IT40 News for 01/20/2019

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#1 Death toll reaches 79 in Mexico fuel duct blast

Mexican Health Minister Jorge Alcocer says the death toll from an explosion at an illegal pipeline tap has risen to 79, and he says 81 people remain hospitalized.

Alcocer said in an early Sunday news conference that some patients are in serious condition, with burns on more than 80 percent of their bodies and organs compromised following the accident.

More than 600 people were in a field Friday afternoon in the state of Hidalgo when a gusher of gasoline from a damaged pipeline turned into a fireball. Forensic scientists are taking DNA samples from relatives of the missing in an attempt to identify remains, some of which are mere ash and bones.

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#2 Attack on UN base in Mali kills 8 peacekeepers: UN source

Gunmen killed at least eight Chadian UN peacekeepers in an attack Sunday on one of their bases in northern Mali, a source close to the MINUSMA force said.

"According to a new toll, still provisional, at least eight peacekeepers have been killed," the source said.

The attack happened early Sunday at the Aguelhok base 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of Kidal and towards the border with Algeria, the source added.

A Malian security source spoke of at least six killed and 19 wounded, while a diplomat in northern Mali told AFP that several of the attackers were also killed.

An attack at the same base last April killed two peacekeepers and left several others wounded.

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#3 Trump warns off critics of shutdown deal: ‘Be careful Nancy!’

President Trump took jabs at Democrats and sought to reassure his allies who decried his deal to end the partial government shutdown.

Notably in his Sunday morning tweet storm, the president repeatedly name-check House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who rejected his offer even before he pitched it a televised address.

"Nancy Pelosi and some of the Democrats turned down my offer yesterday before I even got up to speak," Trump said in one tweet. "They don’t see crime & drugs, they only see 2020 - which they are not going to win. Best economy! They should do the right thing for the Country & allow people to go back to work."

The deal Trump pitched Saturday afternoon included extensions of protections for recipients of the Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs in return for $5.7 billion for an additional barrier at the southern border.

Pelosi, D-Calif., beat Trump to the punch, as details of his pitch came to light, by putting out a statement saying his plan was a "non-starter." She the plan was “a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives," particularly lamenting how the proposal does not achieve what Democrats have long sought for the "Dreamers," which is a pathway to citizenship or permanent legal status.

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#4 Giuliani: ‘100 percent certain’ on Trump-Cohen

Video by NBC News

Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s attorney, said Sunday he is “100 percent certain” that Trump never asked Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.

Speaking about the president to Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Giuliani said “to answer your question, categorically, I can tell you his counsel to Michael Cohen throughout that entire period was, ‘Tell the truth.’ We thought he was telling the truth. I still believe he may have been telling the truth when he testified before Congress.“

The Giuliani-Todd discussion was in relation to the bombshell from BuzzFeed that Cohen had stated that he had been ordered by the president to lie to Congress — and the subsequent statement by Mueller’s investigation rejecting that report as not accurate.

“There’s no evidence that the president told him to lie,” Giuliani said.

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#5 In Trump’s Immigration Announcement, a Compromise Snubbed All Around

Video by NBC News

WASHINGTON — Immigrant advocates denounced it as cruel. The conservative right howled that it was amnesty.

What President Trump billed on Saturday as a compromise to end the country’s longest government shutdown pleased neither the Democratic congressional leaders whose buy-in he needs to strike a deal nor the core supporters whose backing has always been at the heart of his insistence on a border wall.

Instead, in offering temporary protections for about one million immigrants at risk of deportation in exchange for funding for a wall, Mr. Trump did something rarely seen during his presidency. He tried to reach beyond his base of supporters — which polls have begun to show is losing patience with him as the partial shutdown drags into its fifth week — and speak to a broader swath of Americans.

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#6 The government shutdown has drawn domestic violence shelters to the brink, imperiling life-or-death services to women

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. —Weeks after fleeing an abusive relationship, a 49-year-old woman was ready to move out of a shelter and into a trailer with a security deposit provided by a nonprofit organization that relies on federal funding. But the government shutdown scuttled her plans to start a new life.

The Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center this month cut all extra spending and client expenses to prepare for the Justice Department freezing its regular stream of federal grant money. The center’s ability to help domestic violence victims pay for prescriptions was gone, and home visits to people in rural areas had to be canceled. There could be no more free rides for women to get to new jobs, leading to one woman’s firing.

The shutdown belt-tightening also meant that the woman who escaped here from Baltimore would no longer get help with her trailer’s security deposit, meaning she continues to take a spot at the shelter while more than two dozen women seeking refuge from potentially dangerous situations sit on a waiting list.

“It hurts more than anything,” said the woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she fears the partner who abused her.

The government shutdown has led organizations that help victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse to cut back on lifesaving services, furlough staff and turn people away from shelters. Many groups are heavily reliant on federal funding that was scheduled to stop being allocated on Jan. 18 amid the nearly month-long partial government shutdown.

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#7 Science fiction or battle ready? China’s new weapons

Since the beginning of January, the Chinese military has revealed a dizzying array of sophisticated and powerful new weaponry.

The testing of some of these devices has been accompanied by great fanfare. But just how plausible is the new technology in a battlefield situation?

With Tuesday's report from the US Defense Intelligence Agency that China "leads the world" in some weapons systems, a closer look at Beijing's latest claims is in order.

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#8 Kirsten Gillibrand urges Iowans to ‘take back this democracy’ in 2020

Kirsten Gillibrand has made her first pitch to Iowa voters since announcing her bid for president, promising in a whirlwind weekend visit to the caucus state that she will “fight” for everyday Americans against Donald Trump and broken government in Washington.

Related: Kamala Harris: can a 'top cop' win over progressives in 2020?

Speaking on Saturday at a coffee shop in Ames, Iowa, a college town of nearly 70,000 about half an hour north of Des Moines, the New York senator acknowledged that she does not have the same national name recognition as some other 2020 hopefuls, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren who visited the state this month. But, she told a crowd on a frigid morning, she thinks she is the best candidate to help “reclaim our democracy” from Trump and corporate interests.

“I’m going to run for president because I really believe that I will fight for your children as hard as I fight for my own,” Gillibrand said in an impassioned address. “I’m here for you.”

Gillibrand told the crowd, which included a number of students from Iowa State University, the American dream has been “lost” because of “corruption in Washington”.

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#9 The Serial Killer Behind Trump’s Tweets About Germany

OLDENBURG, Germany — He’d been sitting in his little apartment in northwestern Germany for quite a while bombed out on painkillers, then he went to work at the hospital -- injecting a 61-year-old woman who had recently awakened from an artificial coma with an overdose of heart medication.

The woman was on her way to recovering and had recently bought a car. She wasn’t ready to die. Later that night he called her daughter to tell her: “Your mother’s circulation is unstable.” The daughter rushed to the hospital, but by then her mother had passed.

Niels Högel, the nurse, is now suspected of killing more than 200 patients at the hospitals where he worked between the years 1999 and 2005, when he was first arrested for an attempted murder.

News of that first case raised suspicions about others, but investigations were agonizingly slow. There were a succession of trials over the course of 13 years, and in each one he lied, acknowledging some killings and boasting about more. In the most recent courtroom drama, he is accused of murdering 100, and has confessed to all but five of those cases.

Part of Niels Högel wanted credit for saving the people he nearly killed. But it didn’t always work, and he didn’t really care.

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#10 Syria says repels Israeli air attack, Israel says downs Golan rocket

BEIRUT/MOSCOW, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Syrian military air defenses thwarted an Israeli attack on Sunday, shooting down seven missiles targeting an airport in southeastern Damascus, Russia's National Defence Control Centre was cited by RIA news agency as saying.

The attack, launched by four Israeli F-16 jets, did not damage the airport and there were no casualties, the control center was cited as saying.

Syrian state media also reported the attack.

"Our air defense systems thwarted ... an Israeli air aggression ... and prevented it from achieving any of its goals," a military source told state news agency SANA. It gave no further details.

An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment.

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#11 Producers Guild Awards: ‘Green Book’ Takes Best Picture; ‘Americans’ & ‘Mrs. Maisel’ Lead TV – Complete Winners List

Green Book walked away with the marquee prize at the 30th annual Producers Guild Awards, which were handed out Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton. The Viggo Mortensen-Mahershala Ali period pic won the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Picture for producers Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga.

The film also took a top prize at the Golden Globes this month, winning in the Musical or Comedy category. That puts it in the driver’s seat for the Best Picture Academy Award next month because there aren’t many better harbingers for the Oscar than the film that wins the PGA’s top honor. How accurate is it? In its 29-year history, the PGA Awards have synched up with the Oscars on 20 honorees. It would be 21 if you count 2013, when 12 Years a Slave and Gravity tied for the top PGA prize, with the former going on to score the Oscar.

The two differed in two of the past three years, however: 2016 PGA winner La La Land and 2015’s The Big Short came up short for the Oscar against Moonlight and Spotlight, respectively.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse followed up its Golden Globes win and beat out a tough field led by billion-dollar baby Incredibles 2 to snare the statuette for Animated Feature, and the Mister Rogers pic Won’t You Be My Neighbor? laced up the Documentary Feature prize, also topping a strong field that included RBG, Three Identical Strangers and Free Solo.

On the TV side, the final season of FX’s The Americans won the drama series awards, following up its Globes win two weeks ago. Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel continued its remarkable awards run, up its Emmy and Golden Globes triumph with its second consecutive Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television – Comedy at the PGAs. Its creator-EP Amy Sherman-Palladino was among tonight’s career award recipients – accepting the Norman Lear Award for Achievement in Television. Jerry Seinfeld’s Netflix program Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee scooped the Short-Form prize, with Season 48 of Sesame Street climaing the Chidren’s PRogram Award and Being Serena acing Outstanding Sports Program.

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#12 2019 Producers Guild Awards: See all the stars on the red carpet

Kate Beckinsale attends the 30th Annual Producers Guild Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 19, 2019.

Emma Stone attends the 30th Annual Producers Guild Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 19, 2019.

Constance Wu attends the 30th Annual Producers Guild Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 19, 2019.

Amy Adams attends the 30th Annual Producers Guild Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 19, 2019.

Mindy Kaling attends the 30th Annual Producers Guild Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 19, 2019.

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#13 Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump Plays ‘Deal or No Deal’ in Hilarious ‘Saturday Night Live’ Cold Open

Saturday Night Live returned from their holiday hiatus over the weekend, with a politically charged Cold Open mocking the ongoing government shutdown.

Alec Baldwin once again reprised his well-worn Donald Trump impression for a special edition of Deal of No Deal: Government Shutdown Edition, hosted by Steve Harvey (Kenan Thompson), who explained that they were getting the president to pay attention to the problem "in the only format you'd understand: A TV game show featuring women holding briefcases."

In this case, all those holding briefcases were members of senate and congress, many of whom have been instrumental in the ongoing political battle over the border wall.

Trump came out with his own offer first: "I want $5 billion for my border wall and I'll extend DACA, and i'll release the kids from cages, so they can be free-range kids."

Setting that as the bar for his goal, he first choice a case held by his longtime nemesis, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (Kate McKinnon), who's case offered, "$1 billion and you say 'Nancy's my mommy.'"

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#14 Naomi Campbell and Liam Payne get flirty on Instagram

Is something brewing between Naomi Campbell and Liam Payne?

That's what some fans were left wondering after the age-mismatched stars traded a pair of flirtatious Instagram comments this week.

According to Us Weekly, Naomi, 48, made the fist move on IG on Tuesday, Jan. 15, when she replied to a shirtless selfie the 25-year-old former One Direction singer posted of himself.

"Beautiful Soul," she commented, adding a heart Emoji. Us points out she was among the first to respond to the pic.

"Lmaoooo what is going on????" wondered one of Liam's followers after noticing Naomi's comment.

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#15 ‘Glass’ Revives Box Office With Top 3 All-Time MLK Weekend Opening

Though it isn't looking like it will have the opening weekend analysts expected, Universal's "Glass" is still doing its job of reviving the box office as it moves out of the holiday season. M. Night Shyamalan's latest film made $16 million on Friday, and is currently projected for a 4-day total of $48 million from 3,841 screens on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.

While that's below the $50 million projections set by Universal and well below the $52-65 million projection set by trackers, "Glass" is still on course to post one of the top three highest MLK weekend openings in box office history. The all-time best opening is the $107.2 million set in 2015 by "American Sniper," an outlier as that film went on to gross $350 million domestic. No. 2 on the list belongs to Universal's "Ride Along," which had a 4-day opening of $48.6 million in 2015.

The other good bit of news is that opening night audiences didn't quite reject "Glass" as much as some critics predicted. While the film has a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 35 percent, audiences gave the film a B on CinemaScore. By comparison, Shyamalan's last film, "Split," had a 76 percent RT score and a B+ on CinemaScore. With little competition in the next three weeks, "Glass" will have a chance to leg out into February having already made back its $20 million production budget.

In second place this weekend is STX's "The Upside," which is holding remarkably well and is now poised to join the "Bad Moms" films as one of STX's highest grossing films ever. The film added $4.1 million on its second Friday and is expected to drop just 28 percent from its $20.5 million opening with a $14.7 million 3-day/$17.7 4-day weekend total. That would push its domestic cume to $46 million.

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#16 Sony’s ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Trailer: 130M Views In 24 Hours Breaks Studio Record

(Video provided by Screenplay)

This week’s online release of a teaser trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home was an off-the-wall sensation for Sony’s Columbia Pictures racking up 130 million views in its first 24 frenetic hours.

The massive response made Tuesday’s trailer debut the biggest digital launch in the history of Sony Pictures, topping the mark set by Spider-Man: Homecoming (116 million views in 24 hours). That July 2017 release went on to gross $334.2 million domestically and $880.1 million worldwide.

The new trailer arrived at a moment when interest in Spider-Man is on the upswing thanks to the critical and commercial success of Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the landmark animated epic that appears poised for a major trophy run after its Golden Globes win.

© Sony

Curiosity in the Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer was stoked even more by the cliffhanger ending of Avengers: Infinity War, the Disney/Marvel Studios hit that finished 2018 as the year’s top-grossing global release. That film ended with Spider-Man (and half of humanity) crumbling into dust in the wind.

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#17 Leslie Jones Slams New ‘Ghostbusters’ Film: “It’s Like Something Trump Would Do”

In response to the news that Jason Reitman's new Ghostbusters project will continue the story that began with Ivan Reitman's 1984 original and its 1989 sequel, and ignore the female reboot from director Paul Feig in 2016, Leslie Jones, a cast member from the latter, has voiced her disappointment on social media. 

The comedian took to Twitter on Saturday in a post that said, "So insulting. Like f--- us. We dint count. It’s like something trump would do. (Trump voice)”Gonna redo ghostbusteeeeers, better with men, will be huge. Those women ain’t ghostbusteeeeers” ugh so annoying. Such a d--- move. And I don’t give f--- I’m saying something!!"

Jones tagged her fellow Ghostbusters co-star Melissa McCarthy, along with Reitman. So far there have been no responses from anyone involved in the film, which has received backlash since the announcement of its intent. In England, a journalist wrote an "open letter to Jason Reitman," citing his missed opportunity. 

Feig's Ghostbusters received mostly positive reviews upon its release (it currently sits at a 74 percent Rotten Tomatoes score) and grossed $229 million worldwide, and in particular the strong foundation of female friendship was mentioned in many reviews.

Reitman is writing the screenplay for his film in collaboration with Gil Kenan. Casting details have not yet been released, though the film is set to enter theaters in 2020. 

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#18 Six-time Australian Open champ Roger Federer is upset by Stefanos Tsitsipas

MELBOURNE — Stefanos Tsitsipas, quickly becoming the Greek god of tennis, ruined Roger Federer’s chance of winning a 21st Grand Slam trophy at this Australian Open.

The 20-year-old Tsitsipas, the youngest player still in contention in the men’s draw, handed two-time defending champion Roger Federer, at 37 the oldest man remaining, a 6-7 (11), 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (5) defeat. 

“There is nothing I can describe it to,” said the 14th-seeded Tsitsipas to the crowd after his win. “I’m the happiest man on earth right now.

“I actually from the very beginning to keep that mindset on the court, to believe in yourself and your capabilities on the court. Roger is a legend in our sport and I have so much respect for him. I idolized him since I was six and it was a dream for me to be on Rod Laver with him.”

Federer, who owns the most Grand Slam titles of any man in history, has not won a major since last year’s Australian Open. He didn’t play the French Open, failed to capitalize on a two-set lead over Kevin Anderson in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, and bowed out in the US Open fourth round.

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#19 ‘SNL’: Pete Davidson appears to joke about Instagram post that prompted wellness check

Pete Davidson made his official return to "Saturday Night Live," seemingly able to joke about some of the darker aspects of his life recently. 

Teamed with comedian John Mulaney on Weekend Update to make fun of the Clint Eastwood movie "The Mule," Davidson appeared to bring up his Instagram post from December that prompted a police wellness check in New York. 

It came up because Mulaney was talking about how he tries to show Davidson a new way of life.

"You can have a life in comedy that is not insane. A sober, domestic life," Mulaney said.  

"Yeah, and after observing John's life, I publicly threatened suicide. I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't make that joke. It is funny!" Davidson responded, laughing. 

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