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News Wrap: Extreme Cold Whips Northeast and Midwest

January 23, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: An arctic storm system kept its grip on the Midwest and Northeast today. Subzero temperatures spanned a large swathe of the nation, from the Upper Midwest into New England, and 15 states were under wind chill warnings.

Fierce winds have blown across the Great Lakes for days, dumping more than a foot of snow on Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. The deep freeze is forecast to stick around through the weekend.

Marine Gen. John Allen is back on track to become supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe. White House officials said today his nomination is no longer on hold. That’s after the Pentagon inspector general cleared Allen of any wrongdoing in e-mail exchanges with a Tampa, Fla. woman. Allen steps down as overall coalition commander in Afghanistan next month.

The Air Force’s top general vowed today to put an end to sexual misconduct within the service. Figures for 2012 show some 800 reported incidents. Many of the cases stemmed from a scandal at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio. An investigation there found 32 instructors allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct with nearly 60 female service members.

At a House hearing, the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Mark Welsh, called the numbers appalling.

GEN. MARK WELSH, U.S. Air Force: There is no way we can allow this to happen again. The Air Force goal for sexual assault is not simply to lower the number. The goal is zero. It’s the only acceptable objective. The impact on every victim, their family, their friends, the other people in their unit is heart-wrenching.

And attacking this cancer is a full-time job, and we are giving it our full attention.

HARI SREENIVASAN: So far, six training instructors from Lackland have been convicted on charges ranging from adultery to rape. Nine others are facing courts-martial. Fifteen more instructors are still under investigation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began trying today to form a new governing coalition, after a weaker-than-expected showing in Tuesday’s elections. Near-final totals showed his bloc and its allies had only 60 of 120 seats in Parliament. Netanyahu signaled he will reach out to a new centrist party that made a strong showing. It favors a new focus on making peace with the Palestinians.

This was Election Day in Jordan. Voters cast ballots in the country’s first parliamentary elections since the Arab spring. The new legislature will have more power, including the ability to choose the next prime minister. Some two million people were eligible to go to the polls. Turnout estimates varied from a high of 56 percent to as low as 47 percent as the day went on. Several Islamist groups boycotted, saying the election was stacked against them. But the prime minister dismissed their actions.

PRIME MINISTER ABDULLAH ENSOUR, Jordan: The weakness of the turnout, if it exists — and I am not saying that — nobody should think that it is because of the boycott. It is not correct. If there was any hesitation for the elections, it’s because people were neither convinced with past elections nor with the performance of the past parliament. And they are fed up.

HARI SREENIVASAN: European election observers were stationed across the country. But no major rules violations were reported.

A suicide bomber in Northern Iraq killed at least 25 people at a Shiite funeral today. Among those hurt were a number of provincial officials who had been attending the service. The bombing today was the latest in a series of recent attacks, amid rising Sunni-Shiite tensions.

The suicide of a former pro football star became the focus of a wrongful death lawsuit today against the National Football League. The family of Junior Seau claimed his death was the direct result of a brain disease caused by blows to the head during his playing days. Seau retired in 2009, and committed suicide last May at the age of 43. Posthumous tests showed that he suffered from CTE, a degenerative brain illness. The NFL already faces scores of suits over player concussions.

Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te’o now says he kept saying he’d had an online girlfriend after learning she didn’t exist. In an interview, Te’o told ABC’s Katie Couric that he thought Lennay Kekua had died in September. Instead, he said he found out it was all a hoax just days before the Heisman Trophy announcement.

MANTI TE’O, University of Notre Dame: Katie, put yourself in my situation. This girl who I committed myself to died on Sept. 12. Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she’s alive, and then I’m going to be put on national TV two days later, and they ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?

HARI SREENIVASAN: Te’o ultimately didn’t win the Heisman, but he did answer questions about his girlfriend, without ever saying there’d been a hoax. Today, he insisted he played no part in the hoax.

Wall Street climbed again today, based partly on strong earnings at Google and IBM. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 67 points,to close at, 13,779. The Nasdaq rose 10 points to close at, 3,153.

Those are some of the days major stories.