HARI SREENIVASAN: The manhunt for a former Los Angeles policeman erupted into a firefight today. Authorities said Christopher Dorner, wanted for three murders, has barricaded himself in a cabin in the Big Bear Lake area, after stealing a vehicle 80 miles east of the city.
Police in Los Angeles held a briefing a short time ago.
COMMANDER ANDREW SMITH, Los Angeles Police Department: They received information from the person reporting that the stolen vehicle was stolen by an individual that appeared to be very similar to Christopher Dorner.
They immediately conducted a ground and air search for this vehicle. And they were able to locate it at Highway 38 and Glass Road, where the suspect in the vehicle fled into the forest. Shortly thereafter, this individual barricaded himself in one of the cabins there and an exchange of gunfire occurred. During that exchange of gunfire, two officers were injured.
HARI SREENIVASAN: We get more now from Frank Stoltze of Southern California Public Radio, who spoke to us a short while ago from the scene of the activity.
Frank, thanks for joining us.
Bring us up to speed. What happened today?
FRANK STOLTZE, Southern California Public Radio: Well, it was in the early afternoon that police got reports of a truck being commandeered in the Big Bear area.
Now, this suspect's truck had been found there a few days earlier burned out. This truck that he was driving apparently commandeered, and police took off after him and chased him into the woods into a cabin. And they have him surrounded now.
HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.
What has he been doing for the past couple of days? How did he get access to this truck?
FRANK STOLTZE: Well, he commandeered the truck from a couple of women.
For the last few days, of course, police have been in a massive manhunt in Southern California, hundreds and hundreds of officers looking for him. And there was a lot of question. Because his burned-out truck was found in the Big Bear area a few days ago, there was a huge snowstorm, and people were wondering, how could he survive out in this snowstorm?
There have been reports that he was held up in one of the cabins not far from the command post where police were. And then he shows up today on a mountain road in this commandeered truck that he has taken to this cabin, this remote cabin.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, I have heard the audio file of a firefight today. What happened?
FRANK STOLTZE: Two police officers -- we're not sure what agency just yet -- wounded by the suspect, according to police. We don't know their condition. But there was this firefight that took place. SWAT officers from around Southern California have been in the Big Bear area heavily armed, and, of course, Dorner, himself a former police officer, heavily armed himself, according to police.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Frank Stoltze from Southern California Public Radio, thanks so much.
FRANK STOLTZE: Thank you.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In Iran, the government said it is ready for a comprehensive agreement on allowing U.N. inspectors of its nuclear -- inspections of its nuclear sites.
But it said the West must recognize its right to continue a nuclear program. The country's foreign minister said the U.S. and others have no right to criticize Iran or North Korea.
RAMIN MEHMANPARAST, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman: As long as those who issue warnings are themselves violators of international law, they cannot expect to have a world free of nuclear weapons. We believe there should be a collective and international movement to destroy all weapons of mass destruction, so that everyone will be able to use the latest science and technology for peaceful purposes.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Iran has insisted its nuclear program is for power generation. The U.S. says Tehran is bent on building nuclear weapons.
President Obama is set to bring home 34,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by this time next year. White House and Pentagon officials confirmed it today. The decision marks the next phase in the administration's plan to end the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan by 2014. There are currently 66,000 American troops there, down from a peak of 100,000.
A sharply divided Senate Armed Services Committee moved today to approve Chuck Hagel for defense secretary. The party-line vote on the former senator was 14-11. His fellow Republicans challenged Hagel's past statements and votes on Israel, Iraq and Iran's nuclear weapons program, while Democrats argued Hagel was more than qualified.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: I just believe that the testimony of Senator Hagel wasn't reassuring. I don't think he did come across clear and convincing, that he understood our policies toward Iran. And the fact that you don't understand why and you can't clearly articulate the bad news for America for the Iranians to get a nuclear capability sharply and to the point is unnerving and for the times in which we live.
SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN, D-N.H.: The concern that I have is the suggestion that this man who has served his country really since he was a young man and enlisted in Vietnam is not qualified to be the secretary of defense, I think, is just not accurate and reflects certainly a different understanding of his background and his experience than I have.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Democrats want a full Senate vote later this week, but Republicans could delay it.
The federal government ran a budget surplus in January, after a temporary cut in payroll taxes expired. That word came as the Congressional Budget Office forecast a deficit of $845 billion, the smallest since President Obama took office.
At the same time, the head of the CBO warned Congress that economic growth could be cut in half if across-the-board spending cuts take effect next month.
Passengers on a disabled cruise ship camped on the decks today as the vessel was towed toward Mobile, Alabama. More than 4,200 passengers and crew are on the Carnival Cruise Lines ship. But they have had no ventilation or working toilets since a weekend fire knocked out power. The ship is expected to arrive in Mobile by Thursday.
On Wall Street, blue chips were up, while tech stocks gave a little ground. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 47 points to close at 14,018. The Nasdaq fell five points to close at 3,186.
Those are some of the day's major stories -- now back to Judy.