News Wrap: Russia reportedly deployed new missile, ignoring U.S. complaints
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Tensions with Russia are rising on another front. The New York Times reports that Moscow has deployed a new ground-launched cruise missile, ignoring U.S. complaints that it violates a 1987 treaty. The Obama administration objected to the missile during its testing phase in 2014 and 2015.
Five hundred U.S. troops arrived in Romania today as part of a mission to shore up NATO allies in Eastern Europe. Shipments of American tanks were taken by train to an air base after being unloaded at a Black Sea port. The troops will be stationed there on a rotating basis. NATO has beefed up defenses in Eastern Europe in the wake of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
North Korea has rejected the U.N. Security Council’s criticism of its weekend missile launch. In Geneva today, the North’s ambassador to the United Nations said — quote — “The successful test-launch of a medium-to-long-range missile on February 12 is a part of self-defense measures.”
But at the same conference, U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood called for international action to stop the North’s missile and nuclear tests.
ROBERT WOOD, U.S. Special Representative to the U.N. Conference on Disarmament: The United States is committed to holding North Korea accountable for its behavior. We call on all states to use every available channel and means of influence to make clear to the North Korean regime, and its enablers, that these launches are unacceptable.
JUDY WOODRUFF: North Korea’s missile test was its first since President Trump took office.
Meanwhile, there is word that Kim Jong-nam, half-brother to North Korea’s supreme leader, was assassinated today in Malaysia. A South Korean news channel reports that the attackers were two women. A senior Malaysian government official says that Kim claimed he was hit with a chemical spray at the Kuala Lumpur Airport. He died en route to a hospital, where an autopsy will now be performed. Kim Jong-un has carried out a brutal purge since taking power in North Korea in 2011.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, violence surged again in an escalating power struggle. Police raided the home of a religious cult leader who’s called for President Joseph Kabila to step down. Four people died in the raid. Kabila’s mandate in office ran out in December, but he has refused to resign.
Back in this country, nearly 200,000 people got the all-clear to return to their homes below a dam in Northern California. Helicopters had been bringing in massive white sandbags and cement blocks to plug a 30-foot-deep hole in the spillway. This afternoon, the local sheriff said the danger near the Oroville Dam has eased.
KORY HONEA, Butte County Sheriff: Evacuation order issued, which resulted in people leaving the area, and we have been keeping them out. But this reduces that to an evacuation warning, and does exactly what you said, allows people to return to their homes, allows people to resume their businesses. But we are telling them that they have to be vigilant.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The forecast is calling for new storms in the Oroville area on Thursday, but officials say they think the dam and spillway can handle it.
Two more members of the Trump Cabinet have taken their seats. David Shulkin was sworn in today as the new secretary of Veterans Affairs. He easily won Senate confirmation last night. And Linda McMahon was sworn in to lead the Small Business Administration shortly after the Senate confirmed her today 81-19. McMahon was previously head of World Wrestling Entertainment.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says the Central Bank still means to raise interest rates this year, but it wants to see what the Trump administration does. At a Senate hearing today, Yellen acknowledged uncertainty surrounding the president’s tax and spending plans.
JANET YELLEN, Federal Reserve Chair: Changes in fiscal policy or other economic policies could potentially affect the economic outlook. Of course, it is too early to know what policy changes will be put in place or how their economic effects will unfold.
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump has said that his goal is to double economic growth.
And on Wall Street, bank stocks rallied after Yellen’s remarks, in hopes that higher interest rates will help profits, and that led the broader market higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 92 points to close at 20504, another record. The Nasdaq rose 18, and the S&P 500 added nine.