News briefs: Trump shall 'be, and is hereby, acquitted of the charges'

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump won impeachment acquittal in the U.S. Senate, bringing to a close only the third presidential trial in American history with votes that split the country, tested civic norms and fed the tumultuous 2020 race for the White House.

With Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, senators sworn to do "impartial justice" stood and stated their votes for the roll call — "guilty" or "not guilty" — in a swift tally almost exclusively along party lines. Trump, the chief justice then declared, shall "be, and is hereby, acquitted of the charges." 

The outcome Wednesday followed months of remarkable impeachment proceedings, from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's House to Mitch McConnell's Senate, reflecting the nation's unrelenting partisan divide three years into the Trump presidency.

What started as Trump's request for Ukraine to "do us a favor" spun into a far-reaching, 28,000-page report compiled by House investigators accusing an American president of engaging in shadow diplomacy that threatened U.S. foreign relations for personal, political gain as he pressured the ally to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of the next election. 

No president has ever been removed by the Senate.

Buttigieg, Sanders nearly tied as Iowa caucus results narrow

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders are nearly tied in the Iowa Democratic caucuses, with nearly all results counted in a contest marred by technical issues and reporting delays. 

The race remained too early to call early Thursday with 97% of precincts reporting. Party officials were scrambling to verify the remaining results three days after Iowans gathered at caucus sites across the state to begin choosing which Democrat will take on President Donald Trump in November. 

A new batch of results released just after midnight narrowed the margin between Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Sanders, the progressive senator from Vermont. Buttigieg has a lead of three state delegate equivalents out of 2,098 counted.

The deadlocked contest gives both Buttigieg and Sanders a burst of momentum as they seek to pull away from the crowded field. The nearly complete results show them leading Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, with former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar trailing behind. 

But the results in Iowa were muddied by the stunning breakdown of the caucus reporting process in a state that traditionally kicks off presidential nominating contests. Iowa officials initially attributed a delay in reporting results to technical problems with an app that precinct chairs were supposed to use to record votes, then to backlogs as those volunteers tried to call the party to submit their totals. 

This week's American turmoil, seen through allies' eyes

For American politics, it's been a week for the ages: a bungled start to the 2020 presidential primary season, a State of Union speech with partisanship on full display and a conclusion to the most contentious chapter of all — the nation's third-ever impeachment trial.

Watching all this from afar are allies, foes and those who have looked to the United States for stability. Here, from AP correspondents in four regions, is a look at how some key American allies are eyeing the 2020 U.S. election and the jumbled months that precede it — whether in the hope that Donald Trump's Republican presidency continues for a second term or that a Democrat returns to the White House.

'A floating prison': Cruise of Asia ends in virus quarantine

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — David Abel's 50th wedding anniversary luxury cruise began with him eating his fill and enjoying the sights of East Asia. 

It's ending with him quarantined in his cabin aboard the Diamond Princess for two extra weeks, eating a "lettuce sandwich with some chicken inside" and watching 20 infected people escorted off the ship, heading for hospitals for treatment of a new virus. 

Abel is among hundreds of passengers on two cruise ships — in Japan and Hong Kong — caught in the drama and fear about the little-understood virus that just emerged in December. Tests are still pending on some passengers and crew who have symptoms or had contact with infected people.

"It's not going to be a luxury cruise; it's going to be like a floating prison," Abel said on Facebook from the ship in the port of Yokohama, outside Tokyo.

As Japanese officials loaded the ship with supplies Thursday to make the quarantine as bearable as possible, passengers took to social media to highlight small kindnesses by the crew and to complain about dwindling medicine, the quality of the food and the inability to exercise or even leave their cabins. 

Global tourism takes major hit as virus halts Chinese travel

This should have been a good year for global tourism, with trade tensions gradually easing, certain economies growing and banner events like the Summer Olympics taking place in Tokyo. But the viral outbreak in China has thrown the travel industry into chaos, threatening billions in losses and keeping millions of would-be travelers at home.

Gabrielle Autry, an American who lives in China, had expected to travel to Hong Kong this week to get engaged to her Chinese boyfriend. But those plans are on hold, and the couple is quarantined in their apartment in Hangzhou, an eight-hour drive from the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan. As of Wednesday, China had reported 28,018 cases and 563 deaths. 

"We are thankful for our health and that we are together here," Autry said. She doesn't know when they will be able to reschedule their trip.

Thirty airlines have suspended service to China and 25,000 flights were cancelled this week alone, according to OAG, a travel data company. Hotel rooms in China are largely empty; Chinese hotel occupancy plummeted 75% in the last two weeks of January, according to STR, a hotel research firm. More than 7,000 passengers are quarantined on two cruise ships in Japan and Hong Kong.

Before the outbreak, the United Nations World Tourism Organization was forecasting growth of 3-4% in global tourism this year, an increase over the 1.5 billion tourist arrivals in 2019. Upsides, like economic improvement in the Middle East and Latin America, outweighed some potential downsides, like the uncertainty of Brexit or any lingering U.S.-China trade disputes.

Flights resume at Istanbul airport after plane crash kills 3

ISTANBUL (AP) — Flights resumed Thursday at an Istanbul airport after a Turkish airliner skidded off a runway, killing three people and injuring 180 others. 

Sabiha Gokcen Airport restarted operations at around 4 a.m. (0100 GMT) though delays and cancellations continued. 

On Wednesday evening, a Boeing 737 operated by low-cost Pegasus Airline landed from Izmir on Turkey's western coast during strong winds and heavy rain and overshot the runway. It skidded about 50 to 60 meters (165 to 200 feet) before it dropped into the ditch from a height of about 30 meters (98 feet), according to the city's governor, Ali Yerlikaya. 

The plane, carrying 177 passengers and six crew members, broke up into three parts upon impact. The plane was 11 years old, according to flight tracking website Flightradar24.

Yerlikaya, speaking early Thursday, said all those injured were stable and four people had significant injuries, but he didn't give details on how severe they were. 

Not a break, but fissures in US-Iraqi military alliance

BAGHDAD (AP) — A new watchtower rose over an American military base in northern Iraq, and cranes lifted hefty slabs of concrete to reinforce the barricades in beefed-up protections. The danger, soldiers there said, came not from the constellation of militant sleeper cells embedded in the landscape but further afield in Iran.

U.S. forces in Iraq have been on guard for retaliation by Iran or its Shiite militias allies since the U.S. killed Iran's top general in Iraq with an airstrike in Baghdad last month. The Jan. 3 strike also fueled a wave of outrage among Iraq's Shiite leadership and intensified demands that American troops leave the country. 

Since then, Iraqi leaders have scaled back the saber-rattling rhetoric. But behind closed doors, the bitterness has poisoned the partnership. The government told the Iraqi military not to seek U.S. help in operations fighting the Islamic State group, two senior Iraqi military officials told The Associated Press — a sign that authorities are serious about rethinking the strategic relationship.

At stake are vital U.S.-provided weapons, military technologies and aircraft that have been key in countering the threat of Islamic State group militants trying to make a comeback in northern and western Iraq. The prospect of losing that help is one reason why Iraqi politicians have cooled their demands for American forces to go immediately. Senior Iraqi military officials oppose a withdrawal. 

"To us the American presence is like the electricity network in a house," said a brigadier general stationed in western Iraq, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media. "If the light is turned off the whole place goes dark." 

Kirk Douglas rose from poverty to become a king of Hollywood

NEW YORK (AP) — He was born Issur Danielovitch, a ragman's son. He died Kirk Douglas, a Hollywood king.

Douglas, the muscular, tempestuous actor with the dimpled chin, lived out an epic American story of reinvention and perseverance, from the riches he acquired and risked to the parts he took on and the boundaries he defied. Among the most popular, versatile and recognizable leading men of the 20th century, he could will himself into a role or a favorite cause as mightily as he willed himself out of poverty.

Douglas, who died Wednesday at 103, was a force for change and symbol of endurance. He is remembered now as a final link to a so-called "Golden Age," the father of Oscar winner Michael Douglas and a man nearly as old as the industry itself. But in his prime, he represented a new kind of performer, more independent and adventurous than Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and other greats of the studio era of the 1930s and 1940s, and more willing to speak his mind. 

His career began at the peak of the studios' power and ended in a more diverse, decentralized age that he helped bring about.

Reaching stardom after World War II, he was as likely to play cads (the movie producer in "Bad and the Beautiful," the journalist in "Ace in the Hole") as he was suited for the hero-slave in "Spartacus," as alert to the business as he was at home before the camera. He was producing his own films at a time most movie stars were content to act and was working with an enviable range of directors, from a young Stanley Kubrick to a middle-aged John Huston, from a genius of noir like Jacques Tourneur to such master satirists as Billy Wilder and Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

NASA's record-setting Koch, crewmates safely back from space

MOSCOW (AP) — NASA astronaut Christina Koch, who has spent nearly 11 months in orbit on the longest spaceflight by a woman, landed landed safely in Kazakhstan on Thursday along with two of her International Space Station crewmates.

The Soyuz capsule carrying Koch, along with station Commander Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and the Russian space agency Roscosmos' Alexander Skvortsov, touched down southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, at 3:12 p.m. (0912 GMT).

Koch wrapped up a 328-day mission on her first flight into space, providing researchers the opportunity to observe the effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman. The study is important since NASA plans to return to the moon under the Artemis program and prepare for the human exploration of Mars.

Koch smiled and gave a thumbs-up as support crew helped her get out of the capsule and placed her in a chair for a quick post-flight check-up alongside her crewmates. Russian space officials said they were in good shape.

Koch, who grew up in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and now lives near the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston, Texas, with her husband, Bob, told The Associated Press last month that taking part in the first all-female spacewalk was the highlight of her mission.

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