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FRONT PAGE NEWS
28 January 2020

CORONAVIRUS: DEATH TOLL CLIMBS TO 106 AS CHINA TIGHTENS MEASURES

China says 106 people have died from the new coronavirus and the cases of
newly infected have almost doubled.
The number of total confirmed cases in China rose to 4,515 as of 27 January,
up from 2,835 a day earlier.
The country has meanwhile further tightened travel restrictions to try and
curb the spread of the virus.
The city of Wuhan, thought to be the epicentre of it, is already in
effective lockdown as is much of surrounding Hubei province.
The coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection and there is no
specific cure or vaccine.
Most of the deaths have been of elderly people or those with pre-existing
respiratory problems.
In a sign of mounting official concern, Premier Li Keqiang visited ground
zero to oversee containment efforts in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people
where the disease first appeared late last month. The government has sealed
off Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province, effectively trapping tens of
millions of people including thousands of foreigners, in a bid to contain
the virus as the Lunar New Year holiday unfolds.
China decided to extend the holiday, initially due to end on January 30, for
three days to limit population flows and control the epidemic. U.S.
President Donald Trump said the United States has offered Beijing "any help
that is necessary" in combating the virus.


POMPEO URGES IRAQ TO UPHOLD 'SOVEREIGNTY' FACED WITH IRAN 'ATTACKS' ON U.S.
TARGETS

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday urged Iraqi Prime Minister Adil
Abdel Mahdi to uphold his country's "sovereignty" in the face of "attacks"
from Iran on U.S. facilities in Iraq.
Pompeo "expressed his outrage at the continued assaults by Iran's armed
groups against U.S. facilities in Iraq, including yesterday's rocket attacks
against our Embassy, which resulted in one injury," the State Department
said in a statement.
The statement said that "these attacks demonstrate a wanton disregard for
Iraqi sovereignty and a failure to rein in these dangerous armed groups."
Pompeo said on Twitter that "the government of #Iraq must take immediate
steps to protect our diplomatic facilities as required by international
law."


U.S. MILITARY JET 'CRASHES' IN TALIBAN TERRITORY IN AFGHANISTAN

A U.S. military jet crashed in the mountainous territory of eastern
Afghanistan, where there is a heavy Taliban presence, the Pentagon confirmed
Monday, rejecting the insurgents' suggestions that it was shot down.
Afghanistan U.S. Forces spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett confirmed in a
statement that the aircraft was a U.S. Bombardier E-11A, a type of jet used
as a military airborne communications node in the region. "While the cause
of crash is under investigation, there are no indications the crash was
caused by enemy fire," he said.
Col. Leggett gave no information on casualties in the crash. Earlier, a
Taliban spokesman said the plane had crashed and there were no survivors,
but another version of the statement from the insurgents said they had
brought the plane down.
"An aircraft of American occupiers has crashed in Ghazni province," Taliban
spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a Pashto-language statement, adding
that all crew members onboard had been killed. Large swathes of rural areas
in Ghazni province are controlled or under the influence of Taliban
militants, making access difficult for officials.


BOLTON REVELATIONS ANGER REPUBLICANS, FUELING PUSH FOR IMPEACHMENT WITNESSES

The White House and Senate Republican leaders struggled Monday to salvage
their plans to push toward a quick acquittal of President Donald Trump this
week in his impeachment trial, after his former national security adviser
corroborated a central piece of the charges against him, angering key
Republicans and reinvigorating a bid to hear from witnesses.
Three Republican moderates indicated they were inching closer to joining
Democrats in a vote to subpoena John Bolton, the former adviser whose
forthcoming book details how Trump conditioned military aid for Ukraine on
the country's willingness to furnish information on his political rivals.
Feeling political pressure, other members of the president's party privately
expressed new openness to including witnesses in the trial, even as their
leaders insisted that doing so would only delay the president's inevitable
acquittal.
"I think it's increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of
us who think we should hear from John Bolton," Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah,
told reporters. At a closed-door lunch with Republican senators Monday,
Romney made a strong case for witnesses, arguing that calling them would be
a wise choice for Republicans politically and substantively.
As they opened the second day of their defense in the impeachment trial,
Trump's lawyers ignored the revelations from Bolton, reported Sunday by The
New York Times, which bolstered the case made by the Democratic prosecutors
from the House that the president had sought to use his position to gain
foreign help in his reelection campaign.
Instead, the White House team doubled down with a defense that was directly
contradicted by the account in Bolton's book, due out in March. Trump's
lawyers again told senators that no evidence existed tying the president's
decision to withhold security aid from Ukraine to his insistence on the
investigations, which they have claimed were requested out of a concern for
corruption.


ALABAMA FIRE: EIGHT KILLED AS BLAZE ENGULFS 35 BOATS IN MARINA

At least eight people were killed when a massive fire destroyed dozens of
boats in a marina in the US state of Alabama on Monday, officials say.
The fire quickly spread as people slept at Jackson County Park in
Scottsboro. The aluminium roof of the wooden dock collapsed, and some of the
boats sank.
Seven people who jumped into the water were rescued and taken to hospital.
It was not clear what caused the fire. Rescue teams will search the water to
make sure there are no other victims.
The fire started around 00:40 local time (06:40 GMT) and engulfed 35 vessels
from house boats to pontoons docked on the Tennessee River. The identities
of the victims have not been released.
"This is absolutely devastating," Scottsboro Fire Chief Gene Necklaus told
reporters. "[It's] one of the most devastating things I've ever seen. I
think as we learn more details, that tragedy will continue to grow."
Images posted on social media showed a row of boats engulfed in flames. A
witness, Mandy Durham, said the vessels had propane and gas tanks, which
probably fuelled the fire.


UK COURT ORDERS SALE OF FORCE INDIA YACHT LINKED TO VIJAY MALLYA

A British court Monday ordered that a luxury yacht owned by Force India
Limited be sold and its proceeds be used to pay back Qatar National Bank to
enforce its mortgage on the vessel.
During court proceedings, brought by the bank in the Admiralty Division of
the High Court in England, it had been claimed that liquor tycoon Vijay
Mallya's son Siddharth Mallya was the ultimate beneficial owner of the
yacht.
However, the bank said that without grappling with that issue, their claim
was focused on recovering outstanding loan payments estimated at around Euro
6 million.
"Security for the loan. included a personal guarantee from Dr Mallya, an
individual closely connected with the borrower," notes the judgment handed
down by Justice Nigel Teare in London on Monday.
"The sum claimed in this action in rem is Euro 5 million plus interest and
the costs of 'collection' which the claimant is entitled to recover," it
adds.
The judgment also takes note of the fact that the Defendant, listed as "the
owner of the yacht Force India", chose not to appear at a scheduled trial
earlier this month after its solicitors "came off the record" in November
last.
The yacht itself remains under arrest in Southampton, a port on England's
south coast, and court appointed Admiralty Marshal Paul Farren will now
proceed with organising the appraisement and sale of the vessel in order to
recover the costs.


75 YEARS ON, SURVIVORS RETURN TO AUSCHWITZ

Seventyfive years after the liberation of Auschwitz, a dwindling number of
elderly Holocaust survivors gathered at the former German Nazi death camp on
Monday to honour its more than 1.1 million, mostly Jewish, victims and to
share their alarm over rising anti-Semitism.
More than 200 survivors came from across the globe to the camp the Nazis
built at Oswiecim in then-occupied Poland, to share their testimony as a
stark warning amid a recent surge of anti-semitic attacks on both sides of
the Atlantic, some of them deadly. Survivors dressed in blue and white
striped caps and scarves symbolic of the uniforms prisoners wore at the
camp, passed through its chilling "Arbeit macht Frei" (German for "Work
makes you free") black wrought-iron gate.
Accompanied by Polish President Andrzej Duda, they laid floral wreaths by
the Death Wall in Auschwitz where the Nazis shot dead thousands of
prisoners.
Organisers insist that Monday's memorial ceremony must focus above all on
what survivors have to say rather than the bitter political feuds that have
tainted the run-up to the anniversary.
The Presidents of Israel and Poland called on Monday for greater global
efforts to combat anti-Semitism as the world marked 75 years since the
liberation of the Auschwitz death camp amid concerns over a resurgence of
anti-Jewish prejudice.


TURKISH RESCUERS FIND LAST QUAKE VICTIMS; DEATH TOLL HITS 41

Turkish emergency teams on Monday recovered the bodies of the last two
missing quake victims from the rubble of a collapsed building, raising the
death toll from the powerful tremor that hit eastern Turkey to 41.
The magnitude 6.8 earthquake that struck Friday night also injured more than
1,600 others, authorities said. At least 45 survivors have been pulled out
of the rubble alive.
Rescue teams on Monday drilled through the rubble in the eastern city of
Elazig, trying to reach a missing 75-year-old woman and another person, as
relatives waited nearby.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Mehmet Gulluoglu, the head of the
Turkish disaster management agency, later announced that their bodies were
pulled out from the debris.
The quake destroyed 76 buildings and damaged more than 1,000 others, forcing
survivors to take refuge in tents, mosques, schools, sports halls and
student dormitories. Authorities warned people not to return to homes that
could be unsafe.
Friday's quake hit at 8:55 pm in the city that lies 565 kilometers (350
miles) east of Ankara. It was followed by close to 950 aftershocks - 21 of
them of them measuring magnitude 4 or higher.

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