Tribune News Service

International Budget for Friday, February 14, 2020

Updated at 0400 UTC (11 p.m. U.S. EST Thursday).

Additional news stories, including full U.S. coverage, appear on the MCT-NEWS-BJT and MCT-NEWSFEATURES-BJT.


^China fires officials as coronavirus infections jump<

CORONAVIRUS:LA — Political officials were fired and infection cases skyrocketed in China on Thursday, reminding a nation stuck at home and scientists watching worldwide just how little is known about the coronavirus outbreak that has infected at least 60,000 and killed more than 1,300 people.

Chinese health authorities reported 15,152 new cases of COVID-19 — the World Health Organization's new name for the viral disease — overnight.

950 by Alice Su in Beijing. MOVED



^These Pakistani students want out of coronavirus-stricken Wuhan. Their government says no<

CORONAVIRUS-PAKISTANI-STUDENTS:LA — On Thursday, for the first time in a week, 26-year-old Abdullah left his small dorm room at the Wuhan University of Technology in China to buy fruit and spices to cook the food of his native Pakistan.

As Wuhan is gripped by the coronavirus outbreak, Abdullah and hundreds of Pakistani students are locked down on their campuses, barred by university officials from leaving for days at a time, phone and WeChat messages their only link to the dire situation outside their doors.

While more than 20 countries have evacuated their nationals from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak that has sickened more than 60,000 people worldwide since December, Pakistan has resisted calls to bring home several hundred increasingly worried citizens, many of them students.

For Prime Minister Imran Khan, the decision hinges on health as well as politics.

1000 by Shashank Bengali and Aoun Sahi in Islamabad, Pakistan. MOVED


^US, Taliban mull week of reduced bloodshed to aid Afghan peace talks<

^USTALIBAN-TALKS:DPA—< The United States has negotiated a proposal with the radical Islamist Taliban group to scale back violence for seven days as part of efforts to strike a peace deal in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. defense secretary.

"We've said all along that the best, if not only solution in Afghanistan is a political agreement," Mark Esper said on Thursday at a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels.

"We have the basis for one on the table and we are taking a hard look at it," he adds.

Representatives from the Taliban and the U.S. have been in talks since July 2018 for a solution to the conflicts that have ravaged Afghanistan for 18 years.

550 by Ella Joyner in Brussels. MOVED



^Senate invokes War Powers Act in vote to restrain Trump's military actions in Iran<

USIRAN-CONGRESS:LA — President Donald Trump's ability to use military force against Iran would be restricted unless he first received congressional approval, according to a bipartisan resolution approved by the Senate on Thursday.

But Trump is certain to veto the resolution, and it is unlikely that either the House or Senate would have the two-thirds majority needed to override him, making Thursday's vote more of a symbolic rebuke.

700 by Sarah D. Wire in Washington. MOVED


^Harvey Weinstein is 'an innocent man,' defense says at closing argument of New York trial<

WEINSTEIN-1ST-LEDE:LA — In a scathing closing argument, Harvey Weinstein's lead attorney attacked prosecutors and the media Thursday and implored a New York jury to make what she described as an unpopular choice: to acquit the mogul of five counts of sexual assault.

As she stood before the jury of seven men and five women, Donna Rotunno asked them to use "New York City common sense" to guide their decision-making and to focus on the evidence presented at trial rather than the maelstrom of negative press Weinstein received between the start of the #MeToo movement in 2017 and his trial.

1100 by Laura Newberry and James Queally in New York. MOVED


^Trump seeks to divert more Pentagon money to border wall construction<

TRUMP-BORDERWALL:LA — The Trump administration is seeking to shift $3.8 billion more from the defense budget to pay for constructing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the Pentagon notified Congress on Thursday, immediately provoking bipartisan objections for a second year.

The plan would pay for a further 177 miles of wall construction by taking the money from Pentagon accounts earmarked to buy fighter aircraft, vehicles, warships and other big-ticket weapons systems, the document showed.

750 by David S. Cloud in Washington. MOVED


^Trump tweets 'make it impossible for me to do my job,' AG Barr says<

^BARR:NY—<Attorney General William Barr complained about President Donald Trump's tweeting habits Thursday, saying on national TV that the tweets "make it impossible for me to do my job."

Barr then quickly doubled down on his criticism, adding that, as head of the Justice Department, he wouldn't "be bullied and influenced by anybody" — whether it's Congress, the media or the president himself.

350 by Michael Gartland. MOVED


^US seizes boat allegedly carrying Iranian missiles to Yemen<

USIRAN-BOAT:BLO — The U.S. Navy boarded a boat in the Persian Gulf region and seized anti-tank missiles and three surface-to-air missiles it said were of Iranian origin and destined for rebel fighters in Yemen.

Sailors from the USS Normandy boarded the boat — a traditional dhow — on Feb. 9 and seized "150 'Dehlavieh' anti-tank guided missiles, which are Iranian-manufactured copies of Russian" missiles, according to a statement Thursday from U.S. Central Command.

300 by Bill Faries in Washington. MOVED


^Trump attacks former chief of staff John Kelly over impeachment comments<

TRUMP-KELLY:BLO — Donald Trump lashed out at John Kelly on Thursday after his former chief of staff openly criticized the president over a range of policies and praised a key witness that helped spur his impeachment.

In a pair of tweets, Trump said he couldn't have fired Kelly "fast enough" and that the retired Marine Corps general was in "way over his head" as the top White House aide. The outburst came in response to a report in The Atlantic that Kelly laid out his disagreements with Trump in a speech on Wednesday.

500 by Jordan Fabian in Washington. MOVED


^Feds reviewing previously unreported cyberattack on Florida elections office<

FLA-ELECTIONS-HACKING:MI — Less than five weeks before Florida's March presidential primary, the Department of Homeland Security is investigating a previously unreported cyberattack on Palm Beach County's elections office, according to Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link.

Link, who was appointed last year by the governor to oversee the county's beleaguered elections department, said she contacted the FBI in November after a veteran IT employee told her that the office had been infected by a ransomware virus only a few weeks before the 2016 election. The virus was not publicly disclosed in 2016.

1250 (with trims) by David Smiley and Nicholas Nehamas in Miami. MOVED


^Phones, electronic devices of those on Kobe Bryant helicopter could hold clues to crash<

CALIF-HELICOPTER-CRASH:LA — With no black box recorder aboard the helicopter that crashed last month in Calabasas, killing Kobe Bryant and eight others, investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are turning to the travelers' personal electronics for potential answers.

Investigators hope the passengers' cellphones and the pilot's iPad can help them better understand the chaotic last moments of the flight before the chopper slammed into a hillside in foggy conditions.

950 by Richard Winton in Los Angeles. MOVED


^Impasse: Cuomo and Trump fail to find a solution to travel program and immigration concerns<

NY-GLOBALENTRY:NY — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Donald Trump failed to break a stalemate on the administration's decision to ban New York residents from using programs that allow speedier customs checks and border crossings.

The pair met at the White House Thursday to discuss the action taken by the Department of Homeland Security in response to a state law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses and blocks federal immigration authorities' access to state data.

550 by Denis Slattery in Albany, N.Y. MOVED


^SpaceX set to launch another 60 internet Starlink satellites Saturday, taking total constellation to 300<

SPACEX:OS — SpaceX is stepping on the accelerator to get more than 1,500 internet satellites into low-Earth orbit by the end of the year.

400 by Chabeli Carrazana in Orlando, Fla. MOVED


^A coronavirus ward? How US hospitals are preparing for this new threat<

^CORONAVIRUS-US-HOSPITALS:LA—<U.S. hospitals are stocking up on gowns and goggles and holding refresher courses in infection control amid a growing outbreak of a novel strain of coronavirus that has already killed more than 1,360 people in China.

Since it began spreading last year, the coronavirus now known as COVID-19 has prompted the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency, caused U.S. officials to strongly advise against travel to China and led some experts to predict a worldwide pandemic.

In the United States, just 14 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus so far, though officials say they expect those numbers to rise. Hundreds of people have already shown up at American health care facilities with symptoms of the virus, forcing staff members to don face masks and put patients in isolation rooms while awaiting test results.

1050 by Soumya Karlamangla. MOVED


^Sister of Michigan woman quarantined on Diamond Princess: 'They're just sitting ducks'<

CORONAVIRUS-CRUISESHIP-SISTER:DE — The situation is growing more dire for passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan, where the novel coronavirus is spreading and a Sterling Heights, Mich., woman remains quarantined.

"They're just sitting ducks. That's all I can say," said Marci Wulfmeier of Franklin, Mich., whose sister, Myra LaRouche, 72, of Sterling Heights is among the people quarantined on the ship until at least Feb. 19.

1050 (with trims) by Kristen Jordan Shamus in Detroit. MOVED


^Fashion mogul Peter Nygard accused of sex trafficking, drugging and raping teen girls<

NYGARD:NY — Rags-to-riches garment business legend Peter Nygard was accused of trafficking underage "girlfriends" to satisfy his sexual peccadilloes and lure new victims to drug-fueled "pamper parties" at his beachfront home in the Bahamas, a lawsuit alleged Thursday.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Federal Court, alleges that the 76-year-old Nygard raped seven teenage girls, ages 14 to 16, at his private Nygard Cay getaway in the Bahamas — with some of the terrified teens drugged before they were sexually assaulted.

550 by Ben Miller and Larry McShane in New York. MOVED


^Birch Aquarium successfully breeds rare type of seadragon for first time<

ENV-SEADRAGON:SD — University of California, San Diego's Birch Aquarium has successfully bred and hatched a pair of rare Weedy Seadragons, making Birch one of the few aquariums in the world to carry out such breeding.

The inch-long fish appear to be healthy and have had their first meal, consuming bits of shrimp, the aquarium said.

"This is a momentous event for our team and our seahorse and seadragon breeding program," Jennifer Nero Moffatt, the aquarium's director of animal care, said in a statement.

"Seadragons are charismatic, sensitive, and require detailed husbandry. We have spent over 25 years working with these animals and love that we have made the next steps to conserve this delicate species."

250 by Gary Robbins in La Jolla, Calif. MOVED


^Climate change pushes January 2020 to hottest in 141 years<

ENV-CLIMATECHANGE-HEAT:BLO — The year has started with the hottest January in the 141 years that global records have been kept, and it's the biggest record-breaking margin — 1.14 degrees Celsius (34 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th century average — achieved without help from a warming El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean.

The new monthly record set by January 2020, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, continues an aggressive trend toward higher temperatures. The four hottest Januarys on record have all occurred since 2016, and the top-10 warmest have all occurred since 2002.

200 by Eric Roston in New York. MOVED



^Chicago's Chinatown takes a hit as coronavirus fears keep customers away. Business is down as much as 50% at some restaurants<

CORONAVIRUS-CHINATOWN:TB — The epicenter of global coronavirus outbreak is 7,000 miles away, but fear of the illness has turned Chicago's Chinatown into a veritable ghost town, with customers staying away in droves, leaving some restaurants and businesses nearly empty during lunchtime this week.

Chinatown's two-level retail courtyard, home to an eclectic mix of stores and restaurants, resembled a vacant movie set Tuesday. Diners were few and far between, with lunchtime traffic down as much as 50% at some restaurants since news of the coronavirus outbreak spread — along with infections — from a live meat market in Wuhan, China, late last year.

1000 by Robert Channick in Chicago. (Moved as a business story.) MOVED


^Viasat teams with fuboTV to offer sports video streaming at 35,000 feet<

^STREAMING-VIASAT-FUBO:SD—<Viasat has teamed up with fuboTV to offer over-the-top video streaming of sports, news and other programs to commercial airline passengers.

The partnership furthers Viasat bid to boost usage of its satellite-based in-flight Wi-Fi, which currently powers on-board Internet for passengers on American Airlines, JetBlue and United Airlines aircraft, as well as other commercial airlines globally.

550 by Mike Freeman. (Moved as a business story.) MOVED


^US adds racketeering conspiracy charge against Huawei<

HUAWEI-RACKETEERING:BLO — The U.S. added a charge of racketeering conspiracy against Huawei Technologies Co., potentially increasing the penalties the Chinese company would face if convicted.

Huawei was already facing a series of criminal charges for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

200 by Patricia Hurtado in New York. (Moved as a business story.) MOVED


^Alaska Airlines and American Airlines expand their partnership to give flyers more international travel routes from Seattle<

^AIRLINES-SEATTLE:SE—<Alaska Airlines and American Airlines are planning to expand their partnership, the airlines announced in a news release Thursday morning, and this will potentially offer travelers to and from Seattle access to an extensive network of international flight routes.

750 by Crystal Paul. (Moved as a business story.) MOVED



^Want more Bong Joon Ho? Here's how to catch up on the work of the Oscar-winning director of 'Parasite'<

^MOVIE-BONG:PH—<Though some folks were surprised by Sunday's Academy Award wins for South Korean director Bong Joon Ho and his movie "Parasite," you could see on Oscar night see that fellow nominees Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino were not among them.

Both are movie buffs, familiar with Bong's impressive career, and clearly knew it was only a matter of time before his work was recognized on an international scale — in fact, "Parasite" had already won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019.

Also probably not surprised? Oscar winner Brad Pitt (best supporting actor for Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"), who produced Bong's last movie "Okja," released in 2017.

Filmmakers and hardcore movie fans have been hip to Bong for years.

If you want to see "Parasite" and some of the director's previous movies, here's what to expect and how to find them:

650 by Gary Thompson. MOVED


^How the women of 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire' put a new spin on sex and smiling in French cinema<

^MOVIE-PORTRAIT-LADY-FIRE:LA—<A period movie so alive with ideas and emotions it feels like it is taking place in the present tense, "Portrait of a Lady On Fire" has been igniting viewers around the world for the better part of a year.

Written and directed by Celine Sciamma, the film won the screenplay prize and the Queer Palm award when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last summer, and has since been nominated for 10 Cesar awards, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and a Spirit Award and picked up numerous critics prizes, including recognition for cinematographer Claire Mathon.

After a brief qualifying run at the end of last year, "Portrait" was moved to begin its nationwide platform release on Valentine's Day, taking it out of the crush of year-end awards titles and into a position that capitalized on its deeply felt romance. "Portrait of a Lady on Fire" is now truly a film for lovers.

1600 (with trims) by Mark Olsen. MOVED


^Tove Lo is provocative, and she isn't shy about it, none of which would matter if her music wasn't always on point<

^MUS-TOVELO:TB—<Tove Lo has never been one to shy away from provocation. And she isn't stopping now.

"I don't want to do things where I always look or seem like my best," the Swedish pop star said on a recent morning, calling from Los Angeles. "I want to do things that make me feel challenged and uncomfortable. I want to attack that little thing that makes you uncomfortable. I want to be confrontational and explore all the emotions."

750 by Dan Hyman. MOVED


^'Survivor' has moved on from its #MeToo scandal. Former contestant Kellee Kim has not<

^TV-SURVIVOR:LA—<Wednesday night, less than two months after December's "Survivor" finale saw host Jeff Probst deliver an unprecedented on-air apology for the show's mishandling of a #MeToo incident, a new season was set to premiere.

But while CBS has turned its focus to the stacked all-winner lineup in store for Season 40, former contestant Kellee Kim can't help but linger on the fallout from Season 39.

"There's a sense of moving on and almost forgetting, but it is really important for me to make sure that the story continues getting heard, because I think that, only by remembering history can we continue to make sure that change happens and that change stays," she said. "We can't allow this to happen again, whether it's because people really think it's the right thing or because we are holding their feet to the fire."

1550 by Christi Carras. MOVED


^How '90s TV transformed black representation<

^TV-90S-BLACKREPRESENTATION:AT—<Black representation on TV has transformed over the last century. But the biggest change arguably came in the 1990s.

After the Jeffersons and the Huxtables in the '70s and '80s, a whole host of black families and friendships burst onto the small screen. Moesha Mitchell and Carl Winslow shared the hilarity and frustration of Los Angeles teendom and Chicago family life, respectively. While Khadijah James and Martin Payne exposed life with pals in Brooklyn and Detroit. And who can forget about West Philadelphia's Will Smith moving in with his auntie and uncle in Bel-Air?

"The portrayal of blacks in the '80s and '90s, you begin to see an expansion of our identity," Gil Robertson, journalist, author and president of the African American Film Critics Association, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

850 by Kiersten Willis. MOVED


^OP-ED <

^Commentary: China's secrecy has made the coronavirus crisis much worse<

^CORONAVIRUS-CHINA-COMMENTARY:TB—<For eight years, China's President Xi Jinping has trumpeted his country's increasingly authoritarian system as a grand model for other developing countries to follow. No doubt, China has seen an extraordinary period of economic growth, which has benefited hundreds of millions in China and around the world. But authoritarianism has also come at great costs, as the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus underscores.

In two months, the virus has spread throughout China and beyond. More than 60,000 people have been reported infected, and nearly 1,400 have died as a consequence of the disease. These numbers are likely to vastly understate the true extent of its spread and impact. The numbers inside China are bound to be much higher, and the lack of reports from Africa, the Middle East and South America are more likely due to faltering health care systems rather than its absence altogether.

850 by Ivo Daalder. MOVED


^Diane Bell: Life in China under the coronavirus threat<

^BELL-COLUMN:SD—<"This city of 21 million looks like a ghost town. No one goes out. Or very few. And it has been like that for three weeks." With those words Jim Healy began a Facebook post Sunday evening from Beijing, China. It's one of his series of posts that bring home the jolting reality of the current depth of human suffering in China — with no end in sight.

From 1989-2009, Healy was a copy editor, and occasional music reviewer, for the San Diego Union-Tribune. In 2014, he started working in Beijing for China's official English-language newspaper, the China Daily, where he edits Page One of the global edition. Healy is close to the front lines of the coronavirus epidemic, which seems to observe no boundaries, even though his city is more than 700 miles north of Wuhan, the disease epicenter. This column is devoted to his posts on Facebook and his answers to my messaged questions, beginning with his Sunday evening post.

1400 by Diane Bell. MOVED




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