JIM LEHRER: Now: the other news of the day. Here’s Hari Sreenivasan in our newsroom.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Toyota’s president apologized today for the worldwide recall of more than eight million vehicles for sticking gas pedals. He will head up a special committee to investigate quality issues plaguing the automaker.
Akio Toyoda spoke at a Tokyo press conference.
AKIO TOYODA, president & chief executive officer, Toyota (through translator): I apologize from the bottom of my heart for all the concern that we have given to so many customers in so many countries.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Toyoda also said the company was continuing to investigate brake problems in its 2010 Prius hybrid.
For the record, Toyota is a “NewsHour” underwriter.
At least 40 people have died in twin car bombings in Iraq at the height of a Shiite pilgrimage. More than 150 Iraqis were wounded. The blasts ripped through a crowd of Shiites en route to the holy city of Karbala for an annual religious ceremony. It was the third deadly bombing this week targeting Shiites.
A pair of bombs in southern Pakistan today killed at least 25 people. One hundred others were wounded. Both explosions went off in Karachi. The first hit a bus carrying Shiite Muslim worshipers. Most of the victims were women and children. Hours later, a second bombing targeted a hospital where victims of the earlier attack were being treated.
Shortcomings in the chain of command are to blame for one of the worst ground attacks in the Afghan war, which killed eight U.S. troops and wounded 22. Last October, insurgents overran a combat outpost in a remote part of Northeast Afghanistan. In a report released today, the U.S. military claimed critical intelligence and other assets had been diverted from the base to assist combat operations elsewhere in the country. In addition, protective improvements had not been made because the post was scheduled to be closed.
Four British lawmakers face criminal charges over their expense claims. The men were charged with false accounting. They are the first to be indicted in a scandal that has embroiled nearly 400 current and former members of parliament. Nine members of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Cabinet resigned after revelations that taxpayer monies funded everything from remodeling homes to buying horse manure. The four charged today said they will be exonerated in court.
Two U.S. aid workers died in a helicopter crash in the Dominican Republic on their way back from a mission in Haiti. Civil aviation authorities said the chopper crashed into the side of a mountain, and there was medicine scattered about the crash site. FAA documents show that the helicopter was owned by a Naples, Florida-based company.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today the American government is providing full consular services to the 10 American missionaries detained in Haiti. They are facing kidnappings charges for allegedly trying to take 33 children out of the country in the aftermath of the earthquake.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. Secretary of State: This is a matter for the Haitian judicial system. We are going to continue to provide support, as we do in every instance like this, to American citizens who have been charged, and hope that this matter can be resolved in an expeditious way.
HARI SREENIVASAN: If convicted, the missionaries could face up to 24 years in prison.
Fifteen people, including five children, are dead and several people are still missing after severe and unusual winter storms in Central Mexico. Heavy rains sent rivers in Michoacan and Guanajuato over their banks, damaging at least 2,000 homes. In Mexico City, the floodwaters caused even more damage and prompted emergency crews to ferry people out through chest-high water. Rain in Central Mexico falls almost exclusively between May and October.
Back in the United States, a major snowstorm is bearing down on the Ohio Valley and the Mid-Atlantic. Cities, including Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, are preparing for record snowfalls. At least two feet of snow is expected to blanket the region tonight. The nor’easter will advance into New England on Saturday. Preparations started early as residents stocked up ahead of the blizzard. Hundreds of flights were canceled and schools closed throughout the area.