Jan 26, 2019

Pompeo names Elliott Abrams special envoy to Venezuela

Ronald Reagan's Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams being sworn in at Iran-Contra hearings. Photo: Terry Ashe/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday that Elliott Abrams, a former Reagan official who pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, will serve as the Trump administration's special envoy to Venezuela.

Why it matters: Abrams is a "well-known and somewhat controversial figure in U.S. foreign policy circles" who — after being pardoned in 1991 — went on to serve in both Bush administrations, according to Politico. He was a critic of President Trump during the 2016 campaign, but nonetheless will join the administration at a pivotal moment in U.S.-Venezuelan relations.

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Fear of coronavirus pandemic escalates

Photo: Abdulgani Basheer/AFP/Getty Images

In the blink of an eye, we've entered a new phase on the coronavirus.

The big picture: Italy, Iran and South Korea are at "decisive" points in their responses, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

Stocks fall 4% as sell-off worsens

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Stocks fell more than 4% on Thursday, extending the market’s worst week since the financial crisis in 2008 following a spike in coronavirus cases around the world.

The big picture: All three indices are in correction, down over 10% from recent record-highs, amid a global market rout. It's the S&P 500's quickest decline into correction territory in the index's history, per Deutsche Bank.

Coronavirus updates: California monitors 8,400 potential cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

33 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, and health officials are monitoring 8,400 people who have recently returned from "points of concern," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health