News Wrap: FDA Approves Breast Cancer Drug
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HARI SREENIVASAN: A winter storm headed east today, after socking the Plains with snow, sleet and freezing rain. It was already blamed for four deaths, flight disruptions and hundreds of road accidents. The huge system was moving north and east, and losing some of its punch. But it was still expected to make trouble in the Northeast and New England this weekend.
The sounds of snowblowers roaring to life and shovels scraping the driveway could be heard in state after state today. Much of the nation’s midsection spent the day digging out from under more than a foot of snow, and for drivers, it quickly turned into an icy nightmare. The highly unsettled storm also brought lightning and thunder, but it was the snow falling at two inches an hour in places that caused the worst problems.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James said it was the pace that was hard to deal with.
MAYOR SLY JAMES, Kansas City, Mo.: It fell fast. It fell heavy and it fell at the wrong time. You know, it started in the morning around rush hour, early rush hour, and just continued until about 2:00.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The mayor said Kansas City’s Main Streets had been cleared by midday, and crews worked on residential neighborhoods. But, yesterday, it was a far different story. This Kansas City bus couldn’t navigate the drifting snow and fishtailed into a lamppost. The snow came with strong winds that piled up large drifts. And that, in turn, caused problems on the interstates.
MAN: Man, it’s kind of tough out here, even if you got a four-wheel drive. I advise you to just stay in because everybody’s getting stuck all over the place. It’s a mess out here. I mean, it’s really a mess out here.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Crews worked through the night and into today in Missouri and Kansas to plow I-70; 200 miles of the highway in Kansas had been shut down as the storm blew through.
Today, as the system tracked north and east, it created more travel woes. A United Airlines plane skidded off the runway in Cleveland in icy conditions. No injuries were reported.
NATO defense ministers discussed plans today for keeping 8,000 to 12,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014. That’s when international combat forces are scheduled to withdraw. Those remaining would focus mostly on training Afghan units. In Brussels, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said it’s unclear how many Americans would be part of that longer-term force.
DEFENSE SECRETARY LEON PANETTA, United States: We want to be able to have the flexibility to look at a range of options that we ought to have for our enduring presence. But I want to make very clear that the range of options we were discussing was with regards to the NATO force, and the NATO force consists of both a U.S. presence, plus NATO contributions.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Some 66,000 U.S. troops are currently stationed in Afghanistan.
In Egypt, a general strike in the city of Port Said entered a sixth day, with major new protests. Thousands of people rallied in the streets waving signs and chanting slogans demanding that President Mohammed Morsi step down. They also denounced his call for new elections beginning in April.
AHMED AL-TOHAMY, Protester: Morsi’s call for parliamentary elections is null. I want to give a message to Morsi, who is a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood group. I want to tell him that Port Said is the one that will get rid of this regime. We have started this revolution and we started our strike. We do not fear them.
HARI SREENIVASAN: One opposition leader, Mohamed ElBaradei, said holding elections amid the current upheaval is a recipe for disaster. His group threatened a boycott of any vote unless Morsi first agrees to political talks.
The states of Texas and Georgia executed two men last night by lethal injection. Carl Blue was put to death in Texas for dousing his girlfriend with gasoline and setting her on fire in 1994. She died later. And in Georgia, Andrew Allen Cook was executed for killing two college students in 1995. A second death row inmate in Georgia had been scheduled to die this week, but his attorneys argued he is mentally disabled and they won a stay.
The Food and Drug Administration approved a first-of-its-kind breast cancer drug today. The medication, named Kadcyla, attacks tumor cells without harming healthy ones. Studies by the drug’s maker, Roche, found it delays the progress of breast cancer by several months. The FDA approved its use for patients with an advanced form of the disease that’s more aggressive.
Wall Street closed out a volatile week with a big day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 120 points to close just over 14,000, making up most of the lost ground of the last two days. The Nasdaq rose 30 points to close well above 3,161. For the week, the Dow gained a fraction of a percent. The Nasdaq fell nearly 1 percent.
Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Judy.