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News Wrap: Baltimore mayor asks for federal review of police

In our news wrap Wednesday, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake asked the Justice Department to investigate the city’s police department following the death of Freddie Gray. She said a review would show if the case is part of a pattern of police bias and excessive force. Also, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached a last-minute deal to form a coalition government.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The mayor of Baltimore asked the justice department today to investigate the city’s police department. That follows the death in custody of a young black man, Freddie Gray.

     

    Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said a federal review would show if the Gray case is part of a larger pattern of police bias and excessive force.

     

  • MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, (D) Baltimore:

    I have systematically put in place reforms for this department and it’s clear that more needs to be done. I will make sure that whatever they find we need to do to repair the relationship with the community and have a department that our citizens deserve. I’m determined to get that done.

     

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Also today Maryland Governor Larry Hogan formally lifted the state of emergency imposed in Baltimore after riots broke out.

     

    Thousands of National Guard troops and state police have already left the city.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached a last-minute deal today to form a new coalition government.

     

    It came less than an hour before the deadline.

     

    The agreement with a Nationalist Party gives Netanyahu a bare majority in parliament — 61 of 120 seats.

    His coalition will be dominated by hard-line and religious factions.

     

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    In Yemen Shiite rebels seized more of Aden, sending hundreds of people fleeing the port city.

    At least 40 died when a shell hit their boat.

     

    Civilians have left in droves in recent days as the combat escalates. Aid workers report growing shortages of food, fuel and medicine.

     

    Many of the refugees have fled to Djibouti, where Secretary of State John Kerry visited today.

  • JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:

    We have urged all sides, anybody involved to comply with humanitarian law and to take every precaution to keep civilians out of the line of fire, out of harm’s way, as well as to provide the opportunity for humanitarian assistance to be able to delivered.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Later, Kerry arrived in Saudi Arabia to urge a pause in the fighting.

     

    A Saudi coalition has been bombing the rebels in Yemen for a month and a half.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    About 10-thousand families have fled their homes in northeastern Afghanistan, to escape a Taliban offensive.

     

    A major battle is brewing in Kunduz city, where militants and government forces have been in a

    Stand-off for the past week.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Also in Afghanistan, Four men were sentenced today to be hanged, in the mob killing of a young woman in Kabul.

     

    She was falsely accused of burning a Quran and was beaten and thrown off a roof.  Her body was ultimately set on fire.

     

    A total of 49 suspects went on trial. Eight were sentenced to 16 years in prison. But the judge dropped charges against 18 others, citing lack of evidence.

     

  • GWEN IFILL:

    A chilling new disclosure today in that march airline disaster in France.

     

    Investigators now say the German pilot had practiced flying into a mountainside.

     

    Tom Clarke of independent television news, reports.

     

  • TOM CLARKE, ITN:

    We will never know exactly when Andreas Lubitz decided to crash Germanwings Flight 9525 but today compelling evidence emerged that he rehearsed the decent that later killed 150 people, including himself. Using details from the flight’s charred and mangled flight and voice data recordings, investigators have reconstructed Lubitz‘s actions on the earlier, outbound flight from Dusseldorf to Barcelona. Just before 20 past seven, the captain left the cockpit. Lubiz, now in control, put the plane into a planned descent. But seconds later, he set the aircraft to dive to 100 feet, before swiftly correcting the settings. During the next few minutes, he constructed the plane to plunge four more times, then, less than five minutes after he left, the captain knocked to reenter. Lubitz reset the controls to the correct altitude.

     

  • REMI JOUTY, Director, French Bureau of Investigation and Analysis (through interpreter):

     The captain didn’t know because the copilots test during the outgoing flight happened during a normal preprogramed descent. And it didn’t have any effect on the plane’s trajectory.

     

  • TOM CLARKE:

    The report also reveals that Lubitz ignored 11 radio calls from air traffic controllers, and three from French air defense forces. The investigation will now focus on how a mentally unstable man came to control a passenger plane, and how the line between passenger safety and medical confidentiality can be redrawn.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Back in this country another oil train derailed and burned today, this time in

    North Dakota.

    It happened near the tiny community of Heimdal forcing the 20 people who live there to leave.

    10 tanker cars on the BNSF train caught fire, blanketing the scene in thick smoke. No one was hurt, and there was no immediate word on the cause.

    For the record, BNSF railway is an underwriter of the Newshour.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Global concentrations of carbon dioxide have reached levels not seen for 2 million years.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said today the monthly average crossed that line in March.

    It also said concentrations of the heat-trapping gas are rising at a record pace.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The federal government says reports of sexual assault on U.S. college campuses nearly doubled between 2009 and 2013 — to almost 6,100.

    The Department of Education released the numbers, but clarified it’s not that assaults are increasing, but that more people are willing to report them.

    Officials credit enforcement efforts and improved public awareness.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    A bipartisan group of senators called today for an independent review of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    They said the number of backlogged claims for pensions and disability has decreased, but not by enough.

    Republican Dean Heller of Nevada said they’re concerned that mismanagement discovered at the

    VA’s regional office in Philadelphia might be systemic.

  • SEN. DEAN HELLER (R), Nevada:

    We have reason to believe that and I think it’s been reported in the past that some numbers have been manipulated as far as these claims are concerned, changing the dates and some of the hours and we want to get to the bottom of those issues.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    The senators want the government accountability office to investigate all 56 of the VA’s regional offices

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    A former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Jim Wright, has died.

    The Texas Democrat passed away early today at a nursing home in Fort Worth.

    Wright represented that area for 34 years, beginning in 1954. But in 1989, he became the first speaker to be forced to resign, after violating rules on reporting and accepting gifts.

    Jim Wright was 92 years old.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    On Wall Street today stocks fell on news that hiring dropped sharply last month and on a comment by Federal Reserve Chair Janet yelled that stock valuations are “quite high”.

    The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 90 points to close below 17,850.The Nasdaq fell nearly 20 points and the S&P 500 slipped 9.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And in a finding sure to trigger endless debate a British study concludes hip-hop has had the most profound effect on pop music in the last half century.

    Researchers analyzed roughly 17,000 songs from 1960 through 2010.

    They say hip-hop’s influence on chord patterns and instrumentation was even greater than the Beatles and the rest of the “British invasion” in the 1960’s.

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