10 things you need to know today: January 29, 2020

·7 min read

1.

President Trump on Tuesday unveiled a Middle East peace plan that would give Israel control of a unified Jerusalem as its capital, and let it hold onto settlements in the West Bank. The proposal also called for a Palestinian state, but one with limited sovereignty and a capital in "eastern Jerusalem" cut off from the rest of the city by an Israeli military barrier. "My vision presents a win-win opportunity for both sides," Trump said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood by Trump's side as he announced the long-awaited plan. There was no Palestinian representative present. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Trump's proposal the "slap of the century," and thousands of Palestinians protested in Gaza and the West Bank. [The New York Times, Reuters]

2.

President Trump's lawyers wrapped up the opening argument in their defense against charges that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democrats. Trump's legal team argued against subpoenaing former National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify in the Senate impeachment trial, saying his testimony would be irrelevant. "This should end now, as quickly as possible," White House counsel Pat Cipollone said. Bolton reportedly wrote in a draft of his upcoming book that Trump said last year he was withholding security aid to Ukraine until its leaders committed to investigating Joe Biden, a frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination. That news increased pressure from potentially key Republicans to have Bolton testify, which could derail the White House's push to finish the trial quickly. [The Associated Press]

3.

During a meeting of Republican senators on Tuesday afternoon, GOP leaders announced that they do not have enough votes to stop witnesses from being called at President Trump's impeachment trial, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press report. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not share any numbers, but did acknowledge the votes aren't where he needs them to be, people with knowledge of the meeting said. The senators will vote later this week on whether to allow witnesses in the trial, and a new Quinnipiac poll shows 75 percent of voters want to hear witness testimony. Trump's lawyers finished their opening arguments on Tuesday, and declared the trial should end "as quickly as possible" without any witnesses. [The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press]

4.

U.S. health officials on Tuesday expanded screening rules for international travelers in response to the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak that started in China. Beijing has confirmed more than 4,500 infections, and more than 106 deaths. Despite the increased precautions, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, "At this point Americans should not worry for their own safety." Hong Kong on Tuesday said it would cut rail links to mainland China and reduce flights. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded a travel warning to its highest level, urging U.S. citizens against travel to China after confirming a fifth case in the United States. [The Associated Press, Time]

5.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office announced Tuesday that search crews had recovered the remains of all nine people who died in the crash of basketball legend Kobe Bryant's helicopter, which crashed in heavy fog on Sunday. Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, two of her teammates, their parents, a coach, and the pilot died when the helicopter slammed into a hillside on the way to a youth basketball tournament. Bryant's remains were among the first four identified. Investigators are trying to determine what caused the tragedy. Some experts have said the weather, which had left some other aircraft grounded, could have been a factor. The chartered helicopter did not have a recommended warning system designed to alert the pilot the aircraft was too close to the ground, National Transportation Safety Board officials said. [The New York Times]

6.

The Congress Budget Office released a report Tuesday predicting U.S. debt will reach 98 percent of the country's GDP by 2030, up from the 81 percent the office foresees the deficit reaching by the end of 2020. The CBO projects the government will spend $1 trillion more than it collects in 2020. The prognostication is reportedly mostly a result of tax cuts and the assumption that the government will continue to increase spending. If the Trump administration's tax cuts enacted in 2017 are extended beyond their current expiration at the end of 2025, the latest CBO estimates may fall short. CBO Director Phillip Swagel expects the deficit level to eventually reach some historic highs, especially for a time of low unemployment. He said his office's projections will approach figures not seen "since World War II." [The Wall Street Journal]

7.

Britain on Tuesday decided to allow Huawei to supply some high-speed 5G network equipment to wireless carriers, despite a warning from the Trump administration that it would stop sharing intelligence with any country that did not ban the Chinese tech giant. The British government's decision marked a first among major U.S. allies in Europe. The U.S. has warned that doing business with Huawei could put government secrets at risk because Huawei could give China's government access to data, a charge Huawei denies. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the U.K. would never do anything to threaten its national security, or that of its intelligence-sharing partners. "We know more about Huawei and the risks that it poses than any other country in the world," Raab said. [The Associated Press]

8.

The U.S. military on Tuesday recovered the remains of two crew members who died when a U.S. military surveillance plane crashed in Afghanistan. The U.S. disputed claims by the Taliban that members of the Islamist extremist group shot down the aircraft, a Bombardier E-11A. The crash occurred in Taliban-controlled territory in Ghazni province. The Pentagon said the remains had been "treated with dignity and respect by the local Afghan community." U.S. forces recovered what was believed to be the plane's flight data recorder. "The cause of the crash remains under investigation, however there are no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire," the U.S. military statement said. [Reuters]

9.

The Pentagon said Tuesday that 50 American service members suffered brain injuries in an Iranian missile attack on Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on Jan. 8. Thirty-one of the soldiers returned to duty after being treated in Iraq. Eighteen were transported to Germany for further evaluation. Immediately after the attack, President Trump said no Americans were injured, and as recently as last week he dismissed the injuries as "not very serious." "I heard they had headaches," he said. Iran fired the missiles from its own territory in what it said was retaliation for the Jan. 3 U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad. [The New York Times]

10.

A 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck Tuesday in the Caribbean Sea between Jamaica and Cuba. The quake's center was six miles deep, about 70 miles northwest of Montego Bay, Jamaica. The powerful tremor, one of the most powerful on record in the Caribbean, caused severe shaking in western Jamaica, with light shaking on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The quake was felt as far away as Miami in South Florida, where several buildings were evacuated. Authorities issued a tsunami warning, but it was later lifted. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The earthquake appeared to have been centered on the fault boundary between the North American and Caribbean plates. It was the fourth earthquake of magnitude 7 or greater recorded in the Caribbean since 2000. [USA Today]

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