Tribune News Service
International Budget for Saturday, February 15, 2020
Updated at 0100 UTC (8 p.m. U.S. EST Friday).
Additional news stories, including full U.S. coverage, appear on the MCT-NEWS-BJT and MCT-NEWSFEATURES-BJT.
^More than 1,700 medical workers in China infected with coronavirus<
CORONAVIRUS-1ST-LEDE:DPA — More than 1,700 medical workers on the front lines of China's battle with a new coronavirus have been infected, and six have died, medical authorities said on Friday.
The vast majority of the medics — 1,502 out of 1,716 — have fallen ill in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, said Zeng Yixin, deputy director of the National Health Commission.
It is the first time China is releasing an official count of infections among medical personnel during the COVID-19 outbreak.
700 by Simina Mistreanu in Beijing. MOVED
^US, Taliban reach interim deal aimed at eventual troop pullout<
USTALIBAN-1ST-LEDE:BLO — The U.S. and the Taliban have reached agreement on a seven-day reduction in violence in Afghanistan that's intended to lead to a broader accord to end America's longest war.
A senior U.S. official said Friday that the two sides have a deal on the reduction of violence that, if achieved, would be followed by a peace plan allowing the U.S. to start withdrawing forces. The seven-day curb on attacks is expected to begin soon, the official said, without providing details.
650 by Larry Liebert and Nick Wadhams in Washington. MOVED
^US-China bickering threatens to hobble world's virus fight<
CORONAVIRUS-USCHINA:BLO — The U.S. says China won't let its health workers help fight the virus. Beijing says they're welcome to come. The World Health Organization says nothing has been decided.
The confusion surrounding a planned WHO mission of experts to China shows how lingering mistrust between the world's biggest economies could hamper efforts to combat a pathogen quickly spreading across the globe. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the world's preeminent public health agency, has often played a key role coordinating and funding global efforts to contain past outbreaks, including of Ebola.
1050 (with trims) by Iain Marlow, Dandan Li and Peter Martin in Hong Kong. MOVED
^White House memo says Trump had authority for Soleimani attack<
USIRAN-MEMO:BLO — The White House delivered its legal justification for the January airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, arguing that President Donald Trump was authorized to take the action under the Constitution and 2002 legislation authorizing the Iraq War.
The Trump administration memo, which was released Friday by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, was the first official explanation of the president's legal grounds for ordering the strike, which spiked tensions in the Middle East and pushed Washington and Tehran to the brink of war.
700 by Justin Sink in Washington. MOVED
^Trump claims 'legal right' to intervene in Justice Department cases<
TRUMP-BARR:LA — President Donald Trump slapped back Friday at one of his most loyal Cabinet secretaries, a day after Attorney General William Barr took the rare step of rebuking his boss in public, complaining that the president's tweets and public statements on criminal cases were making his job "impossible."
In response, Trump tweeted that he had a "legal right" to ask Barr to intervene in a criminal proceeding, a provocative assertion that raised alarms over whether the Justice Department could remain an impartial law enforcement agency, free from political pressure.
1300 by Noah Bierman and Del Quentin Wilber in Washington. MOVED
^Prosecution closes in Harvey Weinstein trial: 'Abusive rapist' relied on 'power, manipulation'<
WEINSTEIN:LA — In her closing arguments Friday, the lead prosecutor in Harvey Weinstein's rape trial proclaimed that power, manipulation and abuse — as well as a "lack of human empathy" — are what led the producer to the charges he now faces in Manhattan criminal court.
Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the jury of seven men and five women that Weinstein had underestimated his accusers.
"He made sure he had contact with the people he was worried about as a little check to make sure that one day, they wouldn't walk out from the shadows and call him exactly what he was: an abusive rapist," she said. "He was wrong."
500 by Laura Newberry and James Queally in New York. MOVED
^Flush with cash and confident after impeachment, Trump campaign revs up the road show<
TRUMP-CAMPAIGN:LA — Four years after his hostile takeover of the White House, President Donald Trump's second campaign bears little resemblance to the first — he's flush with cash, buoyed by an uptick in poll numbers, and brimming with confidence after surviving investigations, an impeachment and myriad controversies that have helped unite once-wary Republicans behind him.
Unlike his slapdash, anything goes 2016 campaign, Trump now can rely on a massive, professionalized apparatus that has helped raise more than $200 million, deployed eager surrogates to early primary states, and built an extensive field operation and advertising network months before Democrats are likely to choose their nominee.
He also has found new ways to break political taboos, seeking to overshadow Democratic candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire just before they held their nominating contests and playing with voters' already frazzled nerves.
1350 (with trims) by Eli Stokols in Washington. MOVED
^Former FBI official Andrew McCabe, a target of Trump, won't face criminal charges<
MCCABE-1ST-LEDE:BLO — The Justice Department has closed its criminal investigation of Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director who was fired after an internal review of his role in disclosing a Clinton Foundation probe to the media.
The department notified McCabe's legal team on Friday that no charges will be brought against him, his lawyers, Michael Bromwich and David Schertler, said in a statement.
600 by Chris Strohm in Washington. MOVED
^Senators reaffirm support for Ukraine, Zelenskiy at first meeting since impeachment<
USUKRAINE-SENATORS:CON — Let's put our recent past behind us and get this relationship back on track.
That's the essence of what Democratic Sen. Christopher S. Murphy and Republican Sens. Ron Johnson and John Barrasso told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at a meeting Friday in Kyiv to reaffirm the two countries' strategic partnership in Eastern Europe.
550 by Griffin Connolly in Washington. MOVED
^ICE plans to deploy more resources in sanctuary cities<
SANCTUARYCITIES-BORDERAGENTS:LA — Federal immigration officials confirmed Friday that border agents and officers, including those in tactical units, will be deployed in Los Angeles and other so-called sanctuary cities to assist in the arrests of immigrants in the country illegally.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman confirmed details of the planned deployment that were first reported in The New York Times. The agency referred further questions to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security.
850 by Brittny Mejia in Los Angeles. MOVED
^Michael Avenatti convicted on all counts in Nike extortion case<
AVENATTI-1ST-LEDE:NY — Michael Avenatti just did it — he tried to extort Nike, a jury ruled Friday.
The jury found the bulldog lawyer guilty of betraying his client and attempting to shake down the shoe giant.
The verdict virtually assures Avenatti's downfall, but he has not yet hit rock bottom. He faces two more trials, one in Manhattan and another in Los Angeles.
750 by Stephen Rex Brown in New York. MOVED
^Singer R. Kelly hit with new indictment in Chicago federal court<
RKELLY:TB — Embattled singer R. Kelly has been hit with new federal charges in Chicago adding allegations that he sexually abused another minor victim for four years starting in 1997.
A superseding indictment made public Friday alleged that Kelly sexually abused a girl identified in the charges only as "Minor 6."
350 by Jason Meisner in Chicago. MOVED
^Judge sentences Chinese national to 6 months in jail after Mar-a-Lago incident<
MARALAGO-TRESPASSER:PM — Before County Judge Mark Eissey sentenced Jing Lu on Friday morning, she asked to have a moment to tell her story. This week, a six-person jury agreed the Chinese national was not guilty of trespassing at Mar-a-Lago in December, but that she did resist officers on Worth Avenue when they arrested her.
Jing Lu, who also goes by Lu Jing, was sentenced to six months in jail by Eissey.
950 by Hannah Winston in West Palm Beach, Fla. MOVED
^'I'm forever grateful': Teen who fled Honduras amid alleged gang threats is released from federal custody to suburban family amid fight for asylum<
TEEN-IMMIGRANT-RELEASED:TB — After about five months in federal immigration detention, a teenager who had settled in Crystal Lake after escaping alleged gang death threats in her native Honduras was released from custody on bond Thursday as she continues to seek asylum in the U.S.
"I didn't think I was ever getting out. I'm forever grateful," Meydi Guzman Rivas, the Crystal Lake Central High School student, said in Spanish. "It was hard, I was not ready for this. I didn't think this would happen to me."
Holding a bouquet of red and purple flowers, Guzman Rivas embraced school counselor Sara Huser outside of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in the South Loop. Both women spoke through muffled tears.
650 by Jessica Villagomez and Amanda Marrazzo in Chicago. MOVED
^Unfair press for the pangolin? Experts fear possible coronavirus links may further threaten this at-risk animal<
CORONAVIRUS-PANGOLIN:TB — Animal enthusiasts across the globe on Saturday will celebrate the ninth annual World Pangolin Day, designated to help protect what is believed to be the most illegally trafficked mammal on Earth.
Yet the festivities come in the wake of some bad press for this already at-risk animal. While research isn't at all conclusive, some scientists in China have preliminarily named the highly poached pangolin as the possible transmitter of coronavirus to humans, potentially linking the rare and enigmatic creature to a public health epidemic that has killed more than a thousand globally and sickened 15 in the United States as of Thursday.
1000 by Angie Leventis Lourgos in Chicago. MOVED
^26 immigrants found locked in tractor-trailer after being smuggled across the border<
SMUGGLED-IMMIGRANTS:LA — Border Patrol agents arrested a Mexican national after 26 immigrants were found in the back of a locked tractor-trailer he was driving near the Salton Sea, authorities said.
All of the passengers, including two juveniles, also were arrested, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
200 by Luke Money in Los Angeles. MOVED
^Chinese company Huawei's Silicon Valley outpost allegedly stole trade secrets from Cisco<
^HUAWEI-TRADE-SECRETS:SJ—<Controversial Chinese technology firm Huawei and its Santa Clara-based subsidiary Futurewei allegedly stole trade secrets from San Jose tech giant Cisco and used them to copy Cisco routers, a federal indictment released Thursday indicates.
The U.S. Department of Justice claimed in its racketeering indictment and a news release that Huawei — under fire from the administration of President Donald Trump over alleged links to the Chinese government and military — and its Silicon Valley subsidiary stole operating system code and other data needed to make routers, and used the pilfered secrets to make Huawei-branded routers sold in the U.S. The indictment also alleges that five other unnamed U.S. firms were targeted.
750 by Ethan Baron. (Moved as a business story.) MOVED
^Cheap gas imperils climate fight by undercutting wind and solar<
ENERGY-GAS-RENEWABLES:BLO — This will almost certainly be a record-breaking year for the advance of solar and wind power across the U.S. The additions that are in progress or planned are significant enough to boost hopes for emissions-free electrical grids within a generation — if natural gas doesn't get in the way.
It just may. Gas is such a bargain that it's being viewed less as a bridge fossil fuel, driving the world away from dirtier coal toward a clean-energy future, and more as a hurdle that could slow the trip down. Some forecasters are predicting prices will stay low for years, making it tough for states, cities and utilities to achieve their goals of being zero-carbon in power production by 2050 or earlier.
800 by Naureen Malik and Brian Eckhouse in New York. (Moved as a business story.) MOVED
^Harry and Meghan's secret visit to Stanford raises lots of questions<
BRITAIN-ROYALS:SJ — Prince Harry and Meghan Markle secretly jetted into the Bay Area Tuesday to attend "a brainstorming session" with professors at Stanford University, apparently as part of their efforts to launch their new Sussex Royal charitable organization after stepping away from royal life.
Of course, their visit wasn't so secret because the "Today" show on Thursday got the scoop and shared the viral news about their visit to the prestigious Palo Alto campus.
850 by Martha Ross in San Jose, Calif. MOVED
^Commentary: Did Pope Francis acquiesce to conservatives on married priests? Sure looks like it<
^POPE-MARRIEDPRIESTS-COMMENTARY:LA—<Conservative Catholics, including some critics of Pope Francis, are doing a victory lap because the pope has not, as expected, endorsed the ordination of married men as priests in the Amazon region of South America. At a Vatican synod it in October, two-thirds of bishops from that area had supported an exception to Western Catholicism's celibacy requirement to deal with a severe shortage of priests.
The pope had been expected to endorse that idea. But he declined to do so after a firestorm that included the publication of a pro-celibacy book, "From the Depths of our Hearts," that originally listed Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as a co-author.
650 by Michael McGough. MOVED
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