THURSDAY, January 23
The Chinese city of Wuhan, the source of an outbreak of a new flu-like virus, is closing its transport networks and has told citizens not to leave the city as the death toll rose steeply overnight.
Hospitals in Wuhan are reportedly dealing with huge numbers of sick patients, raising fears the new coronavirus is spreading faster than official reports suggest.
Bus, subway, ferry and long-distance passenger transportation networks will be suspended from 10am (local time), and the airport and train stations will be closed to outgoing passengers, state TV said.
Wuhan, the most populated city in central China with 11 million people, was to have hosted the final round of women soccer’s Olympic qualifying games between Australia, China, Thailand and Chinese Taipei, but those matches will now be played in Nanjing.
Football Federation Australia said it welcomed the Asian Football Confederation’s decision to move the tournament.
There are now 544 cases of novel coronavirus reported across China, with 17 confirmed deaths — almost double that reported a day earlier — according to reports in the country’s state media, Xinhua, the China Daily newspaper and Reuters.
The previous report pointed to nine deaths.
Overseas, Thailand has confirmed four cases, while the United States, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan have reported one each, news agencies reported..
Authorities say they have also confirmed 2,197 cases where people have had close contact with patients.
This comes as the state-owned Global Times newspaper in an editorial appeared to lash authorities in Wuhan for being slow to report the virus had spread to medical workers — a key sign of human-to-human transmission and potential “super-spreaders“.
Terry Jones, a founding member of famed British comedy troupe Monty Python, has died aged 77.
Jones’s agent said he died at his home in London on Tuesday evening (local time).
In a statement, his family said he died “after a long, extremely brave but always good-humoured battle with a rare form of dementia.”
Jones was diagnosed in 2016 with primary progressive aphasia (PPA), a severe form of dementia that affected his ability to communicate.
With Eric Idle, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and the late Graham Chapman, Jones formed Monty Python, whose anarchic humour helped revolutionise British comedy.
Jones wrote and performed for the troupe’s early-70s TV series Flying Circus and films including Monty Python’s the Holy Grail in 1975, Life of Brian in 1979 and The Meaning of Life in 1983. He directed all three films.
As his Life of Brian character Mandy — a parody of Jesus’s mother, Mary — Jones uttered one of the Python’s most famous quotes.
“He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!”
The US Senate has voted to approve the rules governing the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, including delaying a debate over whether to call witnesses until the middle of the trial newsgencies and the broader media reported.
With Republicans banding together, the Senate voted 53-47 to adopt the trial plan, which allows opening arguments from House members prosecuting the case.
Republicans abruptly abandoned plans to cram opening arguments into two late-night sessions and Democrats argued for more witnesses to expose Mr Trump’s “trifecta” of offences.
A marathon session of nearly 13 hours featured a setback for Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and the President’s legal team, exposing a crack in the GOP ranks and the growing political unease over the historic impeachment proceedings unfolding amid a watchful public in an election year.
Senators remained as the clock passed 10:30pm (local time), while Democrats pursued what may be their only chance to force senators to vote on hearing new testimony.
However, Republicans turned back Democratic amendments to subpoena documents from the White House, State Department, Defence Department and budget office, with more votes expected to reject key witnesses with a front-row seat to Mr Trump’s actions.
By the same 53-47 party-line, senators turned aside the Democrats’ request to subpoena acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
As the hours mounted, Mr McConnell offered Democrats a deal to stack the votes more quickly, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer countered that voting could resume the next day. No deal was reached.
“It’s time to start with this trial,” said White House counsel Pat Cipollone, the President’s lead lawyer, voicing impatience as the proceedings opened in public after weeks of delay.
Mr Cipollone scoffed that the House charges against Mr Trump were “ridiculous,” insisting the President “has done absolutely nothing wrong”.
The White House legal team did not dispute Mr Trump’s actions, when he called Ukraine and asked for a “favour”, which was to investigate Democrat Joe Biden as the US was withholding military aid the ally desperately needed as it faced off with hostile Russia on its border.
Democrat Adam Schiff opened for the prosecution saying America’s founders added the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution with “precisely this type of conduct in mind — conduct that abuses the power of office for a personal benefit, that undermines our national security, and that invites foreign interference in the democratic process of an election”.
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