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News Wrap: Fighting flares between Hezbollah and Israel

In our News Wrap Wednesday, Hezbollah rocket fire killed two Israeli soldiers on the Israel-Lebanon border. The Israeli military fired back with airstrikes and artillery fire. Also, Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee to be the next attorney general, went before the Senate for her confirmation hearing.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Fighting flared on the tense Israel-Lebanon border today after Hezbollah rocket fire killed two Israeli soldiers, and the Israelis fired back. A U.N. peacekeeper from Spain was also killed. It was the deadliest incident on the 50-mile-long frontier since Hezbollah and Israel fought a war in 2006.

    The Israeli military answered today's attack with airstrikes and artillery fire. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hezbollah to back off.

  • BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel (through interpreter):

    Whoever is behind today's attack will pay the full price. In all of these events, our mission is to defend the state of Israel. Our only consideration is the security of the state of Israel and its citizens. Thus we have acted, and thus we will continue to act.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Hezbollah said its attack was retaliation for an airstrike that killed six of its fighters just inside Syria earlier this month. Israel has never confirmed or denied a role in that strike.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    New England began digging out today from a blizzard that dumped as much as three feet of snow from Connecticut to Maine, as temperatures plunged. Martha's Vineyard was hard-hit, and the entire island of Nantucket lost power.

    With mountains of snow waiting to be shoveled, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh promised an all-out effort, before another round of snow begins falling this weekend.

  • MAYOR MARTY WALSH, Boston:

    If there's snow on Friday, we will be out there doing it. If there's snow on Saturday and Sunday, we will be out there removing it.

    It's just that this storm, because of the cold weather, we're not going to have an opportunity for any thawing or melting of any snow. So we need to make sure we clear the streets as best we can, because we have got to put the snow that's coming potentially over the weekend in another place.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    The big dig-out will have to be done in temperatures that aren't supposed to rise above freezing for another week.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    President Obama's nominee to be U.S. attorney general faced her Senate confirmation hearing today. If approved, federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch would be the first African-American woman to hold the office.

  • LORETTA LYNCH, Attorney General-Designate:

    I look forward to fostering a new and improved relationship with this committee, the United States Senate, and the entire United States Congress.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Loretta Lynch came to the hearing offering overtures to Republicans who repeatedly butted heads with her predecessor, including Texas Senator and Majority Whip John Cornyn.

    SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) Texas: Let me just stipulate, you're not Eric Holder, are you?

  • LORETTA LYNCH:

    No, I'm not, sir.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Republicans had often accused Holder of politicizing the Justice Department. So, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch pressed Lynch to declare her independence.

    SEN. ORRIN HATCH, (R) Utah: If you are confirmed, will you commit to enforce and defend the laws and the Constitution of the United States, regardless of your personal and philosophical views on them on any matter?

  • LORETTA LYNCH:

    Absolutely, sir.

    The issue is not my personal view or any issue of bias or policy even, but it is the duty and responsibility of the Department of Justice to defend those statutes.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Lynch did defend the president's actions to protect millions of immigrants from deportation. She suggested it's a matter of setting priorities.

  • LORETTA LYNCH:

    The Department of Homeland Security's request and suggestion that they, in fact, prioritize the removal of the most dangerous of the undocumented immigrants among us, those who have criminal records, those who are involved in national security and terrorism, those who are involved in gang activity, violent crime, along with, I believe, people who have recently entered and could pose a threat to our system, seemed to be a reasonable way to marshal limited resources to deal with the problem.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The nominee is currently U.S. attorney for parts of New York City and Long Island, and as New York Democrat Charles Schumer suggested, she is widely expected to win her promotion.

    SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) New York: If we can't confirm Loretta Lynch, then I don't believe we can confirm anyone.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Lynch is the first of the president's nominees to face a confirmation vote in the new Republican-run Senate. The hearing continues tomorrow with other witnesses.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    After 54 years, a South Carolina judge has exonerated nine black men who went to jail for sitting at a whites-only lunch counter in 1961. They attended tiny Friendship College in the town of Rock Hill, and became known as the Friendship Nine. The group refused to pay fines, and instead served 30 days at a prison farm, a tactic that spread across the segregated South.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    There will be no more executions in Oklahoma until the Supreme Court rules on that state's lethal injection procedures. The court today delayed three pending executions. Last week, the justices agreed to hear arguments that a sedative used in Oklahoma still allows the condemned man to feel pain.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    In economic news, the new leftist government of Greece moved to roll back austerity measures today, as promised. In a series of announcements, plans for privatizing public sector utilities, ports and assets were put on hold. They're part of the Greek bailout deal with the European Union, but the new finance minister called the agreement a big toxic mistake.

  • YANIS VAROUFAKIS, Finance Minister, Greece (through interpreter):

    Today, we are turning the page on that mistake that has cost human lives that were lost or undermined, that has also cost our partners in Europe. The problem isn't that Germany, Italy, and the poorer-than-us Slovakia didn't give enough money to Greece. They gave more than they should have. It was just thrown into a black hole.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    The new government also sought to reassure financial markets, but Greek bank stocks plunged 25 percent and the Athens Stock Exchange fell nearly 10 percent.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Wall Street slumped today, even after the Federal Reserve Bank reaffirmed that it will be patient before raising interest rates. Instead, the market focused on a new slide in oil prices to below $45 a barrel, the lowest in nearly six years. That sent the Dow Jones industrial average down nearly 196 points, to 17191. The Nasdaq fell 43 to close just under 4638. And the S&P 500 dipped 27 to finish at 2002.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    And a major new auto recall. Nissan today issued two today for nearly 768,000 vehicles. One involves electrical shorts and possible fires in more than half-a-million rogue SUVs. The other covers 216,000 Pathfinders and Infinitis with hood latches that can fail.

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