The second case of coronavirus was confirmed Friday in the United States, as China’s efforts to control its outbreak expanded on many fronts. Travel bans were extended in central China to put tens of millions of people effectively on local lockdowns. In Wuhan, where the virus was first detected, workers are racing to build a 1,000-bed hospital to treat victims of the disease.
Authorities around China, including in the capital, Beijing, have canceled the temple fairs and festivals that accompany the Spring Festival to avoid having large public gatherings where the airborne virus could spread.
What We Know So Far
- There are more than 830 confirmed cases of infection, and at least 26 people have died. A total of 8,420 people are reported to be under observation.
- A young, previously healthy man died in Wuhan, raising concerns about the deadliness of the virus. Until now, the vast majority of victims have been older than 60 with preexisting conditions.
- Infections have been confirmed in South Korea, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan and the United States.
- Authorities are enforcing a lockdown across large parts of the province of Hubei, affecting more than 35 million people, but the precise number remains unclear.
- The Chinese medical system has clearly struggled to cope with the outbreak, with reports of crowded hospitals, stressed doctors and dwindling supplies.
The second case in the US is a woman in her 60s. She has been hospitalized in Chicago, and is reportedly doing well. She had traveled to Wuhan, China, in December, and flew home to Illinois on Jan. 13. She was not symptomatic on the flight home.
The woman had not spent much time in public after arriving back in the U.S., and had not taken public transportation, health officials said. The risk that she had infected others is low, but some close contacts are being monitored for symptoms.
The CDC is also investigating another 61 potential cases from 22 states. Eleven have tested negative, and results from the rest are pending.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said that it’s important to keep in mind that there are still many unknowns about the virus.
“This virus was only identified within the past month, and there is much we don’t know yet,” Messonnier said during a call with journalists last week.
She added it’s likely there will be more cases in the U.S., including among close contacts of travelers.
The first reported case of the virus in the states was a 30 year old Seattle man, who fell ill after returning to his home in Washington state following a trip to Wuhan.
President Trump has blasted Democrat lawmakers, following their statements thus far in the Senate impeachment trial. He took to Twitter Thursday to state that their arguments, specifically those of lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff’s, were full of “lies and misrepresentations.”
The president was particularly irate about the fact that his democratic accusers have ignored the facts of the many times that President Obama also held back foreign aid that was approved by Congress.
During Wednesday’s hearings, Schiff called President Trump’s decision to withhold foreign aid to Ukraine funds highly unusual.
“It was President Trump himself who originally authorized additional financial military assistance to Ukraine in 2017 and 2018, without reservation,” said Schiff. “Making his abrupt decision to withhold assistance in 2019, without explanation, all the more surprising to those responsible for Ukraine policy.”
However, President Trump said that Schiff, along with his colleagues, are refusing to state that the Obama administration also withheld aid from many countries in an effort to side-step the fact that doing so has historically been a common practice for presidents. He further noted that Obama withheld aid to several countries undergoing political strife, including Ukraine as well as Pakistan, the Philippines, Egypt, Honduras and Mexico.
This comes as President Trump maintains there was no pressure in his communications with Ukraine and gave this explanation on releasing aid to the country, “That’s the whole case right there. There was no pressure whatsoever. I do say two things — we have to check corruption and we also have to find out why is it that the United States is always giving foreign countries money.”
The president concluded his series Thursday tweets against the Democrats, noting that the Democrat impeachment efforts are a “witch hunt!”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is raising concerns about a serious new virus originating in China.
According to Reuters, the United States will begin screening efforts at three major U.S. airports to detect travelers from the central Chinese city of Wuhan who may have symptoms of a new respiratory virus that so far has killed two people and infected 45 more.
The CDC said the screening at the San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles airports would began on Friday Jan. 10, and is focusing on travelers to the United States via direct or connecting flights from Wuhan.
So far, the new virus has spread outside of China to Japan and Thailand, and CDC officials said in a conference call with reporters that they expect more cases will be reported outside of China. However, the risk to Americans is deemed to be low, the CDC said. Dr. Martin Cetron, director of the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, said the CDC will be sending about 100 additional staff to the three airports — Los Angeles International, San Francisco International and New York’s John F. Kennedy International — to supplement existing staff at quarantine stations located at those airports.
Under the screening procedures, travelers from Wuhan will be taken to a separate area in the airport, where they will complete a questionnaire and be checked for fever. Those with symptoms will be asked additional health- and exposure-related questions, and those needing more follow-up will be referred to a designated healthcare facility for further testing.
The CDC said it may adjust screening procedures as the outbreak investigation continues.
The Chinese virus is a “coronavirus,” a large family of viruses that can cause infections ranging from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, a highly infectious virus that originated in China in 2002 and eventually traveled to 37 countries, killing 774 people.
So far, health officials do not consider the new virus from China to be as lethal as SARS, but the investigation is evolving and much is still not known about whether the virus can spread easily from person to person.
“This is the stage of the investigation where we need to proceed cautiously and be prepared for any eventuality,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, a CDC expert in respiratory diseases, said on the conference call.
“It’s highly plausible” that there will be a case in the United States, Messonnier said. “That is why we are moving forward with this screening.”
China health officials report that most of the patients infected with the virus have had exposure to a large market where live animals were present, suggesting the virus is new and has jumped from animals to humans.
It is still not clear how well the virus can be transmitted, but there are indications of some limited spread from person-to-person, CDC officials said.
The author of a new book, is saying that friends of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, believe that “something happened to him” affecting his physical and mental health during the two-year long Russia probe.
The Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig, who is the co-author of the new book A Very Stable Genius about President Trump, described in interviews promoting the book, how difficult it was for some of Mueller’s close family and friends to watch his shaky testimony before Congress last summer.
“Phil [Rucker] and I, my co-author, we are not medical professionals, but over and over again, John, we heard from people who are very close to Bob Mueller who found him a different person, a changed person, after two years of this investigation,” Leonnig told CNN host John Berman.
“They don’t know what that’s about,” Leonnig continued. “Some of them do and haven’t shared that with us. But they know that something happened. He’s a different person. He was stumbling over his words. You saw him in July in his testimony before Congress, there were people that I spoke to who are very, very good family friends of his who said, ‘I couldn’t watch the television anymore, I had to turn it off. It wasn’t the Bob I knew.'”
After a 22-month investigation, Mueller’s team did not find sufficient evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy took place between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. He also declined to make a determination about whether Trump may have obstructed justice but did lay out 10 instances of possible obstruction that Democrats viewed as a road map to continue investigating and possibly seek impeachment. Trump is now facing two articles of impeachment stemming from his dealings with Ukraine. However, nothing from the Mueller Probe was reflected in either of those articles.
Speculation about Mueller’s health began to swirl when the former FBI director, known for being sharp and competent, appeared to have difficulty hearing lawmakers’ questions and failed to recall key facts from his report when he testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees in July.
In their book, Leonnig and Rucker wrote that when Attorney General William Barr met Mueller before his report was released, Mueller read from his notes, and his “hands shook as he held the paper. His voice was shaky, too.” Barr and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, “couldn’t help but worry about Mueller’s health.”
Despite persistent rumors about his health, it was announced that in October 2019 that Mueller had returned to work at the private law firm WilmerHale.
As tragic as the Australian wildfires are, it is even more of a tragedy when such devastating losses are played for political gain. Since the fires began, left-wing environmentalists and their ilk, have been shouting that global warming is to blame. However, top scientists beg to differ!
According to scientist and bushfire expert, David Packham, Australia’s current bushfires have nothing to do with climate change and everything to do with “fuel-loads.” Five years ago, Packham, a former bushfire researcher at CSIRO, warned that unless there is a drastic increase in annual fuel reduction burnings “a massive bushfire disaster will occur”. Packham’s research accurately predicted that, “The forest and alpine environment will decay and be damaged possibly beyond repair and home and people [will be] incinerated.”
Fuel levels –which means the volume of trees and greenery available to “fuel” wildfires — are at their highest since European settlement, and that’s something Packham attributed to “misguided green ideology”, vested interests, political failure and “forrest mismanagement.”
In a November interview with Andrew Bolt on Australia’s Sky News, Packham said there are four groups that profit from our current situation, which may give “clues” as to why necessary fuel reduction burns have been neglected. First, “The Greens” [environmental activists], who are using [the fires] to further their Global Warming narrative; second, the fire agencies, who can ask for increased funding; third, the politicians who can exploit the victims for a photo-op; and fourth, the media who love to report on the tragedy.
More recently, Packham told reporter, Jane Marwick, that he was “shocked” to hear that former state fire chiefs were attributing the current bushfires to “climate change” instead of record fuel-loads.
“I was terribly surprised when they put out this line that the fires are due to climate change when everybody who knows anything about the principles and a little bit of the science of bushfire behavior knows that is not the case. It is… the fuel,” he told Marwick.
“I was shocked, because these are very experienced people. They’re right at the top of the tree and to hear what came from them… has left me absolutely startled that people who– if that is what they really believe, you can’t imagine why they are in the position they are in. And I can’t believe that they’re saying things they didn’t believe just to push a sort of semi-religious myth about climate change.”
According to Packham, the science is undeniable. The ferocity of the fire is determined by the amount of fuel and the amount of fuel determines the rate at which the fire moves. Since fuel levels have climbed to their most dangerous level in thousands of years, a blaze of this magnitude was unavoidable and should have been expected, anticipated, and planned for.
According to a disturbing report by the Military Times, the 82nd Airborne Division is briefing family members of deployed paratroopers to double-check their social media settings and report any strange or threatening messages they may receive. They warning was sent out after some “menacing” messages and comments were reported to the command.
The division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team was deployed to Kuwait earlier this month as part of an emergency response to the region over heightened tensions with Iran.
“Families have reported instances where they have received unsolicited contact with some menacing messaging,” said Lt. Col. Mike Burns, a division spokesman.
“We have done several things to inform our paratroopers and families of these risks and ways that they can protect themselves,” Burns added. “I also personally spoke to the brigade [Family Readiness Group] leaders today.”
The 82nd has told family members to “be vigilant” and practice smart behavior online. Family members should check their social media settings and reference the U.S. Army’s social media handbook, Burns said. In addition to distributing social media pamphlets, the division has held information forums for families. Burns could not comment on the reports that WiFi access was suspended for brigade paratroopers in Kuwait.
Separately, two U.S. sources with direct knowledge of the situation told the Military Times that the WiFi access was suspended over fears of a potential hacking and leak of sensitive contact information. One defense source said the MWR network was compromised, that contacts were pulled from service member’s devices and family members have been getting threats and disturbing messages from the hackers.
The defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record, said family members stateside have been getting “threats and disturbing messages.”
One of the messages obtained by the Military Times appears to be a typical “psyops” styled warning. It references Iran, but there is no indication it is actually a state-sponsored message.
“If you like your life and you want to see your family again, pack up your stuff right now and leave the Middle East. Go back to your country. You and your terrorist clown president brought nothing but terrorism,” the message reads. “You fools underestimate the power of Iran. The recent attack on your [expletive] bases was just a little taste of our power. By killing our general, you dug your own grave. Before having more dead bodies, just leave the region for good and never look back.”
The message was sent over Instagram by an account that used deceased Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani’s portrait as a profile picture. Soleimani was killed by a U.S. airstrike on Jan. 3 in Baghdad, Iraq.
Other messages included fake scenarios about kidnappings intended to scare family members. A separate official noted that some messages appear to look more like phishing attempts.
The extent of the possible compromise is unknown. One defense official said it’s unknown at this time when and where the potential hacking may have taken place.
Criminally indicted Lev Parnas, the new “star witness” of the Dems, who they claim proves that Trump had former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, under surveillance, has now said, that text messages that seemingly suggested Yovanovitch was in danger, and being secretly monitored, were in reality just the ramblings of a “drunk.”
Speaking to MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” a day after he provided a slew of new documents and text messages to House investigators, which made Democrats drool, Parnas repeatedly said prominent Trump donor Robert F. Hyde “wasn’t being serious” when he claimed in some of those communications to know Yovanovitch’s whereabouts in Kiev.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif, wrote Tuesday that Hyde’s texts indicated “that he had Ambassador Yovanovitch under physical surveillance.” Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders said it was “outrageous that the president’s personal lawyers appear to have directed the surveillance of a U.S. ambassador” and demanded that the matter be “fully investigated.” Yovanovitch herself called for a probe.
However, Parnas told Maddow, “I don’t believe it was true, I think he was either drunk or was trying to make himself bigger than he was.” Adding that he was “disturbed” by the “crazy” text messages. “I didn’t take him seriously. I didn’t even respond to him most of the time. If I did, it was something like ‘LOL’ or ‘Okay’ or ‘Great’ or something like that.”
Parnas said that after he received the bizarre texts from Hyde about the apparent surveillance, he called up a “mutual acquaintance” at the super PAC America First — and that the acquaintance told Parnas to “stay away from Hyde.”
“I think he [Hyde] got into something with Greg Pence, Mike Pence’s brother, thinking that the Secret Service was after him and somebody wants to kill him,” Parnas told Maddow. “Once he started texting me that, that was the end of our relationship.”
When Maddow pointed out that Hyde’s texts went on for several days, and doubted that someone could be intoxicated for so long, Parnas quickly sought to set he straight.
“He’s drunk the whole time,” Parnas responded. “He wakes up and he’s drunk. He starts at 6. I’ve never seen him not drunk.”
Maddow did not ask Parnas about his own pending federal criminal case for making false statements and falsifying records, his previous claims about Yovanovitch, or prosecutors’ assertions that Ukrainian officials wanted the diplomat gone.
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., has introduced a pro-Second Amendment bill in the Senate that is aimed at easing restrictions on gun owners transporting their firearms across state lines.
The bill would reform the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA), clarifying the term “transport” to include “staying in temporary lodging overnight, stopping for food, fuel, vehicle maintenance, an emergency, medical treatment, and any other activity incidental.”
Daines said Americans should not be afraid to transport their legally owned firearms.
“This is about protecting law-abiding gun owners and their constitutional right to safely transport their firearms,” he told Fox News in a recent interview. “Montanans want their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms protected, and that’s what I’m fighting for.”
The bill would seek to ensure that gun owners could not be arrested for violating local laws regarding “the possession, transportation, or carrying of firearms” unless police had probable cause.
Daines said he wanted the burden of proof to be on the states to prove that a traveler violated the law beyond a reasonable doubt. He also aimed to clarify that the transportation of firearms, magazines, and ammunition has always been a federally protected right.
Senate Democrats generally have pushed for a focus on gun safety. Last year they pushed a bill passed by the House that would expand background checks on gun purchases. “The time is not for a moment of silence. The time for the Senate is to act. The time is to listen to the American people,” then House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said last summer. Rep. Debby Dingell, D-Mich., added, “We can’t keep going to our corners and not figuring out what we are going to do.”
But, the GOP-led Senate effectively killed the measure later that same year.
The executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, Jason Ouimet, offered a statement of support for Daines’ bill.
“Law-abiding Americans traveling with unloaded, secured firearms have continually been harassed with malicious arrests and prosecutions when traveling through anti-gun jurisdictions,” he said. “Senator Daines’ legislation ensures such outrageous actions will no longer be tolerated under the law.”
Ouimet’s statement concluded, “On behalf of the NRA’s five million members, we thank Senator Daines for having the legislative courage to stand and fight against local bullies who were hoping to suppress our Second Amendment rights.”
President Trump continues his game of “I would if I could, but I can’t so I won’t,” with Democrats, vowing that former national security advisor (NSA), John Bolton will never testify in the president’s impeachment trial in the Senate.
President Trump said last week in an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham that he would “love everybody to testify,” including Bolton, secretary of state Mike Pompeo and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
But he then went on to say, “…there are things that you can’t do from the standpoint of executive privilege. Especially a national security adviser.” Trump then added, “You can’t have him explaining all of your statements about national security concerning Russia, China and North Korea, everything. You just can’t do that.”
Therefore, according to Trump, John Bolton (and presumably the others he mentioned) will be blocked from testifying at his impeachment trial. This despite the former NSA insisting he would do so if he received a subpoena.
Democrats believe Bolton – who was ousted by Trump last September — has key insight into the president’s failed efforts to secure a so-called quid pro quo with the government of Ukraine. Bolton can provide the “firsthand” testimony that the GOP has been lacking thus far in the impeachment process. Despite the Democrat controlled House having drafted two articles of impeachment, without such firsthand accounts, Republicans have said there is actually no case against Trump.
Bolton surprised the White House earlier this week by announcing he would testify at Trump’s Senate trial if subpoenaed to do so. In a statement, he said he had tried to “resolve serious competing issues” in weighing “my obligations both as a citizen and as a former national security adviser” and concluded that he was prepared to testify.
Regardless of what the president has said regarding blocking Bolton’s testimony, there remains significant doubt that he will even be given that opportunity. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has joined other leading Republicans in asserting that no witnesses should be called, and claimed last week to have enough votes to start the trial on that basis.
Democrats need to persuade four Senate Republicans to join them in a vote on trial rules that would allow witnesses, something that still seems a hard-sell at this point.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is finally expected to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate this week.
Just a few days after announcing the end of his own bid for the White House, Julian Castro endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“Elizabeth and I share a vision of America where everyone counts. An America where people—not the wealthy or well-connected—are put first. I’m proud to join her in the fight for big, structural change,” the former San Antonio, Texas mayor and Housing secretary during former President Barack Obama’s second term, recently wrote on Twitter.
Castro – who was the only Latino candidate in the large field of Democratic White House hopefuls – had a few heated exchanges with former Vice President Joe Biden, he always seemed to have warm relations with Warren.
Warren – who’s considered part of the top tier of nomination contenders along with Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg – praised Castro and his proposals a number of times on the campaign trail last year.
Short on campaign cash, unable to resonate in the polls, and failing to qualify for the most recent debates, Castro suspended his campaign on Jan. 2. On Tuesday Jan. 7 he joined Warren at a large rally in New York City. Castro is now headed to Las Vegas, Nevada and Marshalltown, Iowa this weekend to stump for Warren.
Some political pundits point to the possibility of Warren – if she wins the nomination – choosing Castro as her running mate.
Castro was the only Latino in the large field of Democratic White House hopefuls. And his deployment to Iowa and especially Nevada – where Latino voters play a crucial role in the state’s Democratic presidential caucus – could benefit Warren. It’s also likely he’ll stump for Warren in his home state of Texas – which has a large and vibrant Hispanic electorate. Texas is the second-largest state to vote on the March 3 Super Tuesday contests – the single largest day of voting in the nomination calendar.