News Wrap: Biden, Putin to hold another video conference amid Ukraine tensions:

In our news wrap Wednesday, the United States and Russia announced that Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin plan to speak by phone again Thursday. Shooting broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants along the Gaza border, for the first time in months. The Pacific Northwest faced another Arctic blast, ahead of a coming warm-up by the weekend.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Amna Nawaz:

    In the day's other news: British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of luring teenage girls into sexual abuse by the late Jeffrey Epstein. A federal jury in New York found her guilty on five of six counts after deliberating for five full days. Maxwell showed little reaction as the verdict was read.

    We will have much more on this later in the program.

    The U.S. and Russia announced that presidents Biden and Putin plan to speak by phone again tomorrow. That comes amid high tensions over the Russian troop buildup on Ukraine's border. Moscow is also demanding security guarantees in Eastern Europe. In a call earlier this month, Mr. Biden warned of strong economic penalties if Russia invades Ukraine.

    Russian authorities have shut down a second major human rights group in as many days. A Moscow city court today ordered the Memorial Human Rights center to close. But group leaders rejected the charge that they acted as foreign agents.

  • Alexander Cherkasov, Memorial Human Rights Center (through translator):

    We have been saying from the start that the foreign agent law — and I'm doing the air quotes — is not lawful, because it was designed with the aim of strangling civil society. Today, we received more proof of that. The court essentially validated our efforts.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Just yesterday, the Russian Supreme Court cited the same law in closing a sister organization, Memorial International.

    In the Middle East, meanwhile, shooting broke out today between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants along the Gaza border for the first time in months. It followed an overnight meeting between Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who governs the West Bank. Hamas, which runs Gaza, condemned the meeting.

    It marked the first time Abbas has met with an Israeli official inside Israel since 2010. Afterward, Gantz approved several measures aimed at easing tensions.

    Back in this country, the Pacific Northwest faced another arctic blast ahead of a coming warmup by the weekend. Forecasters warned Northwestern Oregon and Western Washington could get three more inches of snow. Meanwhile, Nevada's governor moved to declare an emergency, as heavy snow and storm conditions snarled travel around the Lake Tahoe area.

    A federal bankruptcy court has blocked opioid lawsuits from proceeding against Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, at least until February 1. That's to give the various parties time to negotiate a new settlement. Earlier this month, a separate federal judge rejected the initial settlement of thousands of lawsuits. She found that it improperly shielded the Sacklers from legal action.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 90 points to close at 36488. The Nasdaq fell 15 points. The S&P 500 added six, reaching a record close.

Listen to this Segment