In our news wrap Tuesday, China’s outbreak of novel coronavirus may be slowing, with new cases falling below 2,000 for two days in a row. The country is enforcing mass quarantines and increased surveillance. Also, Afghan election officials announced that President Ashraf Ghani won a second term in last September’s vote. Results had been repeatedly delayed, in part due to fraud accusations.
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In the day's other news: The coronavirus outbreak in China may be slowing, with new cases falling below 2,000 for two days running.
But, so far, some 2,000 people have died, including the head of a leading hospital in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. China is enforcing mass quarantines and stepped-up surveillance, but the World Health Organization stopped short of criticizing those measures today.
What China are trying to do is, while they are getting success in putting out one fire, they do not want the fire to start somewhere else.
Now, you can argue whether those measures are excessive or whether they are restrictive on people, but you — there is a lot at stake here. There is an awful lot at stake here.
Meanwhile, 88 additional cases are reported on a quarantined cruise ship in Japan, for a total of more than 540. That is the highest concentration outside China.
In Afghanistan, elections officials announced today that President Ashraf Ghani did win a second term in last September's vote. Results had been repeatedly delayed, partly by accusations of fraud.
Ghani's rival, Abdullah Abdullah, rejected the outcome, and so did the Taliban. That, in turn, could jeopardize a U.S. peace plan with the Taliban.
The United States imposed financial sanctions today on Russia's state-owned oil brokerage firm Rosneft. The State Department said the company is helping Venezuela skirt an American oil embargo. It marked an aggressive move against both Russian interests and Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, with more to come.
There will be more steps and further pressure in the coming weeks and months. The United States remains firmly committed to the people of Venezuela and to the cause of freedom there.
The U.S. and other countries say that Maduro's reelection in 2018 was illegitimate.
An appeals court in the Netherlands ordered Russia today to pay $50 billion for seizing the Yukos oil company in 2003. Yukos' founder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin and was jailed for more than a decade. Company shareholders have been pursuing compensation ever since. Moscow says it will appeal today's decision.
A court in Istanbul, Turkey, has acquitted nine opposition activists of aiding protests in 2013, in a bid to overthrow the government. Outside the court, supporters applauded, and some shed tears, as the verdict was read today. They argued the case was part of a campaign to stifle opposition voices.
It's a great verdict. Acquittal was the only thing that could possibly be just. This is a verdict which should have been given more than two years ago.
Later, one of the activists, philanthropist Osman Kavala, was detained again. The Turkish state news agency said that he is suspected of ties to a failed coup in 2013.
Back in this country, the Boy Scouts of America has filed for federal bankruptcy protection, facing a storm of sexual abuse lawsuits. Several thousand men have alleged that they were assaulted by Scoutmasters and other adult leaders decades ago. The Chapter 11 filing lets the organization try to craft a sweeping settlement.
We will return to this later in the program.
A fresh round of heavy rain is expected to bring more misery to parts of the Southern U.S. starting tonight. New flood watches are in force in Central Mississippi. Some neighborhoods in the capital city of Jackson are already underwater from weekend downpours. The new downpours could stretch from Eastern Louisiana to Western Georgia. The state of Alabama has declared an emergency.
On Wall Street today, stocks slipped amid ongoing questions about economic effects of the virus outbreak in China. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 165 points to close at 29232. The Nasdaq rose one point, and the S&P 500 slipped nine.
And NASCAR driver Ryan Newman is reported to be awake and talking at a Florida hospital after a terrifying crash last night in the Daytona 500. In the final lap, Newman's number six car collided with the barrier wall, flipped over, and was hit by another car, and then skidded along the track in flames. Officials say that his injuries were not life-threatening. Denny Hamlin ended up winning the race for the second year in a row.