News Wrap: Olympics organizers try to allay COVID fears as opening ceremonies approach

In our news wrap Tuesday, Olympic organizers in China say COVID infections are within an expected range ahead of Friday's opening ceremonies, drugmaker Johnson and Johnson and three leading drug distributors have agreed to pay $590 million to American Indian tribes over opioid abuse, storms sweep across the U.S. and millions of people across Asia and around the world celebrated the Lunar New Year.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: Russia's President Vladimir Putin accused the U.S. and its allies of ignoring Moscow's security demands, amid the tensions over Ukraine. But he said he is willing to hold more talks.

    Meanwhile, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Ukraine and warned again of sanctions if Russia invades.

    We will return to all of this after the news summary.

    The head of the FBI has fired a new broadside at China, charging that its threat to the West is — quote — "more brazen than ever." In a speech last night, Christopher Wray accused Beijing of rampant cyber-crime. He said the FBI opens new cases to counter Chinese intelligence operations every 12 hours or so.

  • Christopher Wray, FBI Director:

    When we tally up what we see in our investigations, over 2,000 of which are focused on the Chinese government trying to steal our information and technology, there's just no country that presents a broader threat to our ideas, our innovation.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Wray's accusations come just day's before China hosts the Winter Olympics.

    Olympic organizers in China are trying to allay any fears of COVID-19 ahead of Friday's Opening Ceremonies. As final preparations continued today, officials reported infections are within an expected range. A spokesman said — quote — "Everything is under control."

    The nation of Myanmar today marked one year since the military seized power. In Yangon, a silent strike against army rule left streets empty, as businesses closed and people stayed home. U.N. officials say at least 1,500 protesters have been killed since the coup.

    Ravina Shamsadani, Spokeswoman, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: It is time for an urgent, renewed effort to restore human rights and democracy in Myanmar, and to ensure that the perpetrators of systematic human rights violations and abuses are held to account.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    A special U.N. investigator said the military has carried out mass killings and bombed villages in a bid to stamp out armed resistance.

    Millions of people across Asia and around the world celebrated the lunar new year today. Colorful light displays, music, and dancing welcomed the Year of the Tiger. But many festivities were scaled back or canceled again because of the pandemic.

    Back in this country, another major winter storm has begun its sweep across a huge swathe of states, with hundreds of flights already canceled. Heavy snow and freezing rain are expected from the Rockies to Texas, to the Midwest, and, ultimately, New England.

    Just a year ago, another storm shut down Texas' power grid and killed hundreds of people. A fire at a North Carolina fertilizer plant forced thousands of people out their homes today over fears of a giant explosion.

    Flames erupted last night at the plant in Winston-Salem, but fire crews pulled back and set up a one-mile evacuation radius once they realized what was stored there.

  • Trey Mayo, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Fire Chief:

    The risk that is posed by this facility, is, it stores ammonium nitrate, and there could be as much as some — there is somewhere between 300 and 600 tons of ammonium nitrate in this facility.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That same chemical, ammonium nitrate, caused a gigantic explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, in 2020, killing more than 200 people.

    Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and three leading drug distributors have agreed to pay $590 million to American Indian tribes over opioid abuse. A federal court filing outlined the settlements today. The companies are also working on a $26 billion settlement with state and local governments.

    There's word that New Mexico Senator Ben Ray Lujan suffered a stroke last week. His office says the 49-year-old Democrat had surgery to release swelling on the brain and remains. It says he is expected to make a full recovery. For now, Lujan's absence leaves Senate Democrats with just 49 votes.

    On Wall Street today, stocks made up a little lost ground. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 273 points to close at 35405. The Nasdaq rose 106 points. The S&P 500 added 31.

    And Tom Brady made it official today. The most successful quarterback in NFL history is retiring after 22 seasons and seven Super Bowl wins. He played 20 years with the New England Patriots, and the last two with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    We will look at his career later in the program.

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