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News Wrap: European Central Bank launches stimulus program

In our news wrap Thursday, the European Central Bank announced a plan to buy up $1.2 billion of bonds to stabilize Europe’s economy, a program similar to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing. Also, at least 13 people died in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk when mortar rounds hit a bus stop.

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    The European Central Bank announced a sweeping economic stimulus program today, modeled on the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank's efforts.

    Starting in March, and running through September, the European Bank will buy up $1.2 trillion in bonds. The goal is to flood the continent's ailing economy with euros and make loans and exports cheaper.


    The news out of Europe stimulated Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 259 points to close just short of 17814; the Nasdaq rose nearly 83 points to close at 4750; and the S&P 500 added 31 to finish at 2063.


    U.S. officials report progress after historic talks in Havana aimed at normalizing relations with Cuba. The American delegation pressed for lifting travel restrictions on U.S. diplomats. Cuba demanded its removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

    Afterward, both sides said they'd made a good start with a long way yet to go.

    ROBERTA JACOBSON, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs: As our presidents have taken this step to overcome more than 50 years of a relationship that wasn't based on confidence or trust. So there are things that we have to discuss before we can establish that relationship and so there will be future conversations.

    GUSTAVO MACHIN, Deputy Director of North American Affairs, Cuba (through intrpreter): Without a doubt, we are going to continue to arrive at this point to formalize relations. Not all the issues can be agreed upon in just one meeting. We need to make proposals and continue the exchange.


    There's no date yet for the next round of the talks.


    A deadly new attack in Eastern Ukraine doused hopes for a new peace effort. At least 13 people died when mortar rounds blasted a bus stop in the rebel-held city of Donetsk.

    Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News reports.


    They'd just got on the trolley bus when the shell hit, destination, maybe work, or shopping.

    Doing anything is dangerous in Donetsk these days. The victims were those with nowhere else to go. Everyone is used to seeing the debris of war. Everyone waits in dread for the call.

  • MAN (through interpreter):

    They called me and told me my wife was killed. I didn't see what happened. I just arrived. I saw them putting her in the car. That's all.


    Who fired the rocket? Both sides blame the other, and neither will believe the verdict of the international monitors, carefully measuring trajectories and shrapnel.

    The separatist leader, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, stood over the coffins of the bus attack victims and made the prisoners of war load the dead into trucks.

    In Berlin, the Russian foreign minister was blaming the Ukrainians. In Kiev, the Ukrainian president was blaming the Russians. And far away in Davos, the German chancellor was talking about a cease-fire, some hope. Overnight, the Russian-backed separatists took control of Donetsk Airport. The small band of Ukrainian soldiers who'd held on for eight months were killed or retreated.

    A year ago, this was the gateway to Ukraine's economic powerhouse. Now it's a symbol of how quickly peace and prosperity can be destroyed.


    Just yesterday, Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany met to work out a dividing line between Ukraine's forces and the rebels.


    The Ebola epidemic in West Africa appears to be ebbing. The World Health Organization announced today that there were 145 new cases last week, continuing a steady downward trend. In all, more 21,000 people have been infected, and more than 8,600 have died, in the outbreak.


    Back in this country, a major public corruption case rocked New York State today. The longtime speaker of the state assembly, Democrat Sheldon Silver, was arrested on federal charges of taking $4 million in bribes and kickbacks.

    U.S. attorney Preet Bharara scoffed at Silver's claim that it was all attorney referral fees.

    PREET BHARARA, U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York: As alleged, Speaker Silver never did any actual legal work. He simply sat back and collected millions of dollars by cashing in on his public office and his political influence.


    Silver denied the accusations and said he's confident he will be vindicated.


    In Washington, thousands of people rallied against abortion in the annual event they call March for Life. The demonstrators protested the Supreme Court's 1973 ruling that legalized abortion. As they rallied, House Republicans voted to tighten a ban on federal funding for most abortions. This was after their leaders withdrew a tougher separate bill outlawing most late-term abortions, this in reaction to Republican women members of Congress who refused to support it.


    Over in the Senate, Minority Leader Harry Reid re-emerged in public today, after being injured in a New Year's Day exercise accident. The 75-year-old Nevada Democrat spoke with a heavy bandage still covering his right eye. He said his injuries are not enough to stop him from seeking reelection next year.

  • SEN. HARRY REID, Minority Leader:

    I hope I'm back full-time. You know, I may not be doing everything as I did before, but, as this morning, I'm doing pretty well. I have worked up now to where I'm out walking for an hour. So, I'm still doing my best.


    Reid will have surgery on Monday to reconstruct broken facial bones and drain blood from his damaged eye.


    Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, and the family of Michael Brown waited today for a U.S. Justice Department announcement. It has been widely reported that former police officer Darren Wilson will not face federal civil rights charges for fatally shooting Brown.

    A state grand jury already decided not to indict Wilson on criminal charges.


    Meanwhile, a furor of sorts raged on over footballs used by the New England Patriots. Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady said they don't know how team footballs came to be underinflated Sunday, when they beat Indianapolis to advance to the Super Bowl. They spoke at separate news conferences.

  • BILL BELICHICK, Head Coach, New England Patriots:

    When I came in Monday morning, I was shocked to learn of the news reports about the footballs. I had no knowledge whatsoever of this situation until Monday morning.

  • TOM BRADY, Quarterback, New England Patriots:

    I feel like I have always played within the rules. I would never do anything to break the rules. I believe in fair play. And I respect the league and everything that they're doing to try to create a very competitive playing field for all the NFL teams.


    Belichick said the team is cooperating with the NFL's investigation.

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