Day: February 8, 2020

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Taliban claims multiple US soldiers killed in Afghan gun fight…


The Taliban has claimed that five or six US soldiers have been killed after exchanging fire in Afghanistan.

US and Afghan troops were fired on while conducting an operation in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province, the US military today confirmed.

US military spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett said there were multiple casualties, but could not confirm numbers.

The Taliban’s claims have not yet been verified.

Insider attacks, often known as “green-on-blue” attacks, have been a regular feature of the conflict in Afghanistan, although their frequency has diminished in recent years.

A senior Afghan defence official said it was not clear whether the incident was a result of clashes between Afghan and foreign forces or whether hardline Islamist militants were responsible.

They were attacked in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province (file picture)

“We are not ruling any possibility out but we are not calling it an insider attack, Taliban attack, or ‘green-on-blue’ at this stage,” the anonymous official told Reuters.

Local residents reported military helicopters flying over the area.

In Sherzad district, where the shootout took place, the joint operation had pushed the Taliban from around the main highway and was continuing to clear villages.

U.S. diplomats have been in talks with the Taliban for months to agree a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces in exchange for security guarantees.

US military spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett said there were multiple casualties, but could not confirm numbers

American special forces soldiers are in Nangarhar to help the Afghan government clear the area of insurgent forces.

In his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, President Donald Trump referenced the peace talks, saying US soldiers were not meant to serve as “law enforcement agencies” for other nations.

“In Afghanistan, the determination and valor of our war fighters has allowed us to make tremendous progress, and peace talks are now under way”, he added.

Last month, a US military jet crashed in eastern Afghanistan over Taliban territory

However, violence in the country has not diminished.

On December, 23 Afghan soldiers were killed when a Taliban infiltrator opened fire on his colleagues at a base in Ghazni Province in eastern Afghanistan.

Last month, a US military jet crashed in eastern Afghanistan over Taliban territory – with the terrorists again claiming responsibility.

The aircraft crashed in Deh Yak district, Ghazni province.

Taliban social media accounts afterwards posted unverified footage showing a burnt-out plane with US Air Force markings.

The video shows a Bombardier E-11A – the type of jet used by the US Air Force for electronic surveillance over Afghanistan.



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DOWD: The Don Strikes Back…



DOWD: The Don Strikes Back...

(Second column, 3rd story, link)


Related stories:
COSTA & RUCKER: Trump’s resilience causes Dems to sound alarm…
Republicans raise $100 million during impeachment!
JITTERS ON THE LEFT…
SLUGFEST IN NH…
Klobuchar Rising…
Buttigieg leads in latest poll…
Biden mocks small city mayor…
Confronts Perilous Moment…
Establishment eyes Bloomberg…
Chris Matthews Explodes Over Socialism…
CARVILLE UNLOADS: WE’RE LOSING OUR DAMN MINDS!





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Susan Rice warns Snoop Dogg to 'back the **** off'…



Susan Rice warns Snoop Dogg to 'back the **** off'...

(Third column, 6th story, link)


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Tearful Oprah says Gayle receiving death threats over Kobe questions…





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Buttigieg leads in latest poll…




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Governor elected with far-right help resigns…


BERLIN (AP) — A German state governor installed with the help of a far-right party said Saturday he is resigning with immediate effect, three days after his election shook the country’s politics and stoked new tensions in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.

Thomas Kemmerich’s announcement came as leaders of Merkel’s governing coalition, meeting in Berlin to discuss the fallout, demanded that he go and the legislature of the eastern state of Thuringia “promptly” choose a successor. They called for that to be followed quickly by a new regional election.

Pro-business politician Kemmerich’s election was only possible because the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, supported him in a vote in the state legislature — as did the regional branch of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, against the wishes of its national leadership.

Kemmerich’s acceptance of AfD’s votes appalled left-leaning parties and many in his own center-right camp. Merkel called his election “inexcusable.” The politician from the small Free Democrats — a party that is in opposition nationally but it is a traditional ally of Merkel’s CDU — announced a day after he was elected that he planned to step down, though he left unclear when.

That wasn’t enough for many, including the center-left Social Democrats, the junior partners in Merkel’s governing coalition. The Thuringia mess was the latest in a succession of events that have periodically cast doubt on whether the government will last until the end of its term in late 2021.

Kemmerich said in a statement Saturday that he was resigning “with immediate effect” and paying back to the state all wages earned as a result of his election. It wasn’t immediately clear when exactly a successor might be elected.

That came as leaders of Merkel’s coalition released a statement demanding that he leave and a replacement be elected by state lawmakers. They added that, above and beyond that, “the coalition partners are convinced that for reasons of political legitimacy … new elections are necessary in Thuringia soon.”

Earlier Saturday, Merkel fired a federal official whose departure the Social Democrats had sought over the fiasco, another move toward defusing tensions.

Christian Hirte, a member of Merkel’s CDU who was the government’s commissioner for the formerly communist east and a deputy economy minister, tweeted that he resigned after Merkel told him he could no longer do the job. Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, confirmed his dismissal.

Hirte, a deputy leader of the CDU’s Thuringia branch who sits in the national parliament, had congratulated Kemmerich Wednesday on his “election as a candidate of the center,” tweeting that it showed the state had voted out its previous left-wing government, and making no mention of AfD’s role.

The debacle also has prompted new criticism of the leadership of Merkel’s successor as CDU chairwoman, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who was unable before and immediately after Kemmerich’s election to force her party’s local branch into line.

Saturday’s coalition statement underlined that “we rule out forming governments and political majorities with votes from AfD.” That, it added, goes for the coalition parties “at all levels.”

Social Democrat co-leader Saskia Esken said Saturday’s meeting was marked by “unity” and it was important that the “parties from the democratic spectrum” had reinforced their position on AfD.

Whether a new election in Thuringia would produce a less awkward outcome remains to be seen. Its last election in October stripped the previous state government of its majority.

In a first for Germany, it produced no majority for any combination without either AfD or the Left Party of previous governor Bodo Ramelow, which the CDU shuns as a descendant of East Germany’s ruling communists.



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Republicans raise $100 million during impeachment…



Republicans raise $100 million during impeachment...

(Second column, 2nd story, link)


Related stories:
COSTA: Trump’s resilience causes Dems to sound alarm…
JITTERS ON THE LEFT…
SLUGFEST IN NH…
Klobuchar Rising…
Buttigieg leads in latest poll…
Biden mocks small city mayor…
Confronts Perilous Moment…
Establishment eyes Bloomberg…
Chris Matthews Explodes Over Socialism…
CARVILLE UNLOADS: WE’RE LOSING OUR DAMN MINDS!





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COSTA: Trump's resilience causes Dems to sound alarm…


WASHINGTON – Anxiety is coursing through the Democratic Party as President Donald Trump emerges from his impeachment proceedings as a potent threat for reelection, with party leaders and activists uncertain about how to beat the incumbent and worried about a nominatingrace that remains crowded and is growing more acrimonious.

While Democrats see Trump as a corrosive figure and a threat to the nation, they also see the president and his well-funded campaign tailoring a reelection bid around the strong economy and visceral appeals to his ardent supporters.

Trump’s robust political standing came into view this past week, as he claimed vindication from his acquittal in his Senate trial despite damaging House testimony about his conduct with Ukraine – and set off on a path of retribution by ousting some officials who were witnesses. At the same time, his Gallup approval rating ticked up to 49 percent, its highest point yet.


The developments have generated convulsions of angst among Democrats, who watched their first-in-the-nation Iowa presidential caucuses conclude in a chaotic fiasco and deliveran inconclusive result. Many in the party are now soundingthe alarm that denying Trump a second term could be far more difficult than they had calculated.

“We have a president who isn’t merely unconventional or challenging institutions and elites, or coloring outside the lines. He’s unmoored,” Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., said. Yet, Coons added, he is “very aware” that Trump could win reelection “with these economic numbers at his back, all as millions of Americans grow numb to his behavior.”

Since Democratic presidential hopefuls began running through the starting gates a year ago, party activists have been consumed with the question of electability – specifically, which of the roughly two dozen initial candidates could best stack up against Trump. The result so far has been a form of paralysis, with no presumptive favorite in the race and each leading contender struggling to overcome vulnerabilities and erase doubts.

“The obsession with concocting the Frankenstein to take on Trump has confined us all,” said Jennifer Palmieri, a longtime party strategist who advised Hillary Clinton in 2016 and is not aligned with any candidate this time.

Palmieri spent the past couple of weeks on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire observing the candidates up close, including the president, who staged a large rally in Des Moines before thecaucuses. She came away deeply concerned about her party as it grapples with how to counter a norm-shattering executive who relishes political combat.


“We are letting Trump drive our process and getting ourselves all tangled up in who might be the best person to foil him,” Palmieri said. “That became really clear to me just being in Iowa. The voters were so lost. They didn’t have any orientation, no grounding . . . They felt paralyzed by this choice.”

Former Ohio governor Ted Strickland, a supporter of former vice president Joe Biden, agreed: “The party is torn. It’s polarized about what it wants to do. There is a world of difference between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden and no one really knows which way it’s going to go – and you have Pete Buttigieg, a talent, in the mix, and Mike Bloomberg rearing his head here before Super Tuesday.”

Many Democrats lament that they feel stuck in a cycle controlled by the president, with Trump shaping the contours of the race just as he did in 2016 with a blizzard of incendiary statements, lies and provocations – and, this time, a loyal Republican Party that cheers him at every turn.

“We spend too much time chasing whatever foolishness Trump throws out there and he’s masterful at it,” said Cornell Belcher, a veteran Democratic pollster. “This has got to be an election fundamentally about Democrats’ vision for bringing the country together and solving the big problems that confront us. And if a Democrat can do that, a Democrat can have a good chance of cobbling back together and even expanding the Obama coalition – and that will beat Trump.”

In his State of the Union address last Tuesday, Trump laid out what he sees as his road map to reelection.

Trump boasted of his stewardship of the economy under the theme a “great American comeback.” He threw red meat to his base, in the form of hard-line rhetoric on illegal immigration and policies on religious liberty, guns and charter schools. He made direct appeals to black voters who had shunned him in 2016 by touting his work on criminal justice reform and other issues.

Trump also orchestrated dazzling reality-show reveals, such as first lady Melania Trump awarding talk-radio icon Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And the president’s speech featured his customary litany of false statements that outrage Democrats, such as casting himself as a guardian of health coverage for those with preexisting conditions, despite his administration’s repeated efforts to repeal and gut former president Barack Obama’s health-care law – all but daring the fact-checkers to blow their whistles.

Trump’s speech at the Capitol – and an hour-plus event Thursday in the East Room of the White House where he bragged and demeaned his opponents – has created more urgency than ever among some Democrats about calling out Trump or else risk having him define the terms of debate.

“We’ve got to be a little more dramatic about exposing him,” Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said. “You can’t just be anti-Trump alone. You’ve got to go at the truth.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has tried to play umpire, standing over the president’s shoulder at the conclusion of his State of the Union and ripping printed pages of his prepared text because, as she later told reporters, she considered it “a manifesto of mistruths.”

Many Democratic lawmakers celebrated Pelosi, their party’s de facto leader until a presumptive presidential nominee emerges, seeing her as a forceful guide at a turbulent crossroads.

“One of Trump’s real skills is that he’s a fighter, and if someone is going to punch you, punch back 10 times harder,” Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Pa., a Pelosi ally, said. “I like a fighter and how she stands up to him. We’ve worked with him on a number of issues, but you can’t back down to a bully.”

Still, Trump’s address was a sobering moment for Democrats.

“The last 24 hours have been a big wake-up call for Democrats. The Iowa caucus was a debacle. Then Donald Trump produced a very strong, clinical speech that shows exactly what he thinks he needs to do to win,” Van Jones, chief executive of REFORM Alliance and a former Obama adviser, wrote Wednesday in an op-ed on CNN’s website.

Trump is making a deliberate effort to court minority voters. During last weekend’s Super Bowl, the president’s reelection campaign aired an ad during the game’s broadcast spotlighting the criminal justice law. The ad showed Alice Marie Johnson, a 64-year-old black woman from Mississippi who was freed after Trump commuted her prison sentence for a nonviolent drug offense. She is seen in the ad hugging her family and friends, thanking Trump and declaring, “Hallelujah!”

Trump and his campaign team are banking that this kind of messaging helps him overcome his history of making racist comments and questioning Obama’s love of country and credentials. He has a difficult road ahead. A recent Washington Post-Ipsos poll of black voters showed that more than 8 in 10 say they believe Trump is “a racist,” and 9 in 10 say they disapprove of the president’s performance in office.

Republicans are eager to echo Trump as they try to chip into Democratic strongholds throughout the South and Midwest. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., a Trump ally who is running for reelection this year, said Trump’s emphasis on criminal justice reform and stoking economic opportunity for minority communities “sure does” help his own Senate campaign in a state where black and Latino voters are pivotal.

“We’ve got [historically black colleges and universities], we’ve got criminal justice reform, we’ve got the economy going,” Perdue said, arguing that Trump has been the best president for the black community since Abraham Lincoln in the 1860s -a claim that, like many of Trump’s, infuriates Democrats.

Some Democratic leaders believe their party stands the best chance of defeating Trump with a nominee who can inspire a movement of new voters to register and cast ballots in November’s general election, as opposed to one focused on mobilizing existing voters.

“The other side will try to purge the heck out of existing voters, but if you flood the zone with new voters and arm them with information, they will come out,” said Maria Teresa Kumar, president of Voto Latino. “If I were selling Nikes, I would not go into saturated markets, because how many people will buy that fifth pair of Nikes? I’d rather go into new markets where people might say, ‘Hey, I’d like to buy a pair of Nikes.’ “

There are tensions, however, about who is best positioned to expand the party’s reach: a grass-roots liberal favorite like Sanders, I-Vt., or Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; a new face like Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indana; or a self-funder building a massive political machine like Bloomberg, the former New York mayor.

Biden’s weak performance in Iowa has caused particular concern among many of the party’s older donors and establishment figures since they have long thought the former vice president could stitch much of the Obama coalition back together and serve as a uniting force in a party divided between left and center.

Democrats believe they retook the House majority in 2018 by focusing on health care and other pocketbook issues in suburban districts, and Pelosi has tried to keep her party following that playbook. She tweeted last week that the three most important issues to Americans are “1) Health care, 2) Health care, 3) Health care.”

But there are sharp differences of opinion on that strategy within the party. Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, who withdrew from the presidential race last fall, said in an interview that Democrats should not stray from speaking in stark terms about Trump’s conduct and the stakes for the nation, even if polling suggests they concentrate on other issues.

“There is a school of thought that you shouldn’t talk about impeachment and instead talk about infrastructure and health care, as if they’re mutually exclusive,” O’Rourke said. “You can’t shy away from the most obvious threat to this country, and if you do, you accept Donald Trump and then we become complicit in it and we won’t win the next election.”

O’Rourke added, “Many are tempted to despair right now with the president being acquitted or this freak show of a presidency and the cult of personality that the Republican Party has become. But if you give into that, it’s over.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., a party stalwart who has been involved with presidential campaigns in her state for decades, said Democrats must keep in mind that political dynamics can quickly change.

“I remember the 1992 campaign at this point when everybody was throwing up their hands, worried that we had ‘the seven dwarfs’ running against George H.W. Bush,” Shaheen recalled, nodding toward the then-incumbent president’s high approval ratings following the Gulf War.

“And then we won,” she said, when Bill Clinton beat Bush later that year.

Shaheen demurred when asked who is 2020’s version of Bill Clinton.

“We’ll just have to find out,” she said.



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More quarantine centers set up at US military bases…



More quarantine centers set up at US military bases...

(First column, 9th story, link)


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Beijing begins mass arrest of suspected virus patients…





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Beijing begins mass arrest of suspected virus patients…


Video showing a man suspected of having coronavirus desperately sprinting away from officials trying to put him in quarantine has emerged, as the communist regime starts rounding up suffers in Wuhan and taking them to camps.

The clip, believed to be taken in Changqing Garden, Wuhan, shows a group of officials approaching the man who who is backed up against a wall.

The man suddenly starts running away from the officials who rapidly pursue him. 

Some officials appear to be carrying large metal sticks as they run after him along nearly-deserted streets. 

The clip, shared to Twitter on Thursday, comes after China’s Vice Premier Sun Chunlan called on a ‘people’s war’ against the fast-spreading epidemic.

Last week China’s central government ordered the city – which is the epicentre of the virus – to round up all suspected patients as well as their close contacts in mass quarantine camps. 

Video showing a man suspected of having coronavirus sprinting away from officials trying to put him in quarantine has emerged, as the communist regime starts rounding up suffers in Wuhan and taking them to camps. The man is backed up against a wall as officials - some carrying large sticks - approach him

The man then runs away as officials chase after him

Video showing a man suspected of having coronavirus sprinting away from officials trying to put him in quarantine has emerged, as the communist regime starts rounding up suffers in Wuhan and taking them to camps. The man is backed up against a wall as officials – some carrying large sticks – approach him. The man then runs away

Officials run after him along nearly-deserted streets in Changqing Garden, Wuhan

The clip, shared to Twitter on Thursday, comes after China 's Vice Premier Sun Chunlan called on a 'people's war' against the fast-spreading epidemic

Officials run after him along nearly-deserted streets in Changqing Garden, Wuhan. The clip, shared to Twitter on Thursday, comes after China ‘s Vice Premier Sun Chunlan called on a ‘people’s war’ against the fast-spreading epidemic

A group of around 10 officials pursue him, some carrying what appear to be large metal sticks

The clip then cuts to show the chase from a different angle, showing the nearly-deserted streets of Wuhan

A group of around 10 officials pursue him. The clip then cuts to show the chase from a different angle, showing the nearly-deserted streets of Wuhan

Another video, said to be taken in Suzhou near Shanghai, shows suspected coronavirus sufferers being forcefully dragged from their homes by officials in hazmat suits

One person, who is laying in a doorway and refusing to be picked up, is carried out

Another video, said to be taken in Suzhou near Shanghai, shows suspected coronavirus sufferers being forcefully dragged from their homes by officials in hazmat suits. One person, who is laying in a doorway and refusing to be picked up, is carried out

As of Saturday more than 700 people have been killed by the virus, with 86 people dying on Friday alone. More than 34,500 globally have been infected.  

Another video, said to be taken in Suzhou near Shanghai, shows suspected coronavirus sufferers being forcefully dragged from their homes by officials in hazmat suits.

Officials in protective suits are seen holding onto two people by their arms before a third more resistant man is picked up from the floor and carried away in one shocking clip shared online.

In the video one person wearing a face mask is seen being quickly pulled along by officials and is soon followed by a woman in a winter jacket who is held underneath the arms by someone in a protective suit.

However the officials have more trouble in removing a third person who is laying in a doorway and refusing to be picked up.

Two people try to lift him, but after having no luck are they are joined by a man in a blue apron and then two other officials. 

Despite the manpower, the group still struggle to lift the man who kicks out at them and struggles from the floor. Eventually three of the men manage to pick him up and carry the suspected patient down the stairs.

While in another video, said to have also been filmed in China, a woman is seen being detained by several police officers and struggling against them.

The clip was shared on Twitter claiming to show the woman being ‘arrested and put in isolation for not wearing a mask against coronavirus.’

In the video one person wearing a face mask is seen being quickly pulled along by officials

The first woman is soon followed by a woman in a winter jacket who is held underneath the arms by someone in a protective suit

In the video one person wearing a face mask is seen being quickly pulled along by officials and is soon followed by a woman in a winter jacket who is held underneath the arms by someone in a protective suit.

Another clip shows several police officers arresting a woman who was 'not wearing a face mask in public'

The woman is seen fighting back and trying to kick out at the police

Another clip shows several police officers arresting a woman who was ‘not wearing a face mask in public’ as she tries to fight them off and kicks out

It comes after it was revealed that China’s central government ordered Wuhan to round up all suspected patients and anyone they are thought to have been in close contact with in mass quarantine camps. 

Vice Premier Sun also demanded Communist officials of all levels take active lead in this ‘wartime condition’, or face being ‘nailed onto the pillar of historical shame forever’.

The city of Wuhan has around 14 million residents, but it remains unknown how many people will be quarantined or where they would be kept.

Wuhan officials are now carrying out door-to-door health checks to identify potential carriers who would need to be isolated.

Ms Sun demanded four types of people in Wuhan be put into mandatory isolation in quarantine stations: confirmed cases, suspected cases, people who have close contact with the former two, and those who have fever.

She later instructed all levels of officials to treat the fight of the outbreak as the ‘most important and urgent mission’ in another briefing.

‘There must be a 24-hour shift pattern. During the wartime condition, there must be no deserters, otherwise they will be forever nailed onto the pillar of historical shame’, Ms Sun said, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

China has demanded four types of people in Wuhan to be put into mandatory isolation in quarantine stations: confirmed cases, suspected cases, people who have close contact with the former two, and those who have fever. Pictured, patients rest at a makeshift hospital

China has demanded four types of people in Wuhan to be put into mandatory isolation in quarantine stations: confirmed cases, suspected cases, people who have close contact with the former two, and those who have fever. Pictured, patients rest at a makeshift hospital 

A screen grab from a CCTV news programme shows China's Vice Premier Sun Chunlan delivering her order to Communist officials at a meeting aimed to curb the outbreak

A screen grab from a CCTV news programme shows China’s Vice Premier Sun Chunlan delivering her order to Communist officials at a meeting aimed to curb the outbreak

Medical workers in protective suits are seen talking while at the Wuhan Parlor Convention Center on Friday. Wuhan has around 14 million residents, but it remains unknown how many people would be quarantined or where they will be kept

Medical workers in protective suits are seen talking while at the Wuhan Parlor Convention Center on Friday. Wuhan has around 14 million residents, but it remains unknown how many people would be quarantined or where they will be kept

The death toll in China rose by 86 to 722 on Saturday, according to authorities, and is poised to pass the 774 deaths recorded globally during the 2002-2003 SARS pandemic, another coronavirus that jumped from animals to humans in China.

This new number brings the total number of people who have died from coronavirus to 724 worldwide, with one death in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.  

On Saturday it was also confirmed that the first American, who had been living in Wuhan, has died from the virus with the 60-year-old passing away on Thursday.

Four Britons – a couple and their two children – have also been admitted to Son Espases hospital in the Palma, Majorca, this weekend after having tests for the virus.

The admissions occurred after the unnamed dad, who lives in Majorca, went to the hospital on Thursday to inform medics he had been in contact with a person who had tested positive for the virus in France.  

Briton Alan Steele (pictured with his new wife Wendy) was taken off the Diamond Princess cruise liner and sent to hospital after testing positive for the virus

Briton Alan Steele (pictured with his new wife Wendy) was taken off the Diamond Princess cruise liner and sent to hospital after testing positive for the virus 

A team of health workers in hazmat suits on the shore in Yokohama on Friday where Japanese authorities said the tally of coronavirus patients on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship had risen to 61

A team of health workers in hazmat suits on the shore in Yokohama on Friday where Japanese authorities said the tally of coronavirus patients on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship had risen to 61

Health workers in protective gear were still working in Yokohama Bay as darkness fell on Friday with the Diamond Princess in quarantine

Health workers in protective gear were still working in Yokohama Bay as darkness fell on Friday with the Diamond Princess in quarantine 

France’s health minister also confirmed on Saturday five cases of coronavirus, adding that all of the new people affected are British nationals and include a child.

Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said that the five were diagnosed with the coronavirus after coming into contact with a person who had been in Singapore.

She said they were not in a serious condition. The total number of people infected with the virus in France has now reached 11. Buzyn said the group of newly-infected people with the virus formed ‘a cluster, a grouping around one original case.’

‘That original case was brought to our attention last night, it is a British national who had returned from Singapore where he had stayed between January 20 and 23, and he arrived in France on January 24 for four days,’ Buzyn said, adding that the latest outbreak had occurred in the mountainous region of Savoie in eastern France. 

According to Le Figaro, the infected British man stayed in a skiing chalet, which contained two apartments, in Contamines-Montjoie, in Haute-Savoie between the 24 and 28 January. 

The first apartment housed three people, who were diagnosed positive with the coronavirus. Four others, were deemed to be suffering from minor symptoms. In the second apartment, a father and child were infected and their mother, who was in Britain, was hospitalised there.

As well as new cases and suspected patients appearing in Europe, dozens of people have also been struck down who were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. 

The SuperStar Aquarius had been on a four-day round-trip from Keelung, near Taipei, with more than 1,730 passengers on board and has now arrived in Taiwan for health officials to test passengers for coronavirus

The SuperStar Aquarius had been on a four-day round-trip from Keelung, near Taipei, with more than 1,730 passengers on board and has now arrived in Taiwan for health officials to test passengers for coronavirus 

Health officials boarded the ship, which is owned by Hong Kong-based Star Cruises, on Saturday. More than 40 of the 1,738 passengers have visited China in the past 30 days

Health officials boarded the ship, which is owned by Hong Kong-based Star Cruises, on Saturday. More than 40 of the 1,738 passengers have visited China in the past 30 days

The Wuhan coronavirus had killed 722 in China and 724 worldwide as of Saturday, with one death in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines (pictured are cases around the world)

The Wuhan coronavirus had killed 722 in China and 724 worldwide as of Saturday, with one death in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines (pictured are cases around the world)

Newlywed Alan Steele was on board the cruise liner when it was quarantined in the port of Yokohama after 61 passengers tested positive.

He was transferred to the medical facility on Friday. His new wife Wendy was forced to remain on board the ship but has been in regular telephone contact with him. 

Briton Mr Steele was one of 41 people who learned they had the virus after 171 remaining test results came back on Friday, trebling the ship’s total of virus patients from 20 to 61. 

The newly diagnosed also include 21 Japanese nationals, as well as eight Americans, five Canadians, five Australians and an Argentine. 

The ship’s operator, Princess Cruises, said the vessel’s quarantine was due to end on February 19 providing that there are no ‘unforeseen developments’. They also confirmed all affected guests were being taken to hospitals. 

Meanwhile another vessel with 40 people from China that was turned away from Japan has arrived in Taiwan. with health officials boarding to test to holidaymakers for coronavirus. 

A resident rides a bike across an eerily empty road on Friday in Wuhan as the number of people infected with coronavirus continues to rise

A resident rides a bike across an eerily empty road on Friday in Wuhan as the number of people infected with coronavirus continues to rise

A man wears a mask as he venture outside in a very quiet Wuhan on Friday. During the day 86 more people died from the virus

A man wears a mask as he venture outside in a very quiet Wuhan on Friday. During the day 86 more people died from the virus

A Chinese man is seen wearing a protective mask as he monitors the entrance to a residential neighbourhood next to a sign saying 'Strong prevention, don't panic, believe in science, don't spread rumours' in Beijing on Friday

A Chinese man is seen wearing a protective mask as he monitors the entrance to a residential neighbourhood next to a sign saying ‘Strong prevention, don’t panic, believe in science, don’t spread rumours’ in Beijing on Friday

People wearing face masks are seen stocking up on food at a supermarket in Hangzhou in east China's Zhejiang province on Friday

People wearing face masks are seen stocking up on food at a supermarket in Hangzhou in east China’s Zhejiang province on Friday

Dozens of people donned the masks as they shopped in Hangzhou on Friday. During the day 86 people died from coronavirus

Dozens of people donned the masks as they shopped in Hangzhou on Friday. During the day 86 people died from coronavirus

The SuperStar Aquarius had been on a four-day round-trip from Keelung, near Taipei, with more than 1,730 passengers on board. More than 40 of the 1,738 passengers have visited China in the past 30 days. 

Tomorrow more around 150 Britons are being flown back from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan and will be kept in quarantine for 14 days in Milton Keynes.

Dire coronavirus warnings from Britain’s top experts 

Leading virologists and infectious disease specialists met at a hastily organised meeting by the respected Science Media Centre in London on Friday amid the escalating outbreak.

They made a series  of dire warnings about the disease, including:

  • A vaccine will not be ready until at least 2021
  • Even if we eradicate the virus in the next few months it could re-emerge in winter  
  • An outbreak in late 2020 could be devastating for NHS staff juggling winter crisis 
  • The death of a seemingly healthy Chinese doctor in his 30s raises fears it may have ability to kill people with strong immune systems
  • Don’t be fooled by a decrease in confirmed cases in the last few days – this could be a lack of man power and errors in cataloging them in China
  • The virus may be spread to babies from pregnant mothers during childbirth
  • Cases are at least 10 times higher than the current 31,000 being reported 

The panel of six was made up of leading experts in the UK, including:  David Heymann, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Dr Gail Carson, Consultant in Infectious Diseases, University of Oxford; Robin Shattock, Professor of Mucosal Infection and Immunity, Imperial College London; Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology, University of Oxford; Paul Hunter, Professor in Medicine at the University of East Anglia; and Professor John Edmunds, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

South Central Ambulance Service said that Kents Hill Park, a conference centre and hotel, will be used to house the returning citizens after they land at RAF Brize Norton – where they will remain in isolation for two weeks.

Everyone boarding the plane at the Chinese city, which is the epicentre of the outbreak, will be assessed and will continue to be monitored after landing in the UK on Sunday morning.

On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that the flight would be the final service chartered by the Foreign Office to bring UK nationals back from the Chinese city. 

While on Friday night a medical professor said the number of coronavirus cases around the world could be 10 times higher than currently thought. 

The death toll in mainland China – the epicentre of the outbreak – reached 637 on Friday, with a total of 31,211 confirmed cases. 

There have been a further 320 cases in 27 other countries, including three in Britain, and one death reported from the Philippines.

But scientists warned the spread of the virus across borders, coupled with its suspected two-week incubation period and the unreliability of testing methods, made it difficult to track.

John Edmunds, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said modelling showed there were ‘ten times more cases than have been reported – or even more’. 

He added: ‘It’s a mild disease that might be missed if somebody doesn’t seek healthcare. And none of the tests is going to be 100 per cent sensitive so it is not unusual to only capture maybe 10 per cent of the cases.’

Professor Edmunds acknowledged that predicting the true scale of the outbreak involved a degree of ‘guesswork’, adding: ‘When there are very large numbers of cases it becomes very hard to confirm them all just because of manpower. Time will tell.’

He said the next few days would show whether containment measures put in place by China had been effective.

A worker measures body temperature of people leaving a supermarket in Qingshan district on Friday following an outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan

A worker measures body temperature of people leaving a supermarket in Qingshan district on Friday following an outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan

Chinese authorities have deployed medics, security guards, volunteers and even robots to monitor the body temperature of citizens. A security guard is pictured checking the temperature of visitors at a seafood market in Guangzhou on Thursday

Chinese authorities have deployed medics, security guards, volunteers and even robots to monitor the body temperature of citizens. A security guard is pictured checking the temperature of visitors at a seafood market in Guangzhou on Thursday

Commuters all wearing protective masks wait for a bus on a usually busy street on Friday in Beijing as the number of cases of coronavirus rose to more than 34000 in mainland China

Commuters all wearing protective masks wait for a bus on a usually busy street on Friday in Beijing as the number of cases of coronavirus rose to more than 34000 in mainland China

Roads in Beijing usually brimming with traffic were seen eerily empty on Friday during what would have been rush hour

Roads in Beijing usually brimming with traffic were seen eerily empty on Friday during what would have been rush hour

A woman and two young children wear facemasks at Shenzhen Bay Port Hong Kong Port Area on Friday after Hong Kong began enforcing a mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone arriving from mainland China

A woman and two young children wear facemasks at Shenzhen Bay Port Hong Kong Port Area on Friday after Hong Kong began enforcing a mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone arriving from mainland China

Experts said it was too early to tell whether the declining number of cases in recent days was ‘good news’ because so much was unknown.

Roughly 3,900 new cases were reported worldwide on Wednesday, compared with 3,700 on Thursday and 3,200 yesterday.

Public Health England announced on Friday it would be possible to test more than 1,000 people a day for coronavirus in laboratories across the UK from next week.

The diagnostic test currently used in London – where only 100 cases can be tested per day – will be available at 12 centres across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to increase capacity and speed up results.

In another announcement the Department of Health and Social Care said that 620 people in the UK have been tested for coronavirus as of 2pm Friday, with three cases confirmed.

Canadians, who had been evacuated from China on an American charter plane, board a bus after they disembarked from another aircraft at Canadian Forces Base on Friday

Canadians, who had been evacuated from China on an American charter plane, board a bus after they disembarked from another aircraft at Canadian Forces Base on Friday

People in protective gear serve snacks Canadians as they were evacuated from China on Friday

People in protective gear serve snacks Canadians as they were evacuated from China on Friday  

The evacuees were taken to a hangar after flying to Canadian Forces Base Trenton Ontario, Canada

The evacuees were taken to a hangar after flying to Canadian Forces Base Trenton Ontario, Canada

Dozens of chairs and supplies were put out for people at the Canadian Forces hangar (pictured some of the people chatting inside the building)

Dozens of chairs and supplies were put out for people at the Canadian Forces hangar (pictured some of the people chatting inside the building)

Experts say the difficulty of containing the coronavirus is that so many patients have mild, cold-like symptoms and don't realise they have the infection – but it can quickly turn deadly

Experts say the difficulty of containing the coronavirus is that so many patients have mild, cold-like symptoms and don’t realise they have the infection – but it can quickly turn deadly

It is understood that the third person in the UK to be diagnosed caught the illness in Singapore and is reported to be a middle-aged British man and is understood to be the first UK national to contract the disease.

The man is thought to have been diagnosed in Brighton and was transferred to St Thomas’ Hospital in London, where there is an infectious disease unit, on Thursday afternoon. 

The patient attended a business conference in Singapore organised by a UK company called Servomex, which describes itself as a ‘provider of reliable, accurate and stable gas measurements’ and is based near Brighton. 

Health bosses have now launched a frantic but farcical hunt for anyone who spent more than 15 minutes with the middle-aged man – despite not quarantining his own family. Furious Brits have slammed the ‘weak’ measures to prevent more cases in the UK, urging ministers to shut the border and saying ‘serious guidance is needed’. Others have questioned if it’s time to start wearing face masks. 

Flowers are seen near a photo of the late Dr. Li Wenliang at a hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province after the doctor died from coronavirus earlier this week. News of the death on Friday of Li Wenliang, a doctor who was reprimanded by police for raising the alarm about the new coronavirus, sparked sorrow and outrage on Chinese social media

Flowers are seen near a photo of the late Dr. Li Wenliang at a hospital in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province after the doctor died from coronavirus earlier this week. News of the death on Friday of Li Wenliang, a doctor who was reprimanded by police for raising the alarm about the new coronavirus, sparked sorrow and outrage on Chinese social media

A woman is seen carrying Louis Vuitton bags outside an almost deserted luxury mall in Beijing on Friday

A woman is seen carrying Louis Vuitton bags outside an almost deserted luxury mall in Beijing on Friday

A man wearing a face mask walks past a closed Apple store in Beijing on Friday

A man wearing a face mask walks past a closed Apple store in Beijing on Friday

It comes after it was revealed MPs believe a China travel ban could be introduced within weeks because the coronavirus outbreak appears to be getting worse and the government will be forced to act. 

A source who sits on the All Party Parliamentary China Group, set up to strengthen China-UK relations, said they would be surprised if the travel restriction was not imposed ‘in the next week or two’ amid calls for the government to step up its efforts to protect the UK against the killer disease. 

If introduced a ban would likely apply to foreign nationals who have visited China in the last 14 days – something 16 countries including the US, Australia, New Zealand and Japan have already imposed. Even Saudi Arabia and Iraq have introduced the ban before Britain.

Virologist Professor Ian Jones, from the University of Reading, welcomed the move, saying it was a ‘simple’ and ‘proactive’ measure that could delay more cases on home soil.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE THREE CORONAVIRUS CASES IN THE UK? 

THE FIRST TWO CASES

A University of York student and his mother became the first two confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus on British soil when they were diagnosed on January 31. But neither have been named.

Health officials repeatedly refused to give any details about the two cases, citing ‘patient confidentially’, and knocked back questions about where and when they entered Britain.

But MailOnline later that same day revealed the pair had stayed at a budget hotel in York.

Sources at the Staycity apart-hotel said the pair – who had been whisked away by paramedics on January 31 – never returned or collected their suitcases, clothing or toiletries. 

It is thought their toiletries remain sealed in their room. Officials have already paid for a sterilisation company to disinfect the room the pair stayed in, as well as surrounding ones. It is not clear if they are open again but the £49-a-night hotel is still operating. 

Sources then confirmed that both the infected patients had been whisked off to quarantine at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, one of four specialist centres in the UK set-up to treat contagious airborne infections. The patients are still there being treated.

The University of York confirmed one of the patients was a student on February 1. In hope of quashing fears, it said the infected student had not stepped foot on campus before or after he caught the virus. It was later revealed that the second patient was his mother.

THE THIRD CASE 

The patient is thought to have been diagnosed in Brighton and whisked off to a specialist infectious diseases unit at a London hospital, where they will be kept in isolation for at least two weeks.

Only four hospitals in England are equipped with these wards, two of which are in the capital – the Royal Free and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. The others are in Newcastle and Liverpool.

Public Health England said the patient did not catch the highly contagious disease in the UK, suggesting they had recently flown back from China. Officials have so far refused to offer any more details about the patient.

But there has been no flights into the UK from Wuhan since January 22, when Chinese authorities made the unprecedented decision to put the city into lockdown and ground all flights to fight the outbreak.

London Gatwick, the closest airport to Brighton – just 27miles (44km) north of the seaside city, has direct flights from Shanghai, another Chinese city that has recorded cases of the killer virus. 



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Billionaires could 'leave Earth for space colony' as 'climate collapses'…


Coronavirus, climate change, overpopulation, rising sea levels, and the ever-present threat of nuclear war. Lots of people would leave this planet if they possibly could.

And maybe a few people can.

A number of multi-billionaires – notably Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Yuri Milner – have poured huge chunks of their fortunes into space travel.

Maybe they’re just squandering their unimaginable wealth on rockets in the same way that mere millionaires might buy yachts.

But some people are speculating that the mega-rich might be planning to flee off-planet.

In a New York Times article entitled The Rich Are Planning to Leave This Wretched Planet, Michael Suffredini, who is spearheading the creation of a new “luxury” space station called Axiom, revealed the details of his designer orbital habitat.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk has spoken many times of his long-term goal to establish a Mars colony

He predicted that a holiday on Axiom would cost $55million, and not only had he recruited world-famous French designer Philippe Starck to create the station’s interior but he was close to doing a deal with a major European fashion house to provide custom-made space suits.

He said that three people had already signed up even though the space station had not yet launched. The station is slated to receive its first guests in 2022.

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Elon Musk has made no secret of his plan to establish a permanent settlement on Mars. He has stressed the importance of ensuring that humanity is a multi-planet species so that there will be seem of us left behind if the worst should happen.

Musk says: “Last century, we had two massive world wars, three if you count the Cold War.”

While the PayPal billionaire isn’t predicting a global conflict any time soon, he says: ”I think it’s unlikely that we’ll never have another world war again.”

Bezos’s space company Blue Origin has teamed up with aerospace giants Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman

But noted American media theorist Douglas Rushkoff has written that the overall direction of technological development was about creating an escape route for the super-rich.

He pointed out that combat robots would serve very well to guard the bolt-holes of billionaires remaining on Earth once climate change reached its end-game and described Elon Musk’s planned Mars colony as “less a continuation of the human diaspora than a lifeboat for the elite.”

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic venture is currently developing new commercial spacecraft

They can certainly afford a lifeboat. The world’s richest people have seen their share of the world’s total money supply increase from 42.5% at the height of the 2008 financial crisis to just over 50.% by the end of 2017.

That adds up to about or $140trillion (£106tn), according to a report from Credit Suisse.

Virgin Galactic's new commercial spaceport in New Mexico, which is now "operationally functional"
Richard Branson’s new commercial spaceport in New Mexico is now ‘operationally functional’

But how possible is it to establish an off-world base?

Daily Star Online asked NASA’s Cheryl Warner whether there were any serious obstacles to developing a Moon base with today’s technology. She told us: “From a technical standpoint, we’re closer to returning to the Moon than ever before, this time with modern systems that will provide more access to the lunar surface, and allow us to stay on the surface for longer periods of time.

“The White House previously asked us to accelerate our return to the Moon, and we’re working diligently to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, and establishing sustainable lunar exploration by 2028.

“Doing so will prepare us for exploration farther into the solar system, including sending astronauts to Mars in the mid-2030s.”

NASA have confidently predicted that all the technology for a permanent Moon base is already in place

The British Interplanetary society’s Mark Hempsell told Daily Star Online that when it comes to establishing a permanent orbital habitat the only current stumbling block is the need to develop a replacement for the Space Shuttle.

“The key new approach that is required for any of this to happen is reusability,” he said, “and this is what SpaceX and Blue Origin are both addressing.

“However, they are rather tiptoeing the issue. The approaches they are using could have done 30 or 40 years ago.

“So I would argue the hold-ups are all political and economic.”

Russia’s Valeri Polyakov holds the current ISS endurance record with 437 days in orbit.

Mark says that a UK-based launch vehicle currently on the drawing board could ferry would-be colonists to and from orbit comparatively soon, budget permitting.

He added: “The studies I have done have been centred on the British Skylon, from Reaction Engines.

“Those studies suggest Skylon alone can support significant space colonisation on an economic basis with no other launch system required.”

The nuclear-powered Scorpion concept craft has enough power to carry the radiation shielding required for long space journeys

Mark believes that millions, potentially billions, could one day thrive in orbital colonies.

He says that solutions for the problems of food and oxygen supply are more achievable than many people imagine, but “less certain is the impact of long term effect of the low gravity of either Mars or the Moon on the human body and that is an issue.”

The effects of truly long term exposure to a zero gravity environment aren’t likely to be felt on your body, or even on the bodies of trained astronauts, but on the gym-honed tech billionaires with money to burn and a yearning to explore the highest and wildest frontier.

Mark Hempsell’s Skyfarm concept could potentially provide food for 4 million people.

Writing in the Guardian, editor and journalist Jess Zimmerman asked: “By pushing outward while ignoring the problems it causes back on the home turf, are [tech billionaires] effectively creating a galactic upper class that rests on the backs of the earthbound?”

Whether it’s war, or natural disaster, humanity is going to face a fight for its survival in the coming century.

And the people most likely to escape that evolutionary bottleneck are the very few who have the money to help them orbit high above the disaster.



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