Coronavirus: Cruise ship stuck in limbo finally anchors
A cruise ship that was turned away from multiple ports in Asia over coronavirus fears finally anchored Thursday off Cambodia, which is checking the health of its over 2,200 passengers and crew. Cambodia came to the rescue of passengers aboard Holland America’s MS Westerdam on Wednesday, granting the ship permission to disembark at Sihanoukville. The ship departed Hong Kong Feb. 1 and was scheduled to disembark in Shanghai on Saturday before coronavirus gripped mainland China. It then was turned away from ports in Japan, Guam, and Thailand, despite the cruise line’s assertion that there are no known cases among the 1,455 passengers and 802 crew. Holland America is giving passengers a free flight home and a full refund.
Equal Rights Amendment to get help from House
The House is expected to vote Thursday to remove the 1982 deadline for ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. The House vote comes weeks after Virginia became the 38th – and potentially pivotal – state to ratify the amendment. If codified into the Constitution, the amendment would explicitly declare that women have equal rights under the law – something supporters say is necessary to protect women against workplace discrimination, domestic violence and sexual harassment. But the House move will be mostly symbolic, as the Senate is not expected to follow suit and the ability of Congress to change the deadline would likely challenged in court.
A tale of two Democrats: Klobuchar, Bloomberg hit trail with momentum
Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg don’t have a lot in common, but at least two things are the same: Both will be on campaign trail on Thursday and both have seen a surge in momentum in recent weeks. Coming off a surprisingly strong third-place finish in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday and a good performance in last week’s debate, Klobuchar raised more money in four days than half the cash she raised during the last three months of 2019. She’ll take her “Klomentum” into Nevada Thursday for a town hall in Las Vegas ahead of the state’s caucuses on Feb. 22. Bloomberg, who now enjoys double-digit support in several national polls, is pumping more money than the other candidates into ads, ignoring the early voting states and focusing on the 19 that go to the polls on Super Tuesday (March 3rd). His visits to three North Carolina cities and Houston Thursday night illustrate that strategy.
Trial of Harvey Weinstein nears conclusion
Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Thursday in the dramatic sexual misconduct trial of Harvey Weinstein. Once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, Weinstein has been on trial in New York since early January on five charges, including rape and assault, in connection with accusations from two women. Four additional women testified and accused him of similar behavior. Weinstein, 67, faces up to life in prison if convicted. He faces similar charges in Los Angeles after the New York proceedings conclude.
After a tumultuous offseason, Houston Astros begin spring training
Houston Astros pitchers and catchers will gather for their first spring training workout in Florida Thursday and, after a tough offseason, will begin an apology tour – or a tour of contrition anyway. Not only did the Astros lose the 2019 World Series to the Washington Nationals despite having a better record, but the ongoing sign-stealing scandal not only tainted the 2017 title the Astros did win, but established them as international villains USA TODAY’s Gabe Lacques offered his advice on how the Astros players who were on the 2017 team should handle what’s coming and a couple of players have already employed his suggestions. Utilityman Marwin Gonzalez, now with the Minnesota Twins, expressed regret and added that he is “remorseful for everything that happened in 2017.” Pitcher Charlie Morton, who now plays with the Tampa Bay Rays, said he regrets not doing anything to try to stop the sign stealing and relaying of information.