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Trump Heads To Switzerland As Historic Impeachment Trial Gets Underway



WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is on a mission to sell the United States to the global business community just as his historic impeachment trial gets underway in the Senate.
When the trial reconvenes Tuesday afternoon in Washington, Trump will be thousands of miles away trying to charm global CEOs at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
His participation in the annual gathering in the Alpine ski resort of Davos will provide a conspicuous split-screen moment in a presidency familiar with them. The two-day Swiss visit will test Trump’s ability to balance his anger over being impeached with a desire to project leadership on the world stage.
Speculation mounted that Trump would cancel the trip due to the trial, but aides said the president remained focused on producing results for the American people.
Trump, who was scheduled to arrive early Tuesday in Switzerland, said he was attending the forum to encourage businesses to invest in the U.S.
“We’re now where the action is,” he said at a farmers’ convention Sunday in Texas.
The president will give a speech at the forum and meet with world leaders and business executives.

Swooping in for his second appearance at the conference, Trump was set to depart on Wednesday, jetting back to a Washington that will be consumed by the impeachment trial.
The Democratic-controlled House impeached the Republican president last month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after it was revealed that he had pressed Ukraine’s president to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat and a Trump political rival. Trump withheld foreign aid that Congress had approved for the Eastern European nation and dangled the prospect of an Oval Office meeting as leverage.
Trump denies any wrongdoing and argues that Democrats want to remove him from office because they know they can’t deny him reelection in November. Trump would be forced to leave office if convicted, but the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him.
Trump said he would attend the Davos forum despite the awkward timing because he wants to encourage businesses to come back to the U.S.
“Our country is the hottest country anywhere in the world,” he said at the White House last week. “There’s nothing even close. I’ll be meeting the biggest business leaders in the world, getting them to come here.”
The White House has not named any of the business leaders Trump is set to meet with. But he is scheduled to hold talks with the leaders of Iraq, Pakistan, Switzerland and Iraq’s self-governing Kurdish region, as well as the forum’s founder, the White House said.

Trump also will have his first meeting with the new European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, the first woman to hold the position.
That meeting could be the most significant, said analyst Matt Goodman, given Trump’s many disagreements with Europe over tax and trade policy, like a new digital levy by the French that will force American tech giants such as Amazon and Google to pay up.
“She’s new and she’s formidable,” said Goodman, who studies international economic policy as a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
He predicted a difficult year ahead for U.S.-EU relations.

Yuri Gripas / Reuters

Trump is set to meet with the leaders of Iraq, Pakistan, Switzerland and Iraq’s self-governing Kurdish region, as well as the forum’s founder.

Trump has smarted over the French tax, and his administration has announced plans to impose retaliatory tariffs of up to 100% on cheese, wine, lipstick and other French imports. France has threatened to fight back.
But after speaking to Trump on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that they had a “great discussion” about the digital tax and “will work together on a good agreement to avoid tariff escalation.”
The U.S. has also threatened to impose retaliatory duties on $7.5 billion worth of European airplanes, cheese, wine and other goods in a separate dispute over subsidies for Airbus, a competitor to Chicago-based Boeing Co.
Trump has sought to wring trade concessions from the EU by threatening tariffs on German autos, including BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Trump heads to Switzerland as just the third American president, after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, to face a Senate impeachment trial. Johnson and Clinton were acquitted by the Senate.
There is precedent for international travel by an impeached U.S. leader. During his impeachment over an affair with a White House intern, Clinton visited Japan, South Korea, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He traveled to Jordan for King Hussein’s funeral in February 1999, just a few days before he was acquitted.
Two days after acquittal, Clinton went to Mexico on a state visit.
Trump is planning to make his first visit to India at the end of February, probably after the conclusion of his impeachment trial. He also has talked about traveling soon to Beijing, although he has given no dates, to open a new round of trade talks with China.

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Pig Bungee Jumping Stunt In China Prompts Global Outcry




A theme park in China is facing international backlash for throwing a live pig off a bungee jumping platform for a marketing stunt.
In disturbing footage documenting the incident, employees of Meixin Red Wine Town theme park can be seen carrying a trussed-up pig, reportedly weighing 160 pounds, up a metal stairway. When they reach the top, they dress the animal in a purple cape and attach it to bungee cords.  
They then push the pig over the edge of the 220-foot platform. The animal can be heard squealing loudly as it plummets and jerks back up repeatedly. The audience reacts with screams, laughter and applause.
Subsequent clips show the pig lying partially conscious on the platform before being moved away by staff. 

Video

A still of the pig being taken to the edge of the bungee jumping tower.

Video

The pig could be heard screaming after it was pushed off the edge.

People on Chinese social media reacted to the footage with outrage, slamming the theme park operator for animal cruelty. 
“It was miserable for the animal! It’s a disgusting marketing idea to attract attention by abusing a pig!” one user said on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, according to local news site Global Times.
“It’s not funny at all. It just shows what human beings can do when they get bored,” said another.
The park, located in the Chongqing region of southwestern China, has since apologized for the incident, reportedly telling a Beijing news station on Sunday that the “ill-conceived activity aimed to pray for pork prices to take a dive.” (Pork prices in China have soared in the last year due to an outbreak of African swine fever wiping out hundreds of millions of pigs.)
The park owner said the jump was staged to mark the end of the Year of the Pig, according to the South China Morning Post.
What happened to the animal after its ordeal is not known. However, several local reports indicate it was ultimately sent to a slaughterhouse.
Animal rights groups have condemned the act. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called the incident “cruelty to animals at its worst” in a statement from Jason Baker, PETA’s vice president of international campaigns. Baker urged China’s government to make legislative changes.
China currently does not have any federal laws prohibiting the mistreatment of animals. However, there’s been a growing movement for animal rights and welfare there in recent years.
“A bungee jump is a scary experience even for consenting humans — just imagine the outright terror of being forcibly strung up by your legs and thrown from a high platform,” Baker said.
“Pigs experience pain and fear, just as we do, and this kind of disgusting PR stunt should be illegal. The theme park deserves every shred of the backlash it’s receiving online, and the Chinese public’s angry response should be a wake-up call to China’s policymakers that they must implement animal protection laws immediately.”

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At Least 3 Dead In China As Officials Say New Virus Can Spread With Human Contact




A senior Chinese health official said Monday the new coronavirus strain that has left hundreds sick and at least three people dead can be transmitted by human-to-human contact, prompting concerns that it could spread far more quickly as hundreds of millions of people in China prepare to travel this week for Lunar New Year.
Zhong Nanshan, who is well-known in China for his work fighting Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, in 2003, told China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency that two people had been infected with the coronavirus from family members. Chinese officials had said that at least 217 cases of the new virus had been reported as of Monday evening, predominantly in the city of Wuhan, where the first case was traced to a seafood market.
“The current cases show there is definitely human-to-human transmission,” Zhong, the head of a team established by China’s National Health Commission to investigate the virus, told the state-run CCTV. Officials had initially said the virus appeared to spread primarily through contact with animals.
Coronavirus is a large family of viruses and causes a type of pneumonia with symptoms that include fever and difficulty breathing. The English-language China Daily said Tuesday at least 15 medical workers in Wuhan had already been diagnosed with pneumonia linked to the coronavirus. One staff member was in critical condition. 

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Travelers wear face masks outside of the Beijing Railway Station on Jan. 20, 2020. China reported a sharp rise in the number of people infected with a new coronavirus on Monday, including the first cases in the capital. The outbreak coincides with the country’s busiest travel period as millions board trains and planes for the Lunar New Year holidays. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping urged officials to take the outbreak seriously in his first public comments on the matter, saying “party committees, governments and relevant departments at all levels should put people’s lives and health first,” The Associated Press reported.
Zhong expressed confidence that the new coronavirus would not be as dangerous as SARS, which killed nearly 800 people globally during the outbreak. The official said it only took two weeks to identify the new virus and China had quarantine systems that would help control its spread.
But the outbreak has already prompted global fear the virus could spread, particularly as hundreds of millions of people in China begin traveling for the Lunar New Year holiday this week. The Washington Post notes that Chinese officials expect 3 billion trips to be taken in the 40-day period surrounding Lunar New Year’s Day, which is this Saturday.
Infections have already been reported domestically in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong. Internationally, there have been cases in Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
Authorities have begun screening airline passengers traveling from Wuhan to airports in Australia, Japan, Singapore and the United States — including in New York and Los Angeles.
The World Health Organization has convened an emergency committee that will meet this Wednesday to determine if the spread of the coronavirus amounts to an international health emergency, Reuters reported. The declaration has recently been used for the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo and the rise of the Zika virus in 2016.
The U.N.’s health agency has not yet recommended any travel restrictions or guidance for the new coronavirus.
Within the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was “closely monitoring” the spread of the virus, but said there is “much more to learn” about how it is transmitted.
“More cases may be identified in the coming days, including more in countries outside China, and possibly in the United States,” the agency said. “Given what has occurred previously with MERS and SARS, it’s likely that some limited person-to-person spread will continue to occur.”

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SunChips’ Failed Noisy Compostable Packaging Gets The Last Laugh




Nearly 10 years ago, I too giggled at the horrendous sound a package of SunChips made in my hands.
It was an exceptionally loud, metallic crinkle. A sound so spectacular and un-chip-bag-like that TV producers made the “world’s first 100 per cent compostable chip bag” the butt of jokes for weeks.
Introduced in spring 2010, the compostable bag quickly gained more notoriety for its volume than its plant-based material. Its 95-decibel crunches were compared to a running motorcycle engine — loud enough to potentially damage your hearing. People created sassy Facebook communities including “SORRY BUT I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THIS SUN CHIPS BAG,” which still has nearly 40,000 members despite being inactive. 
SunChips’ parent company Frito-Lay had been experimenting with compostable packaging at the time to address concerns about the environment. One former executive, looking through a business lens, framed the problem as “branded litter.” 
Watch the ad campaign before the bag’s 2010 launch. Story continues below video.

The company’s solution was to make a chip bag from more than 90 per cent plant-based polylactic acid, a polymer that used fermented plant starch commonly extracted from corn. Ad campaigns boasted that it could decompose within 14 weeks of being tossed in an active compost pile — lifetimes short of the expected 400 years it would take to break down a similar package made from petroleum-based plastic.  
It was revolutionary. And it failed spectacularly.
Four years of research had gone into the compostable chip bag. It was a laudable advancement in snack bag technology. But fans of the wavy, square-ish multigrain chip simply couldn’t get over how loud it was. It didn’t last two years on North American store shelves. 
Perhaps the bag was just ahead of its time. With the mainstream arrival of eco-anxiety, a term the American Psychological Association defines as “chronic fear of environmental doom,” I wanted to find out why the crunchy, compostable experiment didn’t work and whether something similar could succeed today. 
“I think when that SunChips bag came out, it probably hit the market too soon and the consumers and the industry weren’t ready for it,” said Tony Walker, a biologist and assistant professor at Dalhousie University’s school for resource and environmental studies. 
“I think now people would be more accepting of the noise because public awareness about the impact of traditional plastics is so negative … People are pushing back.”

Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of food and beverage behemoth PepsiCo, was adamant they were on the right side of history. 

“An important step in our decade-long environmental journey, we believed the trade-off was worth it: a little more noise for a little less waste,” according to Frito-Lay Canada spokesperson Sheri Morgan.
Yet customers hated the bags so much that Frito-Lay logged a record number of complaints. The company first responded with a gimmick, offering to mail free ear plugs to crabby customers. Then in early 2011, it tried a new adhesive in hopes it would make the bag quieter. The efforts didn’t work, and SunChips sales took a hit. 
Watch: Former executive shares a phone call from an angry SunChips customer. Clip starts from 7:44 – 8:30. Story continues below video. 

Frito-Lay eventually gave up and discontinued the bags both in the U.S. and Canada by the end of 2011. The company turned its attention inward to less publicly visible initiatives, focusing on making sustainability improvements to its supply chain and production line.
In the end, it wasn’t just the noise that sunk the bag, Morgan said. She said household composting was a niche activity at the time — and Canadian winters didn’t help. Frito-Lay partnered with the Compost Council of Canada to educate consumers, getting them to discard the bag into compost bins and not recycling bins, but some municipal green-bin programs didn’t accept the material so the bags ended up in landfills anyway. 
It’s a problem that continues today. Plastics from plant-based polylactic acid continue to be produced and are commonly found in the form of cups and utensils, sometimes labelled “Made from corn.” But their increasing presence in stores and restaurants doesn’t mean municipalities are better able to process them than a decade ago. 
Bio-plastics are chemically different from other plastics. They need to be processed separately and require high heat and moisture to properly break down into organic matter. But if bio-plastics are mixed with traditional plastic items during the recycling process, the batch is considered contaminated. Bio-plastics are commonly branded as compostable, but still show up in general recycling piles, increasing the risk of contamination and additional landfilling.
Watch: How close are we to reinventing plastic? Story continues below video.

The troubles faced by Frito-Lay appear to have scared off any imitators. Just last week, I strolled down the deliciously lengthy chip aisle in a downtown Ottawa grocery store and found nothing made from corn — well, aside from the tortilla chips. There must have at least 15 brands of chips, and all of them were sealed in plastic packaging of varying stiffness. 
With environmental concerns at an all-time high, I asked Frito-Lay whether they have any plans to resurrect their crinkly, compostable solution.
“The experiment we started in 2010 with the SunChips compostable bag continues today,” Morgan said, to my surprise. Frito-Lay is developing new biodegradable packaging and has tested the bags with Tostitos in the United States. In Chile and India, the company is testing its new packaging with its Artesanas and Lay’s brands and paying attention to people’s recycling and composting habits. 
“Once this research is complete, we will explore bringing this packaging to Canada,” she said.

There’s a lot of snake oil being sold in these eco-anxious times. People are increasingly open to changing small habits for the good of a more sustainable world. They’re opening their wallets, too. Not knowing better, I’ve opted for paper bags instead of plastic for my groceries when given the choice. If you look in my cupboards and drawers, you’ll find evidence of my eco-guilt in the form of multiple reusable travel cups and produce bags and way too many plastic totes.
My simmering anxiety isn’t unique. Ninety per cent of Canadians are worried about plastic pollution, according to an Angus Reid and CBC News survey last year; 82 per cent said they wanted more government action on the file. 
“We are really starting to understand the mental health problems that come with climate change: stress, anxiety, depression, loss of belonging, loss of identity,” environmental psychologist Dr. Katherine Arbuthnott told me.

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Malaysia’s minister of energy, science, technology, environment and climate change Yeo Bee Yin shows plastics waste shipment from Canada before sending back to the country of origin in Port Klang on May 28, 2019.

Emotion theory suggests that people make two assessments to help guide their responses to crisis. The first is to assess whether there’s immediate danger. The second is to ask yourself whether you have the resources to address it.
For a long time, people thought human activity wouldn’t have a significant impact on the planet until lifetimes later. There was a sense of “We’ll get to it when we get to it,” said Dr. Arbuthnott, who specializes in cognitive experimental psychology as a professor at the University of Regina. 
Then last year, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change identified a 12-year window for governments to pull together and implement measures to prevent the potentially catastrophic effects of runaway climate change. The fact that “we’ve got a decade to turn this ship around has really focused everybody,” Dr. Arbuthnott said. 

For eco-anxiety, people are doubting their own ability to manage it… We don’t trust ourselves, we don’t trust our communities or worlds to be dealing with it.
Dr. Katherine Arbuthnott, environmental psychologist, University of Regina

While society is finally leaping over the first psychological hurdle, the second still looms large.
“For eco-anxiety, people are doubting their own ability to manage it. That there’s some dangerous thing coming at me that I can’t deal with… We don’t trust ourselves, we don’t trust our communities or worlds to be dealing with it.”
Years ago, Dr. Arbuthnott attended a Canadian Psychological Association conference where an engineer appealed to her and her colleagues for help convincing people and politicians to adopt more sustainable infrastructure.
“He said we know how to do all this stuff. We can change the infrastructure relatively straight forwardly. What’s holding us back is people and their decision making.”

It turns out making compostable packaging that doesn’t cause hearing loss is only half the battle. If Frito-Lay reintroduced its crinkly chip bag today, the move would be mostly worthless to many people like Dr. Arbuthnott. That’s because composting isn’t part of Regina’s solid waste management strategy.
Policies and infrastructure vary across the country, but for the most part, Canada lacks the facilities to process bio-plastics like the SunChips bag. According to a report by the Globe and Mail last year, residential composting programs in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary don’t accept compostable bio-plastics, including ones made from corn. Part of the problem is that it’s hard to train people and machines to distinguish between an errant plastic cup tossed in the green bin and a cup made of bio-plastic. Not all facilities can process every kind of bio-plastic, and it’s hard to eyeball which is which.

Harrison Ha via Getty Images

A dozer continuously crawls over the organic waste in order to speed up the decomposition process at the organic waste recycling facility in Richmond, B.C. on June 3, 2013.

In 2016, Canadians generated a prodigious 3.3 million tonnes of plastic waste, and the vast majority wasn’t repurposed. According to a report tabled by the House of Commons’ environment committee last year, approximately 86 per cent ended up in landfills, nine per cent was recycled, four per cent was burned for energy and one per cent ended up as litter on the ground or in waterways.

In Canada, the responsibility for waste management is shared between all levels of government. The federal government sets rules about the movement of hazardous waste to prevent toxic substances from harming the environment. The provinces and territories manage landfill and recycling facility operations. Municipalities establish their own bylaws and handle education campaigns. 
On the federal level, there isn’t a political consensus on improving Canada’s plastic recycling facilities. In the same report, the Liberal-led committee recommended that the federal government establish a funding program to help the plastic-recycling industry modernize and expand its facilities across Canada. Conservative party members on the committee disagreed. A dissenting report called the recommendation to modernize and expand an overreach. “There is no compelling reason for taxpayers to subsidize the modernization and expansion of recycling facilities across Canada,” it read.
Policymakers will need to pick up the pace. Beyond the usual concerns of inescapable environmental doom, there’s a new reason to reduce petroleum-based plastic. China, a country responsible for recycling approximately half the world’s plastic and paper, banned the import of plastic recyclables from Western countries including Canada in 2018. 
As Canada continues to grapple with the transition, it’s more clear than ever why the crinkly SunChips bag failed. Consumers weren’t ready, politicians weren’t ready, the infrastructure wasn’t ready — and they still aren’t, really.
But according to Walker, the Dalhousie University biologist, a biodegradable chip bag was never going to be the solution. “We’re using single-use items unsustainably,” Walker said. To truly help the environment, people can’t just replace plastic with other single-use items. 
If you want to be a better environmentalist, he suggested to reuse more items and to avoid buying “biodegradable” products. It’s marketing, he said, they’re mostly made of petroleum-based plastic except they’re engineered to break down into infinitely smaller pieces of microplastics at a faster rate. These microplastics, which can be chipped down to the size of plankton, can get into waterways and risk being consumed by humans or marine animals. Listening quietly on my end of the phone, I cringe thinking about the “biodegradable” products I probably have at home.
“I think we need a radical switch to change our behaviour and shift away from convenience items and maybe go to more reusable, sustainable closed-loop circular economy” packaging, he said. An example would be going to a bulk food store and scooping cereals or other snacks into your own containers.
A decade ago, there was something so obviously funny about the SunChips experiment. Why would anyone use such an obnoxious material? While it might not have been the precedent-setting saviour we’re all looking for, I don’t find it as funny now. It was an attempt, honestly made. With piles of plastic waste growing at home, the noise from an anxious public crying out for a solution suddenly seems a lot louder than a crinkly chip bag.

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Warren Slams Bloomberg For Delaying FEC Report Until After Super Tuesday




Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) went after fellow Democratic presidential candidate and billionaire Michael Bloomberg on Sunday for deciding to bypass campaigning in early primary states while asking the Federal Election Commission to push his financial disclosure deadline until after those states vote.
Warren’s comments came just days after the FEC granted Bloomberg’s request to delay publicly disclosing his finances until March 20, which is well after voters in over a dozen states cast their votes in the primary election. All presidential candidates must disclose their investments and streams of income, though Bloomberg is the only Democratic candidate to have not yet filed the paperwork. 
The timing of the delay matters because the former New York City mayor has decided against campaigning in early voting states to instead invest his money in later states. The FEC delay means that Bloomberg is denying early state voters important information about his finances and how he spends his money.
“If he has entanglements with China, serious conflicts of interest, business interests in other parts of the world or other corporations, when are we going to know about that? Not until after Super Tuesday,” Warren said Sunday at the We the People 2020 forum moderated by HuffPost’s Amanda Terkel and Kevin Robillard in Des Moines, Iowa. “That is not how democracy is supposed to work.”
Warren on Bloomberg delaying his FEC deadline: “If he has entanglements with China, serious conflicts of interest, business interests in other parts of the world or other corporations. When are we going to know about that? Not until after Super Tuesday.”— Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou (@misyrlena) January 19, 2020

The Bloomberg campaign did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment. 
Warren was asked at the forum whether she’d take Bloomberg’s money in the general election if she won the Democratic nomination, referring to the billionaire’s recent comments that he’d spend big to help whoever is the nominee beat President Donald Trump, even if that nominee is not Bloomberg himself. While the senator did not completely reject the notion that she’d embrace Bloomberg’s efforts, she stressed that she is running a grassroots campaign and will not sell special access ― something she has declared before.
“He wants to put money into getting a Democrat elected? Good for him,” Warren said. “But understand this: I do not sell access to my time. I don’t spend time sucking up to billionaires. People want to make a contribution, that’s great. But I’m going to keep fighting the fight I’m fighting, and that is a fight to make this government work, to make this democracy work, not just for a thinner and thinner slice at the top [but] to make it work for everyone. That’s why I’m here.” 
Warren has criticized Bloomberg several times as she makes an issue of the advantages of the billionaire class, an integral part of her presidential campaign thanks to her proposed wealth tax that would levy an annual two-cent tax on net worth over $50 million and a 6% tax on fortunes over $1 billion.
In November, the senator accused him of trying to “buy the nomination” after he paid for at least $37 million in campaign ads over a two-week period. In December, she appeared for an interview that aired on Bloomberg’s own media network, Bloomberg TV, and said she was deeply “concerned” that the billionaire had already spent so much on the presidential race and alluded that he was only doing so to save money on his taxes.

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China Reports 17 New Cases Of Deadly SARS-Like Virus Ahead Of Lunar New Year Holiday




BEIJING (AP) — Seventeen more people in central China have been diagnosed with a new form of viral pneumonia that has killed two patients and placed other countries on alert as millions of Chinese travel for Lunar New Year holidays.
In total, 62 cases of the novel coronavirus have been identified in the city of Wuhan, where the virus appears to have originated. The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported the new cases in a statement Sunday.
Nineteen of those individuals have been discharged from the hospital, while two men in their 60s — one with severe preexisting conditions — have died from the illness. Eight are in critical condition.
At least a half-dozen countries in Asia and three U.S. airports have started screening incoming airline passengers from central China. The list includes Thailand and Japan, which have together reported three cases of the disease in people who had come from Wuhan.
Los Angeles International Airport is now screening passengers arriving from Wuhan, China, for symptoms of a mysterious, deadly new virus. #lax #coronavirus @NBCNightlyNews pic.twitter.com/o6onCl9jW7— Sarah Harman (@SarahHarmanNBC) January 18, 2020

In the most recently diagnosed group, ages ranged between 30 and 79, Wuhan’s health commission said. Their initial symptoms were fever and cough.
The health commission’s statement did not say whether these patients had visited the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which has been suspended after many infected individuals reported having either worked at or visited the venue.
Li Gang, director and chief physician of the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told state broadcaster CCTV that “the infectivity of the new coronavirus is not strong.” Infectivity refers to how rapidly the virus may spread between individuals.
Most patients are experiencing mild symptoms, Li said, and no related cases have been found in more than 700 people who came into close contact with infected patients.
This “does not rule out the possibility of limited human-to-human transmission, but the risk of continuous human-to-human transmission is low,” Li said. “With the implementation of our various prevention and control measures, the epidemic can be prevented and controlled.”
The Chinese government is keen to avoid a repeat of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, another coronavirus that started in southern China in late 2002 and spread to more than two dozen countries, killing nearly 800 people.

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National Archives Blurred Out Anti-Trump Messages In Women’s March Photo




In a stunning revelation, officials of the National Archives have admitted that a photo of the 2017 Women’s March was altered to blur-out signs with messages critical of Donald Trump — and words referring to the female anatomy, The Washington Post reported.
Changes included blocking out the name “Trump” in a sign that read “God Hates Trump.” The resulting sign then said simply: “God Hates.” The name was also deliberately blurred in a sign reading “Trump & GOP — Hands Off Women.”
Words on other signs referring to women’s genitals were also altered, according to the Post. The word “vagina” was obliterated in a sign reading: “If my vagina could shoot bullets, it’d be less REGULATED.” The word “pussy” was removed from another message reading: “This Pussy Grabs Back.” The sign was a reference to Trump’s recorded boast about getting away with grabbing women “by the pussy.”
At least four signs were altered by the organization that touts itself as “the nation’s record keeper,” according to the Post.
“As a non-partisan, non-political federal agency, we blurred references to the President’s name on some posters, so as not to engage in current political controversy,” Archives spokeswoman Miriam Kleiman said in a statement to the newspaper.  
As for eliminating references to women’s genitals, the words could be perceived as inappropriate, according to Kleiman.
The 49-by-69-inch photo of the Women’s March by Mario Tama for Getty Images was altered before it was displayed in an exhibit at the National Archives marking the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. The Women’s March was held the day after Trump’s inauguration.
David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States appointed in 2009 by then President Barack Obama, reportedly participated in talks about the display, and supported the decision to change the photo.
Furious critics complained that the institution is supposed to be a reliable record of reality.
Doctoring an image honoring women’s rights is particularly disturbing, Purdue History Professor Wendy Kline said in an email to the Post. It “buys right into the notion that it’s okay to silence women’s voice and actions,” she wrote. “It is literally erasing something that was accurately captured on camera. That’s an attempt to erase a powerful message.”
Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley told the Post that “there’s no reason for the National Archives to ever digitally alter a historic photograph. If they don’t want to use a specific image, then don’t use it. But to confuse the public is reprehensible.”
Kleiman said the “mission” of the Archives’ is to “safeguard and provide access to the nation’s most important federal records,′ even, apparently, when those records are modified to no longer be accurate.
Officials refused to reveal any other records that had been changed, the Post reported. 
Critics of the move erupted on Twitter.
Disappointed in ⁦@USNatArchives⁩ (& the Archivist appointed by Obama). You’ve created political controversy in attempting to avoid it. & by erasing women’s voices, you insult the suffrage movement & minimize the response to Trump’s actions & election https://t.co/hQYZi2Qm5E— Rudy Mehrbani (@RudyMehrbani) January 18, 2020

This is some weird soviet shit right here https://t.co/RBFe55UiMS— Adam Serwer🍝 (@AdamSerwer) January 18, 2020

“A placard that proclaims “God Hates Trump” has “Trump” blotted out so that it reads “God Hates.” A sign that reads “Trump & GOP — Hands Off Women” has the word Trump blurred out.” https://t.co/uSh034dZpo— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) January 18, 2020

I expect this in China or Russia — but at the National Archives in DC? Presenters of an exhibit altered photos of Women’s March to blur signs critical of Trump. By @JoeHeim. https://t.co/x893YzpgZJ— Edward Wong (@ewong) January 18, 2020

We are so far down the rabbit hole of authoritarianism:“The Archives acknowledged this week that it made multiple alterations to the photo of the 2017 Women’s March showcased at the museum, blurring signs held by marchers that were critical of Trump.” https://t.co/scBuiyQeCc— Amy Siskind 🏳️‍🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) January 18, 2020

Erasing history… I did nazi that cominghttps://t.co/8VljPk5tMM— William LeGate 🧢 (@williamlegate) January 18, 2020

The archives told you to reject the evidence of your eyes & ears. It was their final, most essential command. The fiction was necessary, they said, to rid us of bias.That and the guy in charge was scared of vaginas.heckuva job, ⁦@archivesnews⁩👏 https://t.co/AvbLqAHw0C— Mar Hicks (@histoftech) January 18, 2020

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U.S. To Screen Airline Passengers From China For New Illness




NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials announced Friday that they will begin screening airline passengers arriving from central China for a new virus that has sickened dozens and killed two, prompting worries about a new international outbreak.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say they will begin taking temperatures and asking about symptoms of passengers at three U.S. airports who traveled from the outbreak city of Wuhan.
Officials estimate roughly 5,000 passengers will go through the process in the next couple of weeks at New York City’s JFK International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport. The first direct flight was expected Friday night at JFK, and the next expected Saturday morning in San Francisco.
More than 40 cases of the newly identified coronavirus have been confirmed in Asia, including two deaths — at least one involving a previous medical condition. Officials have said it probably spread from animals to people but haven’t been able to rule out the possibility that it spreads from person to person.
So far, the risk to the American public is deemed to be low, but the CDC wants to be prepared and is taking precautions, Dr. Martin Cetron said.
It’s always possible a virus can mutate to become more dangerous. It’s also likely that more cases will spring up around the world, including at least one at some point in the United States, said another CDC official, Dr. Nancy Messonnier.
At least a half-dozen countries in Asia have started screening incoming airline passengers from central China. The list includes Thailand and Japan, which both have reported cases of the disease in people who had come from Wuhan. Travel is unusually heavy right now as people take trips to and from China to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
The CDC said the airport screenings are part of an effort to better detect and prevent the virus from the same family of bugs that caused an international outbreaks of SARS and MERS that began in 2002 and 2012.
The CDC did not screen incoming passengers during those outbreaks, and some public health experts questioned whether they should do so now.
“It’s not a particularly effective intervention, and it potentially offers a false sense of security,” said Dr. Kamran Khan, a University of Toronto researcher who has studied airport screenings during the SARS and Ebola outbreaks.
Screeners likely will flag a lot of people with other germs — it is flu season — while missing infections from the new virus. Experts believe it may take up to two weeks between the time someone is infected and when they come down with a fever and other symptoms.
The only time the CDC has done airport screenings was in 2014, when health officials screened thousands of passengers from three West African countries for Ebola but detected no illnesses. In fact, one passenger who was infected but had no symptoms passed through the screenings and then developed symptoms after arriving in the United States.
Some have argued measures like this have less to do with good science than with politicians hoping to convince the public that the government is doing something to protect them.
Cetron rejected that notion. “There’s widespread consensus we should be doing this now,” among both political appointees and government scientists, he said.
Late last month, doctors in central China began seeing cases of a new type of viral pneumonia in people who worked at or visited a food market in the suburbs of Wuhan. The most common symptoms were fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
This month, health authorities identified it as a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause the common cold; others found in bats, camels and other animals have evolved into more severe illnesses.
SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, belongs to the coronavirus family, but Chinese state media say the illness in Wuhan is different from coronaviruses that have been identified in the past. Earlier laboratory tests ruled out SARS and MERS — Middle East respiratory syndrome — as well as influenza, bird flu, adenovirus and other common lung-infecting germs.
CDC officials said Friday that they are not certain if China has begun screening passengers before they board airplanes to travel abroad, but it’s been discussed.
The New York and San Francisco airports each receive three direct flights from Wuhan each week, Cetron said. Los Angeles International gets significant numbers of passengers who start their journeys in Wuhan but change planes in Beijing.
People with symptoms who seem like they might be infected will undergo testing for flu or other possible causes. Specimens can be sent to CDC for specialized testing for the new virus, though it can take a day for those results to come back, CDC officials said.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Trump Preens About Getting Fireworks Back To Mount Rushmore In Time For Fire Season




In an odd detour during the signing of the first part of the trade deal with China, President Donald Trump boasted about bringing back summer fireworks to Mount Rushmore. He said they had been blocked because of some “environmental reasons” — in a drought-stricken area threatened by wildfires.
As confused Chinese officials patiently waited Wednesday in the East Room of the White House, Trump also falsely indicated at one point that there had never been July 4th fireworks at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota (though he also said there have been none in 20 years). 
In fact, there were major fireworks displays for several years at the Black Hills monument, which features massive stone carvings of the busts of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. But they were halted after 2009 when an infestation of pine beetles killed thousands of surrounding trees, turning them into potentially explosive tinder.
“What can burn? It’s stone, you know, it’s stone,” Trump told a group of people witnessing the trade deal signing, including South Dakota farmers and Gov. Kristi Noem. “So I called up our people and within about 15 minutes we got it approved, and you’re going to have your first big fireworks display at Mount Rushmore, and I’ll try to get out there if I can.”
The fireworks had been canceled because of the “unacceptable risk of wildfire,” said a 2011 statement from the National Parks Service. “Efforts are on-going … to combat the Mountain Pine Beetle and reduce fire danger, however, the condition of the forest in the surrounding area continues to deteriorate and will remain a concern for the foreseeable future. The park service is committed to being responsible stewards of the land, as well as responsible neighbors, and to do that we need to take every conceivable precaution to mitigate the fire danger. ”
A CNN fact-check on Trump’s statement found that there was no “15-minute” turnaround in the policy. In fact, National Park officials — who are consulting with local tribes and weighing effects on wildlife — are still considering whether to allow fireworks as climate change continues to boost fire danger in dry regions of the nation. A 2016 report by the U.S. Geological Survey also found that past fireworks displays likely contaminated groundwater within the memorial site. An NPS proposal concerning fireworks will be available early this year for public comment.
Noem has been pushing for a resumption of fireworks, arguing in a statement in May that the surrounding forest has “gained strength” and that “advancements in pyrotechnics allow for a safe fireworks display.” If the fireworks display does return, she said, she hopes to attend the event with Trump.
Trump opens his mouth, once again, only to reveal how clueless he truly is.Claims there will be fireworks at Mount Rushmore this 4th of July.There’s no fire hazard there cuz it’s nothing but a “bunch of rocks.”Sounds like the perfect metaphor for the inside of his head. https://t.co/avaQ1Os42h pic.twitter.com/EgsZ1Ie84Y— Billy Baldwin (@BillyBaldwin) January 15, 2020

Trump announced plans for a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore on July 4, 2020.#NoFireworksThis process includes tribal consultation and an evaluation by the NPS which is ongoing. The proposal will be available for public comment sometime in early 2020.https://t.co/FCZpocWlzP pic.twitter.com/7ZsR0QVf06— Garry Van Kirk (Iwastela Wasʼagya) (@Trumenza) January 16, 2020

Today, Trump confirmed fireworks at Mt Rushmore this July 4th. Fireworks displays were stopped because they kept causing fires–not surprising in July. The President said, “What can burn? It’s stone.” Here’s an aerial view: pic.twitter.com/kXVgkjYQ0h— Jim Whittington (@JimWhittington) January 16, 2020

NATIONAL PARKS: ‘What can burn?’ #Trump promises #fireworks at #MountRushmore — Thursday, January 16, 2020 — https://t.co/snjgldnrxl⁦@NatlParkService⁩ https://t.co/PYY80L08aZ— Rob Hotakainen (@HotakainenRob) January 16, 2020

Anyone who has ever been to Mount Rushmore knows that there is a forest nearby. https://t.co/a8VKJvugDd— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) January 15, 2020

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Trump Signs First Phase Of China Trade Agreement




WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump signed a trade agreement Wednesday with China that is expected to boost exports from U.S. farmers and manufacturers and is aimed at lowering tensions in a long-running dispute between the economic powers.
Trump said during a White House ceremony that the deal is “righting the wrongs of the past.” He promoted the signing as a way of delivering economic justice for American workers and said, “We mark a sea change in international trade” with the signing.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping, in a letter to Trump that was read by Beijing’s chief negotiator Liu He, said concluding the first phase of the trade deal was “good for China, the U.S. and for the whole world”
But the “Phase 1” trade agreement would do little to force China to make the major economic changes such as reducing unfair subsidies for its own companies that the Trump administration sought when it started the trade war by imposing tariffs on Chinese imports in July 2018.
The White House ceremony gave Trump a chance to cite progress on a top economic priority on the same day that the House prepared to vote to send articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial.
“Our efforts have yielded a transformative deal that will bring benefits to both countries,″ Trump said. He added: ”K eeping these two giant and powerful nations together in harmony is so important for the world” and said “the world is watching today.”
The agreement is intended to ease some U.S. economic sanctions on China while Beijing would step up purchases of American farm products and other goods. Trump cited beef, pork, poulty, seafood, rice and dairy products as examples.
The deal would lower tensions in a trade dispute that has slowed global growth, hurt American manufacturers and weighed on the Chinese economy.
In remarks to an audience of administration officials, lawmakers and business leaders, Trump said before the signing that the “unbelievable deal” would benefit both countries and “lead to even a more stable peace throughout the world.″
Thornier trade-related issues are expected to be taken up in future rounds of negotiations. But it’s unclear when those talks might begin, and few observers expect much progress before the U.S. presidential election in November.
“It is imperative that we develop trade and economic rules and practices that allow us both to prosper. The alternative is not acceptable for either of us,” said Trump’s chief trade representative, Robert Lighthizer.
His Chinese counterpart said “the world is now at a critical historical crossroads” facing choices of how to promote country-to-country cooperation.
“Cooperation is the only right choice,″ said Liu, the vice premier.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday described an initial trade agreement with China as “righting the wrongs of the past and delivering a future of economic justice and security for American workers, farmers and families.”
The president was preparing to sign a trade agreement with China that is expected to boost exports from U.S. farmers and manufacturers and ease trade tensions between the two countries going into November’s presidential election.
For Trump, the White House ceremony gives him the opportunity to cite progress on a top economic priority on the same day that the House votes to send articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial.
Trump and China’s chief trade negotiator, Liu He, met at the White House to sign the modest agreement. It is intended to ease some U.S. economic sanctions on China while Beijing would step up purchases of American farm products and other goods. The deal would lower tensions in a fight that has slowed global growth, hurt American manufacturers and weighed on the Chinese economy.
But the “Phase 1” agreement would do little to force China to make the major economic changes such as reducing unfair subsidies for its own companies that the Trump administration sought when it started the trade war by imposing tariffs on Chinese imports in July 2018.
Larry Kudlow, Trump’s chief economic adviser, said the agreement vindicated the president’s strategy of using tariffs in trade negotiations, though not in every instance. “I think with China he was exactly right,” Kudlow said. ”I think the tough tariffs hurt their economy and made them much more amenable to a good deal.”
Most analysts say any meaningful resolution of the main U.S. allegation — that Beijing uses predatory tactics in its drive to supplant America’s technological supremacy — could require years of contentious talks. Skeptics say a satisfactory resolution may be next to impossible given China’s ambitions to become the global leader in such advanced technologies as driverless cars and artificial intelligence.
This first phase “hardly addresses in any substantive way the fundamental sources of trade and economic tensions between the two sides, which will continue to fester,” said Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University economist and and former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division.
The thornier issues are expected to be taken up in future rounds of negotiations. But it’s unclear when those talks might begin, and few observers expect much progress before the U.S. presidential election in November.
“Phase 2 ― I wouldn’t wait by the phone,’’ said John Veroneau, who was a U.S. trade official when George W. Bush was president and is now co-chair of the international trade practice at the law firm Covington & Burling. “That is probably a 2021 issue.’’
The U.S. has dropped plans to impose tariffs on an additional $160 billion in Chinese imports, and it cut in half, to 7.5%, existing tariffs on $110 billion of good from China.
Beijing agreed to significantly increase its purchases of U.S. products. According to the Trump administration, China is to buy $40 billion a year in U.S. farm products — an ambitious goal for a country that has never imported more than $26 billion a year in U.S. agricultural products.
The deal may be most notable for what it doesn’t do. It leaves in place tariffs on about $360 billion in Chinese imports — a level of protectionism that would have been unthinkable before Trump took office.
Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs affect more than half of American exports to China. The average U.S. tariff on Chinese imports has risen from 3% in January 2018 to 21% now.
The administration argues that the deal is a solid start that includes Chinese commitments to do more to protect intellectual property, curb the practice of forcing foreign companies to hand over sensitive technology and refrain from manipulating their currency lower to benefit Chinese exporters. In advance of Wednesday’s signing, the Treasury Department on Monday dropped its designation of China as a currency manipulator.
By maintaining significant tariffs on Chinese imports, the administration retains leverage to force Beijing to abide by its commitments — something the United States says Beijing has failed to do for decades.
The administration contends that however narrow the first phase may be, it represents a significant breakthrough.
Derek Scissors, China specialist at the American Enterprise Institute, said the trade war has already delivered a benefit for Trump, even if it hasn’t forced Beijing to make major changes to its economic policy: Trump’s tariffs have reduced Chinese exports to the United States and narrowed America’s trade deficit with China.
The president has long lambasted the U.S. trade gap with Beijing as a sign of economic weakness, though many economists disagree. A wide trade deficit can actually reflect economic strength because it means that a nation’s consumers feel prosperous and confident enough to spend freely — on imported goods as well as on home-grown goods.
So far this year, the U.S. deficit with China in the trade of goods has declined by 16%, or $62 billion, to $321 billion compared with a year earlier. The deficit will narrow further if Beijing lives up to its pledges to buy dramatically more American imports.
Trump’s tariff increase have proved to be a headwind for China’s economy, which was already slowing, though the damage has been less than some expected. Chinese global exports eked out a 0.5% increase in 2019 despite a plunge in sales to the United States, according to Chinese customs data.
Chinese exporters responded to Trump’s tariff hikes by shipping goods to the United States through other countries and by stepping up sales to Asia, Europe and Africa. The government reported double-digit gains in 2019 exports to France, Canada, Australia, Brazil and Southeast Asia.
Economists said the tariff war slowed Chinese growth, which hit a multi-decade low of 6% in the quarter ending in September, by as little as 0.6 percentage point. Weak domestic demand and the cooling of a construction boom inflicted more damage.

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