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News Wrap: Thai army declares martial law

May 20, 2014 at 6:02 PM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Another 2.4 million cars and trucks are headed back to General Motors.  The four new recalls today involve seat belts, transmissions, air bags, and risks of fire. More than half of the affected models are Buick, Chevrolet and GMC crossovers from 2009 to 2014.

Older-model Chevy and Pontiac sedans account for nearly all the remaining vehicles. Just last week, GM agreed to pay a $35 million federal fine for concealing ignition switch problems.

GWEN IFILL: A major new attack hit Nigeria today, a double car bombing that killed at least 118 people. The first blast struck a bus terminal in the central city of Jos. A second bomb exploded there 30 minutes later, after rescue workers arrived. The bombings bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, the Islamist group that’s holding more than 270 schoolgirls captive.

The military in Thailand has intervened in that country’s ongoing political crisis.

John Sparks of Independent Television News reports from Bangkok.

JOHN SPARKS: The people of Thailand woke up to a something of a surprise this morning. The first and only item on the breakfast news were pictures of troops, trucks and armored jeeps moving into towns and cities.

The military had declared martial law. For viewers of a handful of more partisan TV channels, well, the army took them off the air altogether. Here’s the man responsible, Army General Prayuth Chan-ocha. He said it was about reestablishing law and order, it’s not a military coup, although the general seemed to be the one in charge today.

GEN. PRAYUTH CHAN-OCHA, Commander-in-Chief, Royal Thai Army (through interpreter): Don’t ask me if martial law will be long or short. When the country is peaceful we will get rid of it.

JOHN SPARKS: Two weeks ago, the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was kicked out office for abuse of power, but many see her removal as part of a power struggle between her family and the royalist establishment. And these divisions are laid bare in the capital.

Pro-establishment supporters, the yellow shirts, are camping out in the center of town, while the opposition are in the suburbs.

We’re on our way now to meet the pro-government supporters, the red shirts here on the outskirts. Now, the army wants them to stay here. It doesn’t want the two sides to come together and fight it out on the streets.

Several thousand people are baking in the sun or taking cover under the trees, but nobody seemed that keen on confrontation. For the time being, this city of marital law remains at peace.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In China, the Foreign Ministry called in the American ambassador today to tell him the U.S. is jeopardizing military ties by indicting five Chinese officers. They’re accused of hacking U.S. corporate computers for trade secrets. The Foreign Ministry insisted the indictment be withdrawn.

GWEN IFILL: U.S. tensions with China and Russia were part of the backdrop today as Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Shanghai. He met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at an Asian security conference. The two leaders are trying to hammer out a multibillion-dollar sale of Russian natural gas to China.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Officials in Bosnia and Serbia now say thousands of farm animals have drowned in record flooding, and the carcasses pose a health hazard. Meanwhile, the human death toll topped 40, as the swollen Sava River engulfed more towns in Bosnia overnight. And crews searched for old land mines from the Balkans war that may have been exposed by the floods.

GWEN IFILL: India’s incoming prime minister gave an emotional first address to supporters in parliament today. Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist party won in a landslide last week. Today, surrounded by photographers, Modi bent and kissed the steps of the parliament building in New Delhi. Inside, he fought back tears as he spoke to lawmakers.

NARENDRA MODI, Prime Minister-Elect, India (through interpreter): The new government is dedicated to the poor, to all the young people and to our mothers and sisters who have been craving for honor and dignity.

GWEN IFILL: Modi is scheduled to be sworn in next Monday.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Forced labor, from prostitution to outright slavery, is yielding $150 billion a year in illegal profits. The U.N.’s international labor organization reported the figure today. It estimated that 21 million people are victims, and more than half of those are women and girls. The agency said the report adds a new urgency to eradicating the abuse.

GWEN IFILL: Wall Street had a down day, after retailers reported subpar earnings. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 137 points to close at 16,374. The Nasdaq fell almost 29 points to close below 4,097. And the S&P 500 shed 12 to finish under 1,873.