Powerful 7.7 quake in Caribbean leads to evacuations in Miami, tsunami threat

21 0 29 Jan 2020

A powerful magnitude-7.7 earthquake struck south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica on Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake was felt in Miami, and police said some buildings were being evacuated in the city.

The Miami Police Department said in a tweet that it was assisting firefighters with reports of vibrations in the Brickell and downtown areas. There were no reports of injuries.

The police department in Miami later said that the Brickell area, which had seen some buildings evacuated earlier, was secure and there were no mandatory evacuations. Traffic and public transportation were resuming as normal, police said.

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The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had issued a tsunami threat for Belize, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, with waves of up to 3 feet, but later said that the danger had passed.

In Santiago in eastern Cuba, Belkis Guerrero, who works in a Roman Catholic cultural center in the center of that city, told The Associated Press that “we were all sitting and we felt the chairs move” and that “we heard the noise of everything moving around.”

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Tim Redell, who was visiting Jamaica on business, told NBC News that there were around 180 people there for a business conference in a giant ballroom and “the floor started shaking.” They evacuated the building, Redell said.

The Stephen P. Clark Center, which houses government offices for Miami-Dade County, was one of the buildings evacuated as a precaution.

The city had seen an influx of media and sports figures as it gears up for the Super Bowl on Sunday. The NFL said in a statement that the quake had not affected any of the sanctioned Super Bowl events at the Hard Rock Stadium and other venues around Miami.

The quake was centered about 86 miles northwest of Montego Bay, Jamaica, and 87 miles west-southwest of Niquero, Cuba. It hit at 2:10 p.m. and the epicenter was 6 miles beneath the surface.

The earthquake near Jamaica has been the strongest recorded by Cuban instruments and was felt across the country, Bladimir Moreno, of the National Center of Seismologic Investigations of Santiago de Cuba, told NBC News. Moreno said it was felt in some parts of Havana and Old Havana.

Associated Press contributed.

Coronavirus risk in U.S. remains low even as federal officials take steps to protect public

31 0 29 Jan 2020

The United States must remain on alert as the new coronavirus spreads globally, public health officials said Tuesday, though the risk of its spreading in the country still remains low.

“This is a very fast moving, constantly changing situation,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said during a news conference. “But at this point, Americans should not worry for their own safety.”

Dozens of people have been tested for the coronavirus in the U.S., but only five cases have been confirmed so far. All are travelers from Wuhan, China — where most cases have been reported by far — and all are hospitalized in isolation.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now monitoring people who have come into close contact with those patients for any signs of illness. Even though cases have spread between people in China, Japan and Germany, there have been no signs of human-to-human transmission in the U.S. so far.

Travel warnings

As the epidemic continues, the U.S. government has issued travel advisories, saying Americans should not travel to Hubei province in China, where the new coronavirus is believed to have originated, and where cases are concentrated.

For travel elsewhere in China, the Department of State cautions that Americans should reconsider or postpone trips.

The U.S. is also stepping up efforts to screen passengers arriving from China. The CDC will begin screening for sick passengers at quarantine stations at 20 airports across the nation, including the five airports already screening passengers from Wuhan.

Questions remain about the spread

Because the virus is so new, scientists are still learning the basics of how it acts, how it spreads, and how deadly it is. Additional information may be forthcoming, as Chinese authorities Tuesday agreed to allow outside experts in to help with the growing outbreak.

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Most respiratory illnesses are spread when an infected person has symptoms, such as coughing or sneezing.

There have been some early reports that suggested this illness might be spread by people who are asymptomatic, that is, people who’ve been infected but aren’t yet showing any symptoms. (This is similar to how influenza spreads, for example.)

In all the history of respiratory-borne viruses of any type, asymptomatic transmission has never been the driver of outbreaks.

U.S. health officials say they haven’t seen this virus act like that, and want to see the data from China that suggests it does.

“The driver of outbreaks is always a symptomatic person,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Even if there is some asymptomatic transmission, in all the history of respiratory-borne viruses of any type, asymptomatic transmission has never been the driver of outbreaks.”

Treatments under development

There is no specific medication or treatment for the new coronavirus; patients are only helped by what’s called supportive care, for example, to help them breathe.

But treatments are under development, and some existing drugs, such an experimental Ebola treatment called remdesivir, are being studied for their potential role in treating the new coronavirus.

Additionally, early work on a vaccine has begun at the NIH.

It’s work that Fauci attributes to Chinese researchers publicly releasing the genetic sequence of the virus, so scientists worldwide can use it for vaccine development.

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Phase I of a clinical trial could begin within three months. That doesn’t mean the U.S. will be immediately supplied with a vaccine, however. It would take many more months to determine whether that vaccine is safe and effective.

By then, the global outbreak could be over, and researchers would then reassess vaccine efforts.

“We are proceeding as if we will have to deploy a vaccine,” Fauci said during the news conference. “We’re looking at the worst scenario if this becomes a bigger outbreak.”

Global spread

Cases in China are rising daily. As of late Tuesday, there were at least 5,974 confirmed cases in that country, and at least 132 deaths, Chinese health officials said.

And health officials from around the world are confirming a rising number of cases. In addition to the five U.S. cases, others have been diagnosed in Australia, Cambodia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.

All 9 victims recovered after helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant

24 0 29 Jan 2020

LOS ANGELES — The helicopter that crashed with Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people aboard wasn’t equipped with a safety system that the Federal Aviation Administration refused to make mandatory over the recommendation of the National Transportation Safety Board, a member of the board said Tuesday.

The bodies of Bryant, 41, a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers who is the league’s fourth all-time leading scorer, Gianna, 13, and all others aboard have been recovered and are being examined, authorities said Tuesday.

They said the recovery effort took time because debris was spread up to 600 feet over rugged hillside terrain after the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter crashed Sunday in Calabasas, near Malibu, while on its way to Camarillo Airport in Ventura County, near Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy.

Jennifer Homendy, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, told reporters Tuesday that the helicopter didn’t have a terrain awareness and warning system, or TAWS, which warns pilots when aircraft get too close to terrain.

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The NTSB has previously recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration require helicopters like the one that crashed Sunday to incorporate the technology, but the agency declined, she said. Aviation safety experts have said TAWS systems have saved countless lives.

“Certainly, TAWS could have helped,” Homendy said, but she said she couldn’t conclude that its use could have prevented the crash.

The helicopter also didn’t have a so-called black box recording system, which isn’t required on such aircraft.

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Homendy called the incident a “high-energy impact crash.” She said the helicopter lost communications with air traffic controllers at an altitude of 2,300 feet and dived at a rate of more than 2,000 feet a minute.

Investigators said Zobayan, the pilot, had been given special clearance to operate under special visual flight rules in the difficult weather Sunday morning, when fog was so thick that the Los Angeles police ground their helicopters until the afternoon.

Island Express Helicopters of Long Beach, which operated the helicopter, said Zobayan, its chief pilot, had been with the company for more than 10 years and had logged more than 8,000 flight hours.

Homendy said Tuesday that he had flown more than 1,250 hours on the S-76B and had flown the same flight path in clear weather Saturday.

She said the NTSB will release a preliminary report, outlining facts of the crash but not any findings or safety recommendations, within 10 days. A final report isn’t expected for as long as a year and a half.

In addition to Bryant and Gianna, 13, others who died in the crash were Ara Zobayan, 49, the pilot; Christina Mauser, 38, an assistant basketball coach at Bryant’s academy; John Altobelli, 56, the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa; his wife, Keri Altobelli, 46; their daughter Alyssa Altobelli, 13; Payton Chester, 13, who played on Bryant’s basketball teams; and her mother, Sarah Chester, 45.

Bryant’s death triggered a wave of mourning and remembrances.

Mykayla Alewine, of Waller, Texas, near Houston, said her 13-year-old daughter’s travel team played Gianna’s team Saturday at the Mamba Sports Academy. Bryant was there, she said — “that was a big deal for them to go see Kobe, play with Gigi, and be in the tournament.”

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant at a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Nov. 17, 2019.Allen Berezovsky / Getty Images file

Alewine said in a telephone interview that her daughter and her teammates were at the academy to play another game Sunday afternoon when they learned of Bryant’s death.

“My daughter just described it as a total shock,” she said, adding: “Everyone hit their knees, and they did a prayer.”

“It was one of the best experiences of her life, and overnight it went to the worst,” Alewine said.

Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, which Bryant attended and where he played basketball before he went straight to the NBA in 1996, planned to observe 33 seconds of silence before its girls and boys teams’ games against Upper Darby High School on Tuesday night.

Bryant wore the number 33 at Lower Merion, which he helped lead to a state championship.

The school said in a statement that it chose to go ahead with the games because that’s what Bryant would have wanted.

Wearing Bryant’s No. 33 warmup jacket, Gregg Downer, who was Bryant’s coach at Lower Merion, said Tuesday that “Kobe would tell us to bounce the ball, squeak the sneakers and compete.”

Downer, who is still the team’s coach, said at a news conference that while “it may seem odd for a grown man to admit it,” he had lost his hero.

“Never have I witnessed such passion, work ethic and intensity — such a unique and purposeful drive for greatness,” he said. “No excuses. No shortcuts. No days off. Kobe set the standard. He was our superman.”

GOP Senate leaders pressured senators to not call for witnesses in Trump trial

35 0 29 Jan 2020

WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders exerted strong pressure Tuesday on the party’s senators to vote against calling witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The sources said Republican Senate leaders “whipped the vote” — although there was no official vote count —against calling for witnesses at the private GOP Senate meeting Tuesday afternoon, which came after Trump’s defense team wrapped up arguments. Whipping is when leaders firmly tell members how the party expects them to vote.

Several Republican senators wouldn’t divulge to NBC News the substance of what they discussed, telling reporters to “check with the whip” about any directives from leadership.

Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., told NBC News that he was “whipped against voting to call witnesses” but that there was not an official whip count.

Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and John Boozman, R-Ark., told NBC News, however, that they did not feel pressured. Boozman said everyone at the hour-long meeting was being “respectful.”

Four GOP aides told NBC News earlier in the day that Senate Republicans had been planning to meet to discuss the question of calling witnesses.

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The meeting of the Senate Republican Conference was held for the purpose of “starting to check the conference on witnesses,” a GOP leadership said. At a Senate Republican lunch ahead of the meeting, executive privilege was also expected to be discussed.

Conversations about where the Senate Republicans are on the witness question have been ongoing.

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A debate and vote on whether to call witnesses could come later this week.

Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the Senate, meaning Democrats would need four Republicans to join them in a vote for witness testimony in the Senate trial.

Top Senate Democrats have said repeatedly they want former national security adviser John Bolton, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Robert Blair, senior adviser to Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, associate director for national security at the Office of Management and Budget to testify.

However, calls for Bolton, in particular, to testify have intensified in recent days after The New York Times reported — according to a manuscript of Bolton’s book, which it obtained and has not seen by NBC News — that Trump told Bolton in August that nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine would not be released until it provided all of the information it had in connection with the investigations of Democrats the president sought.

A pair of moderate Republican senators — Mitt Romney, of Utah, and Susan Collins, of Maine — said Monday that the report of major revelations in Bolton’s soon-to-be-released book strengthens the case for calling witnesses.

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Romney, Collins, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee are considered to be the most likely Republicans to vote for witnesses.

Murkowski said Monday: “I’ve said before I’m curious about what Ambassador Bolton might have to say. I’m still curious.” Alexander said he won’t decide until after both sides have answered questions from the Senate.

Sen. Lindsey Graham. R-S.C., a top Trump ally who’s resisted calls for additional witnesses and documents, acknowledged Monday that Bolton may be “a relevant witness” and said he’d consider subpoenaing a manuscript of his book.

Leigh Ann Caldwell contributed.

How one woman used intermittent fasting to lose 80 pounds in a year

27 0 28 Jan 2020
  • Name: Martine Etienne-Mesubi
  • Age: 43
  • Residence: Baltimore, MD
  • Job: Global health epidemiologist
  • Family status: Married
  • Peak weight: 225 pounds
  • Current weight: 145 pounds
  • Height: 5 feet 4 inches
Martine Etienne-Mesubi before, left, and after losing 80 pounds.Courtesy Martine Etienne-Mesubi

In January 2019, Martine Etienne-Mesubi had had enough. She was 42 years old, and she weighed 225 pounds. She couldn’t play outdoors with Zoe, her 6-year-old daughter, without stopping to catch her breath. “When we went to the park I’d say, ‘Hold on Zoe, let’s take a break, let’s wait for mom, let’s sit down.’ I hated that,” she says.

Her second daughter, Ava, had been born a few months earlier, and Etienne-Mesubi ate whatever she wanted when she was pregnant and nursing. “At 10 at night I would pull out a bowl of cereal or make toast, then go to bed right after. My eating habits were down the drain,” she says. By the end of 2018 Ava stopped nursing, so the “eating for two” excuse wasn’t cutting it anymore. Plus, Etienne-Mesubi was concerned about developing diabetes and hypertension, which run in her family.

She knew she had to take control of her weight and her health. “Being 225 pounds and carrying on the way I was with no-holds-barred eating all the time, I realized can’t keep eating like this.”


After her first pregnancy, Etienne-Mesubi had lost weight by running and modifying her diet. She trained for 5ks, 10ks, and half marathons, and she watched everything she ate.

“I was in that diet mentality. I thought, ‘I can’t have this, I can’t have that, I don’t want to gain weight.’ Looking back, it was really not a good place for me with food. I was obsessive about everything I was eating and all the exercise I was doing,” she says.

She didn’t see a path forward for weight loss. “In my mind there was no way to do it except the way I did after my first daughter, and I was not feeling that energy,” she says. “I thought, ‘I’m older, we have two kids now, and I’m tired. There’s no way I’m running anywhere or doing any HIIT exercises’,” she says.

On Instagram she came across people who were losing weight with intermittent fasting and tracking their progress with the LIFE Fasting Tracker app. “I didn’t know what that meant. I thought people were just not eating. How do you not have breakfast or lunch? I couldn’t grasp the concept,” she says.

With a Ph.D. in epidemiology, Etienne-Mesubi put her research skills to work learning about intermittent fasting: “I needed some science. I wanted to know what evidence existed to show this was a legit way to lose weight.”

She discovered people had been fasting intermittently for years who said they were losing weight, feeling better, and reversing diabetes and hypertension. “I was blown away by all the information I was finding, and a lot of it is based in science,” she says.

Still, she was apprehensive. “I love to eat, I love food, and I love to cook. My favorite store is Costco because they’re always giving you something to taste. I didn’t know if I could manage not eating for however long,” she says. “But I decided to start the new year fresh, and this was how I was going to do it.”


There are a lot of different options for intermittent fasting, and Etienne-Mesubi started with 18 hours of fasting and a six-hour eating window. “In the beginning it was challenging but within two weeks it became very normal,” she says.

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She learned that hunger often comes in waves, and if she drank some water or tea, or read to get her mind off the hunger, the wave would pass. “The minute I shifted my mind onto something else I wasn’t hungry, and before I knew it, I was at my eating window,” she says.

She had no trouble skipping breakfast, and sometimes wasn’t hungry at noon, so she would push the start of her eating window to 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. and finish eating by 6 p.m.

She also fasted for 48 to 72 hours every week for about two months. “I’m not a medical doctor. I do have a Ph.D. in epidemiology, but I wouldn’t recommend anybody do that without speaking to your doctor and doing your own research,” she says.

By April 2019 she had lost 30 pounds and her eating window had shrunk to two or three hours a day. She decided to challenge herself with one meal a day (OMAD). She figured if it didn’t work for her, she could revert to her regular intermittent fasting schedule.

She planned her daily meal for dinnertime so she and her family could all eat together, and she didn’t restrict what she ate. “I’m Haitian and my husband is Nigerian, and we eat everything. I wasn’t going to restrict my traditional foods,” she says.


Over the holidays, Etienne-Mesubi continued with intermittent fasting but gave herself an expanded eating window of six or eight hours. “We were celebrating, and I have no regret and no guilt for extending my window,” she says. “Even though I allowed myself extended time to eat, I didn’t go crazy. I still enjoyed myself and my time with my family and kids. It was so freeing to know if I want to eat longer I can, and if I don’t feel like eating anymore I’m going to stop,” she says.


After seven years staying home to care for her daughters, Etienne-Mesubi returned to work last November as a public health epidemiologist working in global health. She was apprehensive about rejoining the workforce and says her weight-loss success helped give her the confidence to do it. “I thought, ‘Martie, you lost all this weight, you can definitely go back to work — you got this,” she says.

Etienne-Mesubi shares her journey on her blog, podcast and Instagram. “Anybody can do this. This is something you have control over,” she says.

“I feel amazing. I feel fantastic. I have newfound confidence,” she says. “I’m saying ‘yes’ to so many things. I’m excited about life and my future with my family. I’m a better mom and a better wife.”


One meal a day (OMAD): She’ll start with some nuts or guacamole and chips, and then have a traditional meal like Haitian rice and beans with oxtail and cabbage, or a big baby arugula salad with a bunch of things thrown in — nuts, beets, broccoli, braised turkey necks, quinoa and chickpeas. Some days they might have avocado toast with eggs and cheese, or fish tacos. Salad is a mainstay.

“I have one satiating meal in one sitting. Whatever that may be, I have that meal with my family and then I’m done for the day. That’s why it’s important for the meal to consist of healthy and filling components,” she says. “Once I have eaten my meal, I’m fully satisfied and won’t eat until the next day. It takes time for your body to get used to eating this way but once you get into the rhythm of it, it becomes a daily habit.”

And if Zoe asks for pizza or wants to bake cookies, Etienne-Mesubi is on board with that.

They always have dessert, which could be ice cream or cookies, or yogurt, granola or fruit. “I’m a big sweet eater, but I still try to get my daughter to choose fruits over ice cream or cookies,” she says.


Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, a nutrition and weight-loss expert with a virtual nutrition counseling practice based in New York City, says it’s important that Etienne-Mesubi realized that what worked for her in the past wasn’t sustainable for her current lifestyle.

“At some point, it’s difficult to maintain that level of exercise and rigidity over your food choices, which is why so many people throw in the towel. But you can eat better, find movement experiences that work for you, and get to a healthier weight without going to those extremes,” Cassetty says.

She says that much of the research on intermittent fasting comes from animal research, which is interesting, but not conclusive. “Based on the evidence we have, there seems to be some benefit to intermittent fasting, but the rules can be tough to follow,” she says.

Intermittent fasting might not be a great choice if you:

  • Get get distracted and irritable by hunger
  • Have had a turbulent relationship with food or your body or your weight, since this type of restriction may be triggering
  • Have kids at home, since there’s some concern that normalizing this type of eating pattern for the sake of weight loss can normalize weight anxiety and may influence your child’s relationship to food and his or her weight

Instead, you might want to consider the Mediterranean diet for health benefits, or a regular, calorie-restricted meal plan for weight loss.

She says many people might struggle with just one meal a day: “Studies on intermittent fasters have high drop-out rates, suggesting how hard it is to ignore hunger and eat within limited windows.”

Cassetty also is concerned that people who eat just one meal a day may not be meeting their vitamin and mineral requirements. Etienne-Mesubi says she chooses nutrient-dense meals with leafy greens, eggs, nuts, grains, and loads of veggies and takes a daily multivitamin supplement to ward off any deficiencies.

“But there are some lessons we can learn from intermittent fasting,” Cassetty says. “For example, night-time eating is linked with an unfavorable metabolic shift that ups your risk of diabetes and other challenging, chronic conditions, so it’s a good idea for everyone to think about ways to curtail nighttime nibbling. A 12-hour fast is appropriate for most people, and can help create some structure in the evening, when people are prone to snacking.”


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Wisconsin hospital pledges honest and transparent probe of its handling of child abuse cases

30 0 28 Jan 2020

His story demonstrates the remarkable power granted to child abuse pediatricians, a small but growing subspecialty of doctors who work closely with child welfare agencies and whose work was the subject of an NBC News and Houston Chronicle investigation. Some of the doctors have at times overstated the certainty of their conclusions, the investigation found. Child welfare agencies and law enforcement officials often rely on their reports as the sole basis for removing children and filing criminal charges, sometimes in spite of contradictory opinions from other medical specialists.

The article on Cox’s case also detailed a growing rift at Children’s Wisconsin between its small team of child abuse pediatricians and several treating physicians who say members of the abuse team go too far in their efforts to assist Child Protective Services and prosecutors.

A dozen members of the hospital’s medical staff spoke to a reporter on the condition of anonymity, worried that they would be punished for discussing their concerns publicly. Two more have contacted a reporter since the story was published.

The doctors described an “out of control” child abuse team that is too quick to report minor injuries to authorities and that is too closely aligned with state child welfare investigators. Three of the physicians recalled being pressured by some child abuse pediatricians to alter medical records, removing passages where they had initially reported having little or no concerns about abuse, though there’s no evidence that happened in Cox’s case.

The NBC News article also detailed several disagreements between child abuse pediatricians and other members of the medical staff who reviewed Cox’s case. A Children’s Wisconsin dermatologist reported that a child abuse specialist had mistakenly reported birthmarks as bruises. And four Children’s Wisconsin hematologists reported that a child abuse pediatrician misinterpreted a key test that pointed to a possible bleeding disorder that may have predisposed the baby to easy bruising.

In the letter to staff Monday, hospital leaders said the child abuse team knows best in these matters.

“Our child advocacy providers receive specific training to identify child abuse or neglect and to rule out abuse or neglect where other injuries or conditions might mimic it,” Duncan and Turner wrote. “While all pediatric specialists have extensive training in their chosen fields, only child abuse pediatricians have that particular expertise.”

At a hearing Tuesday morning in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, a judge issued an order prohibiting all parties involved in Cox’s case from discussing it publicly, according to WTMJ, an NBC affiliate in Wisconsin.

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Torbenson requested the gag order last week after a reporter for NBC News contacted him requesting an interview.

On Monday, Cox’s lawyer filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the state lacked evidence to bring criminal charges. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Feb. 12.

Does Chinas Huawei really pose a threat to national security?

44 0 28 Jan 2020

WASHINGTON — How big a risk does the Chinese company Huawei pose to the security of global communications networks?

For the U.S. government, the answer is an unacceptable one. The Trump administration argues Huawei should be banned from playing a part in building next generation superfast 5G wireless networks.

But some of America’s closest allies — and even some American intelligence officials — don’t see it that way. That long simmering disagreement burst into the open Tuesday with the announcement by Britain that Huawei would be allowed to play a limited role in that country’s 5G network, dealing a blow to the Trump administration effort to isolate the company.

The decision by the British government to defy U.S. warnings underscores the deep divisions among intelligence officials and security experts here and abroad about how best to secure a technology that promises to transform the internet.

U.S. intelligence officials have been raising concerns for years about the potential for Huawei to use its network access to spy, or worse, to shut down communications in the event of a cyberwar. But their British counterparts have long believed the dangers posed by Huawei are overblown — and can be overcome.

“We know this company better than you do, and we believe the risks are manageable,” said a British official who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak on the matter.

An employee using a smartphone walks past a signage for the 5G Park at the Huawei Technologies Co. headquarters in Shenzhen, China, on May 22, 2019.Qilai Shen / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Some American officials agree, though their views put them at odds with the official position of the Trump administration.

“I think that the most alarmist view is a like a black and white cartoon, and it really doesn’t have to be that way,” said a former senior official at the National Security Agency who consults with the U.S. intelligence community

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“It would be really hard for Huawei to do some of these nefarious things, and we can take simple and prudent steps to prevent it,” said the official, who also requested anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak on the matter.

British and some American officials have said that Western countries need to prepare to secure so-called “dirty networks” — and they point out that China is already hacking and infiltrating communications networks built by non-Chinese firms.

The difference, many American intelligence officials argue, is that Huawei would be required to comply with a Chinese government request to spy on customers or manipulate networks. But their critics point out that American firms such as Google, Apple and Verizon also must comply with American national security orders to spy on foreign customers.

Huawei has become the dominant provider of 5G equipment worldwide, and no U.S. company is a close competitor. A 5G network would improve mobile phone internet browsing, but its real value is in communications among devices, experts say. It could enable, for example, networks of self-driving cars.

In announcing the decision, the U.K. government didn’t mention Huawei by name, but said that so-called “high risk vendors” will have access to no more than 35 percent of the network, excluding “core” elements of the country’s telecom infrastructure.

“The government has reviewed the supply chain for telecoms networks and concluded today it is necessary to have tight restrictions on the presence of high risk vendors,” Digital Secretary Baroness Morgan is quoted as saying in the statement. “This is a U.K.-specific solution for U.K.-specific reasons and the decision deals with the challenges we face right now.”

Victor Zhang, Huawei’s vice president, said in a tweet that the company was “reassured by the U.K. government’s confirmation that we can continue working with our customers to keep the 5G roll-out on track.”

A senior Trump administration official responded, “The United States is disappointed by the UK’s decision. There is no safe option for untrusted vendors to control any part of a 5G network. We look forward to working with the UK on a way forward that results in the exclusion of untrusted vendor components from 5G networks.”

Some U.S. security experts say Britain is making a huge mistake.

“What’s next — will the U.K. decide to buy voting machines from Russia?” said Dmitri Alperovitch, a cybersecurity executive who consults frequently with U.S. intelligence agencies. “For very good and obvious reasons, Western countries have long ago decided not to procure tanks and fighter aircraft from potential adversary countries, such as China and Russia. Buying key infrastructure in the digital domain — critical telecommunications infrastructure to which all of our physical infrastructure will connect in the near future — from these countries is similarly myopic.”

Matthew Green, a cryptographer, security technologist and associate professor of computer science at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, said on Twitter of the British decision, “They’re insane.”

In an interview, he pointed out that someone managed to install a backdoor into software running on the firewalls of Juniper Networks, a company whose equipment is a feature of the American internet.

“For years, nobody caught it,” he said. “I don’t think China is putting any back doors in software today. But what about when Huawei is ubiquitous and there is a real cyber conflict? If I told you that 35 percent of the steel in your building might melt, can you be sure your building will remain standing?”

But British officials argue that Huawei will have business motivations not to harm its customers. They also say they will closely watch Huawei — including through eavesdropping and spying, if need be — to ensure that the company is not behaving maliciously.

Other European countries, including Germany, may follow the United Kingdom’s path, dealing a further setback to the American goal of freezing Huawei out of Western 5G networks, wrote James Andrew Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“The United Kingdom is gambling that the ‘special relationship’ is special enough to withstand the fallout from the decision and, frankly, that the Trump administration is too distracted by impeachment to act against it,” Lewis wrote in a blog post.

Patrick Frazee girlfriend who testified against him in Kelsey Berreth murder sentenced to 3 years

41 0 28 Jan 2020

The Idaho nurse who admitted to helping her boyfriend, Patrick Frazee, cover up the murder of his fiancée, Kelsey Berreth, and then testified against him, was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison.

Krystal Lee, who previously went by the last name Kenney, pleaded guilty last year to tampering with physical evidence in a deal to to help prosecutors convict Frazee in the murder. Berreth, 29, was last seen near her Colorado home with the couple’s baby daughter, Kaylee, on Thanksgiving 2018.

Three years was the maximum sentence Lee faced. The charge carried only 18 months in prison, but Judge Scott Sells determined that aggravators in the case increased her sentence. She also faces a year of parole after she is released.

Patrick Frazee’s ex-girlfriend, Krystal Lee Kenney,via Facebook

Before her sentencing, a tearful Lee told the court, “I am sorry that Kelsey’s friends and family will live the rest of their life without her. I am sorry Kaylee has lost her mother. I am sorry that I did not save Kelsey.”

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“My punishment comes everyday,” Lee told the judge.

Lee could have walked away with just probation on Tuesday, but Sells told her, “Simply saying ‘I’m sorry’ is not enough.”

Frazee was convicted on Nov. 18 of two counts of murder, three counts of solicitation to commit murder and tampering with a deceased human body. He was sentenced to life without parole plus an additional 156 years.

Lee testified during the trial that she was directed by Frazee on Nov. 22, which was Thanksgiving, to clean up a mess at Berreth’s condo. When Lee arrived on Nov. 24, she found blood covering the living room floor and splattered on the walls, on the carpet in other rooms and behind a couch.

She said she cleaned the mess but left small spots for investigators to find.

She said Frazee told her he had beat Berreth to death with a baseball bat and burned her body at his ranch. Berreth’s body was never found.

Prosecutors said Kaylee was in the condo when her father killed her mother.

Lee said she was then directed by Frazee to bring Berreth’s cellphone to Idaho so it would look like she left. She complied, and burned the phone. It last pinged Nov. 25 near Gooding, Idaho, investigators have said.

In a letter from Berreth’s parents, Darrell and Cheryl, read in court Tuesday, the couple said they “acknowledge that without Krystal a conviction would have been much more difficult,” but she “revealed the truth only to save herself.

“She was an active participant in the murder,” the letter said. “The only thing she didn’t do was swing the bat.”

Coronavirus in the U.S.: Map of where the virus has been confirmed across the country

37 0 28 Jan 2020

Coronavirus cases have also been confirmed in China, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, France, Australia, Malaysia, Nepal, Germany, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Canada. More than 4,500 people have been sickened, mostly in China, and 106 have died since the start of the month, according to NBC News.

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. are confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based in Atlanta. As of Jan. 27, 110 samples from 26 states were being tested; five have come back positive, and 32 have tested negative. The rest of the results are pending.

The CDC declined to say which states the samples were from.

Trump Middle East peace plan expands Israeli territory, offers path to Palestinian statehood

64 0 28 Jan 2020

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday released a long-promised Middle East peace plan that, if implemented, would create a conditional path to statehood for Palestinians while recognizing Israeli sovereignty over a significant portion of the West Bank.

The president briefly outlined elements of the proposal, which included a future Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, at a White House event with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his side. Trump said the plan, which lacks Palestinian support, would require both sides to make concessions.

“Our proposal provides precise technical solutions to make Israelis, Palestinians and the region safer and much more prosperous,” said Trump. “As I have seen throughout my long career as a deal maker, complex problems require nuanced, fact-based remedies.”

The White House later said that Israel had agreed to a four-year “land freeze” for areas the plan would designate as part of a possible Palestinian state — though it appeared that would not apply to settlements in areas that could remain under permanent Israeli control under the proposal, which one official said could include as much as 30 percent of the West Bank.

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Trump has called the proposal, whose development was spearheaded by son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, “the deal of the century,” touting the prospect of brokering a agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinian as one of his top priorities since the first day of his administration — even as most observers have said the plan is effectively dead on arrival.

Palestinians, have already publicly criticized the plan and have not been involved in the process, refusing to meet with Trump administration officials since the president’s December 2017 announcement that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The announcement came as both Trump and Netanyahu faced political turmoil at home, and challenging re-election bids.

Trump unveiled the plan shortly before his lawyers were scheduled to present their final defense in his Senate impeachment trial. Netanyahu, meanwhile, was formally indicted just hours ahead of the event in an Israeli court on corruption charges, after he withdrew his request for parliamentary immunity from prosecution. His joint appearance with Trump Tuesday came just weeks before Israelis were slated to head to the polls for that country’s third election in a year.

Trump has looked to counter-program his impeachment throughout the proceedings, traveling to Switzerland last week to meet with business executives and foreign leaders and staging a public signing of the China trade deal at the White House the week before — but has struggled to pull attention from the drama unfolding on Capitol Hill.

He said on Monday, ahead of the plan’s release, that the deal was “overly good” for the Palestinians. He added that he anticipated the Palestinians would reject the plan, while predicting they would ultimately embrace it.

“We think we will ultimately have the support of the Palestinians,” Trump said Monday. “But we’re going to see. And if we do, it’ll be a tremendous tribute to everybody. And if we don’t, life goes on.”

Over the last several years, the White House has cut funding for Palestinian refugees, moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and endorsed the annexation of the Golan Heights by Israel. The administration has held no meetings with elected Palestinian leaders, and closed the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington.

In June, the White House, without much fanfare, released the economic portion of the peace plan that promised tens of billions of dollars for the Palestinian economy if a political solution was reached. The Palestinians and their backers in the Arab world rejected it as unworkable.

“They’re great negotiators,” Trump said Monday of the Palestinians. “Their initial response, and I have no idea what they’re going to say, would be, ‘Oh, we don’t want anything.’ But in the meantime, they’ll be negotiating. So let’s see how it works.”