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5 things to know for February 17: Coronavirus, Dems 2020, Barr, Afghanistan, France scam

Andrew Cuomo

Progress is coming, inch by inch: Several states may pass or have already passed the CROWN Act, which would outlaw discrimination based on hair texture or style. Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door.

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1. Coronavirus

As the coronavirus continues to spread, some countries are working to evacuate passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that has been quarantined in Japanese waters since February 3. The problem is, there are at least 359 people on board who have been diagnosed with the virus. The US has already begun evacuating some of the more than 400 Americans on board, with the understanding they will undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine once off the ship. Canada, Italy and Hong Kong are also sending evacuation flights for their citizens. While some passengers wait to get out, cases of the virus on board are continuing to rise, and 14 of the Americans already being evacuated have tested positive. The virus has killed 1,775 people so far, and sickened more than 71,000 worldwide.

2. Election 2020

The Iowa Democratic Party began a partial recanvass of the state’s caucus precinct results yesterday. The process should take two days, and will consist of election authorities double-checking vote tallies and reports. If the results stay the same. Pete Buttigieg will remain the official winner of the contest, edging out Bernie Sanders in the state delegate count by 0.1%. However, Sanders’ campaign is hoping the recanvass may shift one delegate from Buttigieg to Sanders. Meanwhile, early voting is on in Nevada. About 18,000 voters showed up on Saturday, which the Democratic state party leaders hope will translate into a strong showing for the state’s caucus this weekend. They also hope the early caucus turnout will prevent the kind of vote counting chaos we saw in Iowa.

3. Department of Justice

More than 1,110 former Justice Department officials have endorsed a statement asking for Attorney General William Barr to resign. The collection of former career prosecutors and political appointees put forth the request after Barr overruled the sentencing recommendation of the prosecution team in the trial of former Trump adviser Roger Stone. All four prosecutors then withdrew from the case. The incident has set off concern within the Department of Justice and the legal community at large. “Mr. Barr’s actions in doing the President’s personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words,” the statement reads. In an unusual move, the judge overseeing Stone’s case has called for a “scheduling” conference call with attorneys on Tuesday, ahead of the sentencing hearing set for later this week. It’s not clear what they’ll discuss.

4. Afghanistan

The US is poised to dial back its military presence in Afghanistan as part of a negotiation with the Taliban to reduce violence in the country. However, Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the exact date of the deal is still in flux. Some Afghan officials have serious questions as to how the deal will work and how the Taliban will be kept in check. US officials have reportedly reassured Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his team that the US will hold the Taliban to their end of the deal and will stick with Afghanistan to ensure a more long-term, Afghan-led peace process.

5. France scam

In the next few weeks, France will likely see a verdict iin the trial of a man believed to have orchestrated what has been described as the scam of the century. Gilbert Chikli, 54, has been accused of heading up an elaborate scam in which he impersonated French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in order to con wealthy individuals into paying ransoms to purportedly free French hostages being held by Islamist terrorists. In all, attempts to extort money from embassies and governments were made in more than 50 countries and netted the scammers about 80 million euros. Some of that money has not been recovered. Chikli is currently serving time for a separate hoax in which he impersonated a series of prominent French CEOs. He has denied his current charges.


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And that’s the gospel truth

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Article Topic Follows: US & World

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