In the day’s other news: There has been a
potential breakthrough in the war in Afghanistan. A week-long reduction in violence is now in
effect. If that holds, the U.S. and the Taliban will sign the first phase of a peace agreement
on February 29 in Qatar, which could pave the way for a broader deal to end the 18-year-long
war. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released
a statement saying — quote — “Challenges remain, but the progress made in Doha provides
hope and represents a real opportunity.” We will take a closer look at Afghan peace
prospects after the news summary. The World Health Organization warned today
that the window of opportunity to contain the international spread of the coronavirus
is closing. South Korea has become the latest front in the outbreak. The country declared
a health emergency, as cases there quadrupled to more than 200 infections over the past
two days. Officials closed schools and banned mass gatherings,
including services at a church that most of the sick attended. MAN (through translator): No one has entered
the church since Tuesday. We did disinfection work twice, on Tuesday and Wednesday. Right
now, all the disinfection work is complete, and no one is entering the church. JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, in China, the number
of new infections fell for another day. Chinese officials have recorded over 75,000 cases,
and more than 2,200 deaths so far. At least 12 more deaths have been confirmed outside
of mainland China. In Northwestern Syria today, Syrian government-backed
Russian warplanes targeted the last rebel-held areas. Insurgents and government forces blasted
heavy artillery in other parts of Idlib province as well. Meanwhile, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan called for an end to the Syrian-backed offensive there to end the growing humanitarian
crisis. Iran held its parliamentary elections today,
in what is seen as a referendum on the country’s hard-line leadership. Tehran banned 7,000
potential candidates from running, including many moderates and reformists. That raised
fears of a lower voter turnout. In Tehran, those who did show up said they
are feeling the strain from U.S. sanctions that sent Iran’s economy into a recession. MAHNAZ BOSTANI, First-Time Voter (through
translator): It’s the first time I am voting for a parliamentary candidate. I know a young
candidate that I think understands our pain very well. They should create good jobs for
us young people and make housing affordable. JUDY WOODRUFF: Initial results are expected
to be announced tomorrow. Back in this country, the jury in the Harvey
Weinstein New York rape trial is deadlocked on two of the most serious counts of predatory
assault. They carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. The jurors have reached a
unanimous verdict on the other three charges, but those verdicts have not been made public
yet. The judge ordered the jurors to resume deliberations on Monday to try to reach a
unanimous verdict on all the charges. Democratic presidential candidate Michael
Bloomberg today offered to lift nondisclosure agreements for three women who worked for
his media business information company. The women allege that he made inappropriate comments
to them. The move comes after one of his rivals, Senator Elizabeth Warren, fiercely criticized
the confidentiality agreements at the last Democratic debate. Wells Fargo agreed today to pay $3 billion
to settle criminal and civil probes into its sales practices. It’s part of a settlement
with the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company acknowledged
that its employees opened millions of unauthorized bank accounts in an effort to meet unrealistic
sales goals. And stocks were down sharply on Wall Street
today, over fears about the economic impact of the coronavirus. The Dow Jones industrial
average dropped 227 points to close at 28992. The Nasdaq fell 174 points, and the S&P 500
shed 35. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: the breakthrough
cease-fire deal that could end America’s longest war; where Nevada’s Democratic voters stand
just hours before caucusing begins; and much more.

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