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News Wrap: Drone strike kills key Haqqani militant leader in Pakistan

November 21, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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GWEN IFILL: The Senate’s long-festering fight over filibusters came to a head today. Majority Democrats pushed through a rules change, making it easier to force action on presidential nominees. Before, it took 60 votes. It will now take 51. Democrats said it will end gridlock. Republicans say it’s an abuse of power. We will hear some of the debate and talk to two senators right after the news summary.

Wall Street rallied past a new milestone today on signs of improvement in the job market. The Dow Jones industrial average added 109 points to close above 16000 for the first time. The Nasdaq rose nearly 48 points to close at 3969.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged tribal leaders — tribal elders today to support a security deal with the U.S. It would keep thousands of American troops in Afghanistan for another decade. But Karzai said he will leave the signing of the agreement to his successor next year. The U.S. special representative on Afghanistan will join us later in the program.

An apparent U.S. drone strike in Pakistan has killed another senior figure of the Haqqani Network. Police said he was one of three top militants who died when missiles blasted an Islamic seminary. There’s been a series of recent attacks on Haqqani leaders. The Afghan group is allied with the Taliban.

The Geneva talks on curbing Iran’s nuclear program made little headway today. The U.S. and five other powers are trying to reach a draft agreement with Iran to ease some economic sanctions if Tehran freezes its nuclear efforts. But Iran’s deputy foreign minister said this morning there’d been a loss of confidence since the last round earlier this month.

ABBAS ARAQCHI, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister: I’m not in a position to go into the details of that, but we have some differences still, and those differences are on every side almost now.

QUESTION: Including sanctions?

ABBAS ARAQCHI: On the sanction part as well, yes.

GWEN IFILL: Later, the Iranian official met with the European Union’s top diplomat and emerged saying, “We regained some of our lost trust.” We will talk to Margaret Warner about that in Geneva later in the program.

This was another bloody day in Iraq, where a series of bombings killed nearly 50 people. More than half the victims died in a truck bombing at an outdoor market 90 miles northeast of Baghdad. More than 5,500 Iraqis have been killed since the wave of violence began eight months ago.

A new flood of Syrian refugees is surging across the border into Lebanon. It started Friday, when Syrian troops launched an offensive in a mountainous region north of Damascus. A U.N. official says more than 13,000 people have fled to Lebanon since then, including 500 families last night alone. Aid agencies are scrambling to find shelter for them.

There’s word that an 85-year-old American is being held in North Korea. According to his son, Merrill Newman visited Pyongyang as a tourist last month. The Korean War veteran was taken from his plane by a uniformed officer just before his flight home.

The U.S. special envoy for North Korea was asked about the incident in China today.

GLYN DAVIES, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea: Well, we have seen those reports. I have to say at the outset what I can’t do is comment in any specificity about them, because we do not have a privacy act waiver. And we, of course, are calling on North Korea, as in the case of Mr. Kenneth Bae, who has now been there for over a year, to resolve the issue and to allow our citizens to go free.

GWEN IFILL: Bae is a Christian missionary. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for what North Korea called hostile acts.

The state of Alabama granted posthumous pardons today to three of the so-called Scottsboro Boys. Charles Weems, Andy Wright, and Haywood Patterson were among nine black teenagers falsely convicted of gang-raping two white women in 1931. All served time. One man was pardoned earlier, and convictions against five others were overturned.

A federal jury in California has ordered Samsung Electronics to pay Apple $290 million for copying iPhone and iPad features. A previous jury had awarded Apple $1 billion, but the judge ruled the panel miscalculated, and she ordered a new trial. Samsung is expected to appeal this latest verdict.

Federal regulators are ready to allow cellular calls during U.S. flights. The Federal Communications Commission proposed today to let airline passengers make calls and send text messages above 10,000 feet. The FCC votes on the proposal next month.

Hundreds of activists walked out of U.N. climate talks today over lack of progress. Nearly 200 nations are meeting in Warsaw, Poland, to lay the groundwork for a climate pact in 2015. They have been stymied by disputes over making rich countries pay for losses when poor nations suffer. The meeting ends tomorrow.