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News Wrap: French government calls for calm after attack on police

April 21, 2017 at 6:50 PM EDT
In our news wrap Friday, an investigation continues in France after Thursday’s deadly assault in Paris. Also, the U.S. Justice Department formally notified nine state and local jurisdictions that a portion of federal grant money will be revoked over so-called “sanctuary cities.”
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Investigators in France are trying to piece together what sparked Thursday’s deadly assault in Paris. A gunman shot a police officer to death and wounded two more, before being killed himself.

Hari Sreenivasan reports on the day’s developments.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Masked police descended this morning on a Paris suburb, home of the suspect in the deadly attack on the Champs Elysees. Prosecutors identified him as Karim Cheurfi, a French citizen, and said he carried a note in support of the Islamic State. Cheurfi had served time for trying to kill two other officers in 2001.

FRANCOIS MOLINS, Paris Prosecutor (through interpreter): All the way through his period of imprisonment, which lasted about 14 years, he didn’t show any signs of radicalization or signs of conversion.

HARI SREENIVASAN: He was detained again in February for threatening police, but later released.

Then came the attack on the Champs Elysees. The famed boulevard was shut down for hours. Near the scene today, witnesses described the chaos.

WOMAN (through interpreter): I can tell you that I was very scared. People started talking and going crazy. There was a wave of panic that came over everything.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All of this just two days before polls open in the presidential election.

The prime minister sought to calm fears.

BERNARD CAZENEUVE, Prime Minister, France (through interpreter): The government is completely mobilized. More than 50,000 policemen will be mobilized to guarantee the peace.

HARI SREENIVASAN: President Trump weighed in on Twitter, predicting the attack — quote — “will have a big effect on the presidential election.”

Later, he told the Associated Press it will probably help far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Hari Sreenivasan.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We will have a full report on the impending French election later in the program.

In the day’s other news: The Justice Department formally notified nine state and local jurisdictions that they will lose some federal grant money over so-called sanctuary cities. Letters sent out today demand proof that the jurisdictions are not sheltering undocumented immigrants. The letters went to New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami and the state of California, among others.

President Trump today ordered a review of major tax and financial regulations put in place under President Obama. He signed directives to look at reforms imposing greater oversight of large financial institutions. He also wants to review corporate tax rules on sheltering income overseas.

The president also promised today that he will have a — quote — “big announcement” on a tax reform package next Wednesday. That would be just before his 100th day in office. At the same time, the White House signaled that a new effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. But as he left the Treasury Department, Mr. Trump was less definite about the timing of that.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No particular rush, but we will see what happens. But health care is coming along well. Government is coming along really well. Lot of good things are happening.

Thank you, folks.

(CROSSTALK)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, no, it doesn’t matter if it’s next week. Next week doesn’t matter.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Earlier, on Twitter, the president dismissed any criticism of how much he has actually done so far. He wrote — quote — “No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, it has been a lot. Media will kill.”

The U.S. Treasury Department has denied ExxonMobil’s request that one of its projects be exempted from sanctions imposed on Russia, so the company can drill for oil in the Black Sea. The joint venture has been halted since the U.S. imposed the sanctions for Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was Exxon’s CEO back when the deal was signed. He recused himself from considering this waiver issue.

South Korea said today that it’s on high alert again ahead of a military holiday in North Korea and a possible nuclear test. At the same time, President Trump pressed China in a new tweet. He wrote: “China is very much the economic lifeline to North Korea, so, if they want to solve the problem, they will.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry insisted that Beijing is enforcing a ban on coal imports from Pyongyang.

LU KANG, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman (through interpreter): The Chinese Customs and Ministry of Commerce have issued the notice. As for some reports saying North Korean coal ships are docking in Chinese ports, due to humanitarian considerations for those crew members, we cannot simply leave them drifting on the sea.

JUDY WOODRUFF: North Korea said overnight that the situation is — quote — “extremely perilous” because of what it called madcap American nuclear war maneuvers.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says there is no doubt that Syria still has chemical weapons. In Israel today, he warned the Syrians would be ill-advised to use such weapons again. The U.S. attacked a Syrian air base after a poison gas incident this month.

Back in this country, the state of Arkansas is planning three more executions next week, after it carried out its first one since 2005. Ledell Lee was put to death just before midnight for a 1993 murder. The execution came despite a flurry of legal challenges. Protests continued last night outside the governor’s mansion.

The power went out across a wide swathe of San Francisco today. About 90,000 customers were affected, with people trapped in elevators, and traffic backed up at stoplights that didn’t work. Utility officials blamed a catastrophic failure at a substation that led to a fire at that site. Late today, they were still working to get electricity restored.

A federal judge in Detroit has ordered Volkswagen to pay a criminal penalty of $2.8 billion for cheating on diesel emissions tests. The order today came as part of a plea deal. The case involved nearly 600,000 diesel cars sold in the U.S.

And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost about 31 points to close at 20547. The Nasdaq fell six points, and the S&P 500 slipped seven. For the week, the Dow gained half-a-percent, the Nasdaq rose nearly 2 percent, and the S&P 500 was up almost 1 percent.

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