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News Wrap: Keystone XL pipeline gets building permit from State Department

March 24, 2017 at 6:45 PM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And in the day’s other news: The State Department issued a permit to build the long-delayed Keystone X.L. Pipeline. The $8 billion project would allow oil to be piped from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. President Obama had rejected the project mainly for environmental reasons, but in the Oval Office today, President Trump said reversing that decision puts the country’s economic security first.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It’s a great day for American jobs, and a historic moment for North America and energy independence.

This announcement is part of a new era of American energy policy that will lower costs for American families, and very significantly, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create thousands of jobs.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The oil industry hailed the decision. Environmental groups vowed to keep fighting the pipeline.

A federal judge in Virginia ruled in favor today of the president’s revised travel ban. The judge rejected arguments by Muslim plaintiffs who said the ban was discriminatory. And that directly contradicts federal courts in Maryland and Hawaii that have blocked the order. The split increases the likelihood that the issue will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In London, police have made two more arrests in Wednesday’s terror attack that killed four people near Parliament. They have taken 10 people into custody since 52-year-old Khalid Masood drove an SUV into pedestrians, before being killed himself. Security was tight again today around the site of the attack.

Meanwhile, Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith leaders gathered outside Westminster Abbey for a minute of silence.

There may be a new migrant disaster in the Mediterranean. A Spanish aid group reports that hundreds are feared dead in three possible sinkings off Libya. Rescue workers were out today hunting for survivors. The search began after they came across bodies in the water.

JUAN FE JIMENEZ, Volunteer Doctor:Yesterday at 6:30 in the morning, we found the first body, and four more of young African migrants from ages between 16 and 25. Then we found also the wrecks of two boats. We guess there might be around 200 people missing.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So far this year, almost 600 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. More than 5,000 perished in 2016. That was the deadliest year ever.

Salvage crews in South Korea today finished raising a sunken ferry responsible for the deaths of more than 300 people in 2014. Then, two barges began towing the ferry to a transport vessel that will take it to a port for inspection. Most of the victims of the sinking were high school students on a trip.

Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been released after six years in custody. Mubarak, now 88, had been tried on charges of ordering the killing of protesters during the Arab Spring revolt in 2011. Earlier this month, Egypt’s top appeals court cleared him. The former leader held power for 30 years before being overthrown.

Back in this country, the House Intelligence Committee’s probe of Russian contacts with Trump campaign advisers erupted into fresh acrimony today. Republican Chair Devin Nunes called off a public hearing next Tuesday with former intelligence agency leaders. Instead, he said the panel needs to hear again from leaders of the FBI and National Security Agency in a closed session.

REP. DEVIN NUNES, R-Calif.: Until we can get them in a closed session, it’s not going to be worth it having the open session. So all members have a chance to interview them and hold a hearing in the closed session.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Then the Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff, quickly challenged the decision and disputed the chairman’s explanation.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-Calif.: There must have been a very strong pushback from the White House about the nature of Monday’s hearing. It’s hard for me to come to any other conclusion about why an agreed-upon hearing would be suddenly canceled. Clearly, it had to do with events of this week.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Earlier this week, Nunes drew heat for informing the president that some Trump transition communications were intercepted, without first telling committee Democrats. Today, Nunes also announced that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will appear voluntarily before the committee. We will get back to all of this a little later in the program.

It’s being reported that President Trump will continue to get financial reports on his business empire. “Forbes” magazine quotes the president’s son Eric as saying that he will likely provide quarterly updates. Before taking office, the president announced that he would separate himself from his companies to avoid any conflicts of interest.

A North Carolina man who fired an assault-style rifle inside a Washington pizzeria pleaded guilty today to weapons charges. Edgar Welch told police that he drove from North Carolina last December to investigate a bogus online conspiracy theory. It claimed that the pizza shop, named Comet Ping Pong, was home to a child sex ring involving Hillary Clinton.

And Wall Street closed out its worst week since the election. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 60 points today to close at 20596. The Nasdaq rose 11 points, while The S&P 500 slipped about two. For the week, all three indexes were down 1 percent to 1.5 percent.

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