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News Wrap: Dozens Hurt in Mississippi Tornado

February 11, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: The Northeastern U.S. spent much of this Monday still digging out from Friday’s blizzard, and utility crews kept working to restore power to some 150,000 customers. In some places, the snow was three feet deep and the work of snowblowing and shoveling was still going on three days after the storm hit.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was in Scituate today, and said most major highways were clear of snow.

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK, D-Mass. (D): Over the last day, crews have been out on all of the roads really trying to get down to the secondary roads — I think that’s true here in Scituate as well — to make sure that they are passable and safe so that school can resume and people can come and go through their routines.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Many public schools throughout the region remained closed out of safety concerns. Overall, 15 deaths were blamed on the storm.

Wild weather was also to blame for damage across Mississippi on Sunday, this time including a tornado. A nearby resident captured the moment that a funnel cloud tore through the main street of Hattiesburg, Miss., damaging scores of buildings and homes. More than 60 people were treated for injuries, but no one was killed.

In Syria, rebels captured the country’s largest dam today, as fighting raged nationwide. The seizure of the al-Furat dam in northern Syria was a coup for the opposition. It gave them control of much of the country’s water and electricity supplies. Also today, a minibus exploded at a Syrian border crossing with Turkey, leaving at least 13 dead and dozens more injured.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate pushed back today against a threat to hold up two of President Obama’s Cabinet nominees. The chair of the Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, announced plans for a Tuesday vote on Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary. On Sunday, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham warned he might hold up Hagel and John Brennan, the choice for CIA director. Graham demanded more information on the U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Today, White House, spokesman Jay Carney rejected any delay.

JAY CARNEY, White House Spokeman: What is unfortunate here is the continuing attempt to politicize an issue, in this case through nominees that themselves had nothing to do with Benghazi, and to do so in a way that only does harm to our national security interest. Senator Hagel, Mr. Brennan, they need to be confirmed. They’re highly qualified candidates for their posts.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Any effort to hold up the Hagel and Brennan nominations would wait until they reach the floor of the Senate.

Former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha received the nation’s highest military decoration this afternoon, the Medal of Honor. On October 3, 2009, in Northeastern Afghanistan, he and 50 other Americans were attacked by 300 Taliban fighters at Combat Outpost Keating. He led a desperate daylong battle, despite being wounded, and killed at least 10 insurgents himself.

At the White House today, President Obama said Romesha risked his life to rescue the wounded and retrieve bodies.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Clint Romesha lives the soldier’s creed: I will never leave a fallen comrade.

So he and his team started charging as enemy fire poured down, and they kept charging, 50 meters, 80 meters, ultimately 100-meter run through a hail of bullets. And they reached their fallen friends, and they brought them home.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Romesha is only the fourth living Medal of Honor recipient for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.

On Wall Street today, trading was light and stocks drifted lower. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 21 points to close at 13,971. The Nasdaq fell a little less than two points to close at 3,192.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Ray.