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TEHRAN: Two people in Iran tested positive Wednesday (Feb 19) for the deadly new coronavirus, the health ministry said, in the Islamic Republic's first cases of the disease.

Kianoush Jahanpour, a ministry spokesman, said the cases were detected in the holy city of Qom, south of the Iranian capital.

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"In the past two days, some suspect cases of the new coronavirus were observed in Qom city," he said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.

"Teams were dispatched after receiving the reports, and based on the existing protocols the suspect cases were isolated and tested," said Jahanpour.

"Out of the samples sent, a laboratory tested two of them as positive for coronavirus just minutes ago and some of the other samples were type B influenza."

READ: China's COVID-19 death toll surges past 2,000

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READ: Hong Kong reports second COVID-19 death

The health ministry spokesman said additional tests were being done on the two cases and final results would be announced "as soon as possible".

The new coronavirus epidemic has killed more than 2,000 people in China and infected more than 74,000. It has spread to at least two dozen countries.

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DUBAI: The black box of a Ukrainian passenger plane accidentally shot down over Iran last month is damaged but Iran will not hand it over to another country despite pressure for access, top Iranian ministers said on Wednesday (Feb 19), according to state media.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week he had "impressed upon" Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that a complete and independent investigation into the shooting down of the airliner had to be carried out.

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Many of the 176 who perished in the disaster were Iranians with dual citizenship, which is not recognised by Iran. Canada had 57 citizens on board.

"We have a right to read the black box ourselves. We have a right to be present at any examination of the black box," Zarif said.

"If we are supposed to give the black box to others for them to read it in our place then this is something we will definitely not do," he said.

READ: Iran confirms two missiles fired at Ukraine airliner

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Defence Minister Amir Hatami said the flight data recording box had "sustained noticeable damage and the defenceRead More – Source

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German sportswear makers Adidas and Puma have both warned that the coronavirus outbreak was hurting their business in China due to store closures and fewer Chinese tourists travelling and shopping in other markets.

FILE PHOTO: The Adidas logo is pictured during celebrations for German sports apparel maker Adidas' 70th anniversary at the company's headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany, August 9, 2019. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert/File Photo


(Updated: )

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HERZOGENAURACH, Germany: German sportswear makers Adidas and Puma have both warned that the coronavirus outbreak was hurting their business in China due to store closures and fewer Chinese tourists travelling and shopping in other markets.

Adidas and Puma make almost a third of their sales in Asia, which has been a major growth market for the sporting goods industry in recent years. The region is also the main sourcing hub, with China a major producer for both companies.

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Adidas said in a statement on Wednesday that its business in the greater China area had dropped by about 85 per cent year-on-year in the period since Chinese New Year on Jan. 25. China accounted for 20 per cent of Adidas sales in 2018.

Puma said it expected the virus outbreak to hit its sales and profits in the first quarter but it still hoped to reach its targets for 2020, after reporting better-than-expected results for the fourth quarter, sending its shares up more than 8 per cent.

Adidas said it had also seen lower shopper traffic, mainly in Japan and South Korea, but added it had not yet registered any major business impact beyond greater China.

It said it could not yet quantify the overall impact on its business for 2020, adding it would give more details when it publishes 2019 results on Mar 11.

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Adidas sells its products from about 12,000 stores in China, most of them franchises plus less than 500 own-operated stores. Almost a fifth of its shoes and apparel are produced in the country and an Adidas spokeswoman said the company was working to mitigate the impact on sourcing, declining to give details.

OUTBOUND SHIPMENTS

Puma said more than half of its stores in China were temporarily closed and the decline of Chinese tourism was also hurting other markets, especially in Asia, such as Singapore, Japan and Taiwan. But it is working under the assumption that the situation will normalise in the short term.

Puma Chief Executive Bjorn Gulden told a news conference that most of its factories were already operating again after the Chinese New Year and outbound shipments had improved in the last four to five days as ports reopened.

"We should Read More – Source

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Feng Mingqin, a Walmart worker in the coronavirus epicenter of Wuhan, had trouble breathing whenever she moved around.

CT scans showed an infection in her both lungs. The doctor, who diagnosed her with the novel coronavirus on Feb. 5, told her to seek “immediate hospitalization.”

Feng tried her best. For nine days straight, she slept on chairs in the hallway of a hospital, lining up daily to get injections and medication, while her case made rounds through the labyrinth of administrative agencies that determine whether she can be hospitalized.

In the now locked-down city, virus control officials have ordered all people seeking hospitalization to be reported first through the residential neighborhood office and then the subdistrict office, before authorities could make a judgement call on whether to send the person to hospital.

Feng is still waiting for a decision.

The Epoch Times has spoken with a number of patients and families who complained that the virus control officers were apathetic and only told them to wait. Many had to repeatedly fill out an application form for hospitalization and call hotlines. Some patients died at home while awaiting a response.

Frustrated with the lack of care, groups of volunteers have stepped in to help those who have failed to secure treatment.

Daily Life In Wuhan During Lockdown
Daily Life In Wuhan During Lockdown
A women wears a protective mask as she carry an empty basket walk in the street at Optical Valley in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, on Feb. 16, 2020. (Getty Images)

Volunteers

Wuhan authorities on Feb. 10 announced that it has hospitalized all severe coronavirus patients. They said they identified 1,499 such patients after a house-by-house search covering over 98 percent of the local population.

Yet many said the investigation was sloppy and did not help them at all.

“I dont know if they did the search or not, but they never came to our home,” Luo, who became infected while taking care of his sick father, told The Epoch Times on Feb. 11 in a tired voice.

Since the halting of virtually all transportation in the city, people from all walks of life began to volunteer their own vehicles to help drive doctors and nurses to and from the overflowing hospitals.

Daily Life In Wuhan During Lockdown
Daily Life In Wuhan During Lockdown
A general view of the city as snow falls in Wuhan, Hubei, China, on Feb. 15, 2020. (Getty Images)

Chat groups have also sprung up on social media, where medical professionals provide services that range from clinical advice to emotional support. Locals also share tips based on personal experience, such as how to secure treatment.

Others have set up a hotline, where they help with collecting and organizing information about patients, and submitting it to the nearest hospital free-of-charge to speed up their treatment.

One of the hotline volunteers, when reached by phone, told The Epoch Times that they are able to arrange treatment for up to 60 percent of callers each day.

“There were a lot of people seeking help,” she said.

From each of the dozen or so districts across Wuhan, an average of around 10 to 20 people call in everyday, she said. There were around seven to eight people in her team.

Many patients also took to social media in the hopes of getting their voices heard.

A partial investigation by The Epoch Times found that a number of patients did get admitted to the hospital through the hotline volunteers help.

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The importance of the India-Pakistan border has remained low for the United States for many decades, but experts say it is gaining new strategic meaning as part of its emerging Indo-Pacific strategy, which redefines U.S. resources and partnerships in the region.

Kashish Parpiani, a Mumbai-based expert with the Observer Research Foundation, highlights that the historically conflicted boundary between India and Pakistan also forms the territorial demarcation line between the U.S. militarys central command and its Indo-Pacific command and thus places India and Pakistan into two separate strategic military zones.

Traditionally, India wasnt allowed to participate in central command even though it had concerns that transverse its western border in the region, but now that has changed.

After its last 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, the United States decided that India would get increased access to U.S. Central Command. The 2+2 Ministerial dialogue is the highest-level institutional mechanism between the two countries that allows for a periodic review of the security, defense, and strategic partnership.

Richard M. Rossow, Senior Adviser of Indian Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said in a commentary published on Dec. 20 that this decision will provide “more balance to the Indo-Pacific partnership.”

Parpiani said providing India more access to U.S. Central Command will mean giving India “more than a keyhole view into the U.S. military developments in the region—with respect to its allied relations with Pakistan.”

“Its a matter of [the] U.S. agreeing to more transparency on its relations with Pakistan. [It] can be seen as a gesture of providing an assurance to India.”

Why the Spotlight?

India shares 2,065 miles of international land border with Pakistan, according to the Indian government (pdf). This includes 450 miles of disputed area known as the Line of Control, a de facto border that emerged as a ceasefire line between the two countries after their first war of 1947-48, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. It is one of the most militarized borders in the world.

India and Pakistan have fought four wars on this border and the region continues to be an active ground for multiple non-state actors that operate against the Indian state from Pakistans soil. Many of them like the Hizbul Mujahideen, Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Lashkar-e Tayyiba are identified by the United States as Foreign Terrorists Organizations, according to a CIA list.

Meanwhile, the border also has a substantial Chinese presence in the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region and Chinas ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) passes through it, a major cause of worry for both India and United States, according to Alice Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia at the U.S. Department of State.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
A Pakistani army officer (3L) briefs Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing (4L) and Pakistani army Major General Asif Ghafoor (2L) and foreign diplomats during their visit at a cross border shelling affected area in Jura, a village of Neelum valley in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Oct. 22, 2019. (Farooq Naeem/AFP via Getty Images)

Ayjaz Wani, another Research Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, said China has invested in many projects near the Line of Control in the disputed territory held by Pakistan and that India perceives Chinas presence in the disputed territory as “direct violation of Indias sovereignty over the region.”

A Council for Foreign Relations (CFR) report shares Wanis concerns and mentions that under President Donald Trump, Washington has raised an alarm over the BRI.

“Meanwhile, the United States shares the concern of some in Asia that the BRI could be a Trojan horse for China-led regional development and military expansion,” said the CFR report by Andrew Chatzky and James McBride.

Chatzky and McBride also mention that India believes the BRI is a plan to dominate Asia and feels “unsettled” with Chinas decadeslong embrace of Pakistan.

“The United States views India as a counterweight to a China-dominated Asia and has sought to knit together its strategic relationships in the region via the 2017 Indo-Pacific Strategy,” said the report released on Jan. 28.

Parpiani said that as a major conflict theatre of global strategic relevance, the border is important for the United States for the same reason it is for its global adversary, China.

He believes that the Indo-Pacific strategy makes the India-Pakistan border extremely important because without resolving the historical disputed border issues between the two South Asian rivals, a holistic view of the Indo-Pacific strategy is not possible. Parpianis holistic approach would address all of Indias concerns and actually enable it to play the role it should as a strategic partner of the United States.

Addressing Indias Concerns

Indias concerns on its border with Pakistan arise out of the tense security situation in the region, and Parpiani said if the United States wants to cultivate India as a strong strategic partner in the Indo-Pacific, itll have to address Indias concerns with Pakistan on its western border.

“Indias eastward commitment to the American calculus on the Indo-Pacific region stands impeded by Indias continued focus on its western frontier. Pakistans use of subversive statecraft to exacerbate the conflict in and over Kashmir, is the central reason,” said Parpiani.

Kanishkan Sathasivam, a Massachusetts-based geopolitical analyst calls Indias threat perception vis-à-vis Pakistan as “misplaced” and believes that it distracts India from playing the role it ought to play as a U.S. ally.

“During the Cold War, the U.S. believed India should have been allied with the West against the Soviet Union, but [it] refused to do so because of its hostility with Pakistan which was an ally of the West.

“Now, in the post-Cold War era, again the U.S. believes India should stand with the U.S. and its other Asian allies against China, and treat China as Indias primary source of threat, but India continues to be obsessed with Pakistan over any and all other issues,” he said.

Parpiani highlights this as a gap that the United States recently started to address by cultivating India as a better strategic partner as part of a holistic Indo-pacific strategy.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
Indian soldiers inspect the remains of an Indian Air Force helicopter after it crashed in Budgam district, outside Srinagar on Feb. 27, 2019. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)

US vs China in the Region

Countering China is fundamental to the United States Indo-Pacific strategy, and according to Wilder Alejandro Sanchez, a Washington-based geopolitical analyst, the significance of the India-Pakistan border should be analyzed in this context.

“Any area where China is present or has some type of interests is meticulously analyzed in Washington in the context of how it affects U.S. interests, including the security of its partners and allies,” said Alejandro.

“Obviously, Washington ideally wants there to be peace between New Delhi and Islamabad for a variety of reasons, including the fear of two nuclear powers having a war, and dealing with insurgency and instability out of Afghanistan. When it comes to China, Islamabad is a big recipient of Chinese investment,” he added.

Parpiani talked about the possibility of the India-PakistRead More – Source

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The black box of a Ukrainian passenger plane accidentally shot down over Iran last month is damaged but Iran will not hand it over to another country despite pressure for access, top Iranian ministers said on Feb. 19, according to state media.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week he had “impressed upon” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that a complete and independent investigation into the shooting down of the airliner had to be carried out.

Many of the 176 who perished in the disaster were Iranians with dual citizenship, which is not recognized by Iran. Canada had 57 citizens on board.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
Members of Montreals Iranian community attend a vigil to mourn victims of the Iranian air crash in downtown Montreal, Canada , on Jan. 9, 2020. (The Canadian Press/Andrej Ivanov)

“We have a right to read the black box ourselves. We have a right to be present at any examination of the black box,” Zarif said.

“If we are supposed to give the black box to others for them to read it in our place then this is something we will definitely not do,” he said.

Defense Minister Amir Hatami said the flight data recording box had “sustained noticeable damage and the defense industry has been requested to help in reconstructing (it).”

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
This undated photo provided by the Ukrainian PresidenRead More – Source

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The first passengers have begun disembarking from the virus-hit cruise ship moored off Yokohama, Japan after 14 days of quarantine.

An outbreak of the Covid-19 virus has seen 542 passengers and crew infected on the Diamond Princess- the biggest cluster outside mainland China.

Passengers have for days been describing the difficult quarantine situation on the vessel.

Several countries had already evacuated their citizens as infections spread.

Covid-19 has now claimed 2,004 lives in China, according to the latest Chinese data released on Wednesday.

There have been 74,185 confirmed infections recorded in mainland China and around 700 cases in other countries around the globe.

Hong Kong on Wednesday said a second person had died from the virus while France, Japan, the Philippines and Taiwan have each had one fatality.

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Only passengers who have tested negative for the virus and did not show any symptoms during the quarantine period will be allowed to leave the ship.

Those who have tested negative but were in cabins with infected people will have to remain on board for additional quarantine.

The disembarking process will continue over several days, according to Japanese media citing health officials.

About 500 people are expected to disembark the vessel on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Japanese officials said there were 88 new cases of infection on board the ship, bringing the total to Read More – Source

World News

Boeing's crisis-hit 737 Max jetliner faces a new potential safety issue as debris has been found in the fuel tanks of several of the planes.

The head of Boeing's 737 programme has told employees that the discovery was "absolutely unacceptable".

A Boeing spokesman said the company did not see the issue further delaying the jet's return to service.

It comes as the 737 Max remains grounded after two fatal crashes.

The US plane maker said it discovered so-called "Foreign Object Debris" left inside the wing fuel tanks of several undelivered 737 Maxs.

A company spokesman told the BBC: "While conducting maintenance we discovered Foreign Object Debris (FOD) in undelivered 737 Max airplanes currently in storage. That finding led to a robust internal investigation and immediate corrective actions in our production system."

Foreign Object Debris is an industrial term for rags, tools, metal shavings and other materials left behind by workers during the assembly process.

The revelation is the latest in a string of problems affecting what was once Boeing's best-selling plane.

The aircraft has been grounded by regulators around the world since March 2019.

It was banned from flying after two separate crashes killed 346 people.

737 Max timeline

  • 29 October 2018: A 737 Max 8 operated by Lion Air crashes after leaving Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board
  • 31 January 2019: Boeing reports an order of 5,011 Max planes from 79 customers
  • 10 March 2019: A 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashes, killing all 157 people on board
  • 14 March 2019: Boeing grounds entire 737 Max aircraft fleet

The US regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), told tRead More – Source

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Four people, including three children, have died after a car was allegedly set alight in the Australian city of Brisbane, police said.

The children, all under the age of 10, were found dead in the car by emergency responders, said Queensland Police.

A man known to the victims has also died, while a woman suffered extensive burns and has been taken to hospital.

Police have established a crime scene in the suburban street in Camp Hill in the city's east.

"It's a horrific scene," Det Insp. Mark Thompson told reporters on Wednesday.

"It is very early in the investigation, but the vehicle was fully involved in fire upon police arriving," he said. Paramedics said they had also treated a passerby, who had "tried his best to get to the car". He had suffered some "facial burning" and also been taken to hospital, a Queensland Ambulance spokesman said.

Det Insp. Thompson confirmed the group in the car had lived locally. Police were first called to the scene at 08:30 local time (21:30 Tuesday GMT).

Residents on the street told Australian media they had seen the woman jump out of the car while she was on fire.

She had yelled, "he's poured petrol on me", one witness told The Australian newspaper.

PolRead More – Source

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LOS ANGELES: Nearly 80 years after the US authorised the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, California plans to formally apologise this week for its role in one of the darkest chapters in US history.

State lawmakers are set to vote on Thursday (Feb 19) on a resolution which states that the California legislature apologises for "the unjust exclusion, removal, and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, and for its failure to support and defend the civil rights and civil liberties of Japanese Americans".

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More than 120,000 Japanese-Americans were sent to 10 concentration camps throughout western states and Arkansas during World War II after President Franklin D Roosevelt signed an executive order.

The Feb 19, 1942, order came just two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

"The apology is especially pertinent now with President (Donald) Trump in office," Democratic assembly member Al Muratsuchi, who introduced the bill, told AFP in a statement.

"What I hear over and over from the Japanese American community is about how bothered they are about what is happening at our borders with children and families held in cages, being torn apart.

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"For many survivors of the Japanese American camps it strikes a deep chord," he added. "They see in many ways historRead More – Source