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Boeing shows how F-15QA fighter is painted in Qatar livery

A short video from the U.S. aerospace giant Boeing demonstrates how the F-15QA fighter jet is painted in its custom livery.

“The most advanced F-15 fighter jet ever built, this aircraft – and the paint scheme – were specifically designed for Qatar Emiri Air Force,” the company said on Twitter.

Posted on the Boeing Twitter page, the timelapse video shows the painting process of F-15QA fighter special Qatar Emiri Air Force livery.

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The F-15QA brings to its operators next-generation technologies such as fly-by-wire flight controls, digital cockpit; modernized sensors, radar, and electronic warfare capabilities; and the world’s fastest mission computer. Increases in reliability, sustainability and maintainability allow defense operators to affordably remain ahead of current and evolving threats.

The advanced F-15QA built using advanced manufacturing processes which make the jet more efficient to manufacture. In the field, the F-15 costs half the cost per flight hour of similar fighter aircraft and delivers far more payload at far greater ranges.

Through investments in the F-15QA platform and partnership with the U.S. Air Force, Boeing is now preparing to build a domestic variant of the advanced fighter, the F-15EX, commonly known as Strike Eagle on Steroids. F-15EX became a program of record for the Air Force when the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020 was signed on Dec. 30, 2019. In January, the Air Force issued public notifications of its intent to award sole-source a contract to Boeing for eight jets. Future plans call for as many as 144 aircraft.

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Coronavirus infection levels fall by more than half in England to 0.1%, ONS analysis shows

Coronavirus infection levels are falling sharply, a new survey revealed today, raising hopes that lockdown could be eased more quickly and people may be able to go on summer holidays.

The number of people with Covid-19 in England was estimated to be 53,000, outside hospitals and care homes, at any given time between May 17 and 30 – the equivalent of 0.1 per cent of the population – according to the study led by the Office for National Statistics.

This is less than half the figure of 133,000 last week – 0.24 per cent of the population – and by far the biggest fall so far.

However, there are still believed to be 39,000 new infections a week.

Individuals working outside the home showed higher rates of positive tests than those who work from home, said the ONS.

It added that patient-facing healthcare workers and resident-facing social care workers showed higher rates of positive tests than people not working in these roles.

The study, done in conjunction with Oxford University, Manchester University, and Public Health England, was based on tests performed on 19,723 people in 9,094 households.

The findings will fuel hopes that more pupils will be able to return to primary schools, and some to secondary schools.

If levels continue to fall, it may also mean more people could return to work, more shops could re-open and possibly even parts of the hospitality industry.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps stressed that whether “air bridges” can be agreed within weeks between the UK and holiday destination countries will partly depend on the “trajectory” of the disease.

Greece, Spain, Germany, Holland are among European countries saying infection levels are still so high in Britain that they are currently imposing restrictions on tourists from the UK.

However, if the number of new cases continues to drop the reluctance to accept UK holidaymakers is expected to ease, especially given that many southern European countries are economically more heavily dependent on tourism.

Mr Shapps is understood to have been pushing the idea of “air bridges” but to have met resistance from Home Secretary Priti Patel who is imposing 14-day quarantine for UK arrivals from Monday.

He stressed a cross-departmental Expert Working Group was exploring how the quarantine measure could be relaxed, particularly for countries with low infection rates.

“Where Priti Patel and I completely agree, this comes in on Monday as a blanket situation..but when we get to the review which is three weeks’ time, so the end of June, beginning of July, we will be looking at whether we can bring in some of those so-called air bridges.

“This will be a question of where the science is and getting international agreements which is why we have this specialist working group looking at it right now.

“So I can’t provide timings without knowing the outcome of things like the trajectory of the disease.”

He also defended not imposing the travel restrictions when the epidemic hit Britain around three months’ ago, explaining that scientists said it would only have delayed the disease by a few days.

“The most important thing is we don’t want a situation where we end up throwing away all the good work in getting this thing under control,” he added.

“There is a wider issue as well, which is not to do with the ports and airports, or air bridges or anything else, which is that the Foreign Office advice remains that nothing but absolutely essential travel.”

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Xi Jinping’s reemergence shows how China is controlling the coronavirus narrative

In a 42-second video released by state broadcaster CCTV, Xi was shown visiting several locations in the capital Beijing dedicated to fighting the virus, getting his temperature taken and speaking to medical staff.
Throughout the video, which has no audio other than a background piano track, Xi wears a disposable surgical mask — the type Chinese officials have been urging people to don in order to avoid further spread of the virus.
Coverage of Xi’s outing in Beijing has been carefully controlled. Chinese state media outlets, even those which usually pursue their own editorial lines, are running copy from the official Xinhua news agency, along with the CCTV-produced video — often a sign that the message is being specifically managed by the central authorities.

Xinhua and CCTV are the two most important institutions in the Chinese media, and their coverage typically guides how other outlets cover politically sensitive issues.

While Xi’s outing was itself fairly inconsequential in practical terms, its timing is politically sensitive, coming after Xi had effectively vanished from newspaper front pages and news broadcasts, which he usually dominates.
Monday was the first time he has been seen directly engaging in virus-related efforts. The closest he came before that was a meeting in the Great Hall of the People with World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on January 28.

The rarity of Xi’s outing, as well as the push to ensure wall-to-wall coverage of it, shows how Chinese authorities are going to play the virus crisis going forward.

Chinese President Xi Jinping tours a neighborhood in Beijing on February 10.

Safe locations

According to state media, Xi visited “a residential community, a hospital and a district center for disease control and prevention in Beijing.”

While there have been a few hundred cases of the virus reported in Beijing, and three deaths, the capital is nevertheless about 1,000 kilometers (650 miles) from Wuhan, Hubei province — the epicenter of the outbreak. Stringent controls have also been put in place to stop the spread of the virus within the city, much of which remains a ghost town despite businesses reopening Monday, as millions work from home in voluntary quarantine.

During his outing, Xi wore a regular surgical mask, of the type available to most people, rather than a respirator or more sophisticated face covering. Basic masks can block droplets from sneezes or coughs, but they’re recommended for areas where the number of potential virus carriers is low — by comparison, medics in Wuhan itself are often seen wearing full hazmat-style suits.

Xi’s mask use suggests that he was never at any risk of infection. Nor is he likely to be — Xi is the most important person in China, the axis around which the country’s political and military structure rotates. He is the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, and would never place himself in a position where his health was under threat.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks as he visits a construction site of a new hospital being built to treat patients of a deadly virus outbreak in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on January 27.

Last month, Premier Li Keqiang — who has been sidelined under Xi but is nevertheless one of the country’s top officials — visited Wuhan itself and met with frontline medical workers. This fits with how China and most other governments handle crises: people want to see that officials are on top of things and feel reassured.

That Xi did not take part in a stage-managed outing like Monday’s before now had led to widespread speculation about what was going on behind the scenes.

Chinese politics, especially at the highest level, is a black box at the best of times. But there was evidence of a struggle by the propaganda and censorship apparatuses to control the narrative around the virus.

Evidence that officials in Wuhan downplayed the outbreak even after it should have been clear that human-to-human transmission was taking place led to a brief relaxation of censorship — this reduced some public outrage but also led to embarrassing stories in the Chinese press over just how bad the situation was.
That brief period of transparency did not last long, and last week state media began promoting positive stories hard, in an apparent effort to shift the narrative from one of crisis to one of resilience and resurgence. A selection of top stories from Tuesday’s edition of the China Daily illustrates this approach: “Couple puts duty before reunion dinners”; “More medics rush to join the fight in Wuhan”; “Hunan student honors health workers, including his father, with artworks.”

And while the desire to avoid fatalism — particularly among the millions of increasingly stir-crazy people trapped in voluntary quarantine across the country — is understandable, it comes as major questions remain unanswered over the Wuhan government and central authorities’ handling of the crisis.

Xi's last public appearance relating to the coronavirus was alongside Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the World Health Organization, in Beijing on January 28.

The push for more positive stories may have been setting the ground for Xi’s reemergence, once it was ensured that he could appear as the person to solve the crisis.

Throughout his disappearance from front pages, state media always emphasized that Xi was the one directing the response — a risky strategy that would only work in a country like China where the authorities have absolute control over the media and can censor any who questions them.

“Xi is the commander of the people’s war against the epidemic,” Xinhua said Tuesday. “Over the past few weeks, he has called multiple meetings, heard reports, made important instructions on the prevention and control work and discussed the topic with foreign leaders.”

Xinhua reported that Xi took part in a video conference on Monday with officials in Hubei. “Wuhan is a heroic city, and people of Hubei and Wuhan are heroic people who have never been crushed by any difficulty and danger in history,” Xi told the officials.

Someone’s getting the blame

But while the people of Hubei may be heroic, the province’s government is increasingly emerging as the villain of this crisis.

For weeks it has been clear that the poor handling of the epidemic early on led to it spreading throughout the country, either due to bureaucratic incompetence or an active cover-up by local officials of the type seen during SARS.

The human cost of this was made evident last week, when Li Wenliang, a doctor widely hailed as a hero for attempting to raise the alarm about the virus, died from it. Li had been detained by police in Wuhan for spreading “rumors,” after he warned some university friends in a chat group about a “SARS-like virus” spreading in the city.

His death and the clumsy handling of it by the authorities led to widespread outrage online and a rare open challenge to the country’s censors, with hundreds of thousands demanding free speech before they were themselves censored.

It was clear then that a deluge of positive stories would not be enough to turn the country’s mood around — people needed to see someone held to account.

Beijing quickly announced that the National Supervisory Commission, a nationwide anti-corruption task force with sweeping powers, was dispatching a team to Wuhan to investigate the matter, with the clear message that heads will roll.
Speaking to British media this week, China’s ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming blamed the censorship in Wuhan and arrest of whisteblowers on a few bad apples, adding that “(Li Wenliang) will be remembered as a hero … and for his brave contribution.”

On Tuesday, CCTV reported that two officials in charge of Hubei’s provincial health commission had been suspended, likely just the start of a wholesale purging of the local government.

“Every life counts. The right to survival and health is the most basic and important human right,” Xinhua said in a commentary published after Xi’s outing Monday. “All these challenges must be and will be overcome in China’s characteristic system with a great degree of strength and resilience.”

CNN’s Steven Jiang and Nectar Gan contributed reporting.

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Sessions on Impeachment: ‘Dramatic Abuse’ by House — Pelosi Refusal to Send to Senate Shows Lack of Confidence

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — On Thursday, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama, was on the campaign trail in his state’s Tennessee Valley, catching up with voters and local officials about the issues of the day.

Of notable importance was the House of Representatives’ passage of two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump a day earlier.

In comments given to Breitbart News, the former U.S. Senator and Attorney General criticized the House of Representatives’ effort on the grounds of substance and called it a “dramatic abuse” by the body.

“I think it has just been shocking to most Americans to see how little substance this is,” he said. “It’s like, is this all there is? After all these vicious charges against the president, it comes down to these vague charges of abuse and obstruction? What does that mean? I think it’s a dramatic abuse by the House of Representatives of the impeachment clause in the Constitution. And it’s not anything the House says it is. Some have tried to say that. But in truth, the Constitution says treason, bribery, high crimes, and misdemeanors. Those mean something. It means something other than we had a disagreement with you, and now we’re going to impeach you. This was a horrible, improper act, in my opinion.”

The former U.S. Attorney General also weighed in on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) refusal at the moment to transfer the articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate, where a trial would take place. He said that gesture from Pelosi showed a lack of confidence in the two articles.

“I think there’s no doubt they don’t have confidence in them,” Sessions explained. “They’re not able to defend the charges. You had Professor [Jonathan] Turley, who I have gotten to know, Ken Starr, who is a great lawyer, being a law school dean and was a Clinton special prosecutor, but he says it is nowhere close to impeachable offenses. And Professor Turley does, too. He says it would be the least supported impeachment charge ever in our nation’s history. I’m totally in accord with that. Not sending it over is to me a clear indication that they’re not proud of their work. I said some weeks ago it looked like they were going to force this thing through and slink away, and hope it goes away. They know it doesn’t have legs in the Senate.”

Sessions did not have a recommendation as to whether or not witnesses should be called in the Senate trial. But he added that he did not think witnesses were necessary and pointed out that witnesses were not called in the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton in 1999.

“In my opinion, there’s so little substance in this impeachment charge that calling witnesses is not required to fulfill the responsibility of the Senate,” he said. “But I know Sen. McConnell and the White House are talking about that question. I won’t make a recommendation as to what they should do. I think they should think it through, and I think they probably should reach a good decision. I don’t think it’s required. We didn’t do witnesses on Clinton. With Clinton, there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt — all the elements of three different crimes. There’s no crime really charged here. The charges are vague, and they support impeachment for almost anything Congress wanted to do in the future if this is sustained.”

Sessions is the apparent front-runner in a crowded field for the seat he held for 20 years before accepting President Donald Trump’s appointment to serve as U.S. Attorney General. Sessions faces former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R) for the opportunity to run against incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) next November.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor

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New Zealand volcano video: Horrific footage shows moment of eruption on White Island | World | News

A New Zealand volcano on White Island, off the northern coast of the Northern Island, erupted on Monday morning. At least 100 people are believed to have been in the area when the eruption took place and officials confirmed at least one person died when the country’s most active cone volcano spewed a billowing cloud of ashes into the sky. A horrific video shared online after the eruption appears to have captured a group of people standing on a rock inside the crater as the first signs of the eruption appears under the guise of a cloud of smoke. 

The video, which appears to have been filmed from a boat circumnavigating White Island, also captured the aftermath of the eruption, showing a huge black cloud entirely engulfing the island. 

New Zealand police have advised people the volcanic ash could pose a major health threat to the public.

Roads have been closed around the town of Whakatāne, the closest town to White Island, as the local hospital has been turned into an emergency operation centre to help authorities cope with the emergency.

New Zeland Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed during a press conference around 100 people were believed to be on White Island when the volcano erupted.

Ms Ardern said: “Police were alerted at 2.17pm.

“At this stage, and please do keep in mind this is an evolving situation, we believe around 100 people were on or around the island at the time and some of those are at this stage unaccounted for.

“I want to share this is evolving at this stage, at this stage, it does appear to be a very significant issue, particularly the scale of those affected.”

The White Island stratovolcano last erupted in 2016 according to New Zealand science agency GeoNat, which recorded a “short-lived” burst that caused no harm as it happened overnight.

Australian geologist Professor Richard Arculus from the Australian National university suggested the volcano on White Island had been “showing signs of unrest for the past few weeks.”

Speaking to The Guardian, Prof Arculus added: “The eruption this afternoon was a short-lived explosive event.

“In addition to gases, fragmented rock particles (ash) rose approximately 4,000m above the vent.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison offered his country’s support to neighbouring New Zealand at this time of emergency.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Morrison said: “A terrible tragedy is unfolding in NZ after the volcano eruption on Whakaari/White Island. Australians have been caught up in this terrible event and we are working to determine their wellbeing.

“I have been in touch with @jacindaardern to offer our full support with whatever they need and our authorities are working closely together. I will be staying in direct contact as events continue to unfold.

“We will provide updates once they are confirmed and are available.”

White Island, also known as Whakaari, is located in the Bay of Plenty, approximately 30 miles from the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand.

The island is roughly circular, about 1.2 miles in diameter, and rises to a height of 1,053 ft above sea level. White Island covers an area of approximately 800 acres.

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Philipp Plein relies on mom, others, to help cast his shows

Designer Philipp Plein is so focused on fashion that he says he has to rely on his mom to tell him which hip celebrities to put on his runways.

“I’m really bad because whenever I want a performer at my fashion show I ask my mother, I ask my sister, my girlfriend, ‘Do you know this person?’ And if my mother and sister say ‘no,’ then I cut [the star] from walking or performing,” he told Page Six Tuesday at his boutique.

The designer was debuting a new unisex fragrance called the $kull, which retails for a pungent $445. Plein continued the night with an after-party at his townhouse, catered by TAO. But, like many hosts, he can’t stand overeager guests. “It starts at 9 o’clock,” he said as he left the launch. “So don’t come before that.”

His shows are known to attract celebs including Paris Hilton, Bella Thorne, Mickey Rourke and Lindsay Lohan. Earlier this year, he was scammed out of $900,000 by a faux Kanye West booker who said the rapper would play his NYC fashion show.

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Trump calls Trudeau ‘two-faced’ over video that shows world leaders joking about U.S. president

LONDON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other world leaders have been caught on camera apparently talking candidly on Tuesday night about U.S. President Donald Trump,

Hours later, the backlash materialized.

“Well, he’s two-faced,” the president said Wednesday when asked about the video. After a long pause, he added, “He’s a nice guy. I find him to be a very nice guy.”

Trump, who was taking questions from reporters before a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, attributed Trudeau’s frustration to the president’s pressure campaign to increase Canada’s military spending to 2% of its economic output.

“He should be paying more than he’s paying,” Trump said. “I called him out on that and I’m sure he wasn’t happy about it, but that’s the way it is.”

Trump later said on Twitter he would leave the NATO summit early and skip a closing news conference.

Britain’s Princess Royal Anne talks to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a reception on December 3, 2019.

Yui Mok/Pool via REUTERS

At a news conference Wednesday, Trudeau explained he was talking to Macron and Johnson in the video about Trump’s announcement earlier in the day that the next G7 summit in June would be held at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, rather than the Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami.

“Last night, I made a reference to the fact there was an unscheduled press conference before my meeting with president Trump, I was happy to take part in it but it was certainly notable,” Trudeau told reporters.

“We were all surprised and I think pleased to learn that the next G7 will be at Camp David, I think that was an unscheduled announcement and … I think every different leader has teams who every now and then their jaws drop at unscheduled surprises, like that video itself for example,”

Trudeau said he did not believe the video would come back to haunt Canada.

“The relationship with the United States is extremely strong and I have a very good relationship with the president and his team,” he said.

Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, departsafter speaking to reporters at the NATO summit on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019.

Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The video was shot by the British host’s pool camera during a reception at Buckingham Palace held Tuesday night in London, where leaders from NATO’s 29 countries are marking the 70th anniversary of the military alliance with two days of meetings and discussions.

Snippets of the conversation involving Trudeau, Princess Anne, French President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands rose above the din and were captured in the short video.

“Is that why you were late?” a smiling Johnson asks Macron in the 25-second clip.

“He was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top,” Trudeau chimes in.

The leaders do not use Trump’s name, but hours before the reception, Trump had turned what were “expected to be brief photo opportunities” with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Macron and Trudeau into what The Washington Post described as “his own personal daytime cable show”.

In his meeting with Trudeau, Trump questioned the Canadian prime minister about how much his country spends on its own defence. Canada does not meet NATO’s target for member countries to spend 2% of their gross domestic product on their militaries.

“What are you at? What is your number?” Trump asked.

President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greet each other at the NATO summit at the Grove Hotel on December 4, 2019 in Watford, England.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Trudeau tried to evade answering directly, saying: “The number we talk about is a 70% increase over these past years. We are increasing significantly our defence spending from previous governments that cut it.”

But Trump followed up. “Okay, where are you now, in terms of your number?”

After some discussion with an aide, Trudeau answered: “1.4.”

Trump said on Wednesday that he had called out Trudeau for failing to meet the 2% target for national output on defence.

By early Wednesday, the Tuesday video had been watched nearly 5 million times.

Others quickly noticed that a member of the royal family was also involved in the exchange, identifying Princess Anne, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, by her distinctive hair.

Earlier in the evening, Anne was seen in another viral video appearing to shrug off a “scolding” from the Queen for not joining the royal receiving line to greet the president and first lady.

Trump on Tuesday did not publicly address the Trudeau video, only tweeting early Wednesday morning that he “enjoyed” his post-reception meeting with Johnson at 10 Downing Street, where the pair “talked about numerous subjects including @NATO and Trade.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

The Canadian Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

By Tuesday afternoon, Johnson claimed at a news conference that he had not been party to any discussion about Trump.

“That’s complete nonsense, and I don’t know where that has come from,” he said. “I really don’t know what is being referred to there.”

When Trudeau arrived at the summit early Wednesday, he walked briskly by reporters and did not answer shouted questions regarding his remarks allegedly about Trump.

Later, as leaders sat down for their meeting, Trudeau could be seen going over to Trump and shaking his hand politely. The two men said something quickly to each other, then Trudeau walked away.

The video had prompted concerns about how the mercurial U.S. president would react.

“By this point in his tenure, the prime minister should realize that events with pool cameras need to be approached and managed as on-the-record events,” Andrew MacDougall, former director of communications for prime minister Stephen Harper, wrote on Twitter.

“Hopefully this gaffe doesn’t wind the president up at a sensitive time for NAFTA and the Meng (Wanzhou)/Huawei file.”

Trump has long bridled at the idea of other world leaders poking fun at the United States.

“The world is laughing at us,” he said frequently during his 2016 presidential campaign, criticizing the leadership of President Barack Obama.

In June 2017, when he announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, Trump said that “we don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us any more. And they won’t be. They won’t be.”

In 2018, after laughter broke out at the United Nations General Assembly when Trump claimed his administration had “accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” the president insisted that he was not the target.

“They weren’t laughing at me, they were laughing with me,” he said.

While Trudeau has spent much of the past three years trying to establish a good relationship with Trump, the U.S. president has not shied away from lashing out any perceived slight from fellow world leaders.

The U.S. president also previously attacked Trudeau following the G7 summit in Quebec City in June 2018, describing the latter as “so meek and mild” amid a trade row over Canadian dairy and American tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.

Chris Rands, a producer at the CBC’s Parliamentary news bureau in Ottawa, said he had first unearthed the video while searching for images of Trudeau in footage from Buckingham Palace.

Rands added that based on his listening, Trudeau was discussing Trump’s surprise announcement that a Group of 7 summit meeting next June would be held at CampDavid rather than the Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami.

Meanwhile, social media was flooded with reactions.

Some viewers were shocked to witness the leaders seeming to act like “mean girls,” as one person put it.

“Oh my God,” a Twitter user wrote. “This is quite something,” another person opined.

With files from The Canadian Press, Washington Post, New York Times and Bloomberg News

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