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US Consulate to evacuate staff from epidemic-stricken Wuhan

BEIJING (AP) — The U.S. Consulate in the epidemic-stricken Chinese city of Wuhan will evacuate its personnel and some private citizens aboard a charter flight Tuesday. A notice Sunday from the embassy in Beijing said there would be limited capacity to transport U.S. citizens on the flight that will proceed directly to San Francisco. It says that in the event there are not enough seats, priority will be given to to individuals “at greater risk from coronavirus," a new respiratory disease has sickened 1,975 people and killed 56, almost all in Wuhan.


Virus death toll in China rises as Xi calls situation grave

BEIJING (AP) — The new virus has accelerated its spread in China with 56 deaths so far in what the country's leader called a grave situation. The government has stepped up efforts to restrict travel and public gatherings while rushing medical staff and supplies to the closed-off city at the center of the outbreak. The figures reported Sunday morning cover the previous 24 hours and mark an increase of 15 deaths and 688 cases for a total of 1,975 infections. President Xi Jinping called the accelerating spread of the virus a grave situation. Travel agencies have been told to halt all group tours as millions traveling during the holiday have fueled the spread of the outbreak.


Volatility defines Democratic race as candidates flood Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Democratic presidential race in Iowa is heating up and more volatile than ever as the kickoff caucuses approach a week from Monday. Candidates raced back from a break in the impeachment trial in Washington. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts picked up a coveted endorsement from The Des Moines Register. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, showed renewed strength and predicted victory in the state. Joe Biden, collected an endorsement from the Sioux City Journal and got backing from another Iowa member of Congress. And Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, sought to position himself above the partisan fray.


Philippine volcano alert lowered, thousands can return home

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine authorities have lowered the alert level at Taal Volcano, two weeks after it began spewing ash, steam and rocks, a move that will allow many of the more than 376,000 displaced villagers to return home. A popular tourist destination just south of Manila because of its picturesque setting in the middle of a lake, Taal erupted on Jan. 12. It caused no known deaths but delivered an early crisis this year for one of the world’s most disaster-prone nations. The mayor of Agoncillo, a town along the western shores of Taal Lake overlooking the island where the volcano lies, says he's relieved but concerned because its residents could still not return home because of the proximity to the volcano.


Defense Department: Soldier dies in accident in Syria

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Defense Department says a 22-year-old soldier from North Carolina has died in a rollover accident in Syria. The department said Saturday that Spc. Antonio I. Moore of Wilmington, North Carolina, died Friday in Deir ez Zor Province, Syria, during the accident while conducting route-clearing operations. The incident is under investigation. Moore was assigned to the 363rd Engineer Battalion, 411th Engineer Brigade, in Knightdale, North Carolina.


Khashoggi documentary 'The Dissident' lands at Sundance

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — A searing documentary about the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi has debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, unveiling a detailed investigation into the Saudi Arabia regime and the companies and governments that do business with it. Bryan Fogel’s “The Dissident” is one of the most high-profile documentaries at the Park City festival. The film features the explosive conclusion of United Nations human rights investigators that the phone of Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos was hacked into by a malicious file sent from the personal WhatsApp account of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.


Iranian FM: Tehran still willing to negotiate with US

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran's foreign minister says his country is not ruling out negotiating with the United States even after the American drone strike that killed a top Iranian general. But Mohammed Javad Zarif tells Germany's Der Spiegel magazine that the U.S. must first lift its economic sanctions against Iran. In Washington on Saturday, President Donald Trump took note of Zarif's remarks and tweeted, “No Thanks!” Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal with Iran and has since reimposed tough sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.


Trump lawyers argue Democrats just want to overturn election

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s defense team is casting the Democratic call to remove him from office as a politically motivated effort to subvert the 2016 election and this fall’s contest. Trump’s defense opened its arguments in the Senate impeachment trial on Saturday with a surprisingly short, two-hour session in which they accused Democrats of cherrypicking evidence and omitting information favorable to the president. They argued that Democrats are casting a nefarious light on actions that Trump had been legitimately empowered to take. The heart of Trump’s defense is expected to come when the trial resumes on Monday.


In recording Trump asks how long Ukraine can resist Russians

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump inquired how long Ukraine would be able to resist Russian aggression without U.S. assistance during a 2018 meeting with donors that included the indicted associates of his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. A video recording of the entire 80-minute dinner at the Trump Hotel in Washington was obtained Saturday by The Associated Press. The recording contradicts the president's statements that he did not know the Giuliani associates Lev Parnas or Igor Fruman, key figures in the investigation who were indicted last year on campaign finance charges. The recording came to light as Democrats continue to press for witnesses and other evidence to be considered during the Senate impeachment trial.


5.0 quake hits southern Puerto Rico amid ongoing tremors

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A 5.0 magnitude earthquake hit southern Puerto Rico on Saturday at a shallow depth, raising concerns about unstable infrastructure in a region that has been hit by quakes daily for nearly a month.The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake occurred at a depth of eight miles (13 kilometers) in the town of Guayanilla, located close to the epicenters of most of the recent earthquakes.The newest quake comes a day after hundreds of people were evacuated from earthquake shelters that flooded following heavy rains that hit the U.S. territory.

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