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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

March 11, 2020 - 8:04 PM

Trump clamps limits on travel from Europe to US for 30 days

WASHINGTON (AP) — Taking dramatic action, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he is sharply restricting passenger travel from 26 European nations to the U.S. and moving to ease the economic cost of a viral pandemic that is roiling global financial markets and disrupting the daily lives of Americans.

Trump, in a rare Oval Office address to the nation, said the month-long restriction on travel would begin late Friday, at midnight. After days of playing down the coronavirus threat, he blamed Europe for not acting quickly enough to address the “foreign virus” and claimed that U.S. clusters were “seeded” by European travellers.

“We made a lifesaving move with early action on China," Trump said. "Now we must take the same action with Europe.”

Trump said the restrictions won't apply to the United Kingdom, and there would be exemptions for “Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings." He said the U.S. would monitor the situation to determine if travel could be reopened earlier.

Trump spoke after days of confusion in Washington and in the face of mounting calls on the president to demonstrate greater leadership. At times, though, his remarks contributed to the uncertainty.

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WHO declares virus crisis a pandemic, U.S. stocks plunge

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization declared Wednesday that the global coronavirus crisis is now a pandemic as U.S. stocks plunged into bear market territory and several American cities joined European counterparts in banning large gatherings.

By reversing course and using the charged word “pandemic” that it had previously shied away from, the U.N. health agency sought to shock lethargic countries into pulling out all the stops.

“We have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO chief.

"All countries can still change the course of this pandemic. If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize their people in the response," he said. “We are deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction.”

After downplaying the threat of the virus for days, U.S. President Donald Trump was considering a national disaster declaration and new travel advisories. He was scheduled to deliver an Oval Office address to the nation Wednesday night.

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NBA suspends season until further notice, over coronavirus

MIAMI (AP) — The NBA has suspended its season “until further notice" after a Utah Jazz player tested positive Wednesday for the coronavirus, a move that came only hours after the majority of the league's owners were leaning toward playing games without fans in arenas.

Now there will be no games at all, at least for the time being. A person with knowledge of the situation said the Jazz player who tested positive was centre Rudy Gobert. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither the league nor the team confirmed the presumptive positive test.

“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice,” the league said in a statement sent shortly after 9:30 p.m. EDT. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”

The test result, the NBA said, was reported shortly before the scheduled tip-off time for the Utah at Oklahoma City game on Wednesday night was called off. Players were on the floor for warmups and tip-off was moments away when they were told to return to their locker rooms. About 30 minutes later, fans were told the game was postponed “due to unforeseen circumstances."

Those circumstances were the league’s worst-case scenario for now — a player testing positive. A second person who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity said the league expects the shutdown to last a minimum of two weeks, but cautioned that timeframe is very fluid.

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Dow tumbles into bear market as coronavirus fears intensify

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks careened lower Wednesday, with the Dow Jones industrials sinking more than 1,400 points, as investors became more fearful that the Trump administration and other global governments won’t be able to prevent the coronavirus outbreak from doing significant damage to the worldwide economy.

The Dow’s loss dragged it 20% below the record set last month and put the index in a bear market. The broader S&P 500 index, which professional investors watch more closely, is a single percentage point away from falling into its own bear market, which would end the longest bull market in Wall Street history.

The decline has been one of the swiftest sell-offs of this magnitude. The fastest the S&P 500 has ever fallen from a record into a bear market was over 55 days in 1987.

Vicious swings like Wednesday’s session are becoming routine as investors rush to sell amid uncertainty about how badly the outbreak will hit the economy. The day’s loss of 1,464 points wiped out a 1,167-point gain for the Dow from Tuesday and stands as the index’s second-largest point drop, trailing only Monday’s plunge of 2,013.

With Wall Street already on edge about the economic damage coming from the virus, stocks dove even lower Wednesday after global health officials declared the outbreak a pandemic.

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Sanders isn't dropping out, but where does he go from here?

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Bernie Sanders is vowing to press ahead with his presidential campaign at least long enough to debate Joe Biden this weekend, even while acknowledging his deficit in the Democratic race may be insurmountable.

The Vermont senator on Wednesday offered no further details on what his campaign may look like before or after he and Biden — the last two major candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination — spar Sunday night on stage in Arizona. The only thing on Sanders' public schedule was taping an appearance on Wednesday's “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

And that will continue to raise questions — as unlikely as it may seem less than two weeks after losing his once-commanding front-runner status — about how long Sanders will persist against increasingly daunting odds, especially as the pressure within his own party increases exponentially.

Sanders addressed reporters in Burlington after offering no public statements Tuesday night, when he suffered a devastating defeat in Michigan and losses in Missouri, Idaho and Mississippi. Sanders noted that he won North Dakota and that the continuing count in Washington state remained close — but admitted he was trailing badly in the race to secure enough delegates to clinch the nomination before the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.

“While our campaign has won the ideological debate, we are losing the debate over electability,” Sanders said, meaning Democrats think Biden has a better chance of beating President Donald Trump in the fall. “That is what millions of Democrats and independents today believe.”

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Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson test positive for coronavirus

NEW YORK (AP) — Tom Hanks and his actress-singer wife Rita Wilson have tested positive for the coronavirus, the actor said in a statement Wednesday.

Hanks said the couple were in Australia and felt tired, with colds, body aches and slight fevers. "To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the coronavirus and were found to be positive," Hanks said.

The 63-year-old Oscar-winner said they will be “tested, observed and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires.”

“Not much more to it than a one-day-a-time approach, no?” added Hanks.

Hanks had been in Australia shooting an untitled Elvis Presley biopic directed by Baz Luhrmann. Hanks plays Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The film, currently slated for release in October 2021, has suspended production, Warner Bros. said.

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Weinstein gets 23 years in sentence hailed by accusers

NEW YORK (AP) — Harvey Weinstein was sentenced Wednesday to 23 years in prison after breaking his courtroom silence with a rambling plea for mercy in which he professed to be "totally confused" by the #MeToo movement that spelled the Hollywood producer's downfall.

His accusers — those who testified against him and many others who have spoken out elsewhere against the former Hollywood mogul — hailed the near-maximum punishment for his rape and criminal sex act convictions as long overdue.

The 67-year-old Weinstein, who arrived at the courthouse Wednesday in a wheelchair and was taken to a hospital after complaining of chest pains hours after the court hearing, could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

He was convicted last month of raping a once-aspiring actress in a New York City hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on former TV and film production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his apartment in 2006. He faced a minimum of five years and a maximum of 29 years in prison.

The conviction marked the first criminal fallout from a raft of allegations that the Oscar-winning movie producer used his clout to lure women, sexually assault or harass them and then silence them.

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Lawyers: Chelsea Manning attempts suicide in Va. jail

WASHINGTON (AP) — Chelsea Manning's legal team said Wednesday that the former intelligence analyst tried to take her own life Wednesday, but was transported to a hospital where she is recovering.

Manning has been in jail since May 2019 for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. She was scheduled to appear in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, on Friday for a hearing on a motion to terminate the civil contempt sanctions stemming from that refusal.

In the motion filed last month, Manning's lawyers argued that Manning has shown during her incarceration that she can't be coerced into testifying before a grand jury.

Manning served seven years in a military prison for leaking a trove of documents to WikiLeaks before President Barack Obama commuted the remainder of her 35-year sentence in 2017.

Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne said Wednesday: “There was an incident at approximately 12:11 p.m. today at the Alexandria Adult Detention Center involving inmate Chelsea Manning. It was handled appropriately by our professional staff and Ms. Manning is safe.”

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Congress acts to limit Trump on military action in Iran

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defying a veto threat, Congress has approved a bipartisan measure to limit President Donald Trump's authority to launch military operations against Iran.

The House gave final legislative approval to the measure Wednesday, 227-186, sending it to Trump. The president has promised to veto the war powers resolution, warning that if his “hands were tied, Iran would have a field day.”

The resolution, sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., declares that Trump must win approval from Congress before engaging in further military action against Iran. Kaine and other supporters say the measure is not about Trump or even the presidency, but instead is an important reassertion of congressional power to declare war.

Six Republicans joined 220 Democrats and independent Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan to support the measure. Six Democrats and 180 Republicans opposed it. In the Senate last month, eight Republicans backed the resolution.

The resolution "sends a clear message that the American people don't want war with Iran and that Congress has not authorized war with Iran,'' said Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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St. Patrick's Day parades nixed, from New York to Dublin

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been postponed for the first time in its 258-year history because of coronavirus concerns, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday.

The postponement of the March 17 parade adds to the roster of events and holidays upended around the world by the spreading infection. Chicago, Boston, and even the Irish capital of Dublin, have cancelled St. Patrick's Day parades.

The New York parade honouring Irish heritage dates back longer than the United States and draws tens of thousands of marchers and throngs of spectators to Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.

Cuomo, a Democrat, said while the risk of transmission might be lower in an outdoor gathering, health experts had urged him to call it off.

“While I know the parade organizers did not make this decision lightly, public health experts agree that one of the most effective ways to contain the spread of the virus is to limit large gatherings and close contacts, and I applaud the parade's leadership for working co-operatively with us," Cuomo said in a statement.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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