News Wrap: Senate confirms Janet Yellen as Fed chief
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GWEN IFILL: The Senate returned from its holiday break today and took up the issue of restoring long-term unemployment benefits. Democrats needed 60 votes to proceed on the issue, and vowed to keep up at if they fail. We will explore the issue further and talk to the secretary of labor later in the program.
Janet Yellen won Senate confirmation this evening to lead the Federal Reserve. She will be the first woman to run the Central Bank, taking over from Ben Bernanke, who is stepping down after eight years as chairman. Yellen has served as vice chair for the past three years.
In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appealed to the people of Fallujah to drive out al-Qaida militants who seized control there last week. Iraqi troops have encircled the Sunni-dominated city, but Maliki has not yet ordered them to move in. We will look into what’s behind the growing conflict right after the news summary.
The same al-Qaida group that’s active in Iraq is also at the target of new infighting among rebel groups in Syria. A coalition of other factions attacked the militants on Friday in Aleppo and Idlib province. Fighting spread today to the city of Raqqa in the east.
Peace talks to end three weeks of fighting in South Sudan are still stalled. Negotiations technically began Saturday in neighboring Ethiopia, but the two sides have yet to hold face-to-face discussions. In South Sudan today, President Salva Kiir faulted the African Union and United Nations for not doing more to help his government stop a rebellion.
SALVA KIIR, South Sudanese President: They should have come out very openly condemning these people who took this action. There was no reason. But, if they have decided to keep quiet, that means, you know, it is their failure to uphold the constitution and their responsibilities.
GWEN IFILL: The violence has killed more than 1,000 people so far.
The Supreme Court put a hold today on same-sex marriages in Utah, at least for now. The hold will stay in effect while the state appeals a lower court’s ruling that lifted a ban on same-sex marriages. Since that decision, more than 900 gay and lesbian couples have married in Utah.
Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has ended her U.S. Senate bid in Wyoming. She’d mounted a primary challenge to incumbent Republican Mike Enzi. Cheney didn’t mention the resulting party rift today. Instead, in a statement, she said, “Serious health issues have recently arisen in our family, and under the circumstances, I have decided to discontinue my campaign.”
A Pennsylvania woman known as Jihad Jane was sentenced today to 10 years in federal prison. Colleen LaRose pleaded guilty to plotting to kill a Swedish artist in 2009 for depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a dog. In Philadelphia today, she told a federal judge that she is no longer obsessed with radical Islam.
The cost of keeping Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River could top $18 billion. The Army Corps of Engineers gave that figure today as its high-end estimate to stop the invasive species. It offered eight possible plans, from physically separating the waterways to using electric barriers.
On Wall Street today, stocks fell to start the first full trading week of the new year. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 45 points to close at 16,425. The Nasdaq fell 18 points to close at 4,113.