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News Wrap: New bomb threats target Jewish schools and community centers

February 27, 2017 at 6:45 PM EDT
In our news wrap Monday, Jewish community centers and day schools in at least 12 states received more bomb threats, all of which appeared to be hoaxes. Over the weekend, more than 100 headstones were destroyed at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. Also, the Senate moved to confirm the president's nominee for commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, John Yang reporting for us from the White House, thank you.

And in the day’s other news, the Senate moved to confirm the president’s nominee for commerce secretary. Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross has said the administration will work quickly to redo NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Meanwhile, the nominee for Navy secretary, Philip Bilden, withdrew last night. He cited trouble in separating from his business interests. The Army secretary nominee, Vincent Viola, withdrew earlier this month over similar issues.

More bomb threats were called in today to Jewish community centers and day schools in at least 12 states. All appeared to be hoaxes. The threats follow the weekend destruction of more than 100 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. Interfaith leaders in the city called today for unity.

JILL MADERER, Rabbi: Every time we are attacked by hate in the cemetery or beyond, we have come together in solidarity. We will not only defend our particular group. Too many are vulnerable.

JUDY WOODRUFF: A White House spokesman said President Trump condemns the vandalism and bomb threats — quote — “in the strongest terms.”

In the Philippines, the military confirmed today that Islamist militants linked to the Islamic State group have beheaded a German captive. Abu Sayyaf had been holding the 70-year-old hostage on a southern island since last fall. They demanded $600,000, but the ransom deadline passed Sunday without payment.

Dozens of shops were ransacked overnight in Johannesburg, South Africa, the latest in a wave of violence apparently aimed at immigrants. There’s been similar looting in Pretoria this month. On Friday, hundreds of anti-immigrant protesters marched in Pretoria. It comes amid claims that foreigners are fomenting crime and taking jobs from locals.

Back in this country, theft of opioid drugs has become a major problem at veterans’ hospitals. The Associated Press reports more than 11,000 cases since 2010. But it says that VA staffers were disciplined in only 3 percent of the cases. A top VA official, Dr. Carolyn Clancy, told a House hearing today that most of the missing medicine is being lost in the mail.

Republican Neil Dunn of Florida was incredulous.

REP. NEAL DUNN, R-Fla.: And somewhere between once the VA has the drug and once the VA passes it off to another part of the VA, the drugs are being diverted? Is that the system?

DR. CAROLYN CLANCY, Veterans Administration: No, this is outside the VHA system.

REP. NEAL DUNN: So, I have to tell you, I just — I have — 35 years, I have never heard this kind of accusation.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Clancy did say the department is adding inspectors and expanding employee drug testing.

Japanese air bag maker Takata pleaded guilty to a federal criminal charge today in Detroit. The company also agreed to pay $1 billion over faulty inflators. They’re blamed for at least 16 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide.

Meanwhile, in Miami, plaintiffs in dozens of lawsuits charged that Takata and five automakers knew the inflators were dangerous, but kept using them because they were cheaper.

On Wall Street today, stocks had a relatively quiet time, but the Dow Jones industrial average did hit a record close for the 12th session in a row. It gained 15 points to close at 20837. The Nasdaq rose 16, and the S&P 500 added two.

And they’re still trying to figure out what caused a mix-up for the ages at the Oscars last night. Presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway mistakenly announced “La La Land” as the best picture winner after being given the wrong envelope. Moments later, came word that “Moonlight” was the actual winner. PWC, the company responsible for tabulating the vote results, says it’s investigating just what happened.

Still to come on the “NewsHour”: Congress grapples with questions over whether an investigation into the Trump administration’s ties to Russia have been tainted; hospitals brace for big losses if Obamacare is repealed; a look at the Democrats’ choice of a new party chair with our politics Monday duo; and much more.

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