News Wrap: U.S. Captures Bin Laden Spokesman to Face Terror Charges
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. has captured Osama bin Laden’s spokesman and flown him to New York to face terror charges. Reports today said Suleiman Abu Ghaith was seized in Jordan some time in the last week. Abu Ghaith served as a main voice of al-Qaida and was also bin Laden’s son-in-law.
In video recordings, he urged Muslims to fight the U.S. in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. He is expected to make an initial appearance tomorrow in federal court in New York.
In Syria, U.N. officials negotiated with the leader of a rebel group holding 21 U.N. peacekeepers. They were taken captive yesterday in a village in the Golan Heights. Videos have since been posted online purportedly showing the peacekeepers saying that they are being treated — that they are safe and being treated well. At the same time, there has been intense shelling in the area where they’re being held.
The first bill to curb U.S. gun violence began moving in the Senate today. Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, joined by one Republican, voted to make illegal gun purchases a federal crime. Violations would be punishable by up to 25 years in prison. The committee is also considering a ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, proposed by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-Calif.: These assault weapons have a great attraction for grievance killers. My view is that, how could I stand by and see this carnage go on? And, members, this isn’t going to stop. It’s going to continue on, and we have a chance to do something about it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The partisan divide over Feinstein’s bill was quickly exposed. Texas Republican John Cornyn argued a previous assault weapons ban didn’t work. He said the new bill fails to address the real key to mass shootings.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN, R-Texas: The common thread was mental illness. No one wants disturbed young men or women, for that matter, to have access to firearms. Unfortunately, this legislation focuses not on the perilous intersection of mental illness and guns, but on cosmetic features of certain firearms.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Two other bills are also before the committee, requiring universal background checks and providing $40 million dollars a year for schools to buy security gear.
A veteran senator Democrat, Carl Levin of Michigan, has announced that he is retiring. Levin has held his seat since 1978 and is the longest serving senator in Michigan’s history. He issued a statement today saying the decision was extremely difficult, but he will not run for reelection in 2014. Levin is 78 years old.
A late winter storm spun up the East Coast today and caused new damage in places still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. Coastal flooding was a big concern for New Jersey and Massachusetts. At the same time, up to eight inches of wet heavy snow was expected across New England. This storm has proved unpredictable, sparing Washington, but dumping up to 20 inches in parts of Virginia.
In economic news, the Federal Reserve today reported U.S. household wealth is finally nearing pre-recession levels after more than five years. It topped $66 trillion dollars at the end of 2012.
And, on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 33 points to close above 14,329. The Nasdaq rose more than nine points to close at 3,232.
Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Judy.