News Wrap: Jewish cemetery receives support after vandalism

In our news wrap Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence visited a Jewish cemetery in suburban St. Louis that had been targeted in a spate of anti-Semitic attacks and threats nationwide. Meanwhile, Muslim groups launched an online fundraising effort to repair the damages. Also, the German government is making it easier to deport rejected asylum-seekers amid domestic pressure over the tide of migrants.

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    A Jewish cemetery near Saint Louis, Missouri, won an outpouring of support today from Vice President Pence on down. More than 150 tombstones had been toppled or damaged over the weekend, part of a spate of anti-Semitic attacks and threats nationwide.

    The vice president visited suburban Saint Louis this afternoon, and made a stop at the cemetery. He got a firsthand look at some of the damage and briefly joined the cleanup.


    There is no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism.

    I must tell you, the people of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care for this place, for the Jewish community in Missouri, and I want to thank you for that inspiration, for showing the world what America is really all about.


    Online fund-raising has brought in more than $92,000 to repair the damage at the cemetery. Muslim groups launched the effort in a show of solidarity.

    In Germany, the government is making it easier to deport rejected asylum-seekers. Germany took in nearly 900,000 people in 2015. Today, Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet approved a plan that speeds up expulsions of those who don't gain asylum. Merkel's coalition has come under increasing domestic criticism over the tide of migrants, and it faces a general election in September.


    The United Nations warned today that nearly 20 million people face starvation in four countries, if help doesn't arrive before April. The secretary-general said South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen are on the brink of catastrophe, and he called for $4.4 billion.

    Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News reports on South Sudan, where civil war has brought on disaster.


    Parts of South Sudan are in famine, the world's first since 2011, over a quarter of a million severely malnourished children, says UNICEF, almost three million forced from their homes because of ethnic conflict here, massacres and widespread rape as weapons of war.

    And all the aid agencies admit that this famine is manmade.

    Those men are Salva Kiir, the president, wearing the hat, and Riek Machar, his former deputy.

    Listen to this former minister on how South Sudan's leaders outsource starvation as an issue for us, rather than them.

    GRANT SHAPPS, Former Minister of State: I met one of the finance ministers for South Sudan at the U.N. in New York, and I said, look, if this war continues, you are going to find your people are starving, because you're diverting all these resources. He said, you will feed the people. I said, what do you mean, we will feed the people?

    He said, I don't believe that countries like Britain will walk away whilst hundreds of thousands of people starve, so we will carry on fighting the war.


    But confronted with this suffering, doing nothing is not an option, and for those arguing that aid needs to be tied to political reform, what an appalling example South Sudan is.


    Back in this country, federal officials shut down a protest camp close to the Dakota Access oil pipeline. About 150 people left voluntarily, but others were arrested.

    Earlier, protesters torched their tents and teepees near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, in what they called a ceremonial act. The Army Corps of Engineers ordered the site closed before spring floods. Other protest camps have sprung up on private land as construction resumes on the last stretch of the pipeline.


    The Trump administration is moving tonight to revoke guidelines on transgender bathrooms in public schools. They were issued under President Obama, and called for letting students choose a bathroom based on gender identity. Administration officials say Mr. Trump is acting because he believes states should set their own policies; 13 states sued to block the guidelines last year.


    The organization that oversees the SAT college entrance exam is beefing up security after a rash of cheating. The College Board announced today that it will cut back testing dates overseas to reduce opportunities for stealing the exams. It's also increasing the numbers of audits at sites where the SAT is administered.

    The changes follow high-profile cases in Asia where students obtained copies of tests in advance.


    And Wall Street had a mixed day, after oil prices slipped and took energy stocks lower. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 32 points to close at 20775. The Nasdaq fell five points, and the S&P 500 slipped two.

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