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News Wrap: Northeast hunkers down for late winter storm

March 13, 2017 at 6:45 PM EDT
In our news wrap Monday, a blizzard watch is in effect for part of the Northeast, as New York City and other municipalities braced for a late storm that could bring up to 20 inches of snow. Also, Washington state went to federal court to stop President Trump's revised travel ban.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The Northeastern U.S. is bracing for a late winter snowstorm that could bring up to 20 inches of snow tonight. A blizzard watch is in effect through tomorrow evening for New York City, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut.

Preparations were under way today in New York and elsewhere, with mayors urging people to stay inside and not take chances.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, D-N.Y.: This kind of snow coming down this intensely, again, it’s dangerous. It’ll be dangerous to be on the roads. I want to urge everyone now to make plans to not be out on the roads tomorrow, first and foremost for your own safety, but second and very important, so that all of the good people at the sanitation department can do their job and clear the roads.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Even before it arrived, the storm caused disruptions. Airlines canceled some 6,000 flights, and New York City called off school tomorrow.

The state of Washington went to federal court today to stop President Trump’s revised travel ban. The executive order temporarily blocks refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries. California is joining Washington’s suit, along with Minnesota, New York and Oregon. Hawaii has already filed its own challenge.

The White House is now saying the president wasn’t speaking literally when he accused President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower. Adviser Kellyanne Conway suggested over the weekend that it might have been some other form of surveillance. Today, she acknowledged that she has no evidence.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer followed up at the daily White House briefing.

SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: He doesn’t really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally. But I think that there’s no question that in the Obama administration that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election.

The president used the word wiretap in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The House Intelligence Committee also asked that the Justice Department to provide any evidence of wiretapping by today.

The U.S. Senate moved this evening to confirm Seema Verma to oversee the government’s Office and Medicare and Medicaid. The Indiana health care consultant will be charged with directing key changes, if congressional Republicans push through heir replacement for Obamacare.

In Syria, last year was the most dangerous yet for children since the civil war began six years ago. The U.N. Children’s Relief Agency, UNICEF, reports that at least 652 Syrian children were killed in 2016. That’s up 20 percent from 2015. The number recruited to fight doubled to more than 850, with some acting as executioners and suicide bombers.

The U.S. military confirms that it’s begun deploying attack drones to South Korea to counter what it calls North Korea’s continued provocative actions. The move follows Pyongyang’s recent nuclear and missile tests. and it comes just days after the Pentagon sent an advanced anti-missile system to the South.

Scottish leader, Nicola Sturgeon, called today for a new referendum on independence. The nation’s first minister in Edinburgh, and said most Scots oppose leaving the European Union, and that’s cause to reconsider independence.

NICOLA STURGEON, Scottish First Minister: Right now, we’re on a path not just to Brexit, but to hard Brexit, that will have profound implications for our economy, our society, our culture, our place in the world, sense of who we are. And we have no control over that. We voted against it, but nevertheless that is the direction the U.K. government is intent on taking us in.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In a 2014 referendum, 55 percent of Scottish voters rejected independence. The British Parliament would have to authorize a new vote.

And on Wall Street, stocks mostly searched for direction. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 21 points to close at 20881. The Nasdaq rose 14 points, and the S&P 500 added about a point.

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