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News Wrap: Federal prosecutors will seek death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber

January 30, 2014 at 6:02 PM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: House Republicans and President Obama challenged each other today to engage on major issues. Republican leaders insisted that they have passed vital legislation that stalled in the Senate. The president said Americans can’t wait any longer for action on jobs and wages. We will get a full report and explore the political realities in Washington right after the news summary.

Consumers spent more at the end of 2013 than they have in three years. That, in turn, fueled solid growth in the fourth quarter at an annual rate of 3.2 percent. The numbers in a new Commerce Department report suggested the economy has momentum going into 2014.

That report helped Wall Street bounce back. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 110 points to close at 15,848. The Nasdaq rose more than 71 points to close at 4,123.

The city of Atlanta was finding its way back to normal today. Highway traffic came to life with the cleanup from a surprisingly fierce winter storm. Scores of vehicles still littered roadsides two days after an icy gridlock paralyzed the area. Police and the National Guard helped thousands of commuters find the cars they had abandoned.

Meanwhile, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said it’s clear that storm preparations failed and he promised a full review.

GOV. NATHAN DEAL, R-Ga.: I’m not going to look for a scapegoat. I’m the governor. The buck stops with me. I accept the responsibility for it, but I also accept the responsibility of being able to make corrective actions as they come into the future.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Schools and government offices remained closed today in Atlanta and other parts of the South. Roughly 1,600 students in Alabama finally got home after spending two nights stranded in their schools.

Federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty for the alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The explosions last April killed three and wounded more than 260 others. In a court filing today, prosecutors said Tsarnaev attacked innocent men, women and children and showed a — quote — “lack of remorse.”

The new mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, moved today to end a 14-year court battle over stop-and-frisk tactics by police. The city will no longer appeal a court ruling that found the stops violate the civil rights of black and Hispanic men. They make up the majority of those who are targeted. De Blasio said he wants reforms to end any discrimination.

The number of Air Force officers linked to a cheating scandal in the Nuclear Missile Corps has more than doubled. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced today that 92 officers are implicated out of 500. They allegedly cheated on proficiency tests.

James spoke at the Pentagon after touring nuclear bases nationwide.

DEBORAH LEE JAMES, U.S. Air Force secretary: I believe now that we do have a systemic problem within the force. I heard repeatedly from teammates that the need for perfection has created a climate of undue stress and fear, fear about the future, fear about promotions, fear about what will happen to them in their careers.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The cheating scandal involved officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.

In Iraq, an assault on the Ministry of Transportation building in Baghdad has left as many as two dozen people dead. Six gunmen stormed the building and took hostages, before some of them detonated suicide vests. Iraqi security forces eventually regained control. At least 50 people were wounded in the attack.

Negotiators at the Syrian peace talks agreed on one thing today: They joined in a minute of silence for the 130,000 people killed in the civil war. Otherwise, the Assad regime and the Western-backed opposition made no progress on creating a transitional government. Only one day of meetings remains before the talks take a weeklong break.

Authorities in Russia now say the two suicide bombers who killed 34 people in December were part of a militant group in Dagestan. The attacks in Volgograd raised new fears about security at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, 400 miles away. Meanwhile, athletes began arriving in Sochi today, passing through heavy security to get credentials.

American speed skater Kelly Gunther was among them.

KELLY GUNTHER, U.S. Olympic athlete: I am pretty excited. It’s pretty cool to be here. This is my first Olympics. I’m very excited with everything that’s going on. I’m kind of overwhelmed. And, you know, I haven’t really thought about anything else that’s going on. I know we will be in good hands. And the security, I know, is pretty tight.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics takes place onĀ Feb. 7.

The political crisis in Ukraine took a sudden turn today when President Viktor Yanukovych went on sick leave. This came in the face of weeks of anti-government protests demanding his resignation. His Web site said that Yanukovych has an acute respiratory ailment and a high fever. It didn’t say when he will return.

President Obama has made his choice to run the National Security Agency amid a global debate over U.S. surveillance. He’s nominating Vice Admiral Mike Rogers, who’s now in charge of the Navy’s Cyber Command. The current head of the NSA, Army General Keith Alexander, plans to retire in March.

One of the leading liberals in Congress, California Democrat Henry Waxman, is retiring after 40 years. Waxman is 74 years old. He said in a statement today that he wants to sample life outside Congress. Waxman helped craft President Obama’s landmark health care law and has championed environmental and safety legislation.