World News

Andreas Haas/iStock(GENEVA) -- Patients from Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus without having visited China, health officials said during a World Health Organization news conference Wednesday.

Human-to-human transmission outside of China "worries us," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general at WHO.

Partly because of human-to-human transmission outside of China and partly because of a continued increase in cases, the WHO said it will reconvene on Thursday to determine whether to declare coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern.

The committee deliberated for two days last week but ultimately decided against it.

Still, Tedros stressed, the vast majority of reported coronavirus cases, roughly 99% of the more than 6,600, have been in China.

Among those, 20% have been severe and 2% have been fatal. All 132 deaths have been in China.

WHO will send a group of international experts to work with the Chinese experts on the ground to develop a better understanding of the new coronavirus' severity and infectiousness.

While there is no treatment or vaccine so far, scientists in Australia became the first outside of China to grow the new coronavirus in a laboratory. Sharing that data should make it easier for researchers around the world to develop diagnostic tests, drugs and vaccines.

In the meantime, airlines around the world have suspended routes to China.

American Airlines announced that it would suspend two such routes on Wednesday, citing "significant decline in demand for travel to and from China."

Flights from Los Angeles International Airport to Shanghai Pudong Airport and to Beijing Capital International Airport will not run from Feb. 9 through March 27, the company said in a statement.

Meanwhile, British Airways announced Wednesday that it has suspended all flights to and from mainland China "with immediate effect" as the country struggles to contain the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

The United Kingdom's national airline, which operates daily flights from London to Shanghai and Beijing, said it made the decision "following advice from the Foreign Office against all but essential travel."

"We apologize to customers for the inconvenience, but the safety of our customers and crew is always our priority," British Airways said in a statement Wednesday. "Customers due to travel to or from China in the coming days can find more information on"

South Korean low-cost carrier Air Seoul and Indonesian budget airline Lion Air have also suspended flights to mainland China, while several other airlines have reduced the number of flights to the country.

Other airlines suspending flights include Lufthansa Group, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Air Asia, Air India, Air Canada, All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines and Korean Air.

The epicenter of the deadly outbreak is in Hubei province's sprawling capital, Wuhan, which authorities have placed on lockdown in an effort to stop the spread of infection.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced at a press conference Tuesday that train service to mainland China will be halted, starting at midnight Thursday. Lam said two train stations connecting the semi-autonomous Chinese city to the mainland also would be closed and some flights would be canceled.

The new coronovirus causes symptoms similar to pneumonia that can range from mild, such as a slight cough, to more severe, including fever and difficulty breathing, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The disease has already spread overseas with cases confirmed in over a dozen other countries, including five in the United States.

A growing number of companies, including American firms, are evacuating staff from China or restricting travel there amid the health crisis.

The U.S. Consulate in Wuhan will evacuate its staff along with their families and some other Americans on Wednesday morning, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State told ABC News. That chartered flight will travel to California's Ontario International Airport, where everyone on board will be screened for symptoms at the airport prior to leaving. They'll also be subject to additional screening, observation and monitoring requirements by the CDC.

The U.S. Department of State issued a new travel advisory on Monday urging Americans to reconsider traveling to any part of China due to the disease, rather than just to Wuhan and other affected areas. U.S. citizens are advised not to travel to Hubei province.

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Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks(WASHINGTON) -- While all eyes in Washington are on the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is heading to the country at the center of the scandal that led to deliberations in the Senate -- Ukraine.

Pompeo will make his first trip there later this week during his tour of Europe and Central Asia that became controversial after he removed a National Public Radio correspondent from the list. This came after he berated another reporter from the network, accusing her of lying and calling the media "unhinged."

The State Department correspondents' association said it could only conclude that it was retaliation against the network, but the department did not respond to requests for comment.

The stop in Kyiv is important to "highlight U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity," according to Pompeo's spokesperson. But American support for the administration has been in doubt since last summer, when Trump ordered $392 million of security assistance to Ukraine withheld, even as it battled Russian-led separatists in its eastern provinces.

The Trump administration said aid would be released and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy would get a White House meeting only after announcing investigations into Trump's political rival -- former Vice President Joe Biden -- and allegations of corruption while Biden's son, Hunter, was on the board of the energy company Burisma. Zelenskiy was also asked to look into the debunked conspiracy theory known as "Crowdstrike" that posits Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for the 2016 election interference.

The effort was at the heart of the impeachment proceedings against Trump, that began with a whistleblower complaint. U.S. diplomats who were part of the effort confirmed this during the House impeachment inquiry.

Pompeo, the nation's top diplomat, has consistently defended the president and said calling for both investigations were valid.

En route to Europe on Wednesday, however, Pompeo declined to say whether he would mention the Bidens or Burisma during his meetings with Zelenskiy and his senior advisers.

"I don't want to talk about particular individuals. It's not worth it," he told reporters aboard his plane. "It's a long list in Ukraine of corrupt individuals and a long history there, and President Zelenskiy has told us he's committed to it. The actions he's taken so far demonstrate that."

Zelenskiy's government has taken reform measures, including ending parliamentary immunity and reforming and strengthening anti-corruption agencies and laws.

But the country's top prosecutor said in October he was not aware of any wrongdoing by the Bidens, instead opening a review of previous investigations of Burisma, which has faced accusations of corruption and tax evasion.

"It's got to be a Ukrainian process. They've got to make the decisions on how they're going to deal with corruption, how they're going to deal with oligarchs and other challenges they have broadly," a senior Trump administration official told reporters last Friday.

When pressed on why former Trump officials, like former special envoy Kurt Volker and U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, were dictating to Zelenskiy's top aide what investigations to announce, they had no comment.

The security assistance -- which includes funds for maritime security, secure communications and weapons like sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers -- was eventually released, and the administration also approved a second sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Kyiv, a lethal weapon the Obama administration declined to sell for fear of escalating the conflict. But confidence in U.S. support has been shaken at a critical time for the large former Soviet state, with over 13,000 killed in the Russian-fueled conflict and Crimea still under Russian control.

"In the contest between democracies and autocracies, the contest between freedom and unfreedom, Ukraine is the front line," Bill Taylor, the former top U.S. diplomat in Kyiv, wrote in the New York Times on Sunday. "To support Ukraine ... is to support democracy over autocracy. It is to support freedom over unfreedom. Most Americans do."

Pompeo was originally scheduled to travel to Kyiv in early January, less than 24 hours after Taylor departed his post. A career ambassador who came out of retirement at Pompeo's request, Taylor became a key witness in the impeachment hearings, warning of the shadow effort and eventually drawing Trump's ire.

Taylor's departure right before Pompeo's visit was seen as an effort by the administration to not be seen with one of the president's targets.

The former diplomat's tenure was always short-term because he was appointed and not confirmed by the Senate to fill the vacancy after another career ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, was recalled early from the post by Trump in May.

Yovanovitch had been smeared by Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his associates for over a year in a disinformation campaign that alleged she was a corrupt partisan working for Democrats -- charges that the State Department denied last March.

Yovanovitch was reportedly surveilled by one of Giuliani's associates, and the Ukrainian government has opened an investigation into potential threats to her security during her time in the country.

Pompeo said last week the department investigates "any time there are allegations that some officer at the State Department is at risk," but declined to offer specifics. Before, during, and after Yovanovitch's ouster -- and Trump's attacks on her and Taylor -- Pompeo has refused to publicly express support for them, angering and upsetting rank and file at the department.

He was pressed on that by NPR's Mary Louise Kelly on Friday, but he again refused to support Yovanovitch. After the interview ended, he berated Kelly using the f-word multiple times and challenged her to find Ukraine on an unmarked map, according to NPR.

In an extraordinary statement Saturday, Pompeo did not deny the incident, but publicly accused Kelly of lying.

Pompeo took his fight against the publicly funded network further Wednesday, accusing the network of lying about the Iran nuclear deal and being part of former President Obama's senior adviser "Ben Rhodes' echo chamber."

NPR received a grant from the Ploughshares Fund, an organization that advocates against the spread of nuclear weapons and supported the Iran nuclear deal. Rhodes cited it as part of an "echo chamber" the Obama administration created to boost the deal publicly.

While NPR said it accepted the grant after the fact, both NPR and Ploughshares have said it did not influence the network's reporting.

Pompeo's tirade against Kelly and retaliation against NPR has drawn swift condemnation from critics who say the top U.S. diplomat is supposed to defend press freedom, not punish members of the media.

"It's a journalist's responsibility to ask government officials tough questions. And it's a government official's job to answer those questions," Patricia Gallagher Newberry, national president of the Society of Professional Journalists, said in a statement Tuesday. "Journalists shouldn't be berated or punished for trying to gather and report information to the American people,"

The attacks won Pompeo singular praise at the White House Tuesday.

"You did a good job on her, actually," Trump said to Pompeo, followed by applause and laughing, during an event unveiling his Mideast peace plan.

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Phil Harris - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- During a visit to south London at a nursery, Duchess Kate was spotted serving up cereal to school children.

While at Stockwell Gardens Nursery & Pre-School, the Duchess of Cambridge had been initially advised from staff on the importance of nutritious food in a child's development and discussed her landmark early years survey that revealed 10,000 people have signed up in a week since launching.

"Parents, carers, and families are at the heart of caring for children in the formative years, so that is why I want to listen to them. As a parent I know how much we cherish the future health and happiness of our children," Kate said in a statement referring to the survey.

Duchess Kate's visit included quality time at the nursery where she is seen pouring cheerios and sharing a big smile.


Chefs and apprentices from the @LEYFOnline Chef Academy spoke to The Duchess about the importance of nutritious food for child development.

The Academy offers a specialist qualification for chefs working with children to help influence healthy food choices 🥦🍊🍇#5BigQuestions

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) January 29, 2020


She intended to initially visit the nursery last week after launching "5 Big Questions on the Under Fives," but had to cancel due inclement weather.

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BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images(LONDON) -- Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are embarking on a new life after their split from the royal family, one that does not include public money, official royal duties or the use of their royal highness titles.

In his only public comments about the split, Harry, 35, described it as a "step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life."

Whether the Sussexes' new life can in fact be "more peaceful" and what their new life may entail are examined in a new ABC News special Royal Divide: Harry, Meghan, and the Crown, airing Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

"I spoke to Harry a few days ago," professional polo player Nacho Figueras, a longtime friend of Prince Harry's, says in the special. "He has suffered a lot from all of the things that have happened to him. He suffers a lot from people judging him."

"He's being a father ... a guy who is trying to protect his cub and his lioness from whatever it takes," he said of Harry. "He has become an incredible man, a man that his mother would be proud of."

Harry's mom, the late Princess Diana, left the royal family in the early 90s, after her divorce from Harry's father, Prince Charles.

The Sussexes have chosen to no longer be "working members" of Britain's royal family beginning this spring after high-stakes negotiations with Harry's family and palace officials.

The couple has indicated their distaste for some parts of the British press and the media spotlight in general, but experts say they are unlikely to get any reprieve from the spotlight as intrigue into their new lives will only grow.

"The idea that by somehow stepping back from the royal family they’re going to somehow regain control of their privacy is tragically a fool's errand," said Larry Hackett, managing partner of 10Ten Media and former People magazine editor. "That’s just not going to happen. In fact it’s going to get worse."

"Every single moment in their lives, whether it's the first major commercial deal that Meghan and Harry have just struck, or their next child, every single moment will be tracked," added ABC News foreign correspondent James Longman. "This is high stakes."

Harry and Meghan and their 8-month-old son Archie are currently in Canada, where they are staying in a rented home on Vancouver Island.

The couple's legal team has already issued a legal notice to U.K. media and photo agencies concerning the use of paparazzi agency photos, a source close to the Sussexes confirmed to ABC News.

"I think that actually Harry and Meghan are going to get into more difficulties with paparazzi," said Anna Pasternak, a British author. "There'll be less of an organized structure around them every time they go to an event."

"We saw it with Harry’s mother," she said.

Harry invoked the memory of Diana, who died in a 1997 Paris car crash that involved paparazzi, in comments he made just a few months before he and Meghan announced they planned to "step back" as senior members of the royal family.

"So everything that she went through and what happened to her is incredibly raw every single day and that’s not me being paranoid that’s just me not wanting a repeat of the past," he said in the documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey. "And if anybody else knew what I knew, be it a father, be it a husband, be it anyone, you’d probably be doing exactly what I’m doing as well."

Figueras said Harry is in search of a "normal life" with his wife and son, but acknowledged the difficulties that will likely face his friend, the sixth in line to the British throne.

"He wants to live a normal life, as normal as his life is going to be, right?," said Figueras. "Because when you have 1,000 paparazzis outside your house in Canada waiting to get one picture of your son, that's not very, very normal."

Much of the blame for Harry and Meghan's decision to seek a more "normal life" outside the royal family has also fallen on Meghan, a Los Angeles native who left her acting career and her life in the U.S. and Canada to marry Harry nearly two years ago.

Royal insiders gave a glimpse into the life that awaited Meghan after her glamorous and star-studded wedding to Harry at St. George's Chapel.

"It's not all palaces and fast cars and lots of money. It's the gilded cage," said Alastair Bruce, ABC News royal consultant. "In the end, it's not about you. It's about anything you can do to support the queen who's the head of state."

Julie Montagu understands some of what Meghan was up against. Montagu left her American roots nearly 20 years ago to marry into the British aristocracy.

Her husband, Luke, is in line to become the next Earl of Sandwich.

"I've got to be honest. You don't know until you're in it," Montagu said in response to the argument that Meghan knew what she was getting into when she wed Harry. "I can attest to that."

"As an American, we have been brought up from day one, you are told you can do anything you want to do. You can be anything you want to be," Montagu said. "All of a sudden, [Meghan] has moved over here. She can't be anything she wants to be anymore. She can't do anything she wants to do anymore."

"And I think it can be suffocating for somebody who is an American and their whole life was spent working towards becoming this TV actress, having passions in her life, and all of a sudden going into a much more claustrophobic world where this is what's going to happen now," she said. "You can't be political. You can't be emotional. And you can't have opinions."

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mrtom-uk/iStock(WUHAN, China) -- The U.S. government's chartered flight evacuating American consulate staffers and private U.S. citizens from the coronavirus epicenter of Wuhan, China, has been rerouted from its original California destination to a nearby military base.

The flight, with more than 200 people aboard, is now scheduled to arrive at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California, about 30 miles from where the flight was originally scheduled to land, in Ontario, California, just outside of Los Angeles.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made the announcement Tuesday night Pacific time after informing California officials about the change.

At the time of the announcement, the plane was en route to Anchorage, Alaska, to be refueled there before heading on to California for an expected Wednesday morning arrival, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the matter.

All travelers aboard the plane were screened for symptoms at the airport in China prior to departure, and will be subject to additional screening, observation and monitoring requirements by the CDC, a U.S. State Department spokesperson told ABC News in a statement.

Once there, all passengers will be quarantined for at least three days and monitored by the CDC, per the official. Those who show signs of the illness and need to be tested could be held for as many as 14 days.

Passengers are being monitored along the way and if anyone gets sick in the air, they may be separated in Alaska and flown onward independently, the U.S. official said.

While thousands of people have been sickened in China, the CDC said on Monday that the disease is "not spreading" in the U.S. There have been five confirmed cases so far -- all of whom traveled to Wuhan.

The U.S. consulate general evacuated the majority of its staff and has urged U.S. citizens not to travel to Hubei province, all but closing its doors amid the outbreak that has rattled nerves around the world.

Seats on the charter flight were open to American citizens, with an alert sent Sunday notifying those in China and registered with the U.S. mission. American citizens are required to pay for their seat, and capacity is limited, with priority given to those most at risk of infection, per the spokesperson.

The majority of the 200 seats on board the flight went to private citizens, with less than a quarter needed for U.S. personnel and their families.

The initial notice that went out Sunday said the flight would travel to San Francisco, but the director of San Francisco International Airport and the State Department said Monday that was no longer true.

Trucks carrying drinking water, portable showers, and water storage tanks were seen arriving Tuesday at Ontario International, a small airport in San Bernardino County that serves as an official U.S. government repatriation center for the West Coast.

"Ontario International Airport (ONT) is working closely with our federal, state, county and city partners to plan for the possibility of a flight carrying U.S. government officials and private citizens returning this week from Wuhan, China," Ontario International Airport said in a statement Monday, before the plane's flight plan was changed.

Airport officials said they had "conducted extensive training in managing situations such as this. In the event that the returning passengers do arrive at ONT, preparations are being made to ensure that proper health, safety and security procedures are followed."

The State Department raised its travel advisory for China on Monday, urging American citizens to "reconsider travel" to the whole country. There has been a "do not travel" warning in place since Thursday for Hubei province when the consulate general announced it was pulling out all nonemergency personnel.

The CDC raised its travel warning on Tuesday to match the State Department's, urging all travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to China.

At least 132 people have died from the illness in China, mostly in Wuhan.

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The University of Manchester(DUBLIN) -- A team of experts believe they have solved a nearly 200-year-old mystery of how a famous Egyptian mummy came to die: They believe she was stabbed in the back.

The 2,600-year-old mummy of a young woman, known as Takabuti, is on display at Belfast's Ulster Museum in Northern Ireland, where it was brought from Egypt in the mid-19th Century.

Until now, experts had been unable to say how Takabuti died, but a new study by a group of U.K. and Irish-based academics appears to show she was killed in a "violent knife attack."

The study, the results of which were made public Monday, said that new analysis of CT scans discovered a severe wound in the mummy's upper back near her left shoulder, which may have been caused by a knife.

That wound almost certainly caused her rapid death, according to Dr. Robert Loynes, a retired surgeon and honorary lecturer at the University of Manchester, who carried out the CT analysis.

In addition, the experts said new DNA testing revealed Takabuti was genetically more similar to Europeans than modern Egyptians, an important discovery for helping scientists' understanding of ancient Egyptian society from the period.

"This study adds to our understanding of not only Takabuti, but also wider historical context of the times in which she lived," professor Rosalie David, an Egyptologist from the University of Manchester, who was part of the study, said in a statement released by the university. "The surprising and important discovery of her European heritage throws some fascinating light on a significant turning-point in Egypt's history."

The study "demonstrates how new information can be revealed thousands of years after a person's death," David said.

"The findings finally solve the mystery of the mummy which has intrigued Egyptologists -- and the public -- since she was first unwrapped in Belfast in 1835," the University of Manchester said in a statement.

The new research -- which was carried out over months -- was conducted by around a dozen experts, including from the University of Manchester, Queen's University Belfast, Kingsbridge Private Hospital and National Museums. The results were released to coincide with the 185-year anniversary of the mummy's unwrapping in Belfast.

Takabuti lived during the 25th Dynasty around 2,600 years ago and would have been in her mid-20s at the time of her death, experts believe. She was most likely a well-off married woman -- "or mistress" -- living in the city Thebes, now known as Luxor, where she was buried, the release said.

She was brought to Belfast in 1834 by Thomas Greg, a merchant from Country Down, who donated her to the Ulster Museum. She was the first ancient Egyptian mummy to be brought to Ireland.

Since she was first unwrapped in 1835, Takabuti has undergone extensive studies, Dr. Greer Ramsey, curator of archaeology at National Museums NI, said, including in recent years X-rays, CT scans, hair analysis and radio carbon dating. But DNA analysis and further interpretations of CT scans in the latest study provided new and "much more detailed information" about her, he said in a release.

Professor Eileen Murphy, a bioarchaeologist from Queen's University Belfast, said the new research had produced "some astounding results."

"It is frequently commented that she looks very peaceful lying within her coffin, but now we know that her final moments were anything but and that she died at the hand of another," Murphy said in a release.

The scans also showed that the mummy has an extra tooth -- 33 instead of 32 -- which occurs in only 0.02% of populations -- and an extra vertebrae, which only occurs in 2% of the population.

Dr. Konstantina Drosou, a geneticist who took part in the study, said in the release that the DNA tests had also shown that Takabuti's genetic footprint was relatively rare and had not, as far as she was aware, been found in any ancient or modern Egyptian population.

That finding supports previous studies that suggest ancient Egyptians "were more genetically similar to Europeans than modern day Arabs," she said.

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9th Brigade Australian Army via Facebook(CRAFERS, Australia) -- Soldiers with the Australian army came to the rescue of several hungry koalas saved from the bushfires ravaging the country.

Several servicemen and women were seen cuddling the koalas -- swaddled in blankets -- during feeding time at the Cleland Wildlife Park in Crafers, South Australia, in a photo posted to Instagram by the army on Tuesday.

The soldiers appeared attentive and content as they tended to their new furry friends.

The army also helped to build climbing mounts inside the park, according to the army.

Tens of thousands of koalas have perished since the bushfires began in September. More than half of the population may have died, Sam Mitchell, co-owner of the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, told The Guardian earlier this month.

The slow-moving koalas are often unable to escape the flames fast enough as they burn from treetop to treetop.

Australians are doubtful that the country's wildlife will be able to fully recover as the fire season continues for several months. As many as a billion animals are feared dead, experts have estimated.

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Ivan Cholakov/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon now says 50 American military service members suffered traumatic brain injuries following Iran’s Jan. 8 missile attack on a base in western Iraq that was housing the U.S. military personnel.

Initially the Pentagon said there were no injuries in the missile attack, but as more symptoms were diagnosed, the number was updated to 11, then 34 and now 50.

Officials have acknowledged that it can take time for the concussion-like symptoms to present themselves.

"Of these 50, 31 total service members were treated in Iraq and returned to duty, including 15 of the additional service members who have been diagnosed since the previous report," said Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, a Pentagon spokesperson. "Eighteen service members have been transported to Germany for further evaluation and treatment."

"This is an increase of one service member from the previous report, who had been transported to Germany for other health reasons and has since been diagnosed with a TBI," Campbell added.

There was no update on the eight other service members who had been transported to the United States last week for evaluation and treatment.

The increasing numbers of service members who suffered from traumatic brain injuries in the attack earlier this month has become a political controversy because of President Donald Trump's recent comments that the injuries were "headaches" and "not serious."

This past weekend, the head of the Veterans of Foreign Wars requested that the president apologize for "his misguided remarks."

"We ask that he and the White House join with us in our efforts to educate Americans of the dangers TBI has on these heroes as they protect our great nation in these trying times, said William "Doc" Schmits, the VFW's national commander. "Our warriors require our full support more than ever in this challenging environment."

Traumatic brain injuries are considered to be the signature wound and the invisible epidemic from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because service members who suffered explosive blasts of roadside bombs later suffered concussion-like effects.

The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that 408,000 military service members worldwide have suffered from some form of traumatic brain injuries over the last 20 years.

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KeithBinns/iStock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The U.S. military recovered on Tuesday the remains of the two individuals on board the U.S. Air Force aircraft that crashed in central Afghanistan.

The flight data recorder from the U.S. Bombardier E-11A was also recovered from the site, according to a statement from U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

A mechanical issue is believed to have caused the E-11A to crash on Monday in Ghazni province, a defense official said. A second official told ABC News that the pilots had declared an in-flight emergency.

The statement released on Tuesday reiterated that there were no indications that the crash was caused by enemy fire.

U.S. military personnel destroyed the remnants of the aircraft.

Several factors delayed Tuesday's recovery of the bodies, including weather conditions and security precautions that were taken in order to reach the location of the crash, which is in a Taliban stronghold south of Kabul, one defense official said. Afghan forces secured the area, allowing the U.S. military to conduct the recovery operations, the official added.

The Pentagon has not yet identified the two individuals killed in the crash.

In the aftermath of the crash, the Taliban said they had shot down the aircraft -- a claim rebutted by spokesperson Col. Sonny Leggett in a statement on Monday. He also called Taliban claims that additional aircraft had crashed "false."

Two 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers were killed by an improvised explosive device, or IED, while conducting combat operations in Kandahar province, Afghanistan on Jan. 11. They were later identified as Staff Sgt. Ian Paul McLaughlin of Newport News, Virginia, and Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon of Joliet, Illinois.

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jarun011/iStock(WUHAN, China) -- International automakers and American companies are among the firms evacuating employees from China or restricting travel there as the threat of coronavirus has begun to affect the global economy.

Uncertainty over the virus in China, the world's second-largest economy by Gross Domestic Product, has caused global stocks to tumble this week.  

Honda, Nissan and PSA Group, which all have plants near the outbreak's epicenter of Wuhan, have announced steps including repatriation for employees in China amid the health crisis.

"We are taking reasonable precautions and have advised our employees to refrain from non-urgent business trips to the Wuhan area for the time being," Honda said in a statement Tuesday. The company closed its plant there from Jan. 23 until Feb. 2 because of Chinese New Year and is "continuing to monitor the situation."

The outbreak comes just a month after Honda announced it set a monthly record for automobile production in China. It's unclear how unfolding health crisis will affect production.

Nissan noted that its business units in the area will also be closed until Feb. 4, also due to the holiday.

"We take the health and safety of our employees and their families seriously," the company said in a statement. "We are closely monitoring the coronavirus situation and well-being of our employees in Wuhan and in China."

The automaker noted that Japanese expatriates in the Wuhan area will be returned to Japan as part of a government initiative that includes putting them on a chartered flight.

Representatives for PSA Group didn't immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment Tuesday, but in a statement on Twitter the company announced plans to repatriate expat workers and their families based in the Wuhan area.

Meanwhile, U.S. tech giant Facebook is asking employees to suspend non-essential travel to mainland China, and asked those who have recently traveled there to work from home.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we have taken steps to protect the health and safety of our employees," Anthony Harrison, a Facebook spokesman, told ABC News.

Other employers including banking giants Goldman Sachs and HSBC have banned staff from traveling to mainland China until further notice, Reuters reported, citing internal memos.

"The Chinese economy -- and possibly the world economy -- will take a hit in the short run, and lower prices are a rational response to the increasing spread of the corona virus," Chris Zaccarelli, the chief investment officer at the Independent Advisor Alliance, said in a commentary Monday, comparing the current outbreak to SARS in 2003.

How quickly a vaccine can be developed and how effectively governments will be able to prevent the spread of the virus "will determine how large the economic impact will be," Zaccarelli added. "But once it is contained and people go back to travelling and spending as they did previously, the economy will rebound accordingly; markets will anticipate this and start moving higher again well in advance of that bottom."

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adventtr/iStock(HAVANA) -- A powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck in the Caribbean Sea between Jamaica and eastern Cuba on Tuesday, shaking a vast area from Mexico to Florida and beyond, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or heavy damage.

The quake was centered 139 kilometers (86 miles) northwest of Montego Bay, Jamaica, and 140 kilometers (87 miles) west-southwest of Niquero, Cuba, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It hit at 2:10 p.m. (1910 GMT) and the epicenter was a relatively shallow 10 kilometers (6 miles) beneath the surface.

It was also felt a little further east at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on the southeastern coast of the island. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages, said J. Overton, a spokesman for the installation, which has a total population of about 6,000 people.

Several South Florida buildings were being evacuated as a precation, according to city of Miami and Miami-Dade County officials. No injuries or road closures have been reported.

The quake also hit the Cayman Islands, leaving cracked roads and what appeared to be sewage spilling from cracked mains. There were no immediate reports of deaths, injuries or more severe damage, said Kevin Morales, editor-in-chief of the Cayman Compass newspaper.

The islands see so few earthquakes that newsroom staff were puzzled when it hit, he said.

"'It was just like a big dump truck was rolling past,"' Morales said. “Then it continued and got more intense.”

Dr. Stenette Davis, a psychiatrist at a Cayman Islands hospital, said she had seen manhole covers blown off by the force of the quake, and sewage exploding into the street, but no more serious damage.

Claude Diedrick, 71, who owns a fencing business in Montego Bay, said he was sitting in his vehicle reading when the earth began to sway.

“It felt to me like i was on a bridge and like there were two or three heavy trucks and the bridge was rocking but there were no trucks,” he said.

He said he had seen no damage around his home in northern Jamaica.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quake could generate waves 1 to 3 feet above normal in Cuba, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Honduras, Mexico and Belize.

The USGS initially reported the magnitude at 7.3.

————— Kate Chappell reported from Kingston, Jamaica.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


200mm/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump on Tuesday unveiled his plan for Middle East peace, proposing a Palestinian state, but also allowing Israel to take control of a significant portion of the West Bank without any Palestinian input.

Standing beside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Trump said that Palestinians could achieve a state once they rejected terrorism and made major political and territorial concessions.

Netanyahu said that he accepted the U.S. proposal and that "regardless of the Palestinian decision," Israel planned to carry out the plan's proposed division of land in the disputed West Bank.

Over the next four years, Netanyahu said, Israel would apply its laws to Jewish settlements in the West Bank and to a hotly contested strip of land in the Jordan Valley, while maintaining the status quo in areas envisioned for a Palestinian state. Doing so would allow Israel to completely encircle Palestinians in the West Bank and, in its view, strengthen its security.

Trump rolled out the proposal -- several years in the making and closely guarded -- at a politically precipitous time for both him and his ally Netanyahu. Following the announcement, Trump's lawyers continued their defense in his Senate impeachment trial and Netanyahu was formally indicted on Tuesday for fraud, bribery and breach of trust -- five weeks before Israeli parliamentary elections.

Notably absent from the White House announcement were any Palestinian officials, who had cut off ties with the Trump administration in 2017 after the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

They had preemptively rejected the peace initiative, accusing Trump and his administration of decisions blatantly biased in favor of Israel. The president on Monday acknowledged that Palestinians would likely initially reject it, but he expressed hope they would eventually accept it.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blasted the proposal late Tuesday.

"After the nonsense that we heard today we say a thousand no's to the ‘deal of the century,’” he said at a press conference in Ramallah.

After regional news reports this week said that Abbas refused to speak with Trump on the phone, Trump addressed Abbas directly during his remarks at the White House, saying he had sent the Palestinian leader a letter that day.

"President Abbas, I want you to know that if you choose the path to peace," Trump said, "America and many other countries will -- we will be there we will be there to help you in so many different ways and we will be there every step of the way."

In Ramallah, Abbas spoke on the phone with the leader of Hamas's political wing, Ismail Haniyeh. It was a sign of rare Palestinian unity amid anger there.

The Palestinian president also spoke on the phone with the leader of the political wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, who pledged his solidarity in rejecting the U.S. proposal, the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa,reported. It was a sign of rare Palestinian unity amid anger there.

Palestinian negotiators aligned with Abbas rejected the plan, too.

"Achieving peace requires first and foremost respect and adherence to the fundamental (principles) of international law," the Palestine Liberation Organization wrote in a tweet. "The U.S. plan recognizes Israel's illegal colonization and annexation of occupied lands belonging to the State of Palestine."

Jordan also warned Israel not to annex territory. Its foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, "warned against the dangerous consequences of unilateral Israeli measures, such as annexation of Palestinian lands, the building and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian occupied lands and encroachments on the Holy Sites in Jerusalem, that aim at imposing new realities on the ground," the Jordanian embassy in Washington said in a statement.

Safadi "stressed" that "Jordan condemns such measures as a violation of international law and provocative actions that will push the area towards more conflict and tension," the statement read.

Under the Trump administration's plan, which was posted on the White House's website, the Palestinians would agree to a number of political concessions over the next several years in order to gain autonomy and economic prosperity.

A major point of contention remains the future of Jerusalem, which both Israel and Palestinians claim as their capital. Under the Trump administration plan, an existing security barrier -- built by Israel in territory disputed by the Palestinians -- would serve as the border between Israeli and Palestinian parts of the Jerusalem area.

That vision clashes with previous proposals to make all of "East Jerusalem" -- the predominantly Arab eastern part of the city -- the capital of a Palestinian state, ceding more of Jerusalem to Israel.

The plan included what it referred to as a "conceptual map" showing proposed borders of that Palestinian state -- and changes to Israel's contours. The White House said that while the plan avoided any forced population transfers, 3% of each population would end up in the other's territory, with the option to move or to gain citizenship to their respective nations.

Under the plan, roads, tunnels and other transportation links would connect different parts of the Palestinian state physically split up by Israel.
MORE: Trump to host Netanyahu, political rival at White House to discuss peace amid impeachment trial

The Gaza Strip would expand to include industrial, residential and agricultural zones -- but Palestinian leadership would have to agree to the territory's demilitarization.

The plan calls for Hamas, which controls Gaza, and other Palestinian militant groups to commit to nonviolence.

While the plan had been three years in the making, only last week -- as Trump faced an impeachment trial in the Senate -- did the president announce that he would finally roll it out.

One of the president’s lawyers, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, attended the peace plan roll out, while at least one U.S. senator in attendance, Ted Cruz of Texas, departed early to catch the start of proceedings.

On Monday, Trump hosted Netanyahu and his chief political rival, Benny Gantz, for separate meetings at the White House. Gantz did not attend the Tuesday announcement.

The president's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner oversaw the formulation of the peace plan. The administration unveiled an economic component last summer but delayed sharing the rest amid political turmoil in Israel. Two parliamentary elections in under seven months there failed to result in a stable government, with another round scheduled for March 2.

Netanyahu faces a tough re-election bid as Gantz mounts a strong challenge. The formal indictment in Jerusalem came Tuesday, a day after he dropped his bid for immunity from charges stemming from several corruption cases.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Jumbo2010/iStock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- The current model the U.S. and other countries plan to use to store high-level nuclear waste may not be as safe as previously thought.

The materials used to store the waste "will likely degrade faster than anyone previously knew" because of the way the materials interact, according to research published Tuesday in the journal Nature Materials.

The research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, focused primarily on defense waste, the legacy of past nuclear arms production, which is highly radioactive, according to a press release from Ohio State University. Some of waste has a half-life -- the time needed for half the material to decay -- of about 30 years. But others, such as plutonium, have a half-life that can be in the tens of thousands of years, according to the release.

The plan the U.S. has for the waste is to immobilize long-lived radionuclides -- mixed with other materials to form glass or ceramic forms of the waste -- in steel canisters and then dispose of them by burying them in a repository deep underground, according to the study. Countries around the globe largely store and dispose of the nuclear waste in a similar fashion.

However, scientists found that under simulated conditions, corrosion of the containers could be "significantly accelerated," which had not been considered in current safety and performance assessment models. The newly formed glass or ceramic compounds, confined in the steel containers, have been observed corroding those containers at surprising rates due to new chemical reactions.

The reactions significantly altered both the waste and the metallic canisters, according to the research. Xiaolei Guo, lead author of the study and deputy director of Ohio State University's Center for Performance and Design of Nuclear Waste Forms and Containers, described the corrosion as "severe."

"In the real-life scenario, the glass or ceramic waste forms would be in close contact with stainless steel canisters. Under specific conditions, the corrosion of stainless steel will go crazy," he said in a statement. "It creates a super-aggressive environment that can corrode surrounding materials."

The researchers warned that the interaction between the materials, which then impact the service life of the nuclear waste, should be "carefully considered" when evaluating the performance of the waste forms. A more compatible barrier should be selected to optimize the performance of the repository system.

"This indicates that the current models may not be sufficient to keep this waste safely stored," Guo said. "And it shows that we need to develop a new model for storing nuclear waste."

The waste is typically stored where it is produced, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed that the waste be disposed in a deep geological repository in the Yucca Mountains in Nevada. However, those plans have been stalled since 2009.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Duchess Kate stepped out Tuesday for an art workshop with kids at a London hospital.

Kate, 38, joined patients at an arts workshop where the mom of Prince George, 6, Princess Charlotte, 4, and Prince Louis, 1, got to show her creative side.

Kate took part in a "Playful Portraits" workshop, helping kids "make sets and characters for their own pop-up theaters," according to Kensington Palace. She also visited kids who took part in the workshop in their own hospital rooms.

Kate is royal patron of both Evelina London Children's Hospital and the National Portrait Gallery, which brings the arts workshops to the hospital.

The duchess of Cambridge has made early childhood development a focus of her royal work.

Last week she visited multiple kids' centers across the U.K. to launch "5 big questions on the under 5s," a survey released by The Royal Foundation, Prince William and Kate's charitable arm.

The survey asks residents across the U.K. to share their thoughts on "raising the next generation."

"Parents, carers and families are at the heart of caring for children in the formative years, so that is why I want to listen to them," Kate said in a statement announcing the survey. "As a parent I know how much we cherish the future health and happiness of our children."

"I want to hear the key issues affecting our families and communities so I can focus my work on where it is needed most," she added. "My ambition is to provide a lasting change for generations to come."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


FILE photo - filmstudio/iStock(LONDON) -- One mother is taking a stand to try to change school policies she says restrict boys from having long hair.

Bonnie Miller's 8-year-old son, Farouk James, has become an Instagram star with more than 270,000 followers, posing for snaps with his big and bright natural hair.

U.K. policies banning long hair for boys

While researching and visiting possible schools for her son, Miller said she was shocked to learn about some of the schools' strict policies.

One of the mother-son duo's top choices, Fulham Boys School in London, for example, outlines its stance on hair length.

"Hairstyles should be tidy and of a conventional nature, no extreme haircuts including sculpting, shaving, dreadlocks or braiding are allowed," the Fulham Boys School policy reads. "The maximum hair length is above the collar and the minimum hair length is a number 2 cut. Hair must be one natural colour. Parents are strongly advised to seek advice on the acceptability of hairstyles that may be considered 'different' before allowing their son to adopt such a style. School reserves the right to insist on re-styling if it considers the style inappropriate."

Miller strongly believes this rule is unfair for boys of diverse backgrounds.

"It's a racial issue," she told GMA.

"We all know what kind of boys would have dreadlocks and braids," Miller adds. "Generally, it's black boys or mixed boys. We're not talking about Caucasian children here ... it's very unlikely."

"I'm going to talk up, and I might get backlash or I may even be risking my child's chance of even going to these schools now, because now they know my name," says Miller. "I'm willing to take the risk because it's not just for the good of Farouk, it's the good of all."

The state of natural hair discrimination in the United Kingdom

The passing of laws in California and New York banning discrimination on people with natural hair textures, has also began to strike the attention of the state of natural hair in the United Kingdom as well.

In 2018, Zina Alfa started a petition calling for a ban on hair discrimination in the U.K. to be sent to the country's government. She was initially triggered after being forced to take out her braids because one of her teachers allegedly didn't like them.

"Natural and protective hairstyles including afros, braids, and dreadlocks are traditional ways to express our heritage and simply have our hair," the petition states. "It is because this is not understood, that young children are subjected to being punished by teachers or bullied by peers. When we're not attacked, we also experienced people that see our hair, touch it, and grab it without permission -- making us uncomfortable."

Miller has also taken things a step further with her own petition to be sent to the Houses of Parliament.

"If you agree that rules for females universally should be the same for males, please sign this petition and help make a change for the current and future generations," the petition reads.

"I think the only way it's going to change is if the Houses of Parliament change the law to prohibit schools from making such diabolical policies, which are clearly discriminatory, sexist, racist and unfair," says Miller. "I think everyone needs to change their rules, and I think that the way I was thinking it could be done and is if the law was changed that schools are prohibited from allowing these rules."

Farouk has a massive platform that allows him to star in everything from high-fashion ad campaigns to New York runways.

He described his hair as "unique" and an attribute he really loves about himself that also inspires many others, Farouk told Good Morning America.

"His father's from Ghana so culturally, his family told me not to cut it until he was three," says Miller. "Well, that was part of the cultural thing, so I agreed to not cut his hair until he's three. But obviously we didn't expect it would grow as much as it did and it just kept on growing."

She also reminisces on how doctors couldn't initially tell if Farouk was a boy or a girl when she was carrying him in her stomach. "But, they could see he had loads of hair," Miller says.

Miller mentions that Farouk has communicated how unhappy he will be if he has to cut his hair as it is a strong part of his identity.

A matter of choice vs. limited options

While Farouk has roughly two more years before he will have to switch schools, Miller fears that he will not be admitted into some of best higher-performing institutions because of his hair.

"Farouk is very academic and very bright, so he needs to go to a school that can stretch him, and a lot of his friends will be going to these schools," she explains as primary reasons for wanting to send Farouk to a school such as Fulham as well as London Oratory School for boys, which has a similar policy.

"Hair must be of a straightforward style, tidy and clear of the face and shirt collar, and must retain its natural colour," the policy states. "The face must be clean-shaven and sideboards must not extend below the middle of the ear. Peculiar, ostentatious or bizarre styles are unacceptable. Examples of unacceptable styles are: bleached, dyed, tinted or highlighted hair; closely cropped hair (including cuts described as ‘numbers 1, 2 or 3’); and lines or patterns cut into the hair. Gel and similar substances are not allowed. Pupils whose hair styles are unacceptable will not be allowed to remain in School and risk disciplinary action, including exclusion."

With a strong religious background, Miller also points out that these are faith-based schools, and she has hopes of sending Farouk to a Catholic school like London Oratory or a Christian school like Fulham.

Additionally, one of the most important reasons for these schools relates to how close in proximity they are to their home. "Farouk is very well known on Instagram, so he's known on the streets," she says. "I wouldn't want to risk him having to travel across London to go to another type of school."

With the other schools being located further away, Miller is concerned with James' safety commuting as well as how much longer it takes her to get to him if he is in need.

She also adds, he will, unfortunately, be further away from close friends he has grown up with and would like to continue his education alongside.

To avoid issues with the schools, Miller has also considered mixed-sex schools. However, she has found policies from those institutions to be potentially "sexist."

One of several schools she mentions is St. Thomas More Language College, which allows girls to keep their hair long as long as it is kept fully tied back. However, for boys' hair, the policy outlines that it should not be "too short or too long."

She says she's made several attempts to call these schools but is continuously referred to review policies posted online.

Fulham Boys School made headlines in 2017 when a student, Chikayzea Flanders, was told his dreadlocks had to be cut off or he would face suspension, The Guardian reported.

The school has since reportedly settled with Flanders where an understanding was made that the school's uniform policy and the ban on dreadlocks resulted in "indirect discrimination." He was invited to return should he agree to keep his dreadlocks tied up or covered with a cloth that the school approved. However, reports said he has since moved on to another school.

Alun Ebenezer, the headmaster of Fulham Boys School, took to Twitter to speak out on the ban on long hair, stating, "Our strict uniform and appearance policy means you cannot tell the haves from the have nots. FBS is no way racist."

1/4 To be clear. What I actually said was that we are a strict academic boys school with high standards of behaviour, uniform and appearance. We are a truly comprehensive school which is reflected in our intake. Nearly 30% of our boys come from homes where they have the means...

— Alun Ebenezer (@AlunEbenezer) January 16, 2020

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