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News Wrap: Japan reduces goal for fighting climate change

November 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: We will have more on the health insurance industry’s response to the president’s latest initiative right after the news summary.

They kept counting bodies and kept waiting for help in the Central Philippines today. The confirmed death toll from last Friday’s typhoon rose to 3,621, with at least 600,000 homeless. Survivors in the ravaged city of Tacloban swarmed the relief helicopters and trucks that did get through.

Angus Walker of Independent Television News reports from there.

ANGUS WALKER: A scramble for sacks of supplies, hunger in their eyes, survival on their minds.

In seconds, it’s all gone, too little and, one week on, arguably too late. They try to keep desperation at bay. Another load to deliver, and the sound of the chopper brings a swarming crowd. The crew, fearful of being mobbed again, just throw it to the ground. Most are left empty-handed, an airdrop in an ocean of need.

But the aid operation is growing, the U.S. military deployment more visible by the day, here to do the heavy lifting, with boots on the ground and boxes piling up. It certainly appears to be taking far too long for aid to get from runway to ruins. But the most senior U.S. officer on the ground thinks that’s normal at this stage.

ADM. MARK MONTGOMERY, U.S. Navy: This is my third one of these, and I think this is fairly typical that take — the processes that you use after a week or 10 days into it don’t necessarily exist on day one.

 ANGUS WALKER: Living just two minutes from the airport, and the tons of stored food and water, Maritez Cinco hasn’t seen any of it.

MARITEZ CINCO, survivor: So, what will we do? What will I do? What will these people do? What will these children do?

ANGUS WALKER: Aid is being delivered to Tacloban, but it’s simply not enough. A truck has just turned up at this evacuation center, and within seconds, hundreds are queuing for food. Little by little, help is in sight, but there’s a long, long way to go.

JUDY WOODRUFF: China’s ruling Communist Party announced a major revision today in the longstanding one-child policy. It means many more families will now be allowed to have a second child. Officials also announced an end to the system of forced labor camps. We will hear more about the changes later in the program.

Japan has drastically reduced its goals for fighting climate change. The ruling cabinet voted today to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 3.8 percent from their 2005 levels by 2020. A spokesman said the previous target of a 25 percent reduction was unrealistic.

At a conference in Poland , the U.N.’s climate chief voiced dismay, while praising Japan’s overall energy policy.

CHRISTIANA FIGUERES, United Nations Climate Chief: It’s obviously regrettable, absolutely. But, you know, Japan is a very advanced economy. And they are already very energy-efficient, but they have shown that they can, even from a very high basis of efficiency, they have even increased that over the past years.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Japan is the world’s fifth largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The drive to address climate change by burning more ethanol may be curtailed. The Obama administration called today for reducing the amount of the corn-based fuel that’s included in gasoline starting next year. Oil companies and some environmental groups lobbied for the reduction. More about what’s behind the change a little later.

In Libya, some of the worst fighting in memory erupted today in the capital city, killing 27 people and wounding 235 others. Armed militia fighters opened fire on thousands of protesters who were demanding that the militias be disbanded. Hundreds of armed groups have mushroomed across Libya since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi.

Efforts to find a place for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons have suffered a new setback. The prime minister of Albania today rejected a U.S. request to accept tons of mustard gas and sarin nerve gas. The decision drew cheers from some 2,000 demonstrators who were massed outside the prime minister’s office. They insisted that their small Balkan nation cannot safely dispose of the Syrian weapons.

TOMOR LUZATI, protester: I know exactly what it is and what damage they can create it if they can come in my country. We are not prepared and we have no possibilities, no capacities and no specialists to do this kind of experiment.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Albania was selected as a possible site because it recently destroyed its own poison gas arsenal.

The CIA is secretly collecting massive amounts of data on international money transfers, including those in to and out of the United States. The New York Times reported today that, according to unnamed officials, the previously unknown program is authorized by the Patriot Act. That’s the same law the National Security Agency has used to gather data on Americans’ phone calls.

 The U.S. Postal Service narrowed its losses last year, but still ended up another $5 billion in the red. That was sharply lower than the loss of nearly $16 billion that the agency reported a year ago. Still, it marked the seventh consecutive year that the Postal Service has run at a deficit.

President Obama will ask Congress to extend long-term jobless benefits through the end of next year. The White House said today that it’s necessary because unemployment remains high.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 85 points to close at 15,961. The Nasdaq rose 13 points to close just short of 3,986. For the week, the Dow gained more than 1 percent; the Nasdaq rose nearly 2 percent.