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News Wrap: Israel holds state funeral for former PM Ariel Sharon

January 13, 2014 at 6:01 PM EDT
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GWEN IFILL: There were signs of hope today for West Virginians who have no water service since Thursday. Officials announced a chemical spill near Charleston has largely dissipated, so they’re lifting a ban on tap water in stages. We will get the latest details right after at news summary.

New numbers on the president’s health care law show enrollments are weighted towards older Americans. The administration reported today that adults 55 to 64 years old are one-third of the two million plus who signed up. Younger adults account for just under a quarter of the total. Officials hope for a surge of younger, healthier enrollees before the March 31 deadline, to hold down premium costs.

The day’s numbers from Wall Street were down sharply due partly to falling oil prices and to uncertainty about the Federal Reserve’s plans. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 179 points to close below 16,258. The Nasdaq fell 61 points to close at 4,113.

Israel held a state funeral today for former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He died Saturday at 85 years old after languishing in a coma for eight years.

We have a report from Geraint Vincent of Independent Television News.

GERAINT VINCENT: The coffin of a national hero wrapped in the flag. Ariel Sharon was in so many ways the embodiment of Israel, its rights and its wrongs, its hopes and its fears.

Outside the Parliament building, statesmen paid tribute to a man who devoted his life to Israel’s defense.

TONY BLAIR, former British Prime Minister: The state had to be protected for future generations. When that meant fighting, he fought. When that meant making peace, he sought peace.

VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: The security of his people was always Arik’s unwavering mission, a non-breakable commitment to the future of Jews, whether 30 years or 300 years from now.

GERAINT VINCENT: Israel remembers a brilliant battlefield commander. So, as Sharon’s body arrived for burial at his family’s ranch, weapons of war stood ready nearby.

The funeral is taking place just the other side of those trees on the hill there. And just behind me on the ridge here, the Israeli Defense Force has deployed what it calls the Iron Dome, a missile defense system to protect the funeral from any rockets which might be launched at it from inside Palestinian territory, the Gaza Strip, just a few miles away from where Ariel Sharon is being laid to rest.

It was Prime Minister Sharon who ordered the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, but after a lifetime of confrontation, no one was morning him here.

“Sharon is buried near Gaza,” said this man, “so he can feel our suffering and God can judge him close to us.”

This evening, two rockets were fired over the border, but they fell well short of the ranch where Ariel Sharon may have found peace, but the land is still waiting.

GWEN IFILL: In Iran, reformists welcomed a plan to scale back the country’s nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions. Hard-liners have rejected the deal, calling it a poisoned chalice.

Meanwhile, U.S. and Russian leaders working on a Syrian peace deal announced today that the Syrian government, and elements of the opposition, will allow humanitarian aid into the country. We will examine Iran’s role in Syria and on the nuclear agreement later in the program.

Anti-government protesters in Thailand tried today to shut down Bangkok. They want to derail elections set for next month, and force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office. The protesters seized key intersections in the heart of the capital, blowing whistles, waving flags and even spreading out picnics. But they insisted they won’t go away

SUTHEP THAUGSUBAN, anti-government protest leader (through interpreter): Whoever is thinking about negotiations, compromise, hoping for a win-win situation, a win for both sides, I tell you now there is no win-win. There can only be one winner. Either I win or you win.

GWEN IFILL: For the most part, police didn’t interfere with the protesters.

The Supreme Court refused today to hear Arizona’s bid to revive a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. A lower court struck down the ban last year. The justices also heard arguments over presidential recess appointments. The fight centers on President Obama’s nominees to the National Labor Relations Board. We will talk to our Supreme Court expert, Marcia Coyle, later in the program.

New Jersey Democrats are pressing two new probes involving Governor Chris Christie. A special counsel will investigate the partial closing of the nation’s busiest bridge, apparently to punish a Democratic mayor. Christie denies any role in the decision. Separately, a Democratic congressman announced a federal audit of an ad campaign that featured Christie after superstorm Sandy.

Baseball star Alex Rodriguez filed suit today to overturn his record suspension for doping. On Saturday, an arbitrator ruled Rodriguez must sit out the entire 2014 season. He cited clear and convincing evidence of using banned drugs and obstructing an investigation. Rodriguez denies the charges. His federal suit names Major League Baseball and the players union.