In our news wrap Friday, Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman will not be investigated over his impeachment testimony against President Trump, says Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. Vindman already lost his job with the National Security Council. Also, Turkish-backed rebels shot down a Syrian helicopter near Aleppo, in northwest Syria, where renewed violence has driven more than 800,000 from their homes.
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In the day's other news: Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman will not be investigated over his impeachment testimony against President Trump.
The secretary of the Army, Ryan McCarthy, dismissed the idea today. Vindman had already lost his job with the National Security Council. President Trump had suggested that he might also face disciplinary action.
There is word that the U.S. and the Taliban have agreed on a precursor to a possible peace deal in Afghanistan. A senior American official said today that it calls for a one-week reduction in violence. All-Afghan peace talks would follow, and, ultimately, withdrawals of foreign troops.
We will take a closer look after the news summary.
In Syria, Turkish-backed rebels shot down a Syrian helicopter today near Aleppo in the country's northwest. It happened as government forces are pressing an offensive. The violence has created a new wave of refugees, more than 800,000 since December. Many are living in makeshift camps, enduring subzero conditions.
An international team is headed to China to begin investigating the coronavirus outbreak. The World Health Organization announced this today, as China reported nearly 64,000 cases to date, with nearly 1,400 deaths. The Chinese also said that more than 1,700 health workers have been infected.
WHO officials said they need to know how that happened.
Our understanding is that the cases amongst health workers peaked in the third and fourth week of January. And there's been a rapid falloff in the number of cases that have occurred on health workers in the last two weeks.
This may reflect increased levels of training, increased levels of protection, and also increased levels of awareness.
The Chinese have sealed off cities containing some 60 million people. The WHO says it wants to know how the quarantine measures are working.
Back in this country, a second wave of the flu is hitting children especially hard. U.S. health officials said today that 92 children have died so far this season. That is the most in 10 years. Overall, some 26 million Americans have caught the flu, and about 14,000 have died. Those numbers are not especially high compared with other years.
A federal appeals court has struck down a Trump administration mandate that low-income people do paid work in order to receive Medicaid benefits. A three-judge panel today upheld a lower court's ruling calling the requirement — quote — "arbitrary and capricious." The ruling is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The attorney who once pressed an adult film star's lawsuits against President Trump was convicted today of trying to extort Nike. A federal jury in New York found Michael Avenatti threatened the sportswear giant's reputation unless it paid him $25 million. He could get 42 years in prison.
A former Michigan State University gymnastics coach has been found guilty of lying to police. Kathie Klages denied that two athletes told her that disgraced former sports doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused them. She is the second person other than Nassar to face charges related to his molestation. Klages now faces up to four years in prison.
And on Wall Street this Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 25 points to close at 29398. The Nasdaq rose 19 points, and the S&P 500 added six.