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News Wrap: U.S. economy slowed at end of 2015

January 29, 2016 at 6:50 PM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff in Iowa, where we take a close look at women voters as we head into the final weekend of campaigning before the caucuses.

HARI SREENIVASAN: And I’m Hari Sreenivasan in Washington, D.C.

Also ahead on tonight’s “NewsHour”: David Brooks and E.J. Dionne talk yesterday’s Republican debate and a full week of news.

Plus, Barbie gets a makeover: Toy maker Mattel introduces three new body types and various skin tones for the classic doll.

And how a ballet in Denmark tells the story of asylum seekers by using a mix of professional dancers and refugees.

MOHAMMED AL-ISHAQ, Refugee: This will help people in thinking differently for refugees. They look at us as normal human beings, the way we are, not just a parasite.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”


HARI SREENIVASAN: American consumers spent less, businesses invested less and companies exported less at the end of 2015. As a result, the economy slowed markedly. Government data released today put overall growth at an annual rate of just seven-tenths of a percent from October through December. For the year as a whole, the economy grew 2.4 percent, about the same as the previous year.

Wall Street rallied on the news, hoping that weak growth might delay interest rate hikes. Strong earnings by tech firms helped as well. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 400 points to close at 16466. The Nasdaq rose 107 points, and the S&P 500 added 47. But, for the month, the Dow and the S&P lost 5 percent. The Nasdaq fell almost 8 percent.

The State Department confirmed today that Hillary Clinton’s private server held 22 e-mails that are now deemed top secret. The Associated Press reported State is withholding those e-mail chains from a batch being released today. Clinton used her own server as secretary of state. She has said none of the material she received was marked classified.

Department spokesman John Kirby said today it’s still not clear why that happened.

JOHN KIRBY, State Department Spokesman: It’s certainly possible that, for any number of reasons, traffic can be sent that’s not marked appropriately for its classification. I am not making any judgment about this. That’s why we’re doing a review here at the State Department to look at the classification at the time the traffic was sent.

All I can tell you definitively is it wasn’t marked classified at the time it was sent.

HARI SREENIVASAN: A Clinton campaign spokesman criticized the decision to withhold the e-mail chains as overclassification run amok. The announcement came three days before the Iowa presidential caucuses. We will hear from Judy in Iowa after the news summary.

Talks aimed at ending Syria’s civil war got off to a shaky start in Geneva today. After days of uncertainty, the main opposition group announced it will send a delegation to meet with a U.N. special envoy, but not with Syrian officials.

Today, the envoy met with representatives from Bashar al-Assad’s government, and he urged the opposition to engage if it wants to be heard.

STAFFAN DE MISTURA, Special Envoy for Syria, United Nations: We have been strongly suggesting to them that the best way to actually discuss the implementation of such type of discussion and therefore of improvement is to be done here and to do it with us, as proxy talks or directly, whatever is the format.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The talks are the first since negotiations collapsed in 2014. The Syrian civil war has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced millions.

There’s word U.S. military leaders will ask President Obama to send hundreds of additional troops to Iraq and Syria. The New York Times reports top commanders believe it will take more trainers, advisers and commandos to defeat the Islamic State group.

At the White House today, spokesman Josh Earnest rejected suggestions that the president feels the military has pressured him and he resents it.

JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: My eyebrows raised in the same way that yours apparently did when you read that. What I can tell you is the president is quite pleased with the kind of advice that he gets from his national security team. I assure you that, if anything, it is the leaders at the Department of Defense who are feeling pressure from the commander in chief to find new ideas and new ways to further intensify those elements of our strategy that are working.

HARI SREENIVASAN: There are currently some 3,700 American troops in Iraq and a small contingent of special forces in Syria.

The U.S. Navy has confirmed that Iran flew a surveillance drone over the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman in the Persian Gulf this month. Iranian state TV showed footage today, and said it came from the unarmed drone. An Iranian commander called the pictures beautiful and accurate. U.S. officials branded the move abnormal and unprofessional, but said the drone posed no danger to flight operations.

In Oregon, the last four armed occupiers were still holding out today at a national wildlife refuge. But, overnight, the FBI released drone video of the fatal shooting of LaVoy Finicum. He was the militia spokesman killed Tuesday by Oregon troopers.

Special agent Greg Bretzing said Finicum fled from a traffic stop, then ran into a roadblock, seen in this graphic footage.

GREGORY BRETZING, FBI Special Agent in Charge: The truck gets stuck in the snowbank. Finicum leaves the truck and steps through the snow. On at least two occasions, Finicum reaches his right hand toward a pocket on the left inside portion of his jacket. He did have a loaded .9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun in that pocket. At this time, OSP troopers shot Finicum.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Finicum had said he’d rather die than go to jail, but other members of the militia have claimed he did nothing to provoke the shooting. Ten other members of the group are already in custody. Late today, a federal judge ordered the occupation’s organizer, Ammon Bundy, and his brother Ryan held without bail.

Operations stopped at the largest port complex on the East Coast this morning, after thousands of longshoremen walked off the job. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it had no advance notice. A union spokesman said the longshoremen are rebelling against interference in port operations by an anti-corruption commission.

And President Obama has unveiled new efforts to close the pay gap between men and women. Proposed rules would mandate that companies with 100 or more employees report salary data by gender, race and ethnicity. The information would be used to enforce existing discrimination laws.

Still to come on the “NewsHour”: countdown to the Iowa caucuses, why women could hold the winning votes for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders; and what last night’s debate means for the GOP; plus Barbie’s new look, toy manufacturers picking up on diversity; and much more.