-media influencer who criticized Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. If not for the FBI, he says, he might’ve met Jamal Khashoggi’s fate.
By Spencer Ackerman

A suspected agent of the Saudi government attempted to kidnap a regime critic on American soil, according to the critic and multiple U.S. and foreign sources familiar with the episode. The young Saudi man says the FBI saved him from becoming the next Jamal Khashoggi. Abdulrahman Almutairi is a 27-year-old comedian and former student at the University of San Diego with a big social-media presence. After Almutairi used social media to criticize the powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman over the October 2018 murder and dismemberment of Washington Post contributor Khashoggi, an unidentified Saudi man accompanied Almutairi’s father on a flight to collect Almutairi against his will and bring him back to Saudi Arabia, according to The Daily Beast’s sources. “The Saudi government realized I was a threat,” Almutairi told The Daily Beast, revealing for the first time an ordeal that might have culminated in a whole new crisis: the kidnapping and rendition of a Saudi dissenter on American soil. Only timely intervention from the FBI broke up the plot, two sources say.  “If I go back to Saudi Arabia,” Almutairi said, “I’ll be killed in the airport.”  

34 US service members diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries after Iranian missile strike

By Ryan Browne, Barbara Starr and Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Washington (CNN) Thirty-four US service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries following the Iranian missile attack on US forces in Iraq earlier this month, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Friday. Seventeen service members who were injured have since returned to duty in Iraq, sixteen of whom were treated locally in the country. Nine service members are still being treated in Germany. An additional eight service members who had been flown to Germany have since been sent to the United States for additional treatment. The eight service members, who arrived in the US Friday morning, will be treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center or at hospitals in their home bases. Although traumatic brain injuries are not always apparent immediately after they've been suffered, the disclosure of injured US service members indicates that the impact of the attack was more serious than initial assessments indicated. The Pentagon and President Donald Trump had initially said no service members were injured or killed in the January 8 Iranian missile attack, which was retaliation for the January 2 US drone strike that killed a top Iranian general.

Hoffman said Friday that the Defense Department will review its processes for tracking and reporting injuries suffered by service members. "The goal is to be as transparent, accurate and to provide the American people and our service members with the best information about the tremendous sacrifices our war fighters make," Hoffman told reporters Friday. Earlier this week President Donald Trump said he does not consider potential brain injuries to be as serious as physical combat wounds, downplaying the severity of the injuries suffered in Iraq.

Palestinians warn Israel, US as Trump discusses new 'peace plan'

Palestinians reject US meeting with Netanyahu, promise not to recognise peace plan expected to favour Israel.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has warned Israel and the United States against "crossing red lines" promising not to recognise any Middle East peace plan it had previously rejected as US President Donald Trump prepares to present the plan in the coming days. Trump said on Thursday he will likely release the long-awaited plan before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Washington, DC next week. "Probably we'll release it a little bit prior to that," the US leader told reporters travelling with him to Florida on board Air Force One, referring to the White House meeting on Tuesday. "It's a great plan. It's a plan that really would work," he added. The Palestinians, who were not invited to the White House meeting with Netanyahu, immediately rejected the US-hosted talks, as they reject the peace plan itself, which has been in the works since 2017. Its release has been delayed repeatedly.

As Angola Accuses Billionaire Isabel Dos Santos Of Fraud, Her Empire Begins To Unravel

By Kerry A. Dolan Forbes Staff

Isabel dos Santos amassed an empire worth more than $2 billion as the daughter of Angola’s former longtime president. Now it looks like that empire is beginning to crumble. On Wednesday—as the Attorney General of Angola held a press conference to provisionally charge Isabel dos Santos with embezzlement and money laundering, according to the BBC—a bank in Portugal where she has been a significant shareholder issued a statement saying that Dos Santos’ stake is being sold.

EuroBic, a small privately held bank in Lisbon in which Dos Santos has owned a 42.5% stake, issued a statement on Monday that it was severing its business relationship with Dos Santos and the entities related to her. On Wednesday EuroBic announced that Dos Santos had decided to sell her stake in the bank, which has about $8 billion in assets. Forbes recently valued Dos Santos’ 42.5% stake at around $200 million.

Dos Santos has come under intense scrutiny this past week after a number of media outlets, including the New York Times, the BBC and The Guardian, published articles based on the “Luanda Leaks”—a cache of some 700,000 documents related to Dos Santos’ allegedly corrupt business dealings that were released to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

U.S. won't extradite diplomat's wife accused of killing U.K. teen

CBS This Morning

The U.S. government has denied an extradition request for a diplomat’s wife charged in a fatal hit-and-run in the U.K. Anne Sacoolas fled the country after allegedly hitting 19-year-old Harry Dunn with her car. The State Department says she had diplomatic immunity and that sending her back would set a troubling precedent. Imtiaz Tyab is outside the embassy in London with the Dunn family's response.

Libyan man sentenced to 19 years in deadly Benghazi attack

Defense attorneys for Mustafa al-Imam said that he made a terrible mistake by looting U.S. property, but noted he was not convicted of killing anyone.
By Phil Helsel

A Libyan man convicted in connection with the deadly 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi was sentenced Thursday to 19 years in prison. Mustafa al-Imam, 47, was sentenced to 236 months after being convicted by a jury in June on charges of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists and maliciously destroying and injuring a dwelling and placing lives in jeopardy, the Justice Department said.

But al-Imam was not convicted of other counts, which included allegations of killing a person while attacking a federal facility. "We have not rested in our efforts to bring to justice those involved in the terrorist attacks on our facilities in Benghazi, which led to the death of four courageous Americans,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a statement. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and Tyrone Woods were killed Sept. 11, 2012, when militants stormed the compound in Benghazi.

China building a hospital to treat virus, expands lockdowns

By YANAN WANG

BEIJING (AP) — China announced Friday that it is swiftly building a 1,000-bed hospital dedicated to patients infected with a new virus that has killed 26 people, sickened hundreds and prompted unprecedented lockdowns of cities during the country’s most important holiday.

On the eve of the Lunar New Year, transportation was shut down in at least 13 cities home to more than 36 million people. The cities are Wuhan, where the illness has been concentrated, and 12 of its neighbors in central China’s Hubei province.

“To address the insufficiency of existing medical resources,” Wuhan is constructing a hospital modeled after the Xiaotangshan SARS hospital in Beijing, Wuhan authorities said in a Friday notice. The facility will be a prefabricated structure on a 25,000- square-meter (270,000-square-foot) lot, slated for completion Feb.

Live updates: CDC confirms a second U.S. patient has tested positive for coronavirus, and 50 people are under investigation in 22 states

By Anna Fifield and Siobhán O'Grady

BEIJING — A second case of coronavirus was confirmed Friday in the United States, as China’s efforts to control its outbreak expanded on many fronts. Travel bans were extended in central China to put more than 35 million people effectively on local lockdowns. In Wuhan, where the virus was first detected, workers are racing to build a 1,000-bed hospital to treat victims of the disease. Authorities around China, including in the capital, Beijing, have canceled the temple fairs and festivals that accompany the Spring Festival to avoid having large public gatherings where the airborne virus could spread.

● There are more than 830 confirmed cases of infection, and at least 26 people have died. A total of 8,420 people are reported to be under observation.

● A young, previously healthy man died in Wuhan, raising concerns about the deadliness of the virus. Until now, the vast majority ofvictims have been older than 60 with preexisting conditions.

● Infections have been confirmed in South Korea, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States.

We simply provide evidence: Climate scientists reject Trump’s ‘prophets of doom’ criticism

By Sam Meredith

DAVOS, Switzerland — Climate scientists at the World Economic Forum have hit back at President Donald Trump, saying their role is simply to provide evidence of the climate emergency. In a keynote address to participants of the annual conference earlier this week, Trump said that “to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom.”

The U.S. president did not name anyone directly during his speech, but he did encourage those in attendance to ignore environmental “alarmists” and their “predictions of the apocalypse.” An intensifying climate crisis is top of the agenda at the forum, which takes place in the Swiss Alpine town of Davos.

The event, which is often criticized for being out of touch with reality, has said it aims to assist governments and international institutions in tracking progress toward the Paris Agreement and the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. “Some could call climate scientists ‘prophets of doom,’” Gail Whiteman, founder of Arctic Basecamp and director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Lancaster University, said during a panel session on Wednesday. “I don’t agree with that — I think we just simply give the evidence.”

Hot mic catches Pence telling Netanyahu 'He's unstoppable'

“We are contending. He’s unstoppable, like someone else I know,” the vice president was overheard telling Israel's prime minister.
By Hans Nichols and Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner

JERUSALEM — Vice President Mike Pence was caught on a hot mic Thursday telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “We are contending. He’s unstoppable, like someone else I know.” It is unclear what Pence and Netanyahu were discussing or the context of the remarks captured on the microphone. The comments come as President Donald Trump's impeachment trial takes place in the U.S. Senate and Netanyahu faces three indictments as he prepares for his third national election in a year. Pence also met with Netanyahu’s opponent, Benny Gantz, while here for the fifth World Holocaust Forum.

Trump zeroes in on his next trade target: Europe

By Charles Riley, CNN Business

London (CNN Business) Having negotiated agreements of sorts on trade with China, Mexico, Canada, South Korea and Japan, President Donald Trump is now turning to his next target: the European Union. Trump made clear at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week that his administration will move aggressively to negotiate a trade deal with Brussels. And if progress isn't made quickly, he said he'll impose tariffs of up to 25% on cars made in the European Union. "I wanted to do China first. I wanted to do Mexico and Canada first. But now that we're all done ... we are going to do Europe," he said during an interview with CNBC on Wednesday. There may be a deal to be done.

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, met with Trump in Davos, where both leaders pledged to work quickly toward a deal. Von der Leyen told German news agency DPA that an agreement could be reached within weeks. The transatlantic relationship produced $1.3 trillion in total trade in 2018, according to US government statistics. Counted together, the 28 countries of the EU were the biggest export market for US goods that year. Yet experts say that aiming for a quick deal means there won't be time to address thorny issues that have for decades prevented the United States and the European Union from completing a comprehensive agreement to boost trade. The latest effort, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, was declared obsolete before it could be finalized.

Yes, the UK media’s coverage of Meghan Markle really is racist

The UK press’s continued denial of racism just shows how entrenched these attitudes are.
By Maya Goodfellow

Not agreeing with the concept of a hereditary monarchy in a country where it’s celebrated is an odd place to be. Stranger still is spending your time defending particular members of the royal family after coverage of them turns hostile. But this is where I’ve found myself this past week. Part of my job as an academic is to examine how racism functions in the UK. Ever since Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry announced they were stepping back from their “roles” as senior royals, there’s been a debate in British media about whether the coverage of Markle has been racist. A debate that has — in a sad but predictable turn of irony — reproduced racism while denying it is prevalent.

The royal family is historically a white institution. And so when Markle, a biracial woman, became a member, some heralded it as “progress.” But in late 2016, the same year it was announced she and Prince Harry were dating, the prince put out a statement condemning the “wave of abuse and harassment” Markle had already been subjected to. That included “the racial undertones of comment pieces” and “the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.” Three years later, Markle talked about the difficulty of dealing with tabloid coverage more broadly, saying it had been “hard,” and that adopting “this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip” was difficult.

For example, the press has talked about her “exotic DNA”; described her as “(almost) straight outta Compton”; attacked her for the very things that Kate Middleton, Prince William’s white wife, has been praised for; and compared the couple’s son to a chimpanzee. But in TV studios around the country, commentators seem to have peculiarly missed all of this. The coverage of Markle has been welcoming and warm, they say. And when confronted with the evidence that shows that certainly hasn’t always been the tone of reporting, they ask: Is it really racism, though?

China quarantines 20 million people in 3 cities; coronavirus vaccine could be 3 months away

By John Bacon USA TODAY

Americans face little risk from the deadly new coronavirus spreading across China and a vaccine could be ready for human testing within three months, the nation's leading expert on infectious disease says. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, provided the upbeat message Wednesday as authorities in China suspended planes, trains and ferries in and out of three cities with a combined population of almost 20 million people.

Public transports also has been mostly suspended within Huanggang, Ezhou and Wuhan, the city of 11 million serving as the epicenter for the virus. More than 500 people in China have been diagnosed with the virus and at least 17 have died.   A small number of cases have been diagnosed in other countries, including one case in Washington state. Airports in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and San Francisco have stepped up health checks for passengers arriving from China.

'Africa's richest woman' now a formal suspect in graft probe

Africa's reputed richest woman is a formal suspect in an investigation into mismanagement and the siphoning off of funds during her time with Angola's state-run oil company
By The Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG -- Africa's reputed richest woman is a formal suspect in an investigation into mismanagement and the siphoning off of funds during her time with Angola's state-run oil company, the country's attorney general announced Wednesday. The remarks by Helder Pitta Gros to reporters in the capital, Luanda, come days after a global investigation accused the billionaire Isabel dos Santos of murky dealings in the oil- and diamond-rich southern African nation whose people remain some of the poorest on Earth.

Wednesday's announcement is the latest sign that Angola's government under President Joao Lourenco is determined to pursue accountability after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists accused dos Santos of using “unscrupulous deals” to build her fortune, estimated at $2 billion. Dos Santos, daughter of Angola's former president, has denied any wrongdoing. Already Angolan authorities this week have said they are reaching out to other countries for help in tackling the corruption that critics say has robbed millions of citizens of basic needs like quality health care.

U.S. to impose visa restrictions for pregnant women

The Trump administration has been restricting all forms of immigration, but the president has been particularly plagued by the issue of birthright citizenship.
By Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is coming out with new visa restrictions aimed at restricting “birth tourism," in which women travel to the U.S. to give birth so their children can have a coveted U.S. passport. The State Department planned to publicize the rules Thursday, according to two officials with knowledge of the plans who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The rules would make it more difficult for pregnant women to travel on tourist visas. In one draft of the regulations, they would have to clear an additional hurdle before obtaining the visas — convincing a consular officer that they have another legitimate reason to come to the U.S.

The Trump administration has been restricting all forms of immigration, but the president has been particularly plagued by the issue of birthright citizenship — anyone born in the U.S. is considered a citizen, under the Constitution. He has railed against the practice and threatened to end it, but scholars and members of his administration have said it's not so easy to do.

Emmanuel Macron shouts at Israeli security officers in altercation in Jerusalem

By Andrew Carey and Saskya Vandoorne, CNN

Jerusalem (CNN) French President Emmanuel Macron has been involved in an altercation with Israeli security officers in Jerusalem's Old City. Macron, who is in Jerusalem to attend a large Holocaust remembrance event on Thursday, was visiting the Church of Saint Anne, which belongs to the French government and is considered to be French territory, when he was filmed admonishing the security officers for apparently trying to follow him into the church.
"Everybody knows the rules. I don't like what you did in front of me. Go outside!" Macron was seen shouting. The Roman Catholic church, which dates back to the 12th century, was gifted to Napoleon III by the Ottoman Sultan in 1856.

"Please respect the rules, they are [in place] for centuries. They will not change with me, I can tell you," Macron added during the dispute. A spokeswoman for the Elysée Palace told CNN that the President had intervened after an exchange between French and Israeli security. "St. Anne belongs to France in Jerusalem. It is up to France to protect these places in this city. The Israeli security forces wanted to enter while security was being provided by French security services. The president reacted to an altercation between the Israeli and French security forces at the time of entering Saint Anne in order to end it, and to remind everyone of the rules that apply," the spokeswoman said.

Microsoft Leaves 250M Customer Service Records Open to the Web

By Tara Seals

The trove of information is potentially a scammer’s bonanza. Misconfigured Microsoft cloud databases containing 14 years of customer support logs exposed 250 million records to the open internet for 25 days. The account info dates back as far as 2005 and is as recent as December 2019 — and exposes Microsoft customers to phishing and tech scams. Microsoft said it is in the process of notifying affected customers.

The Comparitech security research team said that it ran across five Elasticsearch servers that had been indexed by search engine BinaryEdge, each with an identical copy of the database. The database contained a wealth of phishing- and scam-ready information in plain text, including: Customer email addresses, IP addresses and physical locations, descriptions of customer service claims and cases, case numbers, resolutions and remarks, and internal notes marked “confidential.” In short, it’s everything a cybercriminal would need to mount a convincing and large-scale fraud effort, Comparitech researcher Paul Bischoff wrote in a posting on Wednesday.

Russia gets new government in what Putin calls 'major renewal'

New government installed after Russian leader unveiled plans to put proposed constitutional changes to a referendum.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin approved a new government on Tuesday that he described as a break with the past, bringing in some fresh faces but retaining many senior ministers. The new government included a new economy minister and a new first deputy prime minister, but the finance, foreign, defence, energy and agriculture ministers all kept their jobs. The new team was formed less than a week after Putin unveiled a sweeping shake-up of the political system, which led to the resignation of his ally Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister along with the entire government.

Putin went on to pick 53-year-old former tax chief Mikhail Mishustin, who has almost no political profile, as his new prime minister. Putin's wider shake-up, which envisages changing the constitution, is widely seen as preparing the ground for 2024, when Putin, now 67, is obliged to leave the presidency after occupying the Kremlin or the prime minister's job continuously since 1999. Critics have long said that Putin, a former KGB officer, wants to stay on in some capacity after his term ends so that he can wield power over the world's geographically largest nation and one of its two biggest nuclear powers.

Ancient never-before-seen viruses discovered locked up in Tibetan glacier

By Laura Geggel - Associate Editor

For the past 15,000 years, a glacier on the northwestern Tibetan Plateau of China has hosted a party for some unusual guests: an ensemble of frozen viruses, many of them unknown to modern science. Scientists recently broke up this party after taking a look at two ice cores from this Tibetan glacier, revealing the existence of 28 never-before-seen virus groups. Investigating these mysterious viruses could help scientists on two fronts: For one, these stowaways can teach researchers which viruses thrived in different climates and environments over time, the researchers wrote in a paper posted on the bioRxiv database on Jan. 7. "However, in a worst-case scenario, this ice melt [from climate change] could release pathogens into the environment," the researchers wrote in the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed. If this happens, it's best to know as much about these viruses as possible, the researchers wrote.


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