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News Wrap: Obama administration puts pause on new coal leases

January 15, 2016 at 6:50 PM EDT
The sun rises behind Fiddlers Ferry coal fired power station near Liverpool, northern England, December 15, 2008.     REUTERS/Phil Noble    (BRITAIN) - RTR22LS6
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff.

On the “NewsHour” tonight: U.S. stocks wrap up their worst start to a new year ever, as the price of oil trades at its lowest point in over 12 years.

Then:

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: I’m not going to use your mother’s birth against you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Following the first presidential candidate debate of the new year, we’re here with Mark Shields and David Brooks to talk about the race as we get close to Iowa.

And Silicon Valley may be the hot spot for tech jobs, but it lags when it comes to diversity in hiring. We look at why.

Plus: A new PBS drama, “Mercy Street,” described as “Gone With the Wind” meets “MASH,” focuses on medics during the Civil War.

JOSH RADNOR, “Dr. Jedediah Foster”: There’s this feeling that it’s entirely grounded in its time and place, and, at the same time, it feels modern and urgent and vital.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”

(BREAK)

JUDY WOODRUFF: The first two weeks of 2016 will go down in Wall Street history for the biggest losses to begin a year. Stocks plunged again today, as oil prices fell below $30 a barrel.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 390 points to close below 15990. The Nasdaq fell 126 points, and the S&P 500 dropped 41. Since the year began, the Dow and the S&P are down 8 percent. The Nasdaq is off 10 percent. We will get a full report and analysis after the news summary.

The Obama administration has ordered a nationwide pause on issuing new coal leases on federal land. That’s while the Department of the Interior reviews whether coal companies are paying enough in royalties to the government and what the environmental effects of mining are. Roughly 40 percent of the coal produced in the United States is mined on federal lands.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel faces new protests today over the fatal shootings of black suspects by police. Demonstrators turned out at an annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast with the mayor. Dozens of black ministers boycotted the event, but Emanuel pledged to address their concerns.

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), Chicago: We also have to root out the cancer of police abuse, because the quest for safe and secure neighborhoods and against violence demands trust between the community and the police. And when there is no trust, there is no safety.

JUDY WOODRUFF: There’ve been charges of a cover-up in the death of teenager Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by a white officer in 2014. Video of the shooting was withheld until last November. Yesterday, officials released footage of the killing of a carjacking suspect in 2013.

Coast Guard crews in Hawaii spent this day searching for survivors after two U.S. Marine helicopters collided and crashed at sea overnight. They carried 12 people on a night training mission off Oahu. An aerial search began before first light and crews spotted a debris field spread across two miles of choppy seas. There’s no word on the cause of the crash.

The U.N. children’s fund UNICEF painted a desperate picture today of starvation in Syria. Two relief convoys reached the town of Madaya this week after a long siege by Syrian government forces. U.N. workers found severe malnutrition among children and local officials told of 32 people starving to death in the past month.

Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News filed this report.

LINDSEY HILSUM: Some food and medicine is now getting to Madaya and two towns besieged by the rebels.

Today, a mobile clinic was allowed in. The health center is full of people seeking treatment. Her 15-year-old son needs to go to hospital in Damascus, but, despite the urgency, the Red Crescent and the U.N. haven’t yet managed to negotiate to get people out.

Moadamiya, less than six miles from the center of Damascus, hasn’t had the same attention as Madaya. But maybe it should. She’s getting the telltale signs of malnutrition. Her mother pulls back her towel and jacket.

“There’s no milk for children,” she says. “Look, her hands are getting thinner.”

The U.N. says 450,000 Syrians are living under siege across the country. Moadamiya is held by rebels who the Syrian government is trying to starve into submission.

MAN (through interpreter): The regime bombarded the roads into our town. We’re under siege. The road’s been closed for 20 days now. There’s no food or medicine.

LINDSEY HILSUM: Today, the Russians dropped humanitarian aid on Deir el-Zour, a town held by the Syrian government and besieged by the Islamic State. At the same time, Russian aircraft continued to drop bombs on rebel-held parts of Aleppo, and Syrian children continue to live with the fear of hunger and death.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Western nations called an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council today to demand the warring parties in Syria end the sieges.

Police in Indonesia now say the suicide attack in Jakarta that killed two civilians was indeed funded by the Islamic State group. Five of the attackers died in the assault yesterday. Overnight, anti-terror officers arrested several people just outside Jakarta. It was unclear if they’re directly linked to the bombings, but the national police chief promised more arrests.

MAN (through interpreter): For sure, there were people who helped in the attack, including those who facilitated the buying of materials, people who assembled the bombs and so on. They are involved in the attack, so I ordered they be tracked down and arrested, all the people involved in the attack, including its network.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Separately today, Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited the site of the attack and talked to business owners. He said everything is back to normal.

In Somalia, the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab claims that it overran an African Union base today and killed at least 63 Kenyan soldiers. It happened in Southwestern Somalia near the border with Kenya. Witnesses confirmed the militants took over the site. Kenya’s president acknowledged casualties, but gave no numbers.

The U.N. human rights chief warned today that Burundi is sliding toward a new ethnic conflict between Tutsis and Hutus. He accused government security forces of gang rape, torture and mass killings of political opponents.

In Geneva, a spokesman for the U.N. agency said many of the victims were members of the Tutsi minority.

RUPERT COLVILLE, Spokesman, UN Human Rights Comission: The suggestion that an ethnic dimension is now starting to emerge is reinforced by one of the sexually abused women, who said that her abuser told her she was paying the price for being a Tutsi. Another witness claimed that Tutsis were systematically killed, while Hutus were spared, and the decision to arrest people was also reportedly largely made on an ethnic basis.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Burundi suffered 12 years of civil war that finally ended in 2005. But the U.N. says that 432 people have been killed in rising violence just since last April.

And test results confirm that a new Ebola death in Sierra Leone has happened. The news comes one day after the World Health Organization declared the two-year epidemic in Western Africa was finally over. Officials say the latest victim may have exposed at least 27 other people.

Still to come on the “NewsHour”: dropping oil prices ripple through the global economy; Mark Shields and David Brooks analyze the last GOP debate before Iowa; boosting diversity in Silicon Valley; and could “Mercy Street” became the next “Downton Abbey”?

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