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News Wrap: Four Americans Killed By Drones Since 2009, Says Obama Administration

May 22, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: For the first time, the Obama administration has acknowledged killing four American citizens in drone strikes since 2009. Attorney General Eric Holder informed Congress today, one day before the president gives a major national security speech. Holder said one of the four, radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, was directly targeted in Yemen in 2011. Holder said the other three, including al-Awlaki’s teenaged son, were not specifically targeted.

A man being questioned in the Boston bombing investigation was shot and killed early today at his home in Orlando, Fla. The FBI said 27-year-old Ibragim Todashev was fired on during a confrontation in his home. Two state troopers from Massachusetts were also there. The bureau didn’t say why the man was being questioned. But former roommates said Todashev knew Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the bombing suspect who died in a shoot-out with Boston police last month.

The U.S. and Arab and European nations will step up support for the rebels in Syria, if President Bashar al-Assad rejects peace talks. Secretary of State John Kerry issued that warning today at a Friends of Syria meeting in Jordan. He said Assad’s forces may have gained some ground lately, but that it is only temporary.

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY, United States: In the end, I don’t believe there is a — there’s a, you know, military victory for Assad that is going somehow justify the gains he has made in the last days. What I do think is that he will ultimately realize, as will those supporting him, that this situation is going to get more dangerous, more destructive, and much more damaging to the prospects of the region.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Meanwhile, the battle for the Syrian border town of Qusayr moved into its fourth day. Rebels fighting to hold the town appealed for reinforcements from across Syria.

There was more today on the CIA’s involvement in explaining the attack on a U.S. post in Benghazi, Libya. The Washington Post reported that then-Director David Petraeus played a key role in drafting talking points on Benghazi. Petraeus wanted to include earlier warnings about possible attacks and mention a group with al-Qaida links. The final version deleted those references, and Republicans claimed a cover-up, a charge the White House denies.

The school board in Chicago is going ahead with a much-debated plan to close 50 public schools and programs. The plan was adopted today, with supporters citing falling enrollment, a growing budget deficit and poor school performance. Opponents said the closings target too many minority neighborhoods and will force children to cross gang boundaries to get to a new school.

The new mayor of Los Angeles will be Eric Garcetti. The city councilman won 54 percent of the vote in yesterday’s runoff with fellow Democrat and city controller Wendy Greuel. They were the top two vote-getters in a March primary. Garcetti claimed victory, vowing to keep his promises to clean up the city and boost the economy.

MAYOR-ELECT ERIC GARCETTI, D-Los Angeles: On July 1st, we will assume the responsibility of creating jobs, of balancing our city’s budget, of keeping our city’s streets safe and improving the quality of life for all Angelenos.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Garcetti will be the first Jewish mayor of Los Angeles. He succeeds Antonio Villaraigosa, who served two terms.

In economic news, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke said today the Central Bank has no plans to end its stimulus program. The Fed has kept long-term interest rates at record lows, and Bernanke told a congressional hearing that the job market is still too weak to start pushing rates higher.

FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN BEN BERNANKE: A premature tightening of monetary policy could lead interest rates to rise temporarily, but would also carry a substantial risk of slowing or ending the economic recovery and causing inflation to fall further. Moreover, renewed economic weakness would pose its own risks to financial stability.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Bernanke’s testimony initially boosted Wall Street, but stocks fell later, after reports that several policy-makers do want to downsize the stimulus effort. In the end, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 80 points to close at 15,307. The Nasdaq fell more than 38 points to close at 3,463.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Judy.