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News Wrap: Mob attacks convoy of Pakistan opposition figure

August 15, 2014 at 6:02 PM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The violence in Ferguson, Missouri abated overnight, and, today, the focus returned to Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager killed by police seven days ago.

The Ferguson police chief made the announcement that many in the town had demanded, after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead last Saturday.

THOMAS JACKSON, Chief, Ferguson Police Department: The officer that was involved in the shooting of Michael Brown was Darren Wilson. He’s been a police officer for six years, has had no — no disciplinary action taken against him. He was treated for injuries which occurred on Saturday.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Wilson has been on administrative leave since the shooting. Police said he initially confronted Brown about walking down the middle of a street, but Wilson didn’t know that Brown was a suspect in a robbery.

They released this security video from a convenience store and said it apparently shows Brown, in the red baseball cap, and a friend stealing a box of cigars and pushing away a clerk. A lawyer for the friend told MSNBC today that he confirmed the theft to investigators.

Later, an attorney for Brown’s family acknowledged the man in the video appears to be Brown, but that police are trying to divert attention from an unjustified shooting.

DARYL PARKS, Lawyer for victim’s family: We heard from the chief. And we believe that, certainly, that the rest of the world sees it for what it was worth, that the pictures that were released and the video has nothing to do with what happened and how he was killed on that day. That’s very important, that people understand that and see it for what it’s worth.

GOV. JAY NIXON, D, Mo.: Nothing should deter figuring out how and why Michael Brown was killed.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Governor Jay Nixon was in Ferguson today and also cautioned against jumping to conclusions.

GOV. JAY NIXON: There’s a lot of steps between now and when justice is served. And there are going to be a lot of other bounces along the way, and there will be a lot of tension at various times. New facts are out that weren’t out yesterday. But those are not the full picture of anything.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Yesterday, the governor put the state Highway Patrol in charge of security in Ferguson after several nights of violence. Local police were heavily criticized for a heavy-handed use of force Wednesday night, including tear gas, smoke grenades, heavy weapons and military-style vehicles.

The change last night was dramatic. The atmosphere was even festive at times, with a greatly reduced police presence and no arrests. Crowds welcomed Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, who grew up in the community. He marched with demonstrators, as a small number of state troopers patrolled.

Today, he appealed for continued calm.

RON JOHNSON, Captain, Missouri State Highway Patrol: What I don’t want is us to go down and burn our own neighborhood. What point — that doesn’t prove a point. That doesn’t solve issues. That hurts this community and that’s what I don’t want.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The violence of the previous night prompted vigils around the country last evening, and demands for justice.

SHANNON TUZZIO: I don’t care if you have a badge or not. Everyone needs to be treating everyone else equally and to be tried equally for murder.

ED DORSEY, NAACP-Carbondale, Illinois: We call for calm. But we want a full and impartial investigation. We want the facts to be known. And we want to learn from this so that we can stop the violence.

PROTESTERS: Hands up!  Don’t shoot!  Hands up!  Don’t shoot!

HARI SREENIVASAN: From New York City to Los Angeles, thousands of people also staged marches in solidarity with the people of Ferguson.

We will return to the Ferguson story and the issue of policing in minority communities after the news summary.

The man chosen to be Iraq’s new prime minister appealed for unity today. Haider al-Abadi urged his fellow Shiites as well as Sunnis and Kurds to join against the threat posed by Islamic State militants. The political stalemate was broken yesterday when Nouri al-Maliki stepped down as prime minister and endorsed Abadi.

In Ukraine, reports of a military clash with Russia fueled new tensions today.

Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News filed this report.

LINDSEY HILSUM: Russian armored vehicles at the border into Ukraine, they seem to have stopped at the customs point. One convoy reportedly crossed overnight and a much larger one today. It’s the first overt Russian incursion after months of arming pro-Russian separatists. But the Kremlin is still denying that its forces have gone over the border.

In Kiev, the Ukrainian president was visiting soldiers who’d been captured and then released by the separatists. In a phone call with the British prime minister, he claimed that Ukrainian artillery had destroyed much of the Russian armor. His defense spokesman said they’d allowed the column in before attacking. But there’s no independent confirmation.

ANDRIY LYSENKO, Spokesman, Ukraine National Security Council (through interpreter): I have to reassure you this column was followed. It was always under the surveillance of our reconnaissance forces. Appropriate actions were undertaken, and a part of it no longer exists.

LINDSEY HILSUM: For several days now, Russia has been trumpeting the progress of a 280-vehicle convoy carrying aid from Moscow supposedly for civilians in Eastern Ukraine. It’s bringing much-needed food and other supplies. But the trucks are military green covered in white tarpaulins. Some are almost empty.

And the self-proclaimed volunteers are all young men of military age in identical khaki shorts. At least one was sporting a military tattoo. And they appear to have top cover.

The Ukrainian government says the Russia aid won’t be allowed to cross the border unless it’s inspected and distributed by the Red Cross. President Putin was meeting his Finnish counterpart today, talking about trade and sanctions. Russian and Ukrainian officials also met today and further talks are scheduled for Sunday, a chance to pull back from the brink.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Russia’s Defense Ministry later denied there’d been any military clash with Ukrainian forces.

Supporters and opponents of Pakistan’s government clashed today as thousands of protesters converged on the capital. A mob attacked the convoy of Imran Khan in Gujranwala. The opposition figure is leading supporters from Lahore to Islamabad. Khan said people threw stones at the convoy as it drove past, and a spokeswoman said his vehicle was shot at. Police disputed that account.

The death toll from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has risen again, to 1145. U.N. health officials report 76 new deaths in the two days between Monday and Wednesday. In all, there have been more than 2,100 cases in four countries, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

The governing body of stock car racing will bar drivers from getting out of their cars after accidents. NASCAR’s decision follows last Saturday’s fatality during a dirt track race in New York State. Driver Kevin Ward jumped from his car after his car and Tony Stewart’s collided. On the next lap, Stewart’s car struck and killed him. The incident remains under investigation.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 50 points to close below 16,663.  The Nasdaq rose nearly 12 points to close near 4,465.  And the S&P 500 was down a fraction at 1,955.  For the week, the Dow gained seven-tenths of a percent.  The Nasdaq rose more than 1 percent.  The S&P was up more than 2 percent.