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Wuhan virus death toll rises to 9 as fears grow of wider spread

Hong Kong (CNN)The death toll from the Wuhan coronavirus has risen to nine, as dozens more cases were reported across China and as far afield as the western United States sparking fears of a possible pandemic.

Top officials at the World Health Organization will convene for an emergency meeting in Geneva Wednesday, to decide whether the quickly developing outbreak constitutes a “

public health emergency of international concern

,” and what recommendations should be made regarding it, including

potentially

cross-border screening, greater surveillance and rolling out treatment programs.

Chinese health authorities said Wednesday that at least 440 cases had been confirmed across the country, with three new deaths linked to the virus in Hubei, the central Chinese province of which Wuhan is the capital.

Officials in Washington state confirmed the first case on US soil Tuesday. Cases have also been reported in South Korea, Thailand and Japan, and suspected cases detected in Australia.

    China on Tuesday

    announced

    it was adopting Class A prevention and control measures, typically used for major outbreaks

    such as

    plague and cholera. This means health officials will get sweeping powers to lock down affected areas and quarantine patients. China

    previously used

    such measures in 2009 to tackle an outbreak of H1N1, introducing mandatory quarantine for anyone who had “close contact” with an infected person, including foreigners

    arriving in the country

    from areas where H1N1 outbreaks had been reported.

    Li Bin, China’s national health commissioner, said Wednesday that officials are aware of around 2,200 cases of “close contact” with known virus carriers. Regarding suspected cases, 715 patients have been discharged while more than 300 patients remain on medical watch.

    The disease is mainly transmitted “through the respiratory tract,” said Li, adding that “there is possibility of viral mutation and further spread of the disease.”

    While there are indications that Chinese authorities are ready to ramp up controls on travel — including ordering that all trips to Wuhan be canceled and refunded — it remains to be seen whether the virus, already reported in around a dozen locations, can be reined in before the Lunar New Year travel period truly kicks in.

    The largest annual human migration on Earth, hundreds of millions of people will travel across China and overseas during the four-week period, which began in mid-January and continues until February. Many will go by train or plane,

    raising the risk of infection as they are put in close contact with other travelers

    .

    What we know about the virus

    First identified in Wuhan in mid-December, the

    novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

    is in the same family of infections as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

    Coronaviruses are transmitted by animals and people, and the Wuhan strain has been linked to a market in the city which was selling seafood and live animals, including wild species. SARS was

    previously linked

    to similar markets, particularly the sale of civet cats, a delicacy in some parts of China.

    Speaking Wednesday, Li, the Chinese health official, said that Wuhan and Hubei provincial authorities should tighten the regulation of farm markets and wild animals. He also urged the public to avoid crowds and minimize large gatherings.

    Chinese health officials said human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed, raising the chance of its spread. In one instance, 14 doctors and nurses operating on a patient unknown to be carrying the virus were all infected with it, suggesting it can be spread relatively easily.

    The true extent of the virus is unclear, and official figures may be an underestimation. A study by British researchers previously estimated — based on the spread of the virus overseas in a relatively short time — that the number of people infected in Wuhan alone was likely around 1,700.

    However, so far the death toll is relatively low, and almost all cases involved elderly people with preexisting conditions: of the more than 400 confirmed cases in China, nine deaths have been reported so far, or 2.25%. By comparison, SARS had a

    mortality rate

    of around 10%, and much higher among vulnerable populations.

    Medical staff transfer patients to Jin Yintan hospital on January 17, 2020 in Wuhan, China.

    Worldwide effort

    With cases and suspected cases already reported across Asia and now as far afield as the US and Australia, containment efforts are being put in place in many travel hubs.

    Wuhan alone has connections with more than 60 overseas destinations through its international airport, while Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, all of which have reported cases, have hundreds more.

    Airports across Asia have stepped up temperature screening of incoming passengers, as have several hubs in the US, including New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

    With all indications that the virus has a relatively slow incubation time, however, these efforts may be insufficient to stop its spread.

    “You cannot absolutely prevent entry into the country of a disease like this. The incubation period is probably a week,” Australia’s chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy,

    said Tuesday

    . “It’s about identifying those with a high risk and making sure people with a high risk know about it and know how to get medical attention.”

    Raising concerns about how difficult it is to detect those with the virus, even if they have some symptoms, a patient in South Korea told doctors there she had developed a fever and muscle pains on Saturday and was prescribed cold medicine by a doctor in Wuhan, before being sent on her way. She was later confirmed to have the coronavirus during a check in Seoul.

    In the US, the National Institutes of Health is working on a vaccine for the new virus, though it will take at least a few months until the first phase of clinical trials get underway and more than a year until a vaccine might be available.

    Scientists in Texas, New York and China are also at work on a vaccine, according to Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

      “The lesson we’ve learned is coronavirus infections are serious and one of the newest and biggest global health threats,” Hotez told CNN.

      How to contain that threat will be a key point on the agenda for the WHO meeting Wednesday, which may recommend more stringent screening and possibly even quarantine measures.

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      First fires, then floods. Now Australians need to watch out for deadly spiders

      (CNN)Australia has already dealt with extreme fires, flooding and hail this year. Now experts are warning people to watch out for deadly funnel-web spiders due to “perfect conditions” for the arachnid to thrive.

      Native to the moist forest regions of eastern Australia, several funnel-web species are known for their highly toxic and

      fast-acting venom

      . On Wednesday, the Australian Reptile Park — based in Somersby, in New South Wales state — said spider activity had increased in recent days.

      “Because of the recent rain and now the hot days we are now experiencing, funnel-web spiders will start to move around,” park spokesman Daniel Rumsey said in a video posted on

      Facebook

      .

      “Funnel-web spiders are potentially one of the most dangerous spiders on the planet, in terms of a bite towards humans, and we have to treat it very seriously.”

        Experts say the Australian funnel-web is one of the most dangerous spiders on Earth.

        Australia has been ravaged by the worst wildfires seen in decades, with large swaths of the country devastated since the fire season began in late July. At least 28 people have died nationwide — and in the state of New South Wales alone, more than 3,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged.

        Severe thunderstorms delivered relief to some areas late last week, although flash flooding created new risks. Parts of southeastern Australia were also pelted by

        hailstones the size of golf balls

        , big enough to smash car windows and injure birds, less than 24 hours after the region was hit by massive dust storms.

          Warren Bailey, owner of ABC Pest Control Sydney, told CNN that funnel-webs are normally active during the summer, but the spider season arrived later than usual this year because the weather has been “very dry” in the past few months.

          “Their venom is pretty toxic and can kill someone,” he said. “The funnel-webs are now out with the recent rains, (and) they can go into people’s houses on the ground or from the roof.”

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          Bitter exchanges and incriminating evidence

          Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, if its first real day is any guide, will be a dramatic, divisive and fact-bending showdown in his own confrontational image and its aftershocks will rumble for decades to come.

          None of the

          bitter exchanges in the well of the chamber

          on Tuesday are likely to change the reality that there’s

          no two-thirds majority in the Republican-led chamber

          to convict the President and throw him out of office.

          And any dim hopes that the trial could stir a moment of national catharsis and a path out of the most bitter political crisis in decades are already dead after a rancorous day. The debate stretched long past midnight into Wednesday morning.

          Senators sat for hours, deprived of their phones and social media, listening to a stunning case: Democrats outlined evidence that Trump had solicited political favors from a foreign nation — Ukraine — using nearly $400 million in taxpayer aid and then mounted a massive cover-up to hide his actions.

            Senate impeachment trial: Republicans vote to kill Democratic amendments seeking documents

            Republican senators, forced to sit mostly in silence during the presentation, can no longer ignore the incriminating evidence against the President. Even still, stark political factors — including Trump’s stronghold on the GOP base — mean there will be no surprises about how most of them plan to vote.

            But the lead House impeachment manager, Rep. Adam Schiff, warned his fellow lawmakers that they could pay a price for suppressing the real story of what had happened between Trump and Ukraine.

            “The truth will come out — the question is, will it come out in time?” the California Democrat asked, making a simple case that Trump’s actions abused a public trust and endangered the character of the republic.

            White House counsel Pat Cipollone, meanwhile, adopted the strategies of Trump’s House defenders, who chose not to dispute the evidence but alleged a wider conspiracy that the President’s enemies had always been bent on overthrowing him.

            “The only conclusion will be that the President has done absolutely nothing wrong, and that these articles of impeachment do not begin to approach the standard required by the Constitution,” Cipollone said.

            Surreal scene dissolves into rancor

            Inside the Republican lunch that slowed McConnell's plan to rush the impeachment trial

            It was still a surreal moment, at 1 p.m. ET, to see

            Chief Justice John Roberts take the gavel

            as senators met to decide whether Trump should be the first President in US history convicted on articles of impeachment to be removed from office.

            The two rival teams, Schiff and his fellow impeachment managers and

            Trump’s legal brain trust

            , sat arrayed at tables set up in front of the chamber, as members dug in for a long day at their desks, broken only by the odd trip to get some candy or a dinner break well into Wednesday night.

            But for all the historic echoes, the day soon became like any other in the Trump era when mind-bending debates erupted over the nature of basic facts and ill will between the parties clogged Congress’ most basic duty — holding a President to account.

            The central question on Tuesday was whether the trial can be seen to be fair.

            In one unexpected twist,

            Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

            , apparently seeking to shield vulnerable swing state senators under pressure to back a fair trial, relented on a schedule that had envisaged testimony in two marathon 12-hour days from each side. Instead, House impeachment managers and Trump’s legal team will each have three days to make their 24 hours of trial arguments, beginning Wednesday.

            The Kentucky Republican rarely moves without certainty about his vote count. So his concession raised questions over whether Democrats were making headway in pressuring a handful of GOP senators they hope to convince to back their demands for more witnesses.

            One of that group, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, said it was “likely” that she would vote to call new witnesses later in the trial.

            Two GOP aides told CNN that the changes by McConnell were meant to assuage concerns of moderate Republicans — who the majority leader needs to win next November in order to keep hold of the chamber. The alterations were

            scribbled in ink on a paper copy of the resolution

            — a sign of the speed in which they had come together.

            Still, Collins has disappointed Democrats before, and four Republicans would need to defect for Democrats to achieve their goal of admitting new evidence and witnesses.

            Democrats want to call former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, among other former officials. Trump’s team says the Senate should not subpoena witnesses who Democrats chose not to pursue through court challenges before the President was formally impeached.

            Going into the day, Democrats were using words such as “cover-up,” “impunity,” “rushed” and “predetermined,” reflecting their desire to paint the trial as a sham in the wider court of American public opinion. Before the elections in November, they want to leave voters with a clear impression that Republicans are cooking up a fix to save a corrupt President.

            For once, the star of the show was oddly absent.

            Trump was halfway up a Swiss mountain

            , lobbing the odd tweet after giving a speech boasting about the economy at the World Economic Forum.

            But his omnipresent shadow lingered over the Senate all day anyway.

            A string of Democratic defeats

            Trump tells the Senate one thing and courts another when it comes to witnesses

            The first real day of the trial saw House impeachment managers and Trump’s legal team slog through hours of debate over attempts by Democrats to expand the scope of the trial, all doomed to be tabled along party lines by 53 votes to 47.

            It didn’t take long for the themes and personalities that will dominate the next 10 days or so to seize the center stage as the US Senate accustomed itself to the surreal reality of only the third presidential impeachment trial in US history.

            Schiff showed off the forensic skills of a master advocate, weaving incriminatory facts into a wider narrative of the constitutional imperative to convict an unchained President.

            Every now and then he would reach outside the room to address “the American people” — looking directly at a camera fixed in the Senate gallery — a piece of stagecraft that speakers in the chamber’s well rarely perform.

            Schiff warned that if Trump were allowed to get away with pressuring foreign leaders for dirt on his rivals, in this case former Vice President Joe Biden, the Senate would change American politics forever.

            “You want to say that’s OK, then you’ve got to say that every future president can come into office and they can do the same thing,” he said. “Are we prepared to say that? Well, that’s why we’re here.”

            Despite his assured performance, the question remains whether the House Intelligence Committee chairman, roughed up by months of political battle with Trump, has a chance to succeed in the near-impossible job of getting GOP members to change their minds.

            Trump’s legal team performed in a way that their boss — no doubt watching on television across the Atlantic — would have enjoyed.

            Attorney Jay Sekulow, a smooth TV veteran

            , was combustible, theatrical and often loose with the facts in a manner that would not cut it in a real court.

            Cipollone

            made up for his milder manner with the vehemence of his argument, accusing Democrats of plotting to commit the same offense for which the President was impeached.

            “They’re not here to steal one election. They’re here to steal two elections, ” Cipollone said. “It’s long past time we start this, so we can end this ridiculous charade and go have an election.”

            Trump’s team also made a series of incorrect claims; for instance, complaining that Republicans had been barred from a secure space in the House where impeachment investigators had questioned witnesses, as part of an argument that Trump’s inquisitors had denied him due process.

            Presiding over it all was Roberts, who looked oddly out of place across the road from the marble-pillared splendor of the Supreme Court.

              The chief justice made few interventions — and came across as a ceremonial presence rather than a judge running a trial — dispensing vote counts and banging his gavel on the instructions of a Senate clerk.

              “Without objection, so ordered. Do I bang the gavel, right?” Roberts asked at one point, struggling with the arcane lingo of his new role.

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              Democrats lay out the case; Republicans close ranks

              (CNN)Tuesday was not the boring parliamentary nitpicking you might have expected.

              “Eventually, this will all come out,” said Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, another of the Democratic impeachment managers. “We will have answers to these questions. The question now is if we will have them in time, and who here will be on the right side of history.”

              Party-line votes

              The effort lasted hours and got Democrats nowhere in the Senate, as their pleas were rejected on party-line votes. This could go on for a while. As of this writing, Republicans had defeated calls for the Senate to subpoena the White House and the State Department. They seemed likely to defeat a call for information from the Office of Management and Budget. Other requests from Democrats are expected later on.

              An admonishment from the chief justice

              Chief Justice John Roberts admonished both the House impeachment managers and Trump’s legal team after a feisty exchange, in which impeachment manager Jerry Nadler accused Republican senators of “voting for a coverup” and White House counsel Pat Cipollone said Nadler should be “embarrassed.”

              “I think it is appropriate for me to admonish both the House managers and the President’s counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,” Roberts said. “One reason it has earned that title is because its members avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse.”

              The process argument

              The Republican counterargument

              largely rested on process

              — the idea that the House should have waited to get the information through the courts rather than impeach Trump and ask the Senate to do more subpoenas.

              Republican senators stick together, for now

              Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who has said she’d like to hear from witnesses, rejected the argument in favor of subpoenas on a technicality. She’d rather wait, perhaps to consider it again.

              “I will vote to table any attempts by either side to subpoena documents or witnesses before that stage in the trial,” she said in a statement. “While I need to hear the case argued and the questions answered, I anticipate that I would conclude that having additional information would be helpful. It is likely that I would support a motion to subpoena witnesses at that point in the trial just as I did in 1999. “

              There was some acquiescing to Collins by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, giving a bit more time for opening statements and guaranteeing that the House evidence will be a part of the record. But on the key points, Republicans stuck together on Tuesday.

              Collins was also the lone Republican to break ranks and vote with Democrats on one of the 11 amendments proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. That amendment was defeated, like all the others.

              Impeachment Watch podcast:

              McConnell feels the heat from within the GOP. David Chalian talked to CNN Capitol Hill reporter Alex Rogers and Michael Zeldin, a legal analyst.

              Here’s a valuable graphic

              In the Senate chamber: note-takers, boredom, beef jerky

              CNN’s Lauren Fox, Jeremy Herb and Michael Warren were inside the Senate chamber and offered their observations:

              Note-takers

              Many of the members have turned to writing notes as a way to keep busy during the trial. Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah who has worked closely with McConnell and the President on preparations for the trial, wrote at a furious pace. A constitutional lawyer, Lee seemed enthralled with the scene, scribbling notes and straining to ensure he could see all of the exhibits Schiff referenced. There were a few video clips that played where most of the chamber almost seemed confused at first about where the videos were coming from.

              Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, up for reelection this year, also scribbled down notes. Next to him, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, glanced over repeatedly, almost as if he were not quite sure what Gardner was jotting down so quickly.

              McConnell, meanwhile, was stone-faced. The Kentucky Republican looked at Schiff, listening intently with his hands folded in his lap.

              The Collins-Murkowski connection

              It’s just their normal seating arrangement, but, interestingly, Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Collins — both moderates targeted by Democrats as potential swing votes on key procedural issues — are sitting next to each other during these proceedings.

              Some appear bored, and fidget

              Republican Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona had a blanket over her lap. Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska let loose a big yawn. At one point, both Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho appeared to have their eyes closed, but Gillibrand opened hers abruptly and sat up straight in her chair.

              Others looked like bored students in a particularly long lecture. Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas absent-mindedly clicked his retractable pen for about a minute before Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa turned to look at him and he stopped. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was chewing a piece of gum. Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina scribbled on a note card and handed it to Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who read it, leaned into Scott’s ear, and began whispering. Scott silently laughed at whatever Sasse told him.

              Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters during the first day of the Senate impeachment trial, Tuesday, January 21.

              Friendly breaks

              During a break there were lots of conversations on the floor. Sasse offered beef jerky that’s stashed in his desk to other senators. Cotton walked over to the Democratic side of the floor and chatted with Schumer of New York, putting his arm around him at one point.

              Ivanka Trump stays silent

              The presidential adviser and daughter is in Davos, Switzerland, where she and her dad are representing the US at the World Economic Forum. CNN’s Jim Acosta asked her to comment on the impeachment.

              She did not.

              Earlier in the day, President Trump was asked if it’s better to be in Davos than in DC. “Well, we’re here meeting with world leaders. The biggest, most important people in the world, and we’re bringing back tremendous business to the United States … the other is just a hoax. It’s the witch hunt that’s been going on for years,” he said.

              Lev Parnas is now in the record

              CNN’s Marshall Cohen points out that Democrats managed to enter into the record information that came to light last week from Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born businessman who

              worked with Rudy Giuliani

              on the Ukraine pressure campaign.

              Arguing that the Senate should subpoena the State Department, impeachment manager Val Demings pointed to a February 2019 text message where Giuliani told Republican lawyer Victoria Toensing that he was going to talk to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about removing the US ambassador to Ukraine. (Trump later removed the diplomat, Marie Yovanovitch, from her post amid a flurry of public allegations from Giuliani and his allies in conservative media, who falsely accused Yovanovitch of being an anti-Trump partisan.)

              House investigators got those text messages only last week, after Parnas

              complied with a months-old subpoena

              . He was indicted in October on campaign finance charges, and recently secured approval from a judge to share the documents.

              lev parnas 2020 Trump Biden investigation ukraine anderson cooper intv ac360 vpx_00002521

              Demings aired a clip of Parnas’ interview with MSNBC, where he talked about the pressure campaign. He also sat down for a wide-ranging interview with CNN

              , and said he had tried to intimidate Ukrainian officials at the direction of Gi

              uliani and Trump.

              How is a Senate trial different from a criminal trial?

              Here’s a good explanation of the

              difference between an impeachment trial and a criminal trial

              from CNN analysts Elie Honig and Samantha Vinograd.

              A reader’s digest of their points:

              The jury

              — Defendants in criminal trials are entitled to a jury of 12 peers, and in federal cases the jury must reach a unanimous verdict. A Senate trial has 100 senators and requires a 2/3 supermajority, usually 67 senators. Plus, while regular jurors can be dismissed for breaking the rules of trial, there’s no way to enforce the oath senators took last week. (

              Remember that?

              )

              Burden of proof — In a criminal trial, the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. No such requirement in the Senate.

              The rules — Criminal trials have detailed rules regarding evidence, witnesses and arguments. Senate trials do not. And the rules can be easily changed.

              The judge — The Constitution requires the chief justice of the Supreme Court to preside over a presidential impeachment.

              The punishment — Criminal punishment usually involves imprisonment or fines or both. The punishment for conviction in a Senate impeachment trial is removal from office and a prohibition on running for office in the future.

              Breaking the law without committing a crime

              Here’s a point of order on

              something I wrote a day ago

              .

              I wrote this headline for a portion of the newsletter: “There was a crime, according to GAO.” Legal-eyed readers reached out to argue that you can break a law without it being a crime. Rather, it is a noncriminal violation of law.

              Not a crime, a violation of law

              The administration violated the Impoundment Control Act, but the law has no criminal penalties for people who break it.

              This is important to the proceedings, since a lot of Republicans (and

              Trump’s new lawyer Alan Dershowitz!

              ) argue that a crime, or criminal conduct, should be required for impeachment. The articles of impeachment do not mention the Government Accountability Office finding.

              No federal crimes in 1789

              I particularly enjoyed

              seeing this on Twitter

              from The Washington Post’s Charles Lane:

              “One weakness with argument that impeachable offense must be a violation of criminal law, too: at time Founders wrote Constitution, there were no federal crimes. It was not until 1790 that the Crimes Act created the first 23 separate federal crimes.”

              There was, however, English common law

              I ran that idea by Michael Zeldin, a CNN legal analyst, and he generally agreed, but added this about the Framers:

              “What they did know was English common law. Under the Common Law there were articulated crimes. So when the Framers talked in terms of Bribery, Treason and Other High Crimes and Misdemeanors they were referring back to English Common Law. (As we have discussed too, high crimes and misdemeanors was not limited to criminal law violations. It was understood as a violation of the public trust by office holders.)”

              Zeldin has written about why Democrats didn’t allege a crime

              in the articles of impeachment even though there is evidence crimes were committed.

              What are we doing here?

                The President has invited foreign powers to interfere in the US presidential election. Democrats impeached him for it. A Senate trial is happening now. It is a crossroads for the American system of government as the President tries to change what’s acceptable for US politicians. This newsletter will focus on this consequential moment in US history.

                Keep track of action with

                CNN’s Impeachment Tracker.

                See a

                timeline of events

                here. And get your full refresher on

                who’s who in this drama

                here.

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                Chief justice admonishes discourse during impeachment trial

                  JUST WATCHED

                  Chief justice admonishes discourse during impeachment trial

                MUST WATCH

                Following remarks by impeachment manager Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Chief Justice John Roberts warned both teams about using rhetoric inappropriate for an impeachment trial in the Senate chamber.

                Source: CNN

                See More

                Following remarks by impeachment manager Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Chief Justice John Roberts warned both teams about using rhetoric inappropriate for an impeachment trial in the Senate chamber.

                Source: CNN

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                Toyota and Honda recall millions of vehicles

                Hong Kong/ Tokyo (CNN Business)Two of Japan’s biggest automakers, Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC), are recalling millions of cars over unrelated safety issues.

                Toyota said Tuesday it would recall 3.4 million cars, 2.9 million of which are in the United States, because of potentially defective equipment meant to protect passengers during a crash.

                The affected models in North America, Central America and South America include some Corolla, Corolla Matrix, Avalon, and Avalon HV lines that were produced between 2010 and 2019.

                In a separate announcement Tuesday, Honda said that it would recall 2.7 million cars: 2.4 million in the United States, and 300,000 in Canada. The carmaker said some Acuras produced between 1996 and 2003 might have dysfunctional Takata airbag inflators that might have been produced without the “appropriate seals” needed to deploy properly.

                  Toyota’s recall

                  The Toyota vehicles are being called back because they could be equipped with a defective electronic control unit (ECU) that is meant to help protect passengers during a crash, according to the company.

                  This device is supposed to communicate with a car’s sensors and help trigger its airbags and seat belt pretensioners, which is a part of the harness that is designed to tighten and hold riders back during a collision and help lower the risk of injury.

                  Toyota said this week it learned that the ECU in these cars might not work properly due to certain noises that could interfere with the device’s connectivity, which “can lead to incomplete or non-deployment of the airbags and/or seat belt pretensioners.”

                  The company plans to notify everyone that is affected in the United States by mid-March. Drivers will be asked to get their cars checked at Toyota dealerships, where they may be offered a new noise filter to help mitigate sensor communication problems if necessary.

                  Another Takata concern

                  The Honda recall, meanwhile, is another headache for the Japanese airbag maker Takata.

                  Takata airbag fault forces recall of another 1.4 million vehicles

                  Honda says its most recent issue is

                  unrelated to Takata’s

                  massive safety scandal

                  , which involves faults that can cause airbag inflators to explode, under-inflate or spew shrapnel at passengers. But that problem has already prompted the Japanese airbag maker to

                  file for bankruptcy

                  and issue

                  the largest auto recall in history

                  , involving tens of millions of cars.

                    Under that recall, 34 auto brands have been affected, from

                    Ferrari (RACE)

                    to

                    Ford (F)

                    . The crisis has led to fatal consequences, and is

                    linked to

                    at least 29 deaths and hundreds of injuries around the globe, according to the Australian government.

                    Honda is also now calling on car owners to sign up for inspections, though it says it might not be able to help anytime soon. Due to a shortage of “alternative replacement parts,” the automaker says it won’t be able to start free inspections or repairs for about a year.

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                    Pilot: The mystery of Delta flight’s fuel dump

                    Les Abend recently retired after 34 years as a Boeing 777 captain for American Airlines. He is a CNN aviation analyst and senior contributor to Flying magazine. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his. View more opinion articles on CNN.

                    (CNN)Shortly after takeoff from LAX at 11:32 AM on Tuesday, Delta Flight 89, a Boeing 777-200 bound for Shanghai experienced an engine abnormality called a compressor stall. According to recorded transcripts of the flight during its departure, one of the pilots reported the event to air traffic controllers, along with a request to return to the airport 20 minutes after it had taken off.

                    It made its emergency landing, and then it made headlines: it had dumped thousands of pounds of jet fuel at a too-low altitude over a populated area that included six Los Angeles schools at recess, dousing children and others. Aviation officials were surprised at the pilots’ decision—particularly because in their transmission to air traffic control when they requested return, the pilots asserted that they would not need to dump fuel.

                    The Federal Aviation Administration

                    is investigating

                    and on Friday four elementary school teachers from one of the affected schools sued Delta, accusing the pilots of failing to follow protocol. (Delta spokesman Anthony Black

                    said

                    the airline would have no comment on the litigation.)

                      Before we jump to conclusions one way or the other, my advice would be to wait for the FAA’s report. Meantime, as a longtime 777 pilot, I can shed some light on dealing with compressor stalls and fuel dumps.

                      First: What is a compressor stall? It happens when, essentially, the jet engine is ingesting too much air for it to compress, causing turbulent airflow within the engine. Under normal circumstances, because of the immense amount of static air sucked into the engine at the beginning of the takeoff roll, various valves open to relieve the pressure. Although the event is not unheard of, it is unusual in most modern jet engines. Most times the compressor stall occurs before the airplane even accelerates much beyond taxi speed, so pilots can easily abort the takeoff.

                      So, a compressor stall is announcing a problem internal to the engine that could show up as other, bigger problems further into the flight, such as engine failure or the inability of the engine to develop full power.

                      Often, a compression stall includes a loud, disconcerting bang, and sometimes a quick flame erupts from behind the engine, then quickly disappears. It’s similar to a backfire in an automobile. Once pilots reduce the power, as is part of normal procedure for the initial climb after takeoff, the event is usually over. The engine remains operating with no other immediate effects. No fire. No engine failure.

                      Because pilots sit so far forward of the engines, it is difficult for them to hear a compressor stall. Cockpit instrumentation and warnings are not activated for a compressor stall, other than perhaps some temperature fluctuations that most times don’t indicate readings beyond the danger zone. But it is not unusual for flight attendants to call into the cockpit to inform the pilots of a loud bang.

                      I listened to the pilots’ transmission with air traffic controllers from Delta Flight 89 in its entirety (and

                      you can hear part of it here

                      ).

                      Because it was several minutes before one of the Delta pilots requested to return after reaching the flight’s assigned altitude of 8,000 feet, it seems to me that the compressor stall was troublesome, but not necessarily an immediate and perilous threat. The tone of subsequent transmissions from the pilot who made the remaining radio calls suggested that the stress level was high, but there was no indication that the airplane was in imminent danger. The captain made the prudent decision to return out of an abundance of caution.

                      The crew’s real problem was that they were dealing with an airplane that was over its certified maximum landing weight because it was carrying the fuel load required to fly to Shanghai. A heavier airplane requires a faster speed to fly an approach. A faster speed translates into the need for a longer runway required to stop. And if a heavier airplane lands at higher than normal descent rate when it touches down, the possibility of structural damage could occur. The way to reduce weight quickly is to dump fuel out a nozzle in each wingtip.

                      All this said, as long as dry surface conditions exist, most runways at major airports can accommodate an overweight 777 without needing to dump fuel. The second transmission from Delta Flight 89 after the initial report of the problem was a request to land on Runway

                      25R, the longest runway at the airport

                      . It was a great decision and most likely was part of the captain’s safety briefing to the other pilots before they even pushed back from the gate.

                      Because of the emergency situation, this crew most likely completed a compressor stall checklist, an overweight landing checklist, a fuel dump checklist, and a normal landing checklist — all time-consuming procedures.

                      So why did this crew decide to dump fuel? And more importantly, why did this crew appear not to have informed air traffic control after an affirmative reply that dumping would not be necessary? Honestly, I don’t have the answer. Assuming that an immediate return wasn’t necessary, if the pilots had told controllers that dumping was required, the flight likely would have been vectored out over the ocean to an area where the fuel particles would, for example, not land on people.

                      In the ATC transmissions (which I listened to carefully and involved numerous frequency changes as part of the landing process) you could hear that on two separate occasions while the flight was being directed back to LAX, the crew requested additional delays before being turned onto the final approach path for Runway 25R.

                        The delay indicates to me that the crew was waiting till the fuel was dumped down to an airplane weight that they had calculated to allow a comfortable enough margin of concrete available to allow the aircraft to stop before the end of the runway, given the airspeed at touchdown. (Remember that higher weights translate to higher approach speeds). It seems they had ample opportunity to inform ATC that dumping was in progress.

                        Puzzling? It is. But as with all events of this nature, I’ll wait for the investigative process to be completed before passing judgment.

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                        A 6-year-old heard a smoke alarm in the middle of the night and woke her firefighter father, saving the family

                        (CNN)A New Jersey firefighter and his family lost their home in a fire Sunday, but his daughter made sure the family remained safe.

                        Six-year-old Madalyn Karlbon heard a smoke alarm go off in her home in the middle of the night, according to the

                        Avenel Fire Department’s Facebook page

                        . After seeing smoke, she woke up her dad, Avenel Fire Department Ex-Chief Jimmy Karlbon, and they helped get the family to safety.

                        Avenel Fire Department President Frank Strain told CNN Tuesday that the family’s house has been deemed uninhabitable after a fire accidentally started in the Karlbons’ kitchen.

                        In the meantime, toys, clothing and other donations have flooded in.

                          “We’ve gotten a few dollars,” Strain said. “It’s been quite a few. I haven’t counted them up yet, but it’s in the thousands.”

                          Strain, an ex-chief himself, said he’s known Karlbon for 30 years and knew whose house he was responding to once the address came in.

                          “He’s like a brother to me,” Strain said. “We were just praying that everybody was out.”

                            The Avenel Fire Department said in another Facebook post that the family is staying in a nearby hotel until renovations can be completed on their home, but they were quick to compliment Madalyn on her bravery and quick thinking.

                            “Way to go Madalyn,” the department posted. “You’re indeed a hero!!!”

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                            Catching up? Key moments from the Senate impeachment trial

                            US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters during the first day of the Senate impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 21, 2020. - Sparks flew Tuesday over proposed rules for the Senate trial of President Donald Trump, as Democrats accused Republicans of attempting a
                            US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters during the first day of the Senate impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 21, 2020. - Sparks flew Tuesday over proposed rules for the Senate trial of President Donald Trump, as Democrats accused Republicans of attempting a

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                            The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has begun. Here’s what happened today that you need to know.

                            Source: CNN

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                            The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has begun. Here’s what happened today that you need to know.

                            Source: CNN