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News Wrap: Gov. Christie defends internal review exonerating him from bridge scandal

March 28, 2014 at 6:02 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The search for the missing Malaysian airliner may be getting warmer nearly three weeks after the plane disappeared.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, AMSA, shifted its focus almost 700 miles to the northeast today, and planes quickly radioed in new discoveries.

John Sparks of Independent Television News reports from Perth, Australia.

JOHN YOUNG, Australia Maritime Safety Authority: The AMSA search for any sign of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been shifted 1,100 kilometers to the northeast of the existing search area, is now the most credible lead as to where debris may be located.

JOHN SPARKS: Well, here’s why they moved it. Experts reexamined radar data as the Boeing 777 changed course, turning west towards the Malacca Strait. They found the aircraft was flying faster than thought, using up more fuel and limiting the distance it could fly.

They now think the aircraft’s final location lies somewhere here in 120,000-odd square miles of Indian Ocean. The previous search zone was far to the south. For three weeks, search teams have scoured the surface of the earth and up above satellites have done the same, producing a series of so-called credible leads. But they have come to nothing.

The Australians have, in effect, abandoned the search in the Southern Indian Ocean.

JOHN YOUNG: This is the normal business of search-and-rescue operations that new information comes to light, refined analyses take you to a different place. I don’t count the original work a waste of time.

JOHN SPARKS: Flight 370′s black box is fitted with an underwater beacon, which could lead personnel to the wreckage. But the device is running out of power. And if it falls silent, well, it could take years to find the aircraft.

Ten planes scoured the new search area today, and multiple objects were spotted, we’re told, this picture taken from the window of a New Zealand airplane. Officials said they had analyzed this object and others overnight.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Hari Sreenivasan will have more on the search for the plane after the news summary.

General Motors is recalling another 824,000 small cars that may have faulty ignition switches. The announcement this evening expands the recall that began last month with 1.6 million Chevy, Pontiac and Saturn models dating back to 2003. GM has come under fire for not acting on the problem years ago.

President Obama stopped off in Saudi Arabia today, hoping to mend frayed ties with the kingdom. The Saudis have been critical of U.S. nuclear talks with Iran, and they were angered last year when the president scrapped plans for a military strike on Syria. Iran is supporting the Assad regime in Syria. We will look deeper into the U.S.- Saudi relationship in just a few moments.

Late today, Russian President Vladimir Putin telephoned President Obama to discuss Ukraine. They spoke for an hour. The White House said Mr. Obama urged him to pull Russian troops back from the border. Earlier, in a CBS interview, the president rebuked Putin over his seizure of Crimea.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: He may be entirely misreading the West. He’s certainly misreading American foreign policy. We have no interest in encircling Russia, and we have no interest in Ukraine, beyond letting the Ukrainian people make their own decisions about their own lives.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Separately, the Kremlin announced new retaliatory measures against countries that have expanded sanctions against Russia.

NATO is getting a new secretary-general, amid the crisis over Ukraine. Former Norwegian Premier Jens Stoltenberg will assume his new post starting in October. He succeeds Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

In Washington State, bad weather hampered the search for mudslide victims today. The official death toll in last Saturday’s disaster remained at 17. A local fire chief said efforts to recover at least nine more bodies are continuing, despite rainstorms that soaked the site all over again.

STEVE MASON, Battalion Chief, Snohomish County Fire District 1: It’s kind of like a fiberglass. You have got the trees infused with the mud with the homeowner’s stuff with everything. It’s all infused together. And the digging is very rough, especially lately because it’s rained the last few days, so there’s a lot more mud, and the mud is much more fluid.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ninety people are still listed as missing. That is roughly half the population of the tiny community of Oso before the mudslide buried it.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today defended a report that cleared him of closing part of a major bridge for political reasons. The Republican and presidential candidate hired the lawyers who did the report, including a former federal prosecutor, Randy Mastro. Democrats branded it a whitewash.

But, in Trenton, Christie rejected the charge.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R, N.J.: I think the report will stand the test of time. But it will be tested by the other investigations that are ongoing. And it is limited, as Randy Mastro pointed out, in small part by some of the access that they had and didn’t have to certain people.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Those separate federal and state legislative investigations of the bridge closing are continuing.

There are two new studies on cholesterol and heart health out today. Researchers at Baylor University report one-third of preteens may have borderline or high cholesterol. They studied 13,000 youths in Texas. Another study at New York University concludes married people are less likely than the unmarried to suffer heart or blood vessel problems. It involved more than 3.5 million people.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up nearly 59 points to close at 16,323. The Nasdaq rose four points to close at 4,155. And the S&P 500 added eight points to finish at 1,857. For the week, the Dow gained a tenth of a percent, the Nasdaq fell nearly 3 percent, and the S&P 500 lost half a percent.

One of the best-known POWs during the Vietnam War, Jeremiah Denton, today at a Virginia hospice. He was a Navy combat pilot shot down over North Vietnam in 1965. The next year, he was seen blinking the word “torture” in Morse code during a propaganda interview. He later wrote of repeated beatings in his book “When Hell Was in Session.”  Denton was finally released in 1973 and he served one term in the U.S. Senate from Alabama. He was 89 years old.