In our news wrap Tuesday, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in the West Bank and Gaza to protest President Trump’s Middle East peace plan. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, condemned the proposal to the United Nations Security Council, saying it would leave Palestine “fragmented.” Also, the defense rested its case in Harvey Weinstein’s New York rape trial.
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In the day's other news: The potential prison sentence for President Trump's friend and adviser Roger Stone has triggered an upheaval at the Justice Department.
Four federal prosecutors resigned after the department criticized their call for a seven-to-nine-year sentence as — quote — "excessive and unwarranted."
Stone was convicted of obstructing Congress and witness tampering in the Russia investigation.
We will take a closer look after the rest of today's headlines.
The president suggested today that the Pentagon may punish Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, key impeachment witness against him. Vindman and his twin brother were ousted from the National Security Council staff last week. Mr. Trump also said he expects other departures from the White House.
The World Health Organization warned today that China's coronavirus outbreak poses a very grave threat to the world. China reported new totals of more than 1,100 deaths and some 44,000 cases.
In Geneva, the head of the WHO urged nations to get their health systems ready.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:
A virus can have more powerful consequences than any terrorist action. And that's true. And if the world doesn't want to wake up and consider this enemy virus as public enemy number one, I don't think we will learn from our lessons.
The agency also convened more than 400 scientists to focus on speeding up drug treatments for the virus. But officials said it could take 18 months before the first vaccine is ready.
We will have a report from Beijing later in the program.
Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in the West Bank and Gaza today, protesting against President Trump's Middle East peace plan. In downtown Ramallah, crowds waved flags and chanted against Mr. Trump. Outside a nearby Jewish settlement, Israeli forces fired tear gas at Palestinians throwing rocks.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas went before the U.N. Security Council in New York and condemned the peace plan.
Mahmoud Abbas (through translator):
It leaves Palestine fragmented without any control on our land, air and sea. It would put an end to the question of Palestinian refugees. It means a rejection to all agreements and obligations to establish two states along the pre-1967 lines.
This plan will not bring peace or stability, and, therefore, we will not accept this plan.
The Trump plan allows Israel to annex large parts of the West Bank, including Jewish settlements considered illegal by most of the world's governments.
Back in this country, the defense has rested its case in Harvey Weinstein's rape trial in New York today. The Hollywood producer's lawyers opted not to have Weinstein testify, shielding him from a potentially aggressive cross-examination. Closing arguments are set for Thursday and Friday.
Actor Jussie Smollett is facing new charges of allegedly staging an attack on himself last January. A grand jury in Chicago today returned a six-count indictment today. It accuses Smollett of lying to police when he claimed he'd been the target of a racist and homophobic assault. The actor was originally charged with disorderly conduct, but that was later dropped.
A federal judge in New York has cleared a major obstacle to T-Mobile's takeover of Sprint. Today's ruling rejects a lawsuit from 14 states arguing the deal would mean less competition and higher phone bills. The merger totals $26.5 billion and would cut the number of major U.S. wireless carriers from four to three. The deal still needs approval from another federal judge and a state board in California.
The head of the Federal Reserve reaffirmed today that no additional interest rate cuts are in the works, unless the economy suddenly sours. Jerome Powell told a House hearing that three rate cuts last year have helped growth and job creation.
As long as incoming information about the economy remains broadly consistent with this outlook, the current stance of monetary policy will likely remain appropriate. Of course, policy is not on a pre-set course. If developments emerge that cause a material reassessment of our outlook, we would respond accordingly.
During the hearing, President Trump again complained that the Central Bank should do more to spur the economy. He tweeted — quote — "The Fed rate is too high."
Seattle is now the first American city to ban evicting people from their homes during the winter between December and February. The city council adopted the ban last night in a bid to help low- and moderate-income tenants. Seattle has some of the nation's highest rents and widespread homelessness. The bill faces a possible veto by the mayor, plus a likely court challenge.
And Wall Street had a relatively quiet day. The Dow Jones industrial average lost a fraction to close at 29276. The Nasdaq rose 10 points, and the S&P 500 added five.
South Africa today celebrated the 30-year anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from prison. He walked free in 1990 after 27 years behind bars under apartheid. Mandela led the fight to dismantle the racist system of oppression.
In Cape Town today, a crowd gathered to honor Mandela at city hall, where he first spoke after his release. Mandela ultimately won the Nobel Peace Prize and was elected president of South Africa. He died in 2013.
South Africa is also in mourning today for musical great Joseph Shabalala, who passed away in Pretoria. He created the choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo and led them to global fame and multiple Grammys over five decades. They collaborated with Paul Simon on the "Graceland" album in 1986, and performed together in Zimbabwe in 1987, with Shabalala sing the lead on a signature song.
Joseph Shabalala was 78 years old.
And Grammy-winning jazz keyboardist Lyle Mays has died in Los Angeles after a long illness. He co-founded the Pat Metheny Group in the 1970s and also worked with the likes of Joni Mitchell and Earth, Wind & Fire.
Lyle Mays was 66 years old.