Tribune News Service
International Budget for Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Updated at 0100 UTC (8 p.m. U.S. EST Tuesday).
Additional news stories, including full U.S. coverage, appear on the MCT-NEWS-BJT and MCT-NEWSFEATURES-BJT.
^WHO veers between alarm and calm on newly named Covid-19 outbreak<
CORONAVIRUS-1ST-LEDE:DPA — The World Health Organization described the new coronavirus as a major global threat Tuesday while speaking out against some of the extreme measures that have been taken to contain it.
With scientists still learning about how the pathogen spreads and where it came from, one thing that the U.N. health agency was able to say with certainty was that the disease has been officially named Covid-19.
750 by Ryan Ho Kilpatrick and Albert Otti in Beijing. MOVED
^How deadly is the new coronavirus? Scientists race to find the answer<
CORONAVIRUS-FATALITYRATE:LA — Of all the questions scientists hope to answer about the new coronavirus sweeping across the globe, the most pressing is this: How deadly is it?
The only way to know is to figure out how many people have been infected — and that's the real challenge.
Without a true picture of the total number of cases, it's impossible to calculate a fatality rate. That's why scores of epidemiologists and mathematicians are working to solve one of the most complex modeling problems of their time.
1600 (with trims) by Emily Baumgaertner. MOVED
^Philippines strongman tells the US he's terminating a major security pact<
USPHILIPPINES-DEFENSE:LA — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte scrapped a two-decade-old defense agreement with the United States on Tuesday, throwing one of Washington's most important security alliances in Asia into disarray.
The termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement — which allows for joint military exercises and facilitates the movement of U.S. defense personnel and equipment in the Philippines — was the culmination of weeks of threats by the mercurial Duterte, who has chafed at U.S. criticism of his human rights record while pursuing closer ties with China and Russia.
950 (with trims) by Shashank Bengali in Manila, Philippines. MOVED
^Guaido returns to chaotic scene in Venezuela after meeting Trump<
USVENEZUELA:BLO — Opposition leader Juan Guaido returned to Venezuela Tuesday to a chaotic scene at Caracas' international airport, as President Nicolas Maduro's loyalists clashed with opposition lawmakers there to greet him.
After passing through customs and immigration, Guaido was swarmed by the clashing lawmakers and Maduro backers.
400 by Patricia Laya and Alex Vasquez in Caracas, Venezuela. MOVED
^China's 'people's war' against coronavirus seen by many as unorganized propaganda<
^CORONAVIRUS-CHINA:LA—<It's a classic Chinese campaign, harking back to Chairman Mao's methods of inspiring patriotism and mobilizing the masses: Bright red banners and posters with large characters quoting the state leader's slogans decorate every neighborhood.
Beijing has mobilized a nationwide "people's war" against the novel coronavirus epidemic that has infected more than 43,000 people globally and killed more than 1,000.
1500 (with trims) by Alice Su in Beijing. MOVED
^Coronavirus shutdown costing Macao's gaming industry $100 million a day. Why are casinos OK with that?<
CORONAVIRUS-MACAO-CASINOS:LA — The A-Ma Temple is ordinarily the first stop in the morning for buses filled with Chinese tourists, who flock to the 500-year-old site to light incense and pray for good fortune before hitting the casinos.
On a recent weekday, however, the temple was barren apart from a custodian who guarded the green pagoda tiled entrance with a handheld infrared thermometer, making sure no would-be visitors exhibited signs of the deadly new strain of coronavirus.
Macao, which has 10 confirmed cases of the illness, isn't on lockdown like cities across the border in mainland China. But the former Portuguese enclave has ground to a virtual standstill ever since the government took the unprecedented measure last week of closing the territory's 41 casinos for half a month.
1500 (with trims) by David Pierson in Macao. MOVED
^Abbas rails against Trump's peace plan in combative UN speech<
USMIDEAST-ABBAS:BLO — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas slammed President Donald Trump's peace proposal at the United Nations on Tuesday, calling on the international community to stand up to a U.S. plan he said lacks legitimacy.
Holding up a map of the Trump plan in a U.N. Security Council meeting, Abbas said the land allocated for Palestinians looked like Swiss cheese due to the settlements that pockmark the West Bank.
350 by David Wainer at the United Nations. MOVED
^New Hampshire primary may help define a murky Democratic race<
NH-PRIMARY:LA — From the notches in the north to the Boston suburbs in the south, New Hampshire voters braved a mix of rain, snow and near-freezing temperatures Tuesday to put their stamp on the tumultuous 2020 Democratic presidential campaign.
The state, celebrating its 100th anniversary as home to the first-in-the-nation primary, has a history of political volatility, with an abundance of late deciders who often confound pollsters and defy predictions.
1200 by Mark Z. Barabak in Manchester, N.H. MOVED
^Prosecutors quit Roger Stone case after Trump's tweet, Justice Department review<
STONE-3RD-LEDE:BLO — All four U.S. government prosecutors who backed a long prison stay for Roger Stone, an ally of the president, resigned from the case, a stunning rebuke after the Justice Department cut its recommended sentence by more than half.
In court filings to the judge who will sentence Stone, the four prosecutors announced their withdrawal from the team that won a conviction of Stone for lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness tampering. Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed and Michael Marando quit the case, and Jonathan Kravis quit his job as an assistant U.S. attorney.
700 by Chris Strohm and Erik Larson in Washington. MOVED
^Harvey Weinstein defense flips the script: Accusers are opportunists, not victims<
WEINSTEIN:LA — As Harvey Weinstein's attorneys interrogated a key accuser in the film producer's rape trial last week, they repeatedly nudged the jury to consider what the aspiring actress stood to gain from her on-again, off-again relationship with Weinstein.
While cross-examining the accusers, Weinstein's attorneys have worked to upend the narrative of abuse the prosecution has built. They have asserted that not only were the alleged encounters with Weinstein consensual, they were part of a calculated effort to siphon favors from him. This tactic is commonly used by the defense in sex crime cases, experts say.
1200 by Laura Newberry in New York. MOVED
^Mar-a-Lago guard warned Chinese trespasser she faced 'a world of trouble'<
MARALAGO-TRESPASSER:FL — A Chinese national charged with trespassing at Mar-a-Lago was merely a tourist taking photos and sightseeing on Palm Beach, her lawyer told a jury Tuesday.
"She's caught up and fascinated by the beauty of the place," Assistant Public Defender Schnelle Tonge said of Lu Jing's unauthorized visit Dec. 18. "Was she trespassing or doing what a tourist does?"
This is the question before a Palm Beach County jury.
650 by Marc Freeman in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. MOVED
^Actor Jussie Smollett faces new disorderly conduct charges in alleged fake attack<
SMOLLETT-1ST-LEDE:TB — Actor Jussie Smollett is facing new criminal charges nearly a year after Cook County prosecutors dropped disorderly conduct counts against him for allegedly orchestrating a racist, homophobic attack on himself early last year.
Smollett was indicted by a special Cook County grand jury on six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly making four separate false reports regarding what police said was a faked attack. Special Prosecutor Dan Webb announced the charges in a news release Tuesday, saying that "further prosecution of Jussie Smollett is 'in the interest of justice.' "
900 by Megan Crepeau and Jason Meisner in Chicago. MOVED
^Fed chair says it's 'too early' to talk about lowering rates over coronavirus. Trump isn't happy<
FED-POWELL:LA — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell on Tuesday singled out the coronavirus epidemic as a threat to the American economy but said he expected China to take further actions to limit the damage and suggested that it was "way too early" to talk about lowering interest rates as a policy response.
That's not what President Donald Trump, and apparently some in the financial community, wanted to hear.
About 90 minutes into Powell's exchange with members of the House on Tuesday, Trump took note of the Dow Jones having dropped since Powell began his remarks.
900 (with trims) by Don Lee in Washington. MOVED
^New Yorkers reportedly banned from trusted traveler programs in Trump administration plan to punish immigrant-friendly states<
NY-GLOBALENTRY:NY — The Trump administration axed New Yorkers from trusted traveler programs like TSA Global Entry to punish the state for enacting immigrant-friendly policies, a secret memo reportedly revealed.
The Department of Homeland Security enacted the ban after considering a raft of responses to moves by New York and other states to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain identification and to limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
300 by Dave Goldiner in New York. MOVED
^In 'Blackfish' lawsuit, SeaWorld reaches $65 million settlement<
^SEAWORLD-1ST-LEDE:OS—<SeaWorld has reached a $65 million settlement agreement to end a 2014 class-action civil lawsuit that accuses the company of misleading investors over the damage from the "Blackfish" documentary.
The Orlando-based company revealed the settlement in a new SEC filing Tuesday.
The settlement comes as SeaWorld seeks to move forward after years of scrutiny over its orca habitats, turnover in the chief executive position and declining attendance.
550 by Gabrielle Russon. (Moved as a business story.) MOVED
^American Airlines suspends all flights to China until late April<
^AMERICAN-AIRLINES-CHINA:DA—<American Airlines is canceling flights between United States and China until late April with the coronavirus still scaring away travelers.
Fort Worth-based American had hoped to resume flights between DFW International Airport and Hong Kong next week, but dropped the flights until April 23 "due to a reduction in demand."
American had already canceled flights between the United States and mainland China destinations of Beijing and Shanghai into late March, as well as flights between Hong Kong and Los Angeles.
350 by Kyle Arnold. (Moved as a business story.) MOVED
^Scale of coronavirus too big for GM to escape unscathed, experts warn<
^AUTO-GM-CORONAVIRUS:DE—<General Motors will restart production at its plants across China beginning Saturday as it continues to take precautions to ensure worker health amid the coronavirus outbreak.
But economists warn all the precautions in the world will not leave automakers unscathed.
GM is especially in danger. Its wide-scale operations in China put its 2020 revenues this year at "high risk" because of the outbreak.
950 by Jamie L. LaReau. (Moved as a business story.) MOVED
^Consumer Confidential: Equifax left unencrypted data open to Chinese hackers. Most big US companies are just as negligent<
^CNS-CONFIDENTIAL:LA—<All Americans should be alarmed that the Chinese government allegedly was behind the 2017 hack of credit bureau Equifax, resulting in the confidential personal information of about 145 million consumers being stolen.
But it's worse than that.
Equifax basically left all our data out on the lawn for anyone to walk off with — the upshot of failing to encrypt the databases that store some of the most sensitive details of our lives.
1000 by David Lazarus. (Moved as a business story.) MOVED
^Who is Miky Lee? 7 things to know about the 'Parasite' producer<
^MOVIE-PARASITE-LEE:LA—<Many people got their first introduction to Miky Lee on Sunday night, when the "Parasite" producer got in the final remarks after the film won the Oscar for best picture. What they might not know is how much she has influenced the entertainment they've been seeing and listening to for decades.
"It's a historic moment," Lee told The Times at a "Parasite" after-party Sunday night. "I don't know what it means for Hollywood, but I definitely know what it means for us. This opens up doors for Korean moviemakers."
So who is Miky Lee? Only the most powerful media mogul in South Korea. Here are seven nuggets to know about the 61-year-old heiress who took her share of the family fortune and grew it into a $4.1-billion media empire.
650 by Christie D'Zurilla in Los Angeles. MOVED
^'The Hunt' is back on: Universal releases trailer, new date for controversial thriller<
^MOVIE-HUNT:LA—<"The Hunt" is back on.
After canceling last year's planned September release of the R-rated Blumhouse Productions satire in the wake of mass shooting tragedies in El Paso, Dayton, Ohio, and Gilroy, Calif. — as well as criticism from conservative media and President Trump — Universal Pictures is now resuming plans to release "The Hunt" in theaters.
The reversal was announced Tuesday with a new March 13 release date and a fresh trailer that describes "The Hunt," about a group of strangers who discover they're the targets in a deadly game, as "the most talked about movie no one has seen."
800 by Jen Yamato and Geoff Berkshire. MOVED
^Joseph Shabalala, founder of famed vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, dies at 78<
^SHABALALA-OBIT:LA—<Joseph Shabalala, founder of the South African a cappella vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, whose breathtakingly complex and scintillating harmonies shot them to global fame in the 1980s when they were featured prominently on Paul Simon's blockbuster album "Graceland," has died in Pretoria. He was 78.
500 by Randy Lewis. MOVED
^Commentary: As new coronavirus spreads, another epidemic looms: 'yellow peril' racism<
^CORONAVIRUS-RACISM-COMMENTARY:SE—<After an unexpected December trip to China's Hunan province to bury her father, a Renton, Wash., woman returned home on Feb. 2. The following day, her husband told me, the woman was confronted at her door by her condo property manager. The manager told her because she had traveled to China, she should leave her home and be quarantined.
On Feb. 4, flyers appeared in the entryway of her condo credited to condo management, headlined "Virus Quarantine" and alerting residents to a possible virus infection. The flyers advised people to wear face masks and gloves near her home. The woman, whom I'm not naming because she fears further discrimination, was not sick and under no official quarantine order or restriction, her husband said. Neighbors learned of her trip and decided to take matters into their own hands.
This incident is just one of many, as rumors, misinformation and fears about the novel coronavirus have flooded social media and news worldwide.
800 by Naomi Ishisaka. MOVED
^Eli Lake: Trump's new nuclear budget is bad news for Russia<
^LAKE-COLUMN:BLO—<Since Donald Trump began his presidency, Democrats have painted him as an appeaser and possibly a pawn of Russia's President Vladimir Putin. At least in his rhetoric, from his supine flattery of Putin in Helsinki to his public rants about NATO allies, Trump has given them some fodder.
Nonetheless, the Trump administration has also pursued a foreign policy that has been hostile to Putin's interests. From his decisions in 2017 and 2018 to bomb Russia's client in Syria, to the State Department campaign to get allies to recognize Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela, many of Trump's policies have opposed Russian objectives, not aided them.
Trump's defense budget for 2021 bolsters such hawkish policies toward Russia.
850 by Eli Lake. MOVED
^Eric Zorn: Taika Waititi sings a new song at the Oscars: This land was their land<
^ZORN-COLUMN:TB—<Before introducing the winners of honorary Oscars during Sunday night's Academy Awards telecast, filmmaker Taika Waititi made a striking announcement.
"The Academy would like to acknowledge that tonight we have gathered on the ancestral lands of the Tongva, the Tataviam and the Chumash," said Waititi, who won the award for best adapted screenplay for "Jojo Rabbit." "We acknowledge them as the first peoples of this land on which the motion pictures community lives and works."
650 by Eric Zorn. MOVED
^Editorial: Is there room in the United States for legal immigrants who need assistance?<
^IMMIGRANTS-ASSISTANCE-EDITORIAL:DA—<In his State of the Union address last week, President Trump asked Congress to stand with him and "prohibit free government health care for illegal aliens." He was referring to "Medicare for All" proposals that would provide government health benefits to all U.S. "residents," including undocumented immigrants.
Whether our public health is better served by including or excluding the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country is a debate worth having, and one that will surely take place should any Medicare for All legislation move forward.
But what the president didn't mention is that increasingly his immigration policies are discouraging legal immigrants from applying for the existing public benefits that they legally can receive right now.
800 by Dallas Morning News Editorial. MOVED
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