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News Wrap: Pro-Russian rebels shoot down Ukrainian military helicopter

May 29, 2014 at 6:02 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF:  Ukraine’s military suffered a blow today, when pro-Russian rebels shot down a helicopter, killing at least 12 people, including a general.  A plume of smoke could be seen rising above the wreckage near Slavyansk.  Ukrainian officials said rebels used a portable anti-aircraft rocket to bring down the helicopter.  Meanwhile, Russia demanded again that Ukraine’s government call off its military campaign.

GWEN IFILL: It’s back to square one in the hunt for a Malaysian airliner that vanished March 8 with 239 people on board. Officials announced today they have finished searching 330 square miles of the Indian Ocean seabed off Western Australia, and there’s no sign of the wreckage.

And it turns out they have been looking in the wrong place.

Paul Davies of Independent Television News filed this report.

PAUL DAVIES: It was their most promising lead, signals thought to come from the missing plane’s black box recorder. Specialist equipment on unmanned submarines could trace the source, they hoped.

The U.S. Navy has had to accept that MH370 doesn’t lie here. The underwater search was carried out by a vessel dragging a towed pinger locator. Four separate acoustic pings have been heard, at first believed to be from the plane’s black box recorder.

But analysis now suggests they didn’t come from the plane’s wreckage at all. Some experts believe the source of the pings could in fact be the search vessel itself or its underwater equipment, something that should have been checked earlier, this expert says.

PETER ROBERTS, Naval Expert: Huge admission, huge admission for them to have done that. And it’s very hard to believe they hadn’t. And so we will wait and see as this story continues what the final say is from the company, but you would have certainly expected them to do that before they put it in the water in the Indian Ocean.

PAUL DAVIES: It is the latest disastrous news for relatives like Danica Weeks, whose husband, Paul, is one of 239 passengers and crew whose fate remains unknown.

DANICA WEEKS, Wife of passenger: It just is another slap in the face. It’s just another long road for us. And, look, I’m just — I’m just — I’m shattered by the news. I’m absolutely shattered.

PAUL DAVIES: This phase of the search ends here. It will be resumed and expanded in August, with the Australian government saying it’s still confident that, in time, Flight MH370′s final resting place will be located.

GWEN IFILL: The move will be to use more powerful sonar equipment across a much wider swathe of the Indian Ocean.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, vowed today that his government will wage total war on Boko Haram. The Islamist group kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls last month and has carried out a series of other attacks. Jonathan pledged again to get the girls back, and he insisted the threat from Boko Haram will be eliminated.

PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN, Nigeria: I have instructed our security forces to launch a full-scale operation to put an end to the impunity of terrorists on our soil. I have also authorized the security forces to use any means necessary under the law to ensure that this is done.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Hours later came word that the militants had killed at least 32 more people in a village in northeastern Nigeria.

GWEN IFILL: News of a shocking crime swept across India today. Two teenage sisters were gang-raped, strangled and left hanging from a tree early yesterday. It happened near a village in Uttar Pradesh state. Police have now arrested four men, including two police officers. India drew world scrutiny last year after a fatal gang-rape in New Delhi.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Egypt’s presidential election, with nearly all the votes counted, the former army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has won a landslide victory. His campaign announced today he garnered more than 93 percent of the ballots cast. But only 46 percent of those eligible turned out, even after voting was extended for a third day.

GWEN IFILL: Back in this country, the secretary of homeland security, Jeh Johnson, came under fire over immigration policy. At a House hearing, Republicans demanded to know why the department released 36,000 convicted criminals last year who were in line to be deported. Johnson took office in December.

JEH JOHNSON, Secretary of Homeland Security: I look at the same list you have seen, and I have seen some pretty serious criminal convictions on those — on that list, including homicide and other things. And so I want a deeper understanding of this issue myself to make sure that we’re doing everything we should be doing to ensure public safety in this process.

GWEN IFILL:
Republicans at the hearing also criticized President Obama’s decision to delay a review of deportations until late summer. They charged it’s just a ploy to pressure them on immigration reform.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The United States has recorded more cases of measles so far this year than any year since 1996. There have been 307 cases, mostly linked to people who caught the virus abroad and spread it in the U.S. among people who were never vaccinated. Most of those came this month in an outbreak among Amish communities in Ohio.

GWEN IFILL: Coaches, parents and officials from sports leagues held a summit on concussions and kids at the White House today. They heard President Obama call for more intensive research on the long-term effects of head injuries in the young. The president also urged broader recognition of how serious the problem can be. He told the audience, “We have to change a culture that says suck it up.”

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ford Motor Company has recalled nearly 1.4 million vehicles, mostly for possible power steering defects. They include Ford Escapes and Explorers and Mercury Mariners from model years 2008 through 2011. About 200,000 Taurus sedans from 2010 to 2014 are also affected. They may have corrosion problems.

GWEN IFILL: On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 65 points to close at 16,698; the Nasdaq rose nearly 23 points to close just sort of 4,248; and the S&P 500 added 10, to finish at 1,920.