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Trump campaign sues The New York Times over a 2019 Russia op-ed
Wed, 26 Feb 2020 15:36:42 -0500

Trump campaign sues The New York Times over a 2019 Russia op-edPresident Trump loves to threaten lawsuits against the media, but it looks like he's now actually filing one.The Trump campaign announced Wednesday it's suing The New York Times for libel over a 2019 opinion column, "The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo" by Max Frankel. In the op-ed, Frankel writes "there was no need for detailed electoral collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin's oligarchy because they had an overarching deal: the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration's burdensome economic sanctions."In a statement, the campaign's legal adviser claims these statements were "100 percent false and defamatory" and the Times "was aware of the falsity at the time it published them." Axios notes that to win this lawsuit, the campaign would need to prove the Times acted with "actual malice," which is usually a "high bar" to clear.The Times said Wednesday the Trump campaign has "turned to the courts to try to punish an opinion writer for having an opinion they find unacceptable." But "fortunately," the Times added, "the law protects the right of Americans to express their judgments and conclusions, especially about events of public importance."Trump has long threatened to sue media organizations for coverage he's unhappy with, but he generally hasn't ended up following through. As for why, The Washington Post explained in 2018 when Trump threatened to sue the Times over a story about his taxes that "not only would Trump be unlikely to win such a claim, according to legal experts, he would be required as part of the discovery process to provide private financial documents that he has long resisted making public."This is something pundits immediately took note of on Wednesday, with The Daily Beast's Harry Siegel tweeting, "The Times has to be licking its lips thinking about discovery here if the suit gets that far."More stories from Harvard scientist predicts coronavirus will infect up to 70 percent of humanity Knives Out director reveals a character's phone could give away if they're the bad guy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says it was 'horrifying' the debate didn't have any climate change questions. Bernie Sanders agrees.

Pelosi urges Democratic unity amid Sanders' campaign surge
Wed, 26 Feb 2020 15:21:03 -0500

Pelosi urges Democratic unity amid Sanders' campaign surgeSpeaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday urged party unity amid Bernie Sanders' surge in the presidential race, even as House Democrats worry about a volatile election season that could put a self-described democratic socialist atop the ticket and threaten their majority.

How can we prepare for the coronavirus? 3 questions answered
Wed, 26 Feb 2020 15:16:24 -0500

How can we prepare for the coronavirus? 3 questions answeredEditor’s note: Public health officials in the U.S. warned that the coronavirus, which has in large part spared the U.S., is coming and that the country needs to be prepared. But just what does this mean for you, as well as for public health officials? Aubree Gordon, public health scholar at the University of Michigan, explains. 1\. How do we prepare for something we can’t predict?First and foremost, people need to be prepared for their daily life to be affected by public health measures that are put into place to try to limit the spread of the virus.This could be anything from relatively benign social distancing measures, such as canceling large gatherings, to measures that may have a larger impact on day-to-day life, such as school and business closures. It is also possible that people may be asked to remain in their homes for an extended period of time if there is a large outbreak in their local area, such as what has occurred in China. To prepare for this, it is best to have a two-week supply of food, personal hygiene items and sufficient supplies of any required prescription or nonprescription drugs. It is also important to keep copies of medical records for reference. 2\. The US has only 57 cases so far. Why might that increase?So far, all cases in the U.S. have been imported or directly connected to travel. That is, either someone came to the U.S. who was infected or had contact with someone who had recently traveled out of the country. To track down these cases, public health officials have been testing all travelers who present symptoms that have recently been to China, have been in contact with a recent traveler from China, where the outbreak started, or had contact with a confirmed case. People who tested positive have been isolated. In addition, travelers returning from locations of outbreaks have been asked to quarantine themselves in their houses or have been quarantined by the U.S. government for 14 days in order to prevent onward transmission in the event that they were infected but not yet showing symptoms. However, as the virus establishes itself in multiple countries, the U.S. will have more introductions, meaning that travelers will bring it into the U.S. from other countries. It is inevitable that we will miss some cases, which will result in community transmission in the U.S. In addition, right now public health systems are concentrating on testing individuals with connections to known outbreak locations or confirmed cases. Public health officials and medical personnel are looking for the cases in the most likely places, but that means that we may not detect cases early where we are not expecting them. U.S. officials will know this has happened if they detect a cluster of severe cases, at which point there likely will have been multiple rounds of transmission, and an outbreak will have begun. 3\. What has changed to make public health officials more worried?The outbreaks are now occurring in multiple countries. Also, the fact that there are multiple, concurrent outbreaks – and that public health officials do not know the scope of those outbreaks – is worrisome. As the virus spreads into more countries, particularly those with weaker health systems, it will become much harder to control the spread worldwide. As the number of cases increases in a location, the likelihood that someone who is traveling from that location is infected increases. And, this in turn, increases the probability of the virus being introduced into another location.For example, there had been very few cases of COVID-19 detected in Italy until Feb. 22, 2020, and they were all related to travel. However, a few days later, officials detected a cluster of COVID-19 cases. There was no clear link to travel in the confirmed cases, indicating that community transmission was occurring. Now, cases imported from Italy, either by Italian tourists or by citizens returning from Italy, have been detected in multiple countries. Likewise, Iran now has community transmission and has exported cases to multiple countries. In the coming weeks and months, this pattern will likely repeat itself in multiple locations.[Get the best of The Conversation, every weekend. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.Read more: * Airplanes spread diseases quickly – so maybe unvaccinated people shouldn’t be allowed to fly * Coronavirus: We need to start preparing for the next viral outbreak nowAubree Gordon receives funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Trump's coronavirus response is worse than incompetent
Wed, 26 Feb 2020 15:12:32 -0500

Trump's coronavirus response is worse than incompetentThe global spread of coronavirus is verging on pandemic status. While the rate of new infection appears to be slowing in China thanks to drastic mass quarantines and clampdowns on movement, other outbreaks in Iran, South Korea, and Italy have still not been controlled. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warned that an outbreak in the United States was probably just a matter of time.This could be the greatest crisis faced by President Trump. But not only is he obviously incapable of handling the problem, he has already done tremendous damage to America's pandemic response system. The United States is highly vulnerable to epidemic disease because the president is a corrupt, tyrannical moron who can't do the job.As I wrote earlier this week, Trump's model of governance is classic authoritarian corruption. He has stacked the bureaucracy with cronies whose only qualification is personal loyalty to Trump. He's recently charged a former college football quarterback with purging the civil service of Trump critics, and appointed Richard Grenell — a man with no intelligence experience who illegally lobbied for Hungary without registering as a foreign agent — as acting director of national intelligence.Now, Trump is responding to bad news about COVID-19 (WHO's more accurate name for coronavirus) in typical authoritarian fashion — with denial. In a tweet, he insisted the media was hyping the problem to bring down the stock market.> Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape! @CDCgov.....> > — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2020And this is consistent with the diseased propaganda that grips the brains of basically the entire Republican Party. Right-wing commentators are already pushing conspiracy theories about the outbreak, no doubt driven by fear that the disease will hurt Trump's reelection prospects — like some crackpot who falsely asserted COVID-19 is a Chinese bioweapon, which was then amplified by Ben Shapiro, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and the Trump administration itself. Others are suggesting that one CDC official is raising the alarm because she is the sister of former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (who was pushed out for insufficient fealty to Trump). On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh scoffed: "Yeah, I'm dead right on this. The coronavirus is the common cold, folks," and asserted the media was hyping up the disease in an attempt to harm Trump. He said the fatality rate was a mere 2 percent, adding, "That's less than the flu, folks."Limbaugh's mostly elderly listeners might be interested to learn that the actual fatality rate for the normal flu is about 0.1 percent, and while the overall death rate for COVID-19 indeed seems to be about 2.3 percent, deaths are heavily concentrated among the old. An initial study found 8 percent of people between 70-79 who caught the virus died, and 15 percent of those over 80. At that rate, if just 10 percent of the American population caught the virus, about 750,000 people would die.All this makes an interesting contrast with Trump's behavior during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, when he accused the CDC of lying about how contagious the disease was, demanded that all U.S. citizens with the disease be left to die, and attacked President Obama for appointing a single person to coordinate the outbreak response (which did indeed bring it under control).But Trump's denial of the problem also goes way beyond rhetoric. Over the last two years, Trump has hacked away at the funding and agencies responsible for defending Americans from viral threats. As Laurie Garrett writes in Foreign Policy, back in 2018, Trump "fired the government's entire pandemic response chain of command, including the White House management infrastructure." That same year the CDC cut its efforts to fight global diseases by 80 percent due to lack of funding. Trump's administration slashed funding for disease combat across the board, and eliminated a $30 million Complex Crisis Fund.His recent proposed budget would gut $3 billion in funding for health security. He would slash funding for State Department and USAID global health programs by a third, cut the CDC budget by 7 percent, cut the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by 58 percent, and reduce U.S. contributions to the World Health Organization by half.He also has repeatedly proposed enormous cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, and allowed states to throw thousands off the latter program. Republicans have systematically undermined and weakened ObamaCare, exacerbating a structural weakness to epidemics in American society — our garbage health care system. Tens of millions of Americans have no insurance and tens of millions of others cannot afford to use the coverage they do have — meaning many will hesitate to go to the doctor to get tested for fear of being gouged by rapacious medical providers. Indeed, a Florida man who caught the flu in China did the responsible thing and went to the hospital to be tested for COVID-19; when it came back negative, he was slapped with a $1,400 bill despite being insured.A major reason the coronavirus outbreak got out of hand in the first place is because of the Chinese government's inept initial response. They have since taken drastic action that while repressive, seems to finally be at least slowing the spread. The Chinese Communist Party may be corrupt and incompetent, but at least they are not gripped by delusional fruitcake propaganda and conspiracy theories.It remains to be seen whether or not America will actually suffer an outbreak. But if it does, even the brutal Chinese Communist methods of fighting one will be off the table. President Trump is simply too incompetent to manage that, or anything else. Any efforts to beat COVID-19 will have to be done in spite of the vacant, doddering lunatic at the center of American power.Want more essential commentary and analysis like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for The Week's "Today's best articles" newsletter here.More stories from Harvard scientist predicts coronavirus will infect up to 70 percent of humanity Knives Out director reveals a character's phone could give away if they're the bad guy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says it was 'horrifying' the debate didn't have any climate change questions. Bernie Sanders agrees.

Satellite almost on empty gets new life after space docking
Wed, 26 Feb 2020 15:06:04 -0500

Satellite almost on empty gets new life after space dockingA communication satellite almost out of fuel has gotten a new life after the first space docking of its kind. Northrop Grumman and Intelsat announced the successful link-up nearly 22,500 miles (36,000 kilometers) above Earth on Wednesday. The recently launched satellite — Northrop Grumman's Mission Extension Vehicle, or MEV-1 — will serve as a guide dog of sorts for its aging Intelsat companion.

Trump sues New York Times for libel over Russia interference story
Wed, 26 Feb 2020 15:01:00 -0500

Trump sues New York Times for libel over Russia interference storyDonald Trump's re-election campaign has filed a libel lawsuit against the New York Times, accusing America's newspaper of record of intentionally publishing a false story last year about Russia's interference in the 2016 election.In the lawsuit, which the campaign annouced was filed in New York State Supreme Court on Wednesday, the campaign alleges that the Times published a false story on 27 March 2019 claiming that Mr Trump and his campaign had engaged in a deal with the allies of Russian president Vladimir Putin to help his campaign in 2016 in exhange for a pro-Russia policy once Mr Trump became president.

How Biden's Campaign Explains His 'Arrest' in South Africa
Wed, 26 Feb 2020 14:50:26 -0500

How Biden's Campaign Explains His 'Arrest' in South AfricaCHARLESTON, S.C. -- At least three times this month, Joe Biden has asserted that he was arrested as he sought to visit the anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela in prison, even saying that Mandela later thanked him for going to such an effort.And for a week, Biden's campaign declined to answer questions seeking comment and clarification on those remarks, which were rebutted by a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in an article in The New York Times. Biden did not mention the episode in his memoir, had not spoken of it prominently on the campaign trail, and a review of available news accounts by The Times did not turn up any mention of an arrest.But Tuesday, Kate Bedingfield, a deputy campaign manager, said Biden was referring to an episode in which he was separated from black colleagues in Johannesburg while on a congressional delegation trip to South Africa in the 1970s. It was the campaign's first explanation to date -- but one that still left many questions unanswered and did not square with Biden's most recent remarks."He was separated from his party at the airport," Bedingfield said when pressed by reporters following Tuesday's presidential debate here.When a reporter noted that being separated did not constitute an arrest, she repeated: "It was a separation. They, he was not allowed to go through the same door that the -- the rest of the party he was with. Obviously, it was apartheid South Africa. There was a white door, there was a black door. He did not want to go through the white door and have the rest of the party go through the black door. He was separated. This was during a trip while they were there in Johannesburg."Bedingfield's account echoes comments Biden has made in the past, including in his 2013 statement marking Mandela's death -- but that is not what he has relayed most recently as he campaigned in Nevada and South Carolina, two diverse states."I had the great honor of meeting him," he said of Mandela, speaking in South Carolina earlier this month. "I had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him" on Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned. Soweto is more than 700 miles away from Robben Island.Andrew Young, who was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 1977 to 1979, told The Times that he had traveled with Biden to South Africa but had never been arrested there, and he cast doubt on the idea that members of Congress were arrested in the country."No, I was never arrested and I don't think he was, either," Young said in a telephone interview last week.Biden also said recently that when Mandela was released, the civil rights leader thanked Biden during a trip to Washington."After he got free and became president, he came to Washington and came to my office," Biden said of Mandela while speaking in Las Vegas. "He threw his arms around me and said, 'I want to say thank you.' I said, 'What are you thanking me for, Mr. President?' He said, 'You tried to see me. You got arrested trying to see me.'"Bedingfield said that "it was a reference to Mandela coming to D.C. after he was released from prison, he met with Senator Biden, thanked him for his work, his anti-apartheid work."She went on to cite Biden's "long record fighting apartheid" and said he was "one of the leading voices in the United States Senate in the '80s" on the issue.Although Biden has previously said that Mandela thanked him for his support of anti-apartheid sanctions, that was not his emphasis as he campaigned this month and spoke three times of being arrested.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

U.S. Reports 15th Case; 3M Rises on Mask Demand: Virus Update
Wed, 26 Feb 2020 14:45:45 -0500

U.S. Reports 15th Case; 3M Rises on Mask Demand: Virus Update(Bloomberg) -- U.S. President Donald Trump and federal health officials plan to brief the public Wednesday on efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. A top American health official said that the increase in outbreaks outside China will make it harder to keep the virus outside the U.S.New infections were diagnosed in countries from Pakistan to Brazil, which reported the first case in Latin America, while Italy and Iran confirmed additional patients with the disease. Germany said it was likely at the start of an epidemic, and 700 people remained confined in a hotel in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands.Chevron Corp. asked traders and other staff at its Canary Wharf office in London to work from home as a precaution after an employee was tested for the coronavirus.Key DevelopmentsChina death toll at 2,715, Hubei province adds 52 fatalitiesU.S. confirms 15th case, not including ship evacueesGlobally 2,771 have died and 81,233 people have been infectedStocks rise in U.S., pare losses in EuropeHong Kong sets stimulus package with one-time cash handoutsClick VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.Nestle Bans Travel by Employees Until Next Month (2:43 p.m. NY)Nestle SA, the world’s largest food and beverage company, told employees to avoid traveling for business reasons until the middle of next month to keep from contracting or spreading the coronavirus.The Swiss maker of KitKat snack bars and Nespresso capsules “shares global concerns over the spread and impact on public health of coronavirus,” it said by email.Nestle, which employs 291,000 people worldwide, is one of the first multinationals to take such a decisive step in the face of the outbreak. The Nestle measure extends to March 15 and will be reviewed, the company said.3M Climbs as Virus Boosts Mask Demand (2:10 p.m. NY)3M Co. rose the most in almost three months as Melius Research upgraded the shares to buy from hold, citing demand for N95 respirator masks now in short supply.U.S. health officials said there could be a need for 300 million facemasks to combat a domestic coronavirus outbreak. St. Paul, Minnesota-based 3M, which makes everything from dental equipment to Post-it notes, is the biggest supplier of the masks, which are widely used by health-care workers.Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told a House panel Wednesday that the U.S. has about 12 million N95 respirators stockpiled currently, but would need significantly more in the event of an outbreak in the country.Azar Says 15th Case Confirmed in U.S. (2 p.m. NY)Azar said the U.S. has a 15th confirmed case of the coronavirus. His count doesn’t include the 42 passengers who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship or three who were repatriated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.Nassau County Monitoring 83 People (1:40 p.m. NY)Health officials in Nassau County on New York’s Long Island are monitoring 83 people who have visited mainland China or may have come in contact with the new coronavirus, officials said Wednesday.Radio station 1010 WINS, citing County Executive Laura Curran, said six people have been tested so far and that five have been confirmed not to have it. Results of the sixth test aren’t in yet.Health officials around the U.S. have been testing hundreds of travelers who had visited China, where the coronavirus originated.Spahn: Germany at Beginning of Epidemic (12:45 p.m. NY)New cases of the virus in the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Wurttemberg are a sign that Germany is “at the beginning of a coronavirus epidemic,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said in Berlin on Wednesday.“It is questionable whether out current strategy of isolating the infection and capping infection chains will work further,” Spahn said. “The probability that this virus will circumvent Germany won’t be fulfilled”Pakistan Confirms First Coronavirus Cases (12:05 p.m. NY)Pakistan’s health minister said the country had identified two cases of coronavirus, the first in the country.Both cases are being treated and are stable, Pakistan health minister Zafar Mirza said on Twitter. “No need to panic, things are under control,” Mirza said.Europe Health Official Predicts Wider Outbreak (11:46 a.m. NY)“It is likely that Europe will see similar developments like in Italy, varying from country to country,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said in an update Wednesday. “The risk of the occurrence of similar clusters, similar to the ones in Italy, associated with Covid-19 in other countries in the EU/EEA and the U.K. is currently considered to be moderate to high,” ECDC said in its risk-assessment report.Even though “we are still in the containment phase,” European Union member states should review their “pandemic plans,” the bloc’s health chief, Stella Kyriakides, said in Rome earlier today.“All Member States need to inform us about their preparedness plans and how they propose to implement them,” Kyriakides said in a press conference, according to a copy of her prepared remarks. “This is the kind of crucial information that we all need to have if the virus spreads further and I urge Member States to share this with us and each other, as this is important for our mutual security.”White House Says Not Planning to Appoint Virus Czar (11:27 a.m. NY)The Trump administration said it doesn’t plan to appoint a “czar” to take over response to the coronavirus, pushing back on a report in Politico that it was considering doing so.White House spokesman Judd Deere said the talk of a czar being appointed wasn’t accurate:Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has been leading an administration task force on the virus, and has said U.S. containment efforts have been working well so far. “I don’t anticipate one, I think this is working extremely well,” he said Wednesday, responding to questions about the appointment of a czar from Congress. “That would be for the president to decide.”Trump Administration Could Seek More Virus Funding (10:45 a.m. NY)Azar suggested the Trump administration may seek more money for a virus response than the $2.5 billion announced on Tuesday. He told a House panel Wednesday that the administration is planning to spend “at least” that amount and would work with Congress on a final figure.“We’re trying to be flexible,” he said in response to questions.Azar on Tuesday faced critical questioning about the administration’s response from members of both parties at congressional hearings on Tuesday. Democrats responded with their own plans to respond to the virus. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday proposed $8.5 billion in spending for the virus response. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump response “meager, anemic,” and a Democratic aide said the House would vote on its own funding plan the week of March 9.State Department Adds Virus to Italy Travel Advisory (10:44 a.m. NY)The U.S. State Department said travelers to Italy should exercise increased caution when traveling there because of the coronavirus outbreak in the region of Lombardy. The State Department notice tells people to take precautions but doesn’t suggest they cancel travel.The department’s warning has been at Level 2 already because of terrorism risk.NIH’s Fauci Says Global Spread Raises U.S. Risk (10 a.m. NY)A top American health official said that the spread of cases outside China will make it harder for the U.S. to keep the coronavirus outside its borders.“The more you see outside of the United States, the greater the risk of it spilling over into the United States,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.“Nothing has changed inside our country, but things have changed outside that may ultimately have an impact here,” Fauci said during a television interview Wednesday.Schumer Prepares $8.5 Billion Funding Request: (9:55 a.m. NY)U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is preparing a request for emergency coronavirus funding totaling $8.5 billion, according to a senior Senate Democratic aide. His request is expected to be finalized early Wednesday and sent to Appropriations committee members.Six Nations Rugby Match on March 7 Is Called Off (9:46 a.m. NY)The Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and Italy, scheduled for March 7, has been called off. Ireland had on Tuesday recommended the match be scrapped on public health grounds.Four More Cases Reported at Resort in Italy (9:30 a.m. NY)The total number of cases in Italy rose to 378. Four infections were reported at a hotel in the coastal resort of Alassio in the Liguria region, which is in lockdown with an adjacent hotel, according to regional Governor Giovanni Toti. Some of the 147 tourists will be transferred and quarantined back home as they don’t show symptoms.Brazil Confirms Coronavirus Case, First in Latin America (9:21 a.m. NY)Brazil has confirmed the first coronavirus case in Latin America and will announce it shortly at a press conference, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.A 61-year-old Brazilian who recently traveled to Northern Italy for work tested positive in a preliminary test, the Health Ministry said in a statement late Tuesday evening. A second round of tests have confirmed the diagnosis, said the person, who isn’t authorized to speak publicly ahead of the press conference.Russia Limits Visas for Iranians, Cuts Korea Flights (9 a.m. NY)Russia has stopped issuing visas to most citizens of Iran and is limiting flights to South Korea, as the country’s top public-health official warned of growing risks that the virus will spread in the country.Authorities are also calling on Russians to refrain from visiting Italy and will extend restrictions already imposed on travel to China until April 1.Though its shares a long land border with China, Russia has so far reported only two local cases of COVID-19, both involving Chinese nationals.Trump Will Hold Coronavirus Press Conference (8:11 a.m. NY)U.S. President Donald Trump said he’ll hold a press conference at the White House Wednesday evening with top health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The White House has been emphasizing that the coronavirus is firmly under control in the U.S., though officials at the CDC have offered up more dire predictions about the virus’s eventual arrival in the U.S. and what the impact would be.U.K. Focused on Containing Virus: Minister (8 a.m. NY)U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said his focus for now is on containing the virus. Britain will roll out a wider public information plan in the coming days and an isolation facility has been set up at London’s Heathrow Airport.EU Health Commissioner Urges Member States to Keep Borders Open (7:28 a.m. NY)European Union member countries plan a joint procurement program to ensure there’s enough protective gear for health-care workers, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said.De Beers Lets Customers Stop Buying Diamonds Destined for China (7:19 a.m. NY)De Beers is allowing its customers to refuse to buy diamonds that are particularly popular with consumers in China and Hong Kong as the coronavirus crisis hits demand in a key gem market, people familiar with the matter said.Vietnam Sees Manufacturing Growth Slowing on Virus (6:47 a.m. NY)Vietnam sees first-quarter growth in the manufacturing sector slowing to 6.28% year-on-year, compared with an earlier projection of 10.47%, if the virus outbreak continues until the end of March.Italy Coronavirus Cases Rise to 374 With 12 Deaths (6:25 a.m. NY)Italy’s coronavirus-linked deaths rose to 12 after a fatality was reported in the Emilia-Romagna region, the head of Civil Protection told a press conference. The total number of cases rose to 374, from 322 previously.Greece Confirms First Coronavirus Case: State-Run ERT TV (6:09 a.m. NY)A 38-year old woman hospitalized in the northern city of Thessaloniki tested positive for the coronavirus, state-run ERT TV reported, citing the Health Ministry.Moody’s Expects Coronavirus to Weigh on 2020 Global Auto Sales (6:48 p.m. HK)Global auto sales are forecast to decline 2.5% in 2020, compared with a previously projected 0.9% drop, Moody’s said in a report.Weibo Says 1Q of 2020 ‘Significantly Impacted’ by Coronavirus (6:06 p.m. HK)Weibo’s first-quarter business has been “significantly impacted” by the coronavirus outbreak in China, the social media platform said.China’s Car Sales Continue to Plunge (5:48 p.m. HK)Retail sales fell 83% from a year earlier in the seven days through Feb. 23, the China Passenger Car Association said on Wednesday. The drop followed a 92% tumble in the first two weeks of February.Europe Cases Rise, More Dead in Iran (5:35 p.m. HK)Italy said cases in Lombardy rose to 259 from 240. France said it found three more cases and reported a fatality.Iran confirmed 44 new cases, taking its total to 139, and the death toll there rose to 19. Bahrain reported a total of 26 cases and shut schools for two weeks, while Kuwait has reported 18 cases so far. Standard Chartered PLC warned Gulf economies will grow at a slower pace than estimated this year as the coronavirus hurts oil demand, trade and tourism.Europe Debt Risk Jumps to Six-Month High (5:30 p.m. HK)The Markit iTraxx Europe Crossover index of credit-default swaps on high-yield companies rises for a third day on Wednesday to its highest since Aug. 23, as the relentless coronavirus spread threatens global growth. The index rose as much as 11.1bps to 268, following a 34-point climb this week.Thailand at Risk of Widespread Outbreak, Minister Says (4:46 p.m. HK)With Thailand’s 40 total confirmed coronavirus cases, the country is at risk of entering “phase 3,” which is the highest level of outbreak advisory, the country’s health minister said.Japanese Doctors Test Avigan to Treat Virus (4:40 p.m. HK)Doctors in Japan are testing several drugs including Fujifilm Holding Corp’s anti-influenza drug Avigan on preclincal research to treat the new coronavirus, according to the health ministry.Fujifilm soared earlier this week following Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato’s comments on the country’s plans to recommend its Avigan drug to treat coronavirus.Spanish Hotel Remains in Lockdown (4:38 p.m. HK)Around 700 guests remained confined to their Canary Islands hotel as Spain stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Italy and other European nations were on high alert.The number of infections in Tenerife has risen to four after two more Italians at the hotel were found to have the virus. Separately, Madrid’s regional government has confirmed a second coronavirus case, Cadena Ser radio reported.Virus to Hurt Diageo, Danone Sales (4:10 p.m. HK)Diageo said the coronavirus will reduce sales by as much as $422 million this year after bars and restaurants were shut in many parts of China. Danone, which sells Evian water, cautioned that first-quarter sales growth will grind to a halt.Hermes International said it’s too early to predict when the Chinese market will recover as the spread of the coronavirus hammers luxury spending there. The French company closed 11 stores in China and has since reopened seven of those.Earlier on Wednesday, Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said 25,000 staff will take unpaid leave. Chief Executive Officer Augustus Tang said in an internal memo that Cathay’s challenges “remain acute,” and thanked employees for their support. The Hong Kong-based airline this month asked its 33,000 workers to take three weeks off between March 1 and June 30.South Korean Cases Jump to 1,146 (4:07 p.m. HK)South Korea confirmed 115 more coronavirus cases, bringing total infections to 1,261. A week ago, the country had only 51 cases. The country is emerging as a second coronavirus hot spot in Asia, as the outbreak in China starts to show signs of plateauing. About two dozen countries have levied restrictions on travelers from South Korea, while flights and tour-group trips to the nation are being canceled.The lack of strong containment measures from the South Korean government in the city of Daegu, where most cases are emerging, is sparking questions over whether the virus will continue to spread through the country.A U.S. soldier stationed at a base near Daegu has tested positive, the first time a U.S. service member has been infected, the United States Forces Command said. U.S. Forces Korea raised the risk level to ‘high.’Businesses Rework Asia Supply Chains (12:46 p.m. HK)More than one-quarter of businesses grappling with coronavirus in Asia say they’re setting up or using supply chains that reduce their reliance on China, according to a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.The poll offers a glimpse into firms’ evolving strategies as confirmed cases of the virus accelerate in countries within and outside Asia, slamming global financial markets and forcing policy makers to unveil stimulus packages and monetary easing.Japan Wants Big Events Halted or Scaled Back (12:28 p.m. HK)Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for major sporting and cultural events to be called off, postponed or scaled down over the next two weeks, saying the move was crucial in preventing the domestic spread of the new coronavirus.Abe introduced a new government plan on Tuesday to control the disease that called on employers to encourage telework and stagger working hours in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease.One major concern facing Abe has been whether the virus will derail Tokyo’s plans to host the Summer Olympics later this year. Japanese and Olympic officials have said there is no change to holding the games as planned, but there is a lot at stake for Abe. Tokyo has been preparing for the games for about seven years, spending more than $26 billion to ready the city, according to some estimates.Hong Kong Unveils $15 Billion Stimulus Package (11:49 a.m. HK)Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan announced a HK$120 billion ($15.4 billion) relief package, in an effort to shore up economic confidence in a city battered by political unrest and the coronavirus. The main feature of Chan’s annual budget announced Wednesday is a payment of HK$10,000 to each permanent resident of the city 18 or older.Carrie Lam’s administration is seeking to put a floor under the collapsing economy, rolling out a bolder budget than has been seen in recent years. Months of political unrest pushed Hong Kong last year into its first annual recession in a decade, with economists forecasting a second annual contraction in 2020 as disruptions from the coronavirus outbreak further depress the city’s output.Brazilian Tests Positive in First Latin America Case (10:44 a.m. HK)A 61-year-old man in Sao Paulo tested positive for the new coronavirus, in what can be the first case of the disease in Latin America. A counter-test is being made by Brazil’s reference hospital, Instituto Adolfo Lutz, the Health Ministry said in a statement published on its website and in its Twitter account.The man traveled to Northern Italy for work Feb. 9 through Feb. 21, and has mild symptoms that match the ones of a suspected Covid-19 infection, the statement said.China Reports 406 Additional Coronavirus Cases (9:50 a.m. HK)China reported 406 new cases from the coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 78,064. China’s death toll rose by 52 to 2,715, with all the fatalities occurring in Hubei province.A total of 29,745 patients have been discharged from hospitals since the outbreak, the commission said. Hubei province, where the outbreak originated, reported 401 additional confirmed cases.Researchers Make Advances in Virus Testing (8:52 a.m. HK)A medical research team in Singapore has managed to establish links between cases in the city-state using a new testing method.Using a serological test developed by researchers from the Duke-NUS Medical School, the team was able to confirm that two individuals had earlier been infected with the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, the Ministry of Health announced Tuesday. Serological tests identify antibodies in blood samples, which the immune system produces in response to an infection.\--With assistance from Fabiola Moura, Andrey Biryukov, Marco Bertacche, Dara Doyle, Tereza Elisabeth Pusca, Brian Parkin and Richard Clough.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Adveith Nair in London at anair29@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stuart Wallace at, Mark SchoifetFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

China slams US over 'attack' on its candidate to UN body
Wed, 26 Feb 2020 14:42:43 -0500

China slams US over 'attack' on its candidate to UN bodyA Chinese ambassador on Wednesday ripped into the U.S. for an “attack” on China's candidate to head a United Nations agency that monitors and tracks intellectual property like patents, trademarks and industrial designs — a lucrative and crucial part of the growing digital age. The comments by Chen Xu, China's ambassador in Geneva, laid bare rising tensions over an alleged U.S. campaign to prevent veteran WIPO official Weng Binyang from becoming director-general of the money-making agency that counts 192 member states.