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We will not rest until we get justice, says Trudeau as he calls for credible investigation into downing of flight 752 – National Post

January 9th, 2020

An Iranian surface-to-air missile is believed to have shot down a passenger jet that killed 63 Canadians, ripping through the plane just minutes after it took off in Tehran.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government had “multiple sources” indicating a missile brought down the plane killing all 176 people on board. 

“In light of this new information it is now more important than ever that we know how such a tragedy could have happened,” he said. “The families of the victims and all Canadians want answers. I want answers. That means closure, accountability and justice. We will not rest until we get that.”

He added, “We recognize that this may have been done accidentally. But that makes it even more important to clarify what happened.”

Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 took off from Tehran’s airport on Wednesday morning and crashed just minutes into the flight on the outskirts of the city. In total, 138 of the passengers were bound for Canada. The deceased include newly-weds coming back to Canada, students set to start promising careers, young children, as well as academics and business professionals.


Rescue workers carry the body of a victim of a Ukrainian plane crash in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. A Ukrainian passenger jet carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday, just minutes after taking off from the Iranian capital’s main airport, turning farmland on the outskirts of Tehran into fields of flaming debris and killing all on board.

Ebrahim Noroozi / Associated Press

Trudeau held a press conference Thursday shortly after news reports emerged indicating U.S. intelligence officials had concluded the crash was the result of a missile strike. U.S. satellites reportedly tracked the missile launch followed by an explosion a few minutes later.

Before Trudeau spoke, U.S. President Donald Trump said he believed that “somebody could have made a mistake,” when asked about the cause of the crash. He said the plane was in a “rough neighbourhood.”

Iran has so far rejected the explanation that a missile could be involved. The country’s civil aviation authority has suggested a technical problem brought down the not yet four-year-old plane.

But Trudeau was clear the evidence suggested otherwise.

“We have intelligence from multiple sources including our allies and our own intelligence,” he said. “The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. This may well have been unintentional.”

It is too early to say what tools could eventually be used depending on the final assessment, the final conclusion

Trudeau said Canada needs to have access to the site for a full investigation, to clarify exactly what happened.

“We have much to contribute and we have lost much in the loss of so many Canadian lives, so many families across this country grieving. We will be involved,” he said. “We have already been engaged with the Ukrainians, who are part of the investigation team, and Iran has indicated an openness to Canada being engaged as well.”

Late Thursday evening, Canada’s Transportation Safety Board announced it was accepting an invitation by Iranian investigators to visit the site.

Asked if the plane downing could be seen as an act of war, Trudeau said, “It is too early to draw definitive conclusions like that one, that is why we need a complete and credible investigation.”


Relatives of the flight crew members of the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane that crashed in Iran, mourn at a memorial at the Boryspil International airport outside Kiev, Ukraine January 8, 2020.

Valentyn Ogirenko / Reuters

He also refused to be drawn on what action Canada might take in retaliation.

“I think it is too early to say what tools could eventually be used depending on the final assessment, the final conclusion,” he said. “Our focus right now is on giving immediate support to the families, working with them to ensure the remains of their loved ones are brought home to Canada, if that is their wishes.”

He said Canada would then “move forward on the full and complete investigation so that we can then look at next steps in the healing, accountability and justice process.”

Foreign Affairs minister François-Philippe Champagne spoke with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif late Wednesday and pushed for access to the site and for consular teams inside Iran.

Champagne said at an afternoon press conference that Zarif had demonstrated an openness to allowing Canadian officials into the country.

The plane crashed hours after Iran fired ballistic missiles at American bases in Iraq, in response to a fatal drone strike last week on Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Canadian troops were also on those American bases, but the missiles caused no casualties.


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R) arrives for a news conference on January 9, 2020 in Ottawa, Canada. – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that Canada had intelligence from multiple sources indicating that a Ukrainian airliner which crashed outside Tehran was mistakenly shot down by Iran.

Dave Chan / AFP

Champagne condemned those strikes during his call with the Iranian foreign minister, according to the official readout. 

Conservative MP James Bezan said they stand with the government in calling for Canada to have more access to the crash site.

“Everybody is looking for answers and we support the government’s efforts in making sure we have Canadians as part of the investigation,” he said. 

But Bezan also called for Trudeau to do more and list the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC), a branch of the country’s military, as a terrorist organization. Soleimani was head of a division of the corps, the Quds Force which is thought to be responsible for overseas terrorist attacks. 

“We need to start talking more forcefully about the consequences of killing Canadians,” he said.

A motion recognizing the IRGC as a terrorist organization passed parliament in 2018, but has not been fully implemented. 

Canada has had no diplomatic relations with Iran since 2012 and the country’s embassy in Ottawa has been closed since then, leaving Trudeau without the ability to expel diplomats in protest.

Bezan said if the Iranians aren’t more co-operative, the government should also pursue sanctions. Iran already faces many sanctions, especially from the United States, but Bezan said with other allies it would be possible to increase the pressure. 

“There is more that needs to be explored and these are all things the Liberals should be considering at this time.”

Nelson Wiseman, professor of political science at the University of Toronto, said Canada’s options for punishing Iran are going to be limited. 

“Canada doesn’t have any leverage. What pressure could it apply?”

He said even the Magnitsky Act, legislation which allows Canada to sanction individual members of a regime, would have limited impact here because it would be difficult to know who to sanction or what if any assets they have in Canada. 

rtumilty@postmedia.com
Twitter: @RyanTumilty


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Felled trees, flammable material at B.C. pipeline blockade prompts RCMP investigation – Global News

January 9th, 2020

The B.C. RCMP confirms it has opened a criminal investigation into potentially dangerous obstructions set up at a barricade against a natural gas pipeline through northern B.C.

It’s the latest development in the standoff between Indigenous opponents of the Coastal GasLink pipeline and the company.

RCMP said Wednesday that they had discovered multiple felled trees along the Morice West Forest Service Road near Houston, used by company crews to access a work site.

They also found a number of danger trees that were partially cut in readiness for felling that could topple in high wind, along with stacked tires under tarps covering flammable liquids, kindling, and bags of fuel-soaked rags.

READ MORE: Indigenous pipeline opponents given 72 hours to clear way for workers in northern B.C.

“That prompted them to look a little deeper and the investigation is continuing,” said spokesperson Cpl. Madonna Saunderson.

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The actions come after Coastal GasLink posted a 72-hour notice related to a B.C. Supreme Court injunction ordering pipeline opponents to clear the way towards a critical work site.

2:22Growing tensions in northern B.C. over pipeline project

Growing tensions in northern B.C. over pipeline project

Wet’suwet’en opponents say the order has no authority, and say that under Wet’suwet’en law, only hereditary chiefs can give consent to the $6.6-billion project that would connect gas fields in northeastern B.C. with the planned LNG Canada export plant in Kitimat.

“Coastal GasLink has no right to talk to us. They can demand all they want,” said Chief Na’Moks, who also goes by John Ridsdale and is the highest-ranking hereditary chief of Tsayu, one of the five clans that make up the nation.

READ MORE: Coastal GasLink delaying work in Wet’suwet’en after requesting meeting with Hereditary Chiefs

Cody Merriman is one of the Wet’suwet’en pipeline opponents digging in at a support camp near the Gidimt’en checkpoint nearby.

He told Global News the dispute is a microcosm of the way modern British Columbia interacts with its First Nations people.

2:22Growing tensions in northern B.C. over pipeline project

Growing tensions in northern B.C. over pipeline project

“This is not just being against a pipeline, this is an example of the province’s relationship with Indigenous people. They’re trying to uphold this company while they neglect hereditary chiefs,” he said.

“You can’t speak about reconciliation while ignoring the traditional governments of these lands.”

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READ MORE: B.C. First Nation chiefs serve eviction notices to company looking to build gas pipeline

The Wet’suwet’en have rejected appeals for a face-to-face meeting with Coastal GasLink, saying instead that they want to meet directly with the province and federal government.

But the dispute highlights another division, this one among First Nations communities themselves.

Not all Indigenous people in the area oppose the project. All 20 elected First Nations councils along the pipeline route have signed on to the project.

Gary Naziel, a former Wet’suwet’en First Nation elected councillor, said the project could bring a much-needed economic boon to his people.

READ MORE: B.C. First Nation chiefs serve eviction notices to company looking to build gas pipeline

“The reason why we wanted this pipeline to go through is it will bring funds to our membership that we really need,” he said.

For the time being, the standoff remains a stalemate.

The RCMP, which was heavily criticized for its actions dismantling a blockade of the same project last January, has not given any indication when or if it plans to enforce the injunction.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Boston Student Diagnosed With Measles, Warning Issued for Possible Exposure – nbcboston.com

January 9th, 2020

Editor’s note: In a previous version of this story and on air, one of the possible exposure locations was mistakenly reported as Anna’s Taqueria.

A student in Boston has a confirmed case of measles, city health officials announced Thursday, warning that others who visited certain locations in the city may have been exposed to the illness.

The Boston Public Health Commission said that a Northeastern University student living in Boston was diagnosed Wednesday.

“During the infectious period, the individual went to locations where other people may have been exposed,” the BPHC said in a statement.

There were exposures at many locations on the Northeastern campus between Jan. 3 and Jan. 6, health officials said.

There were also possible exposures at the following locations, dates and times:

  • Friday, Jan. 3, 8:50 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.: Logan International Airport Terminal E
  • Saturday, Jan. 4, 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Blick Art Materials, 333 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston
  • Saturday, Jan. 4, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Tatte Bakery & Cafe at the Marino Center, 369 Huntington Avenue, Boston
  • Saturday, Jan. 4, 12:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 11:15 p.m.: Wollaston Market in the Marino Center, 369 Huntington Avenue, Boston
  • Sunday, Jan. 5, 11:55 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., CVS, 231 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston
  • Monday, Jan. 6, 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., Rebecca’s Cafe at Churchill Hall, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston
  • Monday, Jan. 6, 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., AT&T Store, 699 Boylston Street, Boston
  • Monday, Jan. 6, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., UNIQLO, 341 Newbury St., Boston
  • Monday, Jan. 6, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Brandy Melville, 351 Newbury St., Boston
  • Monday, Jan. 6, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Amelia’s Taqueria,1076 Boylston St., Boston

Health officials say people who were at the locations listed could become ill until between Jan. 24 and Jan. 27.

“Anyone who was exposed and is unclear of their immunization status or begins to develop symptoms of measles should call their healthcare provider,” the commission said in a statement. “BPHC urges anyone who does not know their measles immunization status to get vaccinated with at least one dose of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. Those who have had measles in the past or have received two doses of measles containing vaccine are unlikely to become ill even if exposed.”

Anyone who believes they might have been exposed and isn’t sure of their vaccination status should see a doctor, officials said.

The student’s roommate, freshman Angels Barcelo, has been immunized, but she has not been able to stay in her room since Tuesday.

“They made me move out of my room, too, and they, like, disinfected everything,” Barcelo said.

Her roommate returned from Vietnam with measles, according to Barcelo.

“She had spots everywhere,” she said. “Her brother had it, so, like, she guessed it was, like, that that she had. And then she went to the doctor here at Northeastern and they confirmed it.”

Barcelo has been helping her ever since.

“I’ve been, like, bringing her food, cause, like, she can’t leave her room, and her friends have been helping her out a lot, too,” she said.

“It’s just really petrifying,” said student Courtney Fraser. “This could, you know, really impact a lot of other students, and that’s really where my concern lies.”

Getting two doses of the measles vaccines is 97% effective at stopping someone from contracting the virus. Anyone who already had it can’t get it again.

The virus was once considered eradicated, but it’s been spreading across the United States, largely among religious groups that oppose vaccines, though a fringe movement also claims they cause maladies against the vast majority of medical expertise.

Northeastern released a statement Thursday afternoon saying as of now, no other measles cases have been reported at the university.

“No individuals in recent contact with this student have been reported to have demonstrated symptoms and there are no additional diagnosis at this time. The university continues to investigate any potential infections and encourages students with concerns to contact the University Health and Counseling Services (UHCS) for assessment,” read the statement.

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What an unusual right turn after takeoff says about Flight PS752 – CTV News

January 9th, 2020

OTTAWA — Commercial airline pilots flying out of Tehran’s airport know a simple rule, says Ross Aimer, a former United Airlines captain who has flown there.

You don’t turn right, because that takes you towards the Alborz mountain range. The Ukraine International Airlines flight that went down shortly after take-off Wednesday turned right.

That turn, among other evidence, suggests the crew knew something had gone horribly wrong. The crash that followed killed everyone on board, including at least 63 Canadians and 75 more people who were heading to this country. And now multiple western authorities, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, say they believe a surface-to-air missile was the cause.

HOW DOES A SURFACE-TO-AIR MISSILE SYSTEM WORK?

Most systems are automated and radar-based. The radar sends out a signal and gets a return off something flying. A computer system processes what it has pinged — taking into account things like speed, direction of travel and elevation, among other factors — and then someone on the ground reviews the results to see if the object is a fighter jet, a commercial airliner or something else.

“It’s not a precise match and depending on the system, there’s greater or lesser degrees of actual interpretation of the information. So you get something that’s not always 100 per cent accurate,” says defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Perry says the weapons systems the Iranians use are a mix of current Russian technology and some equipment that is far older.

HOW WOULD A SURFACE-TO-AIR MISSILE SYSTEM FIRE AT A COMMERCIAL AIRPLANE?

These surface-to-air missile, or SAM, systems typically have three states: “Weapons tight,” meaning a crew fires when it’s confirmed the target is hostile; “weapons hold,” which limits firing to self-defence or on a specific order; and “weapons free,” which, as the name suggests, allows firing without restriction.

A local crew, in error, could have set the system to “free” status. It could have automatically locked on to the Ukrainian plane when the airliner entered the missile system’s surveillance zone and fired, said retired Canadian lieutenant-general D. Michael Day.

WHAT WOULD THE PILOTS OF THE PLANE HAVE SEEN OR HEARD?

Aimer, the former pilot, said some planes have warnings that alert pilots to a missile threat, and some planes — such as Air Force One or those flown by Israeli airline El Al — would have countermeasures designed to help the plane evade a missile strike. But most civilian airliners don’t have warning indicators, nor is such a threat something most commercial pilots train for.

“There’s nothing really any pilot can do to evade an incoming surface-to-air missile. You just get hit and you’re done,” said Aimer, now CEO of California-based Aero Consulting Experts.

IS THAT WHAT HAPPENED HERE?

The Iranian air defences would likely be linked to the civil aviation system, meaning weapons crews would have likely known a plane had just taken off from the airport, said James Fergusson, deputy director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba.

Day said Iran would have likely had its own civilian planes flying around the area as well, particularly so close to Tehran’s airport.

But Day said if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was willing to suggest the cause was an Iranian missile, the intelligence had to be airtight and unequivocal.

“In probability, this means that there is some type of electronic evidence that the Iranian air-defence system identified, acquired and engaged the plane,” he said.

Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst with Teal Group in the Washington, D.C., area, said an unconstrained or over-active air-defence system seems like one of the likeliest causes for the crash because “planes just don’t do this.”

“Uncontained turbine failures,” when an engine breaks up while rotating and parts punch out of the casing, are not unheard-of. One caused the death of a passenger on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 in 2018. But such an event wouldn’t have resulted in the wreckage seen in pictures and video from the crash site, he said.

“Technical problems don’t look like this. It blew up,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

“Uncontained turbine failures don’t blow up. Yes, bad things happen, things come shooting out the back, it can rupture wires and control lines and do terrible things. But just blow up? No.”

Iran has denied a missile was the cause of the crash. Its civil aviation authority on Thursday called the theory “scientifically impossible.”

WHAT KIND OF EVIDENCE WOULD INVESTIGATORS LOOK FOR TO DETERMINE THE CAUSE?

The first step would be to look at the wreckage of the plane and the remains of the deceased passengers and crew for residue from a missile strike, kerosene residue if fuel tanks caught fire, and shrapnel to see if pieces come from a missile or an engine, Aimer said. He said investigators would also pry information from the plane’s flight data and voice recorders.

Iran leads the investigation under rules set out by the International Civil Aviation Organization, as the country where the crash happened.

Iran might give the recorders to another country, possibly France or Canada, that has the expertise to do the work, though not the United States because of ongoing tensions.

Canada’s Transportation Safety Board said in a statement Thursday that it had accepted Iran’s invitation to be part of the crash probe, and investigators are making arrangements to visit the site.

Aimer said the crash site and its evidence appear to have been contaminated by wreckage moved without being properly catalogued for its location in the debris field, putting investigators at a disadvantage.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 9, 2020.

With files from Christopher Reynolds

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Respiratory virus on the rise in Utah; rates especially high in Washington, Iron counties – St George News

January 9th, 2020

Stock image | Photo by Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY — Got a stuffy nose? Maybe a cough, congestion, runny nose and a tinge of a fever? 

A nurse with a sick child. Date and place unspecified. | Photo courtesy Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News

A lot of people in Washington and Iron counties are experiencing those symptoms right now, and there’s a reason for that. 

According to Intermountain Healthcare, respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is on a big upswing in Utah right now, and some of the highest levels are in Washington and Iron counties.

In a statement by Intermountain Healthcare, Dr. Per Gesteland, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah, said RSV is a respiratory virus with symptoms resembling the common cold. It is also selective as far as how severe those symptoms go ranging from progression into bronchitis or pneumonia to nothing at all.

“Some people can have the infection and have no symptoms at all. Most healthy individuals recover in about a week. But for young children and older adults, the infection or its complications can be serious,” said Gesteland, who also serves as a pediatrician at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. “Infants under one year of age, particularly those with a history of prematurity, are among those of highest concern. Even older adults who have a condition affecting their lungs, heart or immune system can also be more severely affected.”

According to the American Lung Association, the main symptoms of RSV are nasal congestion, runny nose, mild cough and a low-grade fever. Other symptoms can include throat discomfort including a barking cough and wheezing. RSV has a higher chance than the common cold of progressing into more severe respiratory ailments like bronchiolitis or pneumonia.

An image provided by Intermountain Healthcare shows the extent of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in Utah, with high rates shown in Washington and Iron counties. | Photo by Intermountain Heathcare, St. George News

According to Intermountain, symptoms of RSV infection typically develop between three to seven days after being exposed and can last for up to a week. 

RSV is also easily spread, as anything touched by an infected person — including toys, utensils and furniture — can be infectious as the virus can live up to six hours on surfaces without disinfectant. People infected with RSV are usually contagious for three to eight days.

According to Intermountain Healthcare, many Utah counties — especially in the western portion of the state — are showing moderate to high levels of RSV. Reports of the virus are especially high among patients living in St. George and Cedar City. 

Sam Stucki, owner of Stucki Pharmacy in Washington City, said he’s been seeing a substantial increase in customers needing help dealing with the virus.

“This particular virus is a very difficult virus,” he said. 

As a virus, Gesteland said antibiotics will have no effect on RSV. Instead, he suggests non-aspirin pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen as well as using a humidifier and saline drops.

Stucki said the winning move against the virus is not to get it at all. Because once you have the virus, it’s a mismatch.

“If they are proactive before it ever comes on board they have a fighting chance. But once you’ve got the virus, it’s a little too late,” Stucki said. “Some of those B vitamins, Vitamin C. If you’re eating a McDonald’s or Burger King diet, you should definitely be on board with some vitamin supplements.”

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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Trump Claims Credit For Drop In Cancer Deaths. No Way, Says American Cancer Society. – HuffPost

January 9th, 2020

President Donald Trump appeared to claim credit Thursday for a dramatic drop in cancer deaths in the U.S. over the last 26 years. The American Cancer Society isn’t backing him up.

Trump tweeted “a lot of good news coming out of this Administration” as he referred to his interpretation of statistics in a report by the American Cancer Society released Wednesday. The rate of people dying of cancer dropped in 2017, Trump’s first year in office, for the 26th year in a row, according to the report.

The overall death rate from cancer in the U.S. declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017. The largest-ever single-year drop in cancer deaths, 2.2% — spurred significantly by a dramatic decline in lung cancer deaths — occurred from 2016 to 2017, the report revealed. 

American Cancer Society CEO Gary Reedy told CNN that the findings — even for 2017, the sole year Trump was in office during the study period — are not connected to anything his administration did. Reedy attributed the improved mortality trends to “prevention” (such as declining smoking rates), “early detection and treatment advances from earlier years.”

Several key drugs to battle cancer were approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2014 and 2015.

The report also warned that in 2020 1.8 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed, and 600,000 people are expected to die of the disease.

Trump unsuccessfully pushed last year to slash about $5 billion from the National Institutes of Health budget — which would have included a $1 billion cut for the National Cancer Institute.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) pointed out that death rates dropped before Trump took office. “Hopefully, they keep dropping” because Congress has rejected Trump’s proposed funding cuts to the NIH and the NCI, she tweeted.

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‘A lot of good news coming out of this Administration’: Trump says of lower cancer deaths – USA TODAY

January 9th, 2020

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump suggested Thursday in a tweet that he and his administration were a factor in the U.S. cancer death rate hitting a record low in 2017, but the American Cancer Society (ACS) refuted that assertion.

Researchers from the ACS released a report Wednesday that showed the cancer death rate fell steadily from 1991 through 2017, and that 2017 was the largest-ever one-year decline in the U.S. cancer death rate.

“U.S. Cancer Death Rate Lowest In Recorded History! A lot of good news coming out of this Administration,” Trump tweeted following the release of the report.

The report specifies that from 2016 to 2017, the death rate dropped a record 2.2 percent. Researches credited this to advances in lung cancer treatments that include better surgical abilities, better diagnostics and more precise use of radiation. 

Trump took office in January 2017.

More:House votes to limit Trump’s ability to wage war with Iran after Soleimani killing

Gary Reedy, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, pushed back against Trump’s insinuation, stating that “The mortality trends reflected in our current report, including the largest drop in overall cancer mortality ever recorded from 2016 to 2017, reflect prevention, early detection, and treatment advances that occurred in prior years.”

He continued that “Since taking office, the president has signed multiple spending bills that have included increases in funding for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute — though the impact of those increases are not reflected in the data contained in this report.”

“The administration has an opportunity to significantly impact future declines in both cancer incidence and mortality by increasing access to comprehensive health care, supporting robust and sustained increases in federal funding for cancer research and passing and implementing evidence-based tobacco control policies,” Reedy stated, according to CNN. 

Trump has advocated and proposed cutting billions of dollars in funding to NIH in the past, a move that would have impacted the National Cancer Institute if Congress had approved it.

More: Trump says he thinks ‘something very terrible happened’ to Ukraine jet that crashed in Iran

However, Trump eventually signed a budget passed by Congress that instead gave NIH a $2.6 billion increase and ignored the proposed cuts by the administration.

Former vice president and 2020 Democratic contender Joe Biden hit back at Trump’s tweet Thursday night, saying that “We’re lucky that the cancer rate is down, but we’re luckier that Congress stopped you.” 

Biden has made curing cancer a focus of his campaign. The former VP has suffered from cancer himself, and his eldest son, Beau Biden, died from brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46. 

Biden was tasked with leading former President Barack Obama’s “Cancer Moonshot” initiative to find a cure for cancer in the last year of the Obama administration.

“Cancer rates dropped before you took office. Hopefully they keep dropping because Congress rejected your cruel research budgets,” Breast cancer survivor and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., tweeted. “This is good news despite you – not because of you.”

Experts from the study also pointed to decades of declining smoking rates as a major cause of the reduced death rate.

Contributing: Mike Stobbe, Associated Press, Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY

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‘Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time’ Night 3: We’re inching closer to a winner – USA TODAY

January 9th, 2020

Spoiler alert: This story contains details from Thursday’s match in ABC’s “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time” tournament.

Ken Jennings is a step closer to being named the “Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time,” after winning his second match Thursday. 

Jennings was the first to advance toward becoming “Jeopardy!” GOAT when the competition kicked-off Tuesday. Night 2 saw James Holzhauer take his turn at the top, as the players worked to – as Jennings put it – “leave something in the tank” to get through a full hour of play in the ABC tournament.

On Night 3, it was definitely Jennings whose tank was full, as he dominated play from the start. Even Holzhauer was impressed, tweeting after the show, “My wife is going to make me roleplay as @KenJennings tonight.”

Jennings gave a cheeky – though slightly naughty – reply about timing

But at the end of the match, all three players proved they spent more time memorizing trivia than going to the movies.

The tournament pits the three biggest money winners in the syndicated quiz show’s history – Jennings, Brad Rutter and Holzhauer – for its first network prime time airing since 1990. The pre-taped competition continues Friday (8 EST/PST).

The players and venerable host Alex Trebek return each weeknight, except for Monday, until one wins three nights, or matches. Each match consists of two traditional, half-hour “Jeopardy!” games, with the night’s highest total points winner (scores are measured in points, not dollars, in the special format) getting the victory. 

James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter battle for ultimate bragging rights on "Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time." .

Night 1:Who won Night 1 of the quiz show’s ‘Greatest of All Time’ tournament?

Night 2:‘Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time’ Game 2 recap: The competition – and the joking – heats up

On Thursday, Jennings was the runaway winner, though all three players had the correct question to the first Final Jeopardy answer: “These 2 now-defunct parties each gave the U.S. 4 presidents in the 19th century.” (What are the Whigs and Democratic Republicans?) Jennings took the first game with a total of 51,200 points. Holzhauer ended with 27,200 and Rutter with 17,600. 

Holzhauer ran the board at the start of Game 2, racking up 5,000 points before being wiped out with an all-in Daily Double bet. Trebek teased the professional gambler, telling him, “All right, you’re tied with Ken and Brad.”

Rutter got both Daily Doubles in the Double Jeopardy! round, landing him in second place for his best showing so far in the GOAT tourney, but again, it was all Jennings, all the time. 

We (heart) Alex, too:‘Jeopardy!’ GOAT contestants on tourney, Alex Trebek: ‘He’s the best who’s ever done it

Then came the second Final Jeopardy answer: “These 2 foreign-born directors have each won 2 best director Oscars, but none of their films has won best picture.” It garnered some interesting responses from the three.

Holzhauer, who was in the unusual (for him) position of third place, wrote, “Who is the GHOST – greatest host of syndicated TV?” Trebek also asked if he’d started to write “Pat Sajak,” joking, “I wish you had risked more points!” In the end, Holzhauer wagered just 908, and ended with 6,492 points for the game, 33,692 for the match. 

Rutter also was stumped, choosing to write, “Ken es el hombre” and “Eagles Super Bowl LII Champs.” “Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to welcome you to the ‘Jeopardy!’ comedy hour,” Trebek deadpanned.

Rutter’s wager of 4,133 points left him with 5,867 for the game and a match total of 23,467.

When it was his turn, Jennings cracked a joke of his own before Trebek revealed Jennings had at least taken a stab at a legit answer. Jennings wrote, “Who are Lee and Gonzalez-Inarritu?” He was still wrong. The correct response was, “Who are Ang Lee and Alfonso Cuaron?”

But Jennings, already way ahead, was conservative in his bet. He’d bet just 1,200, leaving him with 16,400 for Game 2 and a match total of 67,600 points, more than double Holzhauer’s No. 2 showing. 

The contest could now end Friday if Jennings wins again. (It could also stretch out until a three-way, winner-take-all match on Jan. 16.) The winner gets $1 million, with the other two competitors each receiving $250,000.

Alex Trebek reveals plan for his eventual ‘Jeopardy’ farewell, shares cancer update

Alex Trebek to Rep. John Lewis:Let’s both ‘complete the year as pancreatic cancer survivors’

"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek

The GOAT tournament continues to highlight how Jennings and Rutter have had to adjust their strategy to match Holzhauer’s go-for-broke style. The professional sports gambler isn’t intimidated by bets with the potential for huge rewards – or huge losses.

It also puts a stake in the leisurely strategy of running through a full category of clues before moving on to the next. Instead, players start at the high-dollar clues and jump between categories, searching for Daily Doubles to quickly boost their scores.

Holzhauer’s headline-grabbing success last year inspired the GOAT concept, Trebek told USA TODAY in an exclusive interview when the contest was announced in November.

“When James had his run last year, a lot of people were wondering, ‘Well, how would he do against Ken Jennings? How would he do against Brad Rutter?’ (They’re) our two most successful players in ‘Jeopardy!’ history,” he says. “These three players have won close to $10 million in ‘Jeopardy!’ prize money and over 100 games among them, so it was logical.”

Alex Trebek interacts with "Jeopardy!" legends (from left to right): James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

GOAT honors:Exclusive: Three top ‘Jeopardy!’ champs face off in ABC’s Greatest of All Time tournament

Fans are for Trebek, 79, as well as the players. The host, who has helmed the syndicated hit since it launched in 1984, revealed his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis in March and has updated the public about his treatments and status as he continues to conduct the show. 

He said at the Television Critics Association Wednesday that he felt his illness had a small effect – “I seemed a little slower in the ad-lib portions” – during the tapings. The competitors disagreed.

“You wonder how he’s doing. You get there – and he’s still Alex Trebek,” Jennings said. “He never fumbles a word. The last of the great old-school broadcasters.”

Hearts and minds:‘Alex Trebek chokes up when ‘Jeopardy’ contestant honors him by answering ‘We love you Alex’

Winning:James Holzhauer wins ‘Jeopardy!’ Tournament of Champions, adds to streak

Contributing: Gary Levin

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Director Scott Derrickson Has Left Doctor Strange 2 – Vulture

January 9th, 2020

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Scott Derrickson announced on Twitter today that he had bowed out as director of Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness. “Marvel and I have mutually agreed to part ways,” he wrote. “I am thankful for our collaboration and will remain on as EP.” In the Multiverse of Madness is expected to see Strange team up with Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) as they do some spooky-spooky magic. Just how spooky is rumored to be at least one of the points of contention between Marvel and Derrickson. Fans on Twitter attributed Derrickson’s exit to Feige’s recent insistence that Doctor Strange 2 wouldn’t be a horror movie. At SDCC, Derrickson hinted that In the Multiverse of Madness would be a straight-up horror movie, something that Feige walked back in a December 2019 Q&A. “I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s a horror film,” Feige told a NYFA audience, “but it is, as Scott Derrickson, our director, has pitched it, it’ll be a big MCU film with scary sequences in it.” Which begs the question: what will the MCU’s first horror movie be if the director that pitched it is out? According to Variety, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is still set to begin production in May.

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Edd Byrnes, of ’77 Sunset Strip’ and ‘Grease’ fame, dies at 87 – USA TODAY

January 9th, 2020
Edd Byrnes, the hip-talking Kookie from the hit TV show, "77 Sunset Strip" stands outside the Beverly Hills Hotel in this 1993 photo.

Edd Byrnes, an actor best known for his roles in 1978’s “Grease” and the 1950s series “77 Sunset Strip,” died Wednesday at his home in Santa Monica. He was 87. 

The actor’s son, San Diego evening news anchor Logan Byrnes, shared the news on Twitter Thursday.

“It is with profound sadness and grief that I share with you the passing of my father Edd Byrnes,” he wrote. “He was an amazing man and one of my best friends.”

Byrnes, who was born Edward Byrne Breitenberger in New York City, came from a poor family. His alcoholic father died when he was 13. He moved to Hollywood from New York City in his 20s to forge a path in the entertainment industry.

In 1958, he started playing the handsome, smooth-talking Kookie on the private-detective series “77 Sunset Strip.” Kookie was a hip parking attendant at a Hollywood nightclub who helped out with cases. He was known for his hipster lingo, including the catch phrase “Baby, you’re the ginchiest!”

Edd Byrnes launched to fame as Kookie on the show "77 Sunset Strip."

When he wasn’t making wisecracks, Gerald Lloyd “Kookie” Kookson III was lovingly combing his well-greased hairdo.

The show made Byrnes a teen idol who, at the height of his popularity, received 15,000 fan letters a week.

“Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb),” a novelty record he recorded with Connie Stevens, sold more than 1 million copies and rose to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1959.

However, Byrnes chafed under a contract that cost him the chance of several roles in movies such as “Ocean’s Eleven.” He walked off the show in the second season, demanding a bigger part and better pay, and he didn’t return until 1960, when Kookie had become a partner in the detective agency.

Still yearning for larger parts, he bought out his Warner Bros. contract in 1963. He worked steadily but never again achieved the fame of his Kookie years. For his work on the show, TV Guide ranked Byrnes fifth on their list of “TV’s 25 Greatest Teen Idols.”

’77 Sunset Strip’ star Roger Smith dies at age 84

In addition to his television career, Byrnes had multiple film roles, including that of Vince Fontaine, the suave dance show host in “Grease.”

Byrnes also played parts on “Charlie’s Angels,” “Fantasy Island,” “Murder, She Wrote” and “The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries.” In 1975, Byrnes was hired to host “Wheel of Fortune,” then a new game show, and filmed two pilots, but the job eventually went to Chuck Woolery.

He was married to actress Asa Maynor from 1962 to 1971. The marriage ended in divorce.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his partner, Catherine Gross; a sister, Jo-Ann Breitenberger; and a brother, Vincent Breitenberger.

Contributing: Robert Jablon, Associated Press

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