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Baboon grooms little lion cub in South Africa’s Kruger park

JOHANNESBURG (AP) – A male baboon carrying and grooming a lion cub is an unusual sight, yet it happened over the weekend in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

The baboon took the cub up into a tree and preened it as if it were its own, said safari operator Kurt Schultz, who in 20 years had never seen such behavior.

“The baboon was grooming the lion cub as if it was a baby baboon,” Schultz said in an email to The Associated Press. “Male baboons do a lot of grooming but the care given to this lion cub was the same care given by a female baboon to one of her own young.”

Schultz said when he first saw the baboons early Saturday, the troop of baboons was excited and animated. It is possible they had discovered the lion cub, he said.

The baboons had gathered in an area with granite hills and boulders where lions and leopards have been known to hide their cubs while they go hunting, he said, and that’s likely how the baboons found the cub.

Baboons “are really strong animals and when they were all excited and fighting over the baby in the beginning, it could have been injured internally,” Schultz said. It was a hot morning and the cub was also showing signs of dehydration, he said.

While the rest of the baboon troop settled down, the male “moved from branch to branch, grooming and carrying the cub for a long period of time,” Schultz said. “The cub seemed very exhausted.”

Schultz and others on safaris in the park watched the rare sight and took photographs.

“I don’t see a chance of this poor cub surviving. The troop of baboons was large and a lion would not be able to get the young back,” Schultz said. “Nature is cruel at most times and the survival of a young predator cub is not easy. The lion cub would pose a threat to the baboons when it gets older. I have witnessed baboons viciously killing leopard cubs and have heard of baboons killing lion cubs.”

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Rihanna to receive special honor at NAACP Image Awards

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Rihanna will receive the President’s Award during the 51st NAACP Image Awards this month.

The NAACP announced Tuesday that it had selected the 31-year-old pop star and fashion icon for her “groundbreaking career as an artist and musician, but (someone who) has also distinguished herself as a stellar public servant.”

Rihanna will be given the award during the Feb. 22 ceremony that will be televised for the first time on BET. The show will air live from Pasadena, California.

Previous recipients include Jay-Z, Muhammad Ali, Jesse Jackson and Condoleezza Rice.

Rihanna, born Robyn Rihanna Fenty, is a nine-time Grammy winner who launched her own fashion line last year called Fenty with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s largest luxury group. She also has a lingerie line, Savage X Fenty, that debuted in 2018.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson said Rihanna “epitomizes the type of character, grace and devotion to justice” that the organization seeks to highlight.

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Sony warns of China virus impact on raised forecast for year

TOKYO (AP) – Japanese electronics and entertainment company Sony Corp. warned Tuesday that forecasts and results were at risk because of the new virus in China, as it reported a drop in fiscal third quarter on stumbling video game, networking and film businesses.

Tokyo-based Sony, which makes PlayStation video-game consoles, Bravia TVs and Spider-Man films, said the impact of the virus was unclear, but production and sales of its image sensor division were at risk. The company promised to release any new forecasts as soon as possible.

The new coronavirus has caused more than 400 deaths in China, and confirmed cases have climbed to more than 20,000, mostly in China, since the outbreak started late last year.

Sony reported an October- December profit of 229.5 billion yen ($2.1 billion), down from 429 billion yen a year earlier. Quarterly sales rose 3% to 2.46 trillion yen ($22.6 billion). Both quarterly profit and sales were better than the FactSet forecasts.

Sony raised its profit forecast for the year through March 2020 to 590 billion yen ($5.4 billion), up from an earlier projection of 540 billion yen ($5 billion) profit.

That still trails the 916 billion yen Sony earned in the fiscal year that ended in March 2019.

Sales and profit from Sony’s PlayStation 4 business have been faltering. The PlayStation 5 is set to go on sale later this year. An announcement of an upgrade for a machine that’s been on sale several years tends to dampen sales of the current model.

Sony’s image sensors, used in a wide variety of smartphones and digital cameras, continued to be in demand, while sales of its electronics products including smartphones and TVs declined, the company said.

An unfavorable exchange rate also hurt earnings, it said.

Revenue from movies fell on-year partly because of the strong performance the previous year of “Venom,” a film about the Marvel comics superhero, according to Sony.

Higher sales from TV shows, including licensing revenue from the series “The Crown,” were offset by higher expenses.

Sony’s music operations benefited from publishing sales from the acquisition of EMI as well as streaming revenue.


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Asian shares track Wall Street rebound, Shanghai up 1.3%

BANGKOK (AP) – Shares are higher in Asia, with the Shanghai Composite up 1.3% as China’s central bank stepped up its intervention by channeling another 400 billion yuan ($57 billion) in extra funds into the market.

Markets were still far from giving the all-clear on the virus outbreak that has spread to more than 20 countries and killed more than 400 people. But calm returned after Monday’s 8% plunge in Shanghai, despite news that the number of people infected by the virus from China has risen to more than 20,000.

The communist party newspaper People’s Daily said in a tweet that a net 400 billion yuan in funds went into the markets following the People’s Bank of China’s injection of a net 150 billion yuan ($21 billion) on Monday. The central bank announced in advance that it would put 2 trillion yuan ($173 billion) into the market through reverse repurchases of securities on Monday when the markets reopened after a 10-day break that was prolonged to help reduce risks of further spreading the virus. The lion’s share of that money went to cover maturities falling due.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has declared the crisis the country’s biggest priority, as tens of millions of people remain in lockdown as a precaution against contagion.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.6% to 23,104.76, while the Kospi in South Korea jumped 2% to 2,158.30. Australia’s S&P; ASX/200 rose 0.4% to 6,948.70, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong climbed 1.0% to 26,628.96. The Shanghai Composite jumped 1.3% to 2,783.45. Taiwan’s benchmark surged 1.8% and the Sensex in India gained 2%.

“The market is still, for the most part, in the fear mode, but as traders consume more economic data fallout, the hit to the real economy should become more apparent. Then the market will get steered by data, not opinions, or the herd mentality,” Stephen Innes of AxiCorp said in a commentary.

Overnight, U.S. stocks recovered some of their losses from earlier weeks, though a warning signal of recession in the bond market was still flashing red. and oil tumbled on worries about weakened demand. The S&P; 500 rose 0.7%, to 3,248.92. The Dow Jones Industrial Average picked up 0.5%, to 28,399.81, and the Nasdaq added 1.3%, to 9,273.40.

Markets have been wracked by uncertainty over how much the virus will spread, how many it might kills and how long the outbreak might persist, hurting economies and corporate profits.

Some major companies have closed factories in central China, airlines have cancelled hundreds of flights and economists are cutting growth forecasts for the world’s second-largest economy.

The crisis struck just as investors believed economic growth would pick up thanks largely to interest-rate cuts and other bold actions by the Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world. A report on Monday said U.S. manufacturing returned to growth in January for the first time in six months, but many investors paid little attention because it doesn’t fully reflect all the virus concerns.

“Think about what global central bankers are thinking about now” said Emily Roland, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock Investment Management. She imagined them saying: “Are you kidding me? We pumped so much liquidity into the economy last year, and now the yield curve is inverting again?”

The yield curve is a tool used by investors that sits in the dusty corners of the bond market. Markets don’t pay it much attention until it becomes inverted, a relatively rare occurrence that happens when short-term Treasurys offer higher yields than longer-term Treasurys. An albeit imperfect rule of thumb says a recession may be a year or so away when the three-month Treasury’s yield is higher than a 10-year Treasury’s.

On Tuesday, the three-month yield was at 1.55%, above the 1.54% yield of the 10-year, which itself rose from 1.51% late Friday.

“Sentiment builds on sentiment, and there’s so much uncertainty right now,” Roland said. “We’re not ready to call the all-clear until we see a sustained re-acceleration not only in earnings estimates but also in the economic data.”

In the U.S. stock market, gains were relatively widespread on Monday with two stocks rising for every one falling. But nearly a quarter of the gain for the S&P; 500 came from just two stocks: Microsoft and Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

These two, along with other tech behemoths, have increasingly been driving the market as the top five stocks in the S&P; 500 account for roughly 18% of the index by market value. Alphabet will report its latest quarterly reports after markets close on Monday, while Microsoft reported much stronger-than-expected earnings last week.

Nike jumped 3.9% to help drive Dow Jones Industrial Average higher as investors continue to try to handicap how much its earnings will be hurt by the virus. It had dropped more than the rest of the market in earlier weeks because it depends on China not only to help make its shoes and athletic products but also to buy them. Nearly 18% of its revenue last quarter came from China.

Benchmark U.S. crude gained 52 cents to $50.63 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It tumbled $1.45, or 2.8%, on Monday to settle at $50.11 per barrel on worries about demand. It had been above $63 toward the start of the year, before the virus outbreak. Brent crude, the international standard, added 45 cents to $54.90 per barrel. It fell $2.17, or 3.8%, to settle at $54.45 per barrel overnight.

In currency trading, the dollar rose to 108.87 Japanese yen from 108.69 yen. The euro was flat at $1.1061.


AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.

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New virus has infected more than 20,600 globally

A viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 20,600 people globally.

The latest figures as of Tuesday in Beijing:

– China: 425 deaths and 20,438 confirmed cases on the mainland. In addition, Hong Kong has had 15 cases, including one death. Macao has had 10 cases. Most of the deaths have been in central Hubei province, where illnesses from the new type of coronavirus were first detected in December.

– Japan: 20

– Thailand: 19

– Singapore: 18

– South Korea: 16

– United States: 11

– Germany: 12

– Taiwan: 10

– Malaysia: 8

– Australia: 7

– Vietnam: 9

– France: 6

– United Arab Emirates: 5

– Canada: 4

– India: 3

– Philippines: 2 cases, including 1 death

– Russia: 2

– Italy: 2

– Britain: 2

– Nepal: 1

– Sri Lanka: 1

– Sweden: 1

– Spain: 1

– Cambodia: 1

– Finland: 1

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North Korea making ‘all-out efforts’ to guard against virus

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea said Tuesday it was mobilizing 30,000 health workers everyday in its “all-out efforts” to guard against the spread of a virus from neighboring China.

North Korea hasn’t reported any case of the new coronavirus, but some experts say an epidemic in North Korea could be dire because of its chronic lack of medical supplies and poor health care infrastructure.

Authorities were redoubling border inspections and conducting screenings and medical surveillance on those who return from overseas business trips, the North’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.

It said the 30,000 workers are examining and monitoring residents and trying to inform North Korean people about how dangerous the virus is, how it spreads and what precautionary steps they should take.

The virus has killed 425 people in China and one each in Hong Kong and the Philippines. More than 20,000 cases have been confirmed, with at least 180 beyond mainland China.

North Korea shares a long, porous border with China, its last major diplomatic ally and aid benefactor. Tens of thousands of North Korean workers were believed to be working in China before a U.N. order for Beijing to send them back home expired last month. It wasn’t unknown how many of them have returned home.

The newspaper said research centers and pharmaceutical factories were working to develop and produce drugs, test kits, disinfectants and other medical supplies and government ministries were prioritizing quarantine efforts.

North Korea has also banned foreign tourists, reduced flights and suspended operations at a liaison office it has jointly run with South Korea located just north of the inter-Korean border. South Korea on Tuesday reported its 16th case of the virus.

North Korea took similar tough quarantine measures during the 2002-03 spread of SARS, which also began in China. North Korea didn’t report any SARS case there, according to the South Korean government.

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Shows canceled as virus outbreak spooks Asian entertainers

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Concerts and shows are being canceled, not just in China but across much of Asia, as a virus outbreak that has killed more than 300 people and reached more then 20 countries spooks the entertainment industry.

Performances have been called off or postponed in South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macao over concern that people could be infected by the virus that first appeared in the central China city of Wuhan.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra called off its Asia tour, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic canceled five concerts.

Cantopop veteran Andy Lau canceled long-awaited concerts in Hong Kong, with the organizer saying it’s important to protect the health and safety of the audience. It’s unclear whether Lau will proceed with an April concert in Wuhan.

Popular Hong Kong singers Leon Lai and Miriam Yeung also postponed their February concerts in Macao and Singapore, respectively. Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai postponed her show in China, according to her official account on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform.

South Korean agencies have been canceling K-pop events at home and abroad in response to requests from fans about artists’ safety.

Popular K-pop artists such as Taeyeon and boybands WINNER and NCT Dream canceled shows in Singapore and Macao, according to their agency and concert organizer. K-pop boyband GOT7 postponed concerts in Bangkok and Singapore. A fan showcase by girlband GFriend is taking place without an audience due to virus fears.

The ripple effects of the virus have been hitting the arts industry hard in Asia, especially in Hong Kong. The city, which has molded itself into an international cultural hub and gateway to China, now faces cancellation of multiple events, wreaking further havoc on an economy already crippled by prolonged anti-government protests that started last summer.

Art Basel Hong Kong, one of Asia’s most prestigious art fairs, is considering whether to go forward with the annual event in March.

“We share the concerns expressed to us by you, our gallerists and partners,” the organizers said in a Jan. 30 letter to exhibitors. “This is a challenging time for all of us. Our team is working hard to review all possible options.”

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China’s virus cases top 20K as Hong Kong closes most borders

BEIJING (AP) – China said Tuesday the number of infections from a new virus surpassed 20,000 as medical workers and patients arrived at a new hospital and President Xi Jinping said “we have launched a people’s war of prevention of the epidemic.”

Xi presided over a special meeting of the top Communist Party body for the second time since the crisis started, telling the Politburo standing committee on Monday the country must race against time to curb the spread of the virus. He also said those who neglect their duties will be punished, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Hong Kong shut almost all of its land and sea border crossings with the mainland at midnight after medical workers began a strike demanding the border be closed completely. More than 2,000 hospital workers went on strike Monday, and their union has threatened a bigger walkout Tuesday.

Hong Kong was hit hard by SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, in 2002-03, an illness from the same family of viruses as the current outbreak and which many believe was intensified by official Chinese secrecy and obfuscation.

The mainland’s latest figures of 425 deaths and 20,438 confirmed infections with the new coronavirus were up from 361 deaths and 17,205 cases the previous day. Outside mainland China, at least 180 cases have been confirmed, including one fatality, in the Philippines.

Other countries are continuing evacuations and restricting the entry of Chinese or people who have recently traveled in the country. A plane carrying Malaysians from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province where the illness has been concentrated, arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday morning, and the 133 people on board were to be screened and quarantined for 14 days, the maximum incubation period for the virus.

Medical teams from the People’s Liberation Army were arriving in Wuhan to relieve overwhelmed health workers and to staff the new 1,000-bed hospital. It was built in just 10 days, its prefabricated wards equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment and ventilation systems.

A 1,500-bed hospital also specially built for patients infected with the new virus is due to open within days.

With no end to the outbreak in sight, authorities in Hubei and elsewhere extended the Lunar New Year holiday break, due to end this week, well into February to try to keep people at home and reduce the spread of the virus. All Hubei schools are postponing the start of the new semester until further notice.

Chinese scientists said they have more evidence the virus, which was first detected in Wuhan in December, likely originated in bats. In a study published in the journal Nature, Shi Zhen-Li and colleagues at the Wuhan Institute of Virology reported that genome sequences from seven patients were 96% identical to a bat coronavirus.

SARS is also believed to have originated in bats, although it jumped to civet cats before infecting people. Scientists suspect the latest outbreak began at a seafood market in Wuhan where wild animals were on sale and in contact with people.

Japanese officials were considering a quarantine of more than 3,000 people on a cruise ship that carried a passenger who tested positive for the virus. The passenger on the Japanese-operated Diamond Princess left the vessel while it was in Hong Kong on Jan. 25.

The ship returned to Yokohama after making port calls in Vietnam, Taiwan and Okinawa. A team of quarantine officials and medical staff boarded the ship Monday and began medical checks of everyone on board, a health ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with department rules.

The ship’s captain said Hong Kong’s health authorities notified the ship about the passenger’s infection on Saturday, according to a recording of the announcement tweeted by a passenger. The patient is recovering, and his traveling companions so far have not been infected, the captain’s announcement said.

“I wish we were informed as soon as they found out, then I could have worn a mask or washed hands more carefully,” the passenger said. “I was in Hong Kong nine days ago and it seems to be too late now.”


Associated Press writers Maria Cheng in London, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Joe McDonald in Beijing and researchers Yu Bing in Beijing and Chen Si in Zhengzhou, China, contributed to this report.

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After Oprah’s exit, Russell Simmons doc acquired by HBO Max

NEW YORK (AP) – The documentary about several women who have accused Russell Simmons of sexual abuse has found a distributor after Oprah Winfrey’s exit from the film left it in the lurch.

HBO Max on Monday said it acquired Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s film, “On the Record,” following its premiere last week at the Sundance Film Festival. Along with other stories, “On the Record” tracks the decision of music executive Drew Dixon to publicly state that her then-boss Simmons raped her at his New York home in 1995.

Simmons, the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, has denied all accusations of sexual abuse.

On the Record” had been set to be released by Apple TV Plus, with Winfrey as an executive producer. But in the weeks ahead of the film’s Sundance premiere, Winfrey departed the film because she said she that while she believed Dixon, she felt more reporting was needed on her story.

Yet “On the Record” made a strong impression at Sundance, where standing ovations greeted Dixon and other accusers, including Sil Lai Abrams and Sheri Hines. Critics called the film a powerful documentary that brings issues of race into #MeToo discussions.

“The fierce determination of Drew Dixon and all the women who bravely chose to share their stories in ‘On the Record’ moved us profoundly,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max, in a statement.

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Kansas House cheers Donald Trump Chiefs tweet

TOPEKA, Kan. — A tweet from President Trump saying the Kansas City Chiefs had represented Kansas well by winning the Super Bowl was deleted quickly, but Sunflower State lawmakers didn’t let it pass unnoticed Monday.

The Kansas House had a little fun with Trump’s geographical fumble in congratulating the Chiefs on their come-from-behind victory Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers. Trump later tweeted that he was proud of the team and Missouri, where the Chiefs play.

House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr., a Kansas City-area Republican, had a clerk read Trump’s original tweet as if it were a formal presidential message to the chamber.

When the clerk read, “You represented the Great State of Kansas and, in fact, the entire USA, so well,” House members cheered.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly said there’s no rivalry between the two states when it comes to the Chiefs.

“Kansas has always been part of Chiefs Kingdom,” she said in a statement.

The Legislature later canceled Wednesday’s business so members and staff can attend a victory parade in Kansas City, Missouri.

“If you looked license plates at any Chiefs game, just over the line, you’d notice that there are just as many Kansans there as Missourians,” said Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican.

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