News Wrap: Devastating southern floods continue; UN warns of crisis in South Sudan

In our news wrap Friday, residents of the flood-stricken South faced overnight downpours that brought total rainfall to two feet in some places, uprooting trees and collapsing roads--with more rain expected this weekend. Also, the UN issued a warning that the civil war in South Sudan has left the central African nation with “one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world.”

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    Good evening. I'm Hari Sreenivasan.

    On the "NewsHour" tonight: Republicans hold a civil debate before next week's crucial primaries, while Ben Carson becomes the second former rival to endorse front-runner Donald Trump.


    I'm Judy Woodruff here at the site of Nancy Reagan's funeral in California, where a nation said farewell to an influential first lady.

    JAMES BAKER, Former U.S. Secretary of State: She had an instinct for reading people that the president knew he lacked. "Nancy," he wrote, "sees the goodness in people, but she also has an extra instinct that allows her to see the flaws."


    It's Friday. Mark Shields and David Brooks are here to analyze the week's news.

    Also ahead, Miles O'Brien's rare look inside Fukushima. Five years after the meltdown, the historic cleanup continues.


    I believe it can be done. It can be done safely and it can be done successfully. But nothing of this magnitude has ever been done by mankind.


    All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."



    In the day's other news, there was little relief for the residents in flood-stricken South, as overnight downpours brought total rainfall to two feet in some places. In Monroe, Louisiana one of the hardest-hit communities, floodwaters caused major damage, uprooting trees and collapsing roads.

    Meanwhile, the National Weather Service warned more rain is on the way this weekend. Some places along the Alabama coast could see six additional inches.

    The U.N. warned today, South Sudan has become one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world. The new report detailed atrocities by government forces, including cases of children and disabled people being burned alive and parents forced to watch as their children were raped.

    The country has been mired in a civil war since 2013, leaving tens of thousands dead and millions more displaced.

    I spoke with David Marshall, coordinator of a U.N. human rights mission to South Sudan, via Skype earlier today.

    DAVID MARSHALL, U.N. Coordinator for South Sudan: Our findings were quite stark, that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been perpetrated in 2015 by the government. The government has instilled or undertaken a campaign of terror in the country to displace, kill, rape, loot and destroy civilian property.


    To see our full interview with David Marshall on the atrocities in South Sudan, visit our Web site,

    The number of North Korean cyber-attacks on the South have doubled over the past month. South Korean intelligence officials sounded that warning today to parliamentary lawmakers. They said the North tried, but failed to hack into their railway control system and computer networks of financial institutions. The hackers also stole information from the smartphones of dozens of South Korean officials.

    President Obama nominated U.S. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti to be NATO's new top military commander. Scaparrotti, currently commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, will succeed U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove as NATO's supreme allied commander of Europe. The nomination, pending Senate approval, comes amid ongoing tensions with Russia and a refugee crisis plaguing Europe.

    A South African man says his son may have found a piece of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Mozambique. The teenager found the part on December 30 in the town of Xai-Xai, thousands of miles from the flight's last known coordinates. The piece has a five-digit number on it, which authorities said indicates it may belong to a Boeing 777. Officials are sending it to Australia to be examined.

    In Japan today, mourners marked the fifth anniversary of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people. The country's northeast coastline was devastated, and still hasn't been fully rebuilt.

    Japanese officials, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, held a moment of silence in Tokyo. He struck a positive tone in a speech at the altar for victims.

  • SHINZO ABE, Prime Minister, Japan (through interpreter):

    In the past, our nation suffered countless disasters that could be described as national crises, but overcame them each time with determination and hope. I vow once again that we will follow hand in hand in the footsteps of our forefathers and continue to move forward.


    The anniversary also sparked protests against nuclear power, after the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. We will have more on the cleanup efforts there later in the program tonight.

    The Department of Health and Human Services pledged $94 million to help fight against heroin and opioid drug abuse. The money will go to 271 centers across the country and be used to treat roughly 124,000 new patients. It comes a day after the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to help state and local programs, but that measure didn't include any new funds.

    The world anti-doping agency announced there have been 99 positive tests for meldonium this year. That includes Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova's sample. The blood-flow-boosting drug was banned on January 1 for its performance-enhancing benefits. Sharapova admitted she's been taking it for a decade for health issues, but didn't know it had been banned.

    At least seven of the confirmed cases come from Russian athletes. Those who test positive face up to a four-year ban.

    Stocks closed higher on Wall Street today to round out a four-week rally. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 218 points to close at 17213. The Nasdaq rose 86 points, and the S&P 500 gained 32. For the week, the Dow and the S&P gained more than a percent. The Nasdaq rose just under a percent.

    And after his year in space, astronaut Scott Kelly has announced his retirement. NASA said he will retire on April 1. Kelly worked for NASA for nearly 20 years. Kelly also holds the American record for the most cumulative time in space at 520 days.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": first lady Nancy Reagan laid to rest; Mark Shields and David Brooks analyze the week in news; the cleanup continues five years after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster; and much more.

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