Tribune News Service

International Budget for Monday, May 18, 2020

Updated at 0000 UTC (8 p.m. U.S. EDT).

Additional news stories, including full U.S. coverage, appear on the MCT-NEWS-BJT and MCT-NEWSFEATURES-BJT.


^Netanyahu seats new government in Israel 7 days before trial<

^ISRAEL:BLO—<Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his contentious vow to annex West Bank settlements as Israel finally installed a government after more than a year of political gridlock.

Addressing parliament on Sunday before his Cabinet was sworn in, the prime minister signaled he'd go ahead with a move that is endorsed in the Trump administration's Middle East peace plan but would put Israel on a collision course with Palestinians, who claim the territory for a future state, as well as many countries around the world.

700 by Amy Teibel. MOVED



^Afghan leaders sign power-sharing deal welcomed by NATO<

AFGHAN-AGREEMENT:DPA — Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his electoral rival, Abdullah Abdullah, signed an agreement on Sunday to share power after months of political crisis.

According to a draft of the agreement seen by dpa, Abdullah would lead a newly created National Reconciliation High Council, and "members of his team would be included in the cabinet."

400 by Qiam Noori in Kabul, Afghanistan. MOVED




^Coronavirus vaccine within a year is 'far from a sure thing,' expert warns<

CORONAVIRUS-US:LA — A coronavirus vaccine by year's end is possible, but not something to "bank on," a leading public health expert warned Sunday as the Trump administration continued to push for swift business reopenings in a bid to revive the battered U.S. economy.

Aides to President Donald Trump have touted vaccine prospects, but they've also tried to de-couple significant progress toward an immunization protocol from the need to return to workplaces, schools and public life, as many states are now moving to do.

With the U.S. death toll approaching 90,000, public health experts described the president's vaccine timetable as ambitious — perhaps overly so.

950 by Laura King in Washington. MOVED


^Powell warns US recovery could stretch through end of 2021<

^CORONAVIRUS-ECONOMY-POWELL:BLO—<The U.S. economy will recover from the coronavirus pandemic, but the process could stretch through until the end of next year and depend on the delivery of a vaccine, said Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

"Assuming there's not a second wave of the coronavirus, I think you'll see the economy recover steadily through the second half of this year," the U.S. central bank chief said in an excerpt of an interview conducted Wednesday and aired on Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" show.

350 by Alister Bull. MOVED


^Trump aide accuses China of using air travelers to 'seed' virus<

CORONAVIRUS-USCHINA:BLO — The Trump administration stepped up its campaign of blaming China for the deadly coronavirus pandemic, with a top aide suggesting Beijing sent airline passengers to spread the infection worldwide.

"The virus was spawned in Wuhan province, patient zero was in November," White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on ABC's "This Week."

300 by Steve Geimann in Washington. MOVED


^Shutdowns carry their own health consequences, HHS Secretary Azar says <

CORONAVIRUS-AZAR:BLO — The question of when and how to end stay-at-home orders in the U.S. is a health-vs.-health equation as well as an economic one, President Donald Trump's health secretary said.

There's a "very real health consequence to these shutdowns" that needs to be balanced against possible illness from the coronavirus, Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services, said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

350 by Ros Krasny and Tony Czuczka in Washington. MOVED


^Florida COVID-19 cases jump past 45,500, but the positive test rate keeps sliding down<

CORONAVIRUS-FLA:MI — The number of new confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Florida rose to 45,588 with Sunday's update, the increase of 777 being less than many weekdays but more than each of the last three Sundays.

South Florida (Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Monroe counties) accounts for most of that increase in COVID-19, but only three of the nine new deaths in Florida.

600 by David J. Neal in Miami. MOVED


^Officials mishandled coronavirus outbreaks at 2 California prisons, lawsuits claim<

^CORONAVIRUS-CALIF-PRISONS-LAWSUIT:LA—<The American Civil Liberties Union on Saturday filed a pair of class-action lawsuits on behalf of federal prisoners at Lompoc and Terminal Island, claiming officials mishandled coronavirus outbreaks at the California facilities that have infected a combined total of 1,775 inmates, killing 10.

"While the rest of California took extraordinary measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, the Bureau of Prisons failed to take preventive measures as basic as isolating sick prisoners, allowing social distancing, or providing enough soap," Peter Bibring, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California, said in a statement.

1350 (with trims) by Alex Wigglesworth in Los Angeles. MOVED


^Dozens defy stay-at-home order to attend Chicago church while protesters warn of endangering the community<

CORONAVIRUS-CHICAGO-CHURCH:TB — Met by protesters and defying the stay-at-home order, Michael Valentine, 24, went to church Sunday at Metro Praise International church in Belmont Cragin, one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods by COVID-19 in Chicago.

"There is something great about praising the Lord when you're with other brothers and sisters," he said. "It's powerful, and it strengthens your faith and encourages you, especially during times like these."

Valentine joined at least 100 other members of the congregation who also decided to attend the in-person service.

650 by Laura Rodr guez Presa and Jessica Villagomez in Chicago. MOVED


^Gov. Cuomo takes coronavirus test in bid to encourage New Yorkers to do same<

CORONAVIRUS-NY:NY — Claiming some New Yorkers are reluctant to seek coronavirus tests, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday took one himself on live national television.

"There is a general proclivity where some people just don't like to go to the doctor and don't like to get tested," he said at an Albany news conference. "But this test is not an invasive test.

"It is so fast and so easy that even a governor can take this test," he added.

400 by Shant Shahrigian in New York. MOVED


^As more Texas businesses open, health experts watch and wait<

CORONAVIRUS-TEXAS-REOPENING-CORRECTION:DA — With gyms and more businesses set to reopen Monday, Texas is closer to reaching some of its goals for fighting the coronavirus.

The number of daily tests has grown. The percentage of tests that come back positive has shrunk. The state now has 2,000 people in place to track down those who may have come into contact with infected people. Texas has some of the lowest death and infection rates in the country, and hospitals have never come close to filling up.

As part of the first wave of states to emerge from its lockdown, Texas will also be on the forefront of seeing the effects of loosened coronavirus restrictions. This week, health officials could get their first indication of how the epidemic will grow during the summer months.

1550 (with trims) by Sue Ambrose, Holly K. Hacker and Anna Kuchment in Dallas. MOVED


^Broken ventilators spark push to end limits on who can fix them<

CORONAVIRUS-VENTILATORS:BLO — A group of state officials has an idea to expand the availability of ventilators and other equipment hospitals need to treat coronavirus patients: let more medical facilities fix the ones they have.

In a letter to equipment manufacturers, the state treasurers of Pennsylvania, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, and Rhode Island said hospitals sometimes had to wait longer than a week for technicians under their maintenance contracts to fix equipment. Manufacturers have refused to supply parts to anyone who hasn't undergone the expensive company training.

1300 (with trims) by Susan Decker in Washington. MOVED


^As Congress weighs coronavirus liability protections, states shield health providers<

^CORONAVIRUS-LIABILITY:KHN—<Coronavirus patients and their families who believe a doctor, nurse, hospital or other provider made serious mistakes during their care may face a new hurdle if they try to file medical malpractice lawsuits.

Under pressure from health provider organizations, governors in Connecticut, Maryland, Illinois and several other states have ordered that most providers be shielded from civil — and, in some cases, criminal — lawsuits over medical treatment during the COVID-19 health emergency.

1150 (with trims) by Susan Jaffe. MOVED



^How many people are dying of coronavirus in Mexico? It's hard to say<

CORONAVIRUS-MEXICO:LA — In cities across Mexico, morgues are full, funeral homes are jammed and crowded hospitals are turning patients away.

"My father is in a black bag in the back of that brown hearse," said Gabriela Jacom , a 43-year-old house cleaner waiting outside the San Nicol s Tolentino cemetery in Mexico City on a recent morning.

Vehicles carrying COVID-19 victims were gridlocked at the entrance along a main drag marked with yellow signs warning: "High risk of contagion!"

Such scenes are difficult to square with the country's official death toll: 4,767 as of Friday.

Government authorities have long acknowledged that many deaths are not counted because they have not been confirmed by testing, and just how many remains a mystery.

1200 by Patrick J. McDonnell, Kate Linthicum and Wendy Fry. MOVED


^India extends lockdown until May 31 amid surging infections<

^CORONAVIRUS-INDIA:BLO—<India's government has extended its nationwide lockdown until May 31, while further easing restrictions in certain sectors to boost economic activity as coronavirus cases escalate across the country.

Sports complexes and stadiums will now be able to operate without spectators and interstate travel will be allowed with permits, the home ministry said in a statement on Sunday evening. Public transport, along with malls, cinemas, schools, gymnasium and tourist spots will remain closed.

350 by Bibhudatta Pradhan and Sudhi Ranjan Sen. MOVED



^Chasing the elusive dream of a COVID-19 cure<

^CORONAVIRUS-CURE:KHN—<Although scientists and stock markets have celebrated the approval for emergency use of remdesivir to treat COVID-19, a cure for the disease that has killed more than 312,000 people remains a long way off — and might never arrive.

Hundreds of drugs are being studied around the world, but "I don't see a lot of home runs right now," said Dr. Carlos del Rio, a professor of infectious diseases at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. "I see a lot of strikeouts."

Researchers have launched more than 1,250 studies of COVID-19. Pharmaceutical companies are investing billions to develop effective drugs and vaccines to help end the pandemic.

But the new coronavirus is an elusive enemy.

1700 by Liz Szabo. MOVED



^Pompeo tells China not to interfere with US journalists in Hong Kong<

USCHINA-JOURNALISTS:BLO — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned China against interfering with the work of U.S. journalists in Hong Kong, and said actions impinging on freedoms there could damage diplomatic relations.

"These journalists are members of a free press, not propaganda cadres, and their valuable reporting informs Chinese citizens and the world," Pompeo said in a statement.

250 by Todd Shields in Washington. MOVED


^Space exploration's next frontier: Remote-controlled robonauts<

^SCI-SPACE-ROBONAUTS:BLO—<As Japan's second female astronaut to fly up in the Space Shuttle Discovery, Naoko Yamazaki didn't expect to spend a quarter of her time dusting, feeding mice and doing other menial jobs.

It can cost more than $430 million a year to keep an astronaut in orbit, according to 3-year-old startup called Gitai Inc. It's only possible to keep humans alive in outer space because of the money and effort poured into ensuring their safety. One way to bring down the cost and risks is to send an avatar — a remotely controlled robot.

As NASA opens up the International Space Station to private businesses and embarks on the Artemis mission to send astronauts back to the moon, there's a growing recognition of the need to keep spending under control, even as space-exploration projects grow increasingly complex.

1050 by Shiho Takezawa and Hiromi Horie. MOVED


^'Never Trumpers' plan to hold their own GOP convention in Charlotte in August<

GOP-CONVENTION-ANTITRUMP:CH — Bob Orr and Charles Jeter plan to join other Republicans at a convention in Charlotte this August — but not the one that will renominate President Donald Trump.

Instead they'll join a group called "Republicans for a New President."

Organized by Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer who ran an independent campaign for president in 2016, the gathering is expected to bring together groups disaffected by the president.

650 by Jim Morrill in Charlotte, N.C. MOVED


^40 years after its famed eruption, Mount St. Helens looms as a marvel and a threat<

MOUNTSTHELENS:LA — On the morning of May 18, 1980, an earthquake shook Mt. St. Helens and the mountain's north face collapsed in one of the largest debris avalanches ever recorded.

The slide uncorked the volcano, baring magma that exploded with 500 times the force of the Hiroshima bomb in the most destructive eruption in U.S. history.

The cataclysmic chain of events killed 57 people and thousands of animals, took out 250 homes, 47 bridges and 185 miles of highway, clogged rivers with sediment, flooded valleys and blocked the Columbia River shipping channel.

Forty years later, the destruction may not be over.

1350 by Richard Read in Toutle, Wash. MOVED


^Tropical Storm Arthur becomes the first named storm of the 2020 hurricane season<

WEA-ARTHUR-2ND-LEDE:FL — Tropical Storm Arthur formed Saturday night off the east coast of Florida, becoming the first named storm of the 2020 hurricane season.

A tropical storm warning has been issued for most of the North Carolina coast, a region that juts into the Atlantic and receives an outsized share of hits from tropical storms and hurricanes.

400 by David Fleshler in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. MOVED


^A massive landslide-caused tsunami could hit Prince William Sound in the next year, scientists warn<

ALASKA-TSUNAMI-WARNING:AC — A landslide in Prince William Sound could trigger a large tsunami in an area sometimes frequented by hundreds of fishermen and recreational boaters, scientists and state officials said Thursday.

A public letter signed by several scientists warns it's possible that the landslide and tsunami could happen "within the next year, and likely within 20 years," and detailed potentially devastating effects.

1000 (with trims) by Morgan Krakow and Alex DeMarban in Anchorage, Alaska. MOVED



^London's West End faces existential crisis as theaters stay dark<

^STAGE-CORONAVIRUS-WESTEND:BLO—<Agatha Christie's murder mystery play, "The Mousetrap" has been staged continuously in London since 1952, making it the world's longest-running show.

But the coronavirus lockdown brought the famous production to an abrupt halt in March, along with the musicals "Les Miserables" — showing since 1985 — and the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera" — staged since 1986.

As the U.K. faces months of restrictions on social gatherings, there's no prospect of any of London's West End hits opening again soon. Live theater in the land of William Shakespeare now faces a crisis from which many in the business fear it might never fully recover.

1050 by Alex Morales. MOVED


^'Amores Perros' will make a grand return in Mexico for its 20th anniversary<

^MOVIE-AMORESPERROS:LA—<Twenty years after the premiere of "Amores Perros," Oscar-winning director Alejandro G. Inarritu is bringing his critically acclaimed directorial debut back to the big screen.

During a recent virtual press conference, the Mexican filmmaker announced plans to restore the 2000 dog-fighting drama and hold a public screening at Mexico City's Zocalo plaza in December in honor of its 20th anniversary.

250 by Christi Carras. MOVED




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