Archive for January 30th, 2020

Trump impeachment trial: Day 9 – Global News

January 30th, 2020

The Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump entered its ninth day on Thursday.

Impeachment managers and counsel for the president fielded questions from Senators for a second day, allowing lawyers on both sides to make their final points before a vote on whether to hear witnesses.

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Price Of A Vacation In Space Rockets For Tourists – Sciclonic

January 30th, 2020

Tourists will have to have deep pockets to visit the final frontier of deep space as the trip costs a staggering $640,000 a night.

NASA has confirmed the first ‘hotel’ module for trippers will soon be attached to the International Space Station and the launch date for vacations in orbit is likely to be some time in 2022.

The venture is a joint project for NASA and private corporation Orion Span.

The US space agency has just announced that Orion Span’s Aurora Station will have access to the ISS through a docking port.

The module will be split between research labs for private business to rent and a residential area for visitors that looks out on Earth through a large viewing window.

Bookings open for 12-day trips

The 12 day trips will go on sale for an eye-watering starting price of $9.5 million.

Guests get 384 sunrises and sunsets in an orbit 200 miles above the Earth. The space hotel has room for four paying guests and two crew at a time. Private suites are available for couples.

Bookings are already open for a refundable $80,000 deposit – which can be paid as cryptocurrency including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin.

“We want to get people into space because it’s the final frontier for our civilisation,” said Orion Span’s founder and chief executive officer, Frank Bunger. “Orion Span’s offering won’t be for everyone. Launch and re-entry are not for the faint of heart.

“We’re not selling a hey-let’s-go-to-the-beach equivalent in space. We’re selling the experience of being an astronaut. We reckon that there are people willing to pay to have that experience.”

Flights of fancy

Other projects aiming to send tourists into space are also underway.

They include Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is planning sub-orbital trips with his Blue Origin corporation and billionaire Elon Musk will run tourist trips through his SpaceX program.

A humourous look at life in space for tourists has recently launched on HBO with comedy show Avenue 5, starring Hugh Laurie as the captain, which pokes fun at what might go wrong on a flight when things go out of control.

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US warns its citizens not to travel to China due to coronavirus – CNN

January 30th, 2020
Medical staff members wearing protective clothing in Wuhan.
Medical staff members wearing protective clothing in Wuhan. Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

All Shi Muying wanted was to spend one last Lunar New Year holiday with her terminally ill mother. She flew back from the United Kingdom, where she lives and works, to spend the festive season in her hometown, Wuhan.

For 24 hours a day, Shi — who is in her mid-30s — sat by her mother’s bedside in hospital, taking care of her. Around her, more and more people were getting sick from a newly identified coronavirus. But Shi wasn’t too worried.

After all, Chinese authorities were saying that the outbreak was “preventable and controllable.”

Now, three weeks after Shi arrived in China, it’s clear the outbreak is not under control. The virus has spread to every Chinese province and region, across Asia and as far away as Europe and the United States. It has infected more than 9,800 people and killed over 200. Wuhan has been placed on an effective lockdown, almost entirely sealed off from the outside world.

On Monday, preliminary results showed Shi could also be infected with the virus.

But she is more worried for her family — for her 67-year-old father who also appears to have the virus, and for her mother who has been uprooted to what she describes as an older, inferior hospital building, to make way for the rush of coronavirus patients.

Shi, and others like her, have become victims of a public health care crisis. Over the past few days, CNN has spoken to patients, medical staff and experts who have told of delays in testing for the virus, in telling the public the true nature of the virus’ spread, and of an already overburdened health system creaking under the enormous weight of a rapidly expanding outbreak.

Read the full story here.

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World Health Organisation declares global health emergency due to coronavirus outbreak – South China Morning Post

January 30th, 2020

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On January 30, 2020, the United Nations’ World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV and the novel coronavirus, a global emergency.

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Estranged husband accused of killing Jennifer Dulos dies – CP24 Toronto’s Breaking News

January 30th, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. — A man charged with murdering his wife who went missing amid a contentious divorce case died Thursday, his lawyer said.

Fotis Dulos, 52, had been hospitalized since Tuesday when he was found at his home in Farmington, Connecticut, following an apparent suicide attempt.

“It’s been a truly horrific day for the family filled with difficult decisions, medical tests and meeting the requirements to determine death,” attorney Norm Pattis said.

“To those who contend that Mr. Dulos’ death reflects a consciousness of guilt, we say no,” he added. “We say it was more a conscience overborne with the weight of a world that was too busy to listen and wanted a story more than it wanted the truth.”

Dulos, a luxury home builder originally from Greece, was accused of killing Jennifer Dulos, who has not been seen since she dropped their five children off at school in May in New Canaan. Her body has not been found despite extensive searches. Fotis Dulos had denied any role in her disappearance.

The children, who ranged in age from 8 to 13 when their mother vanished, are in the custody of their maternal grandmother in New York City.

“This is a horrific tragedy all around,” said Carrie Luft, a spokeswoman for the family of Jennifer Dulos.

Dulos insisted he was innocent in a note found near him, according to a court motion filed by his lawyers Thursday. In the note recovered by police officers, Dulos “declared his innocence of the infamous and heinous crimes that the state has accused him of and claimed his lawyers have the evidence to prove it,” his lawyers wrote in the filing asking a judge to order the state to preserve the note and other evidence found at the home.

On the day Fotis Dulos was found unresponsive, he had been facing an emergency bond hearing where he could have been sent back to jail. The company that originally posted the $6 million bond had learned that two properties offered as collateral were subject to foreclosure and a third was overvalued.

Police officers who went to check on Dulos because he was late for the hearing saw through a garage window that he was in medical distress. Emergency responders forced their way into the garage and medics performed CPR for about 30 minutes; he was taken to a hospital by ambulance after a pulse was discovered, Farmington police said Thursday. A lawyer for Dulos, and others, initially said he had died before saying a pulse had been found.

Dulos was eventually transferred to the Jacobi Medical Center in New York City for treatment.

Fotis Dulos was arrested Jan. 7 on murder and kidnapping charges, capping a lengthy investigation in which he emerged early as the primary suspect.

Warrants released last summer, when Dulos was charged initially with evidence tampering and hindering prosecution, said that he and a girlfriend were seen on video surveillance driving in Hartford around the time Jennifer Dulos was reported missing. The man was seen tossing garbage bags into more than 30 trash bins in the area that were later determined to have items with Jennifer Dulos’ blood on them.

Items in the garbage bags included clothing belonging to Jennifer Dulos and plastic zip ties that later tested positive for her DNA.

In filings in the two-year divorce proceedings, Jennifer Dulos said she was worried for her safety and that of the couple’s children.

In the arrest warrants, police suggested a possible financial motive, saying Fotis Dulos was $7 million in debt and would have had some access to the children’s trust funds if Jennifer Dulos died. Fotis Dulos denied that allegation.

Police allege Fotis Dulos lay in wait at Jennifer Dulos’ home in New Canaan for her to return after dropping the children off. Authorities say Fotis Dulos attacked the woman in her garage, leaving behind a bloody crime scene, and drove off with her body.

Dulos had pleaded not guilty to the charges. Pattis said the defence team will continue to seek a trial to clear his name.

“We intend to proceed on as if he were alive to vindicate him,” Pattis said.

Fotis Dulos’ former girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, and his friend, attorney Kent Mawhinney, are both charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Police said they helped Fotis Dulos try to cover up the killing, including by creating bogus alibis.

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Coronavirus Spreads Faster Than SARS, Says Professor Wang – Bloomberg Markets and Finance

January 30th, 2020

Jan.30 — Linfa Wang, emerging infectious diseases program director at the Duke-National University of Singapore, discusses the difference between coronavirus and SARS and the measures taken to stop the outbreak. He speaks on “Bloomberg Markets.”


Nintendo wins ¥50 million lawsuit against operator of Tokyo ‘real-life Mario Kart’ company – Japan Today

January 30th, 2020

Jordan: A muted response to Trump’s Middle East plan – Al Jazeera English

January 30th, 2020

More than two million Palestinians live in Jordan and many of them have voiced anger over the United States president’s Middle East plan.
But the reaction from Jordan’s king and his government has been muted.
Al Jazeera’s Natasha Ghoneim reports from the capital, Amman.

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Trump impeachment: Major blow for Democrats in witnesses battle – BBC News

January 30th, 2020
Republican Senator from Tennessee Lamar AlexanderImage copyright EPA
Image caption Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said he would vote against calling more witnesses

US Democrats have been dealt a major blow in their efforts to call witnesses at President Trump’s impeachment trial.

They needed four Republicans to vote with them to allow witness testimony, but one of the few wavering senators said he would not support the measure.

Lamar Alexander said the Democrats had proved Mr Trump acted inappropriately but it was not an impeachable offence.

The announcement paves the way for the possible acquittal of the president by the Senate as early as Friday.

The Democrats had especially wanted to call former National Security Adviser John Bolton who reportedly said Mr Trump told him directly that he was withholding US military aid to Ukraine until it agreed to investigate his rival, Joe Biden.

What did Lamar Alexander say?

In a statement late on Thursday after a long question-and-answer session at the Senate, Mr Alexander, who represents Tennessee, said the Democrats had proven that Mr Trump’s actions were “inappropriate”.

But the 79-year-old said: “There is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offence.”

He added: “The question then is not whether the president did it, but whether the United States Senate or the American people should decide what to do about what he did. I believe that the Constitution provides that the people should make that decision in the presidential election that begins in Iowa on Monday.”

Democrats were hoping that four Republican senators – Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, as well as Mr Alexander – would enable them to reach the 51 votes necessary to call witnesses. On Thursday, Ms Collins joined Mr Romney by saying she would also vote for more witnesses.

Mr Alexander’s announcement is a sign that Republicans will be able to block the move and put an end to Mr Trump’s trial with his expected acquittal. A two-thirds majority in the Senate is required to remove him from office, and Republicans hold a 53-47 majority.

Each side is expected to present closing arguments in Friday’s session, before the Senate votes on hearing witnesses. If the vote were to end in a tie, it would mean that the motion had failed unless US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, decided to break it, which is unlikely.

Why is Bolton so important?

A bombshell report in the New York Times earlier this week said that Mr Bolton had written in his upcoming book that the president told him directly that military aid was being withheld from Ukraine in exchange for dirt on a Democratic political rival – the key impeachment charge against the president.

The report reinvigorated Democrats’ attempts to call new witnesses to the trial, and simultaneously energised Republican efforts to push the process through without anyone being called.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionMitt Romney earlier this week: “Important to hear from John Bolton”

If the reports about Mr Bolton were true, and he testified to that effect, he would be the first witness in the process to directly link the president to an alleged quid pro quo (exchange of favours) with Ukraine and an abuse of presidential power.

Mr Trump’s lawyer expanded their defence in the Senate earlier this week. He suggested that anything a president did in service of his own re-election could be considered to be in the public interest, and therefore not impeachable. The tactic shocked Republicans and Democrats alike.

The White House pushed back against the publication of Mr Bolton’s book, citing security concerns. The National Security Council alleged that the book had “top secret” details that must be removed, a claim Mr Bolton rejects.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption John Bolton was fired from his post as National Security Adviser in September

Mr Bolton’s lawyer Charles Cooper responded to the NSC letter last week by saying the book contained nothing classified as top secret.

“We do not believe that any of that information could reasonably be considered classified,” Mr Cooper wrote in an email to the White House on 24 January, the Washington Post reported.

Mr Cooper also said he had asked for an expedited review of a chapter about Ukraine, adding that Mr Bolton was “preparing” for the possibility he could be called to testify in the trial.

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Getting the drug dealers’ drug dealers: Ontario police target wholesale traffickers in large probe – National Post

January 30th, 2020

Police in Ontario took a new tack in the war on drugs, targeting wholesalers rather than the usual band of retailers, netting a dozen men accused of being the drug dealers’ drug dealers.

Twelve people were arrested and significant quantities of illicit drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and cannabis, were seized, police said.

It is not numbers and weights that make this project stand out, however. It is the approach. The nine-month probe, codenamed Project Daytona, took a different path than most drug investigations.

The quality of the drugs, particularly the cocaine and the methamphetamine, we’ve never really seen before

Usually, police target a crime group engaged in drug trafficking, for example a biker club, mob clan or street gang. Then they try to root out as much of that network as they can. The problem with that is even if a gang is taken out head to toe, it usually leaves the source of its drugs untouched.

In this investigation, the Ontario Provincial Police went directly after people allegedly feeding the product to the dealers — the wholesale end of the drug trade.

“These are the individuals who would have provided drugs to street gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs as well as organized crime groups in all the communities,” said Superintendent Bryan MacKillop, director of the OPP’s Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau.

“They are the ones who have persisted after we have targeted other criminal operations.”

Cocaine seized during Project Daytona.


The men arrested are not a network, a ring or a gang.

Some of the accused — those in smaller towns — are loosely connected, but most of those arrested are not known to have communicated with each other. They didn’t work together. Half of them don’t have criminal records, but they all did the same job, investigators allege.

“Although these targets might not fall within the structure of previously known or readily identifiable criminal groups, they contribute to drug trafficking operations at a high level,” MacKillop said.

Evidence of their pedigree comes with their product, said Det.-Insp. Peter Donnelly, the probe’s case manager.

“The quality of the drugs, particularly the cocaine and the methamphetamine, we’ve never really seen before. I think that’s because they’re operating at such a high level. The cocaine is essentially as pure as it can get and I suspect it comes straight from its original source, whether that’s Colombia or Mexico,” Donnelly said.

“When you’re dealing with 98 per cent purity cocaine at the kilogram level, you’re not dealing with people who are short of money.”

Police designated Dominic Gravelle, 29, and Viken “Vick” Dokmajian, 42, as particularly significant players in their probe.


The men are not accused of selling it on the street, but rather to middlemen who then broke the bulk product down and diluted it before selling it on to others. This process could filter through four layers of dealers before hitting the streets, he said.

That business model of keeping off the street is likely why many of those arrested previously stayed off of police radar, Donnelly said.

“These were business operations. This was mostly free from violence, that we noticed,” Donnelly said.

Police said more than 45 kilograms of cannabis and 8.5 kilograms of cannabis concentrate were among the drugs seized.

“This is evidence that even though cannabis is now legal, the sale and distribution of illicit cannabis remains lucrative for organized crime groups.” He said investigators have seen no reduction in the amount of illegal marijuana turning up in investigations since it was legalized in October 2018.

Cannabis concentrate seized during Project Daytona.


Police designated two men as particularly significant players in their probe: Dominic Gravelle, 29, of Hamilton, and Viken “Vick” Dokmajian, 42, of Ottawa.

Gravelle is a relative of members of an eponymous, high-profile Hamilton crime family. Members of the Gravelle crime family, that revolved around five brothers, have a long history of convictions, including for the drug trade.

Dominic Gravelle was the first to be arrested in this probe and was the subject of the first search warrants executed. On Jan. 22, an armoured police tactical unit raided a townhouse in Burlington, just outside Hamilton. They arrested Gravelle along with another man from Hamilton, Robert Vrbanic, 33, who was with him, police said.

Gravelle faces 18 charges, including trafficking in cocaine, crystal meth and ecstasy, sale of cannabis and possession of property obtained by crime. Vrbanic is charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine, ecstasy and crystal meth.

Others charged in Project Daytona are: (top row from left): Clarence Mulrooney, 38, Mark Miller, 34, Jamie Crowder, 40, Josh Belfiori, 29; (bottom row): Matthew Purcell, 33, Abdallah “Kash” Abdelrazzaq, 30, Trevor Hands, 40, Stephen Kraus, 51, and Brett Hall, 38.


Dokmajian doesn’t have the family reputation of Gravelle. In fact, before this probe, he was unknown to police and without a criminal record. His alleged role at a high level in the drug trade came to investigators “from out of nowhere,” Donnelly said.

Dokmajian was arrested Jan. 23, the day seven more search warrants were executed.

Abdallah “Kash” Abdelrazzaq, 30, of Gatineau, Que., was the only person charged from outside of Ontario, although his primary market, police allege, was in Ottawa.

Also charged were: Stephen Kraus, 51, of Kingston and Trevor Hands, 40, of Perth; three men from Carleton Place: Josh Belfiori, 29, Mark Miller, 34, and Clarence Mulrooney, 38; and three from Smiths Falls: Jamie Crowder, 40, Brett Hall, 38, Matthew Purcell, 33. Purcell avoided arrest until late Thursday, after the probe had been announced.

Police said their investigation continues.

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