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News Wrap: Justice Department files suit against Ferguson

In our news wrap Wednesday, the Department of Justice filed a civil rights lawsuit against Ferguson, Missouri, after the city council voted to revise part of a consent decree on police and court reform, related to the police killing of Michael Brown. Also, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen indicated that the central bank means to go slow on additional interest hikes.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Good evening. I'm Hari Sreenivasan. Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff are in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, preparing for tomorrow night's Democratic debate.

    On the "NewsHour" tonight: Two clear winners emerge from New Hampshire, but what does this mean for the rest of the presidential race?

    Also ahead, we kick off a three-part series from Egypt — tonight, silenced by fear five years after the revolution.

    AMAL SHARAF, April 6 Movement: They know that he's a symbol for the revolution. And he's paying the price now. For what? For saying the truth, for opposing the oppression.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Plus, a play that tackles the economic downfall of union workers in the once prosperous Reading, Pennsylvania.

    LYNN NOTTAGE, Playwright, "Sweat": I decided that I want to go about finding sort of the source of this trauma and figuring out how we, as Americans, had come to that point where we could be living so close to poverty without recognizing it on a daily basis.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

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

    (BREAK)

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    In the day's other news, the U.S. Justice Department filed a civil rights lawsuit against Ferguson, Missouri. That's after the city council vetoed to revise parts of a consent decree on police and court reform. The decree grew out of the killing of Michael Brown by a white officer in 2014. Local officials cited the cost of compliance, but U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch rejected that argument.

  • LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. Attorney General:

    The agreement that was being reviewed and was discussed was painstakingly negotiated by both the department and the city's own team. That was the agreement that was to be decided upon. The city was well aware that by deciding not to accept it that they were choosing litigation. This is their choice.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said earlier that the city was prepared to fight it out in court, if need be.

    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen sent new signals today that the Central Bank means to go slow on additional interest rate hikes. At a House hearing, she said the Fed's Open Market Committee is keeping a close eye on global economic weakness and turmoil in world markets.

  • JANET YELLEN, Chair, Federal Reserve:

    The FOMC anticipates that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate. In addition, the committee expects that the federal funds rate is likely to remain for some time below the levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    The Central Bank raised interest rates in December for the first time in nearly a decade. Its next decision on rates comes next month.

    In Nigeria, officials are blaming the Islamist Boko Haram group for deadly new bombings. Two women blew themselves up in a refugee camp today, killing at least 58 people and wounding nearly 80. The attackers struck northeast of Maiduguri, the largest city in the northeastern portion of Nigeria, and the militants' home base.

    NATO is moving to beef up its presence in the Baltics and Eastern Europe to deter possible Russian aggression. Alliance defense ministers met in Brussels today and agreed to set up new outposts in the region and bolster troop numbers. The measure also calls for regular war games and a rapid-reaction force. Russia has warned any such move will threaten European stability.

    U.S. policy in Syria came under fire on multiple fronts today. Syrian rebels and the governments of France and Turkey all complained of weakness in Washington's actions.

    Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News is on the ground in Turkey.

  • JONATHAN RUGMAN:

    Russian airstrikes like these in the town of Tell Rifaat yesterday have sent rebels fighting President Assad to new levels of despair.

    The Iranians are certainly supporting the Assad regime, sending Shia militiamen and Hezbollah fighters. And the Russians are not talking about a cease-fire until March the 1st, clearly hoping these men will take much more territory before attempts at peace talks begin again.

    Showing me a map of Aleppo under siege is Zakaria Malahifji, political chief of one of the largest Syrian rebel groups armed and funded by the CIA. But he says the Americans have deprived his men of anti-aircraft missiles to defend themselves.

    ZAKARIA MALAHIFJI, 'Be Upright As Ordered' Rebel Group (through interpreter): The Americans are doing nothing. We tried to raise our voice, but it was no use. They know what's going on, but, until now, they're not using their pressure for a political solution. And how are we going to achieve this political solution while the Russians are destroying it?

  • JONATHAN RUGMAN:

    France's foreign minister has also had enough. Today, Laurent Fabius announced that he's stepping down. President Assad is gaining strength, he said, complaining of a lack of commitment from the American side.

    The Turks feel the same way. President Erdogan has accused Washington of causing a regional bloodbath by supporting Kurdish groups in Syria, which he regards as terrorists. With injured Syrians now filling Turkish hospitals, the Turks may be tempted to intervene themselves, to defend both civilians and rebels and push back the Kurds.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Turkey also rebuked the United Nations today for insisting that it take in thousands of Syrian refugees from Aleppo. The Turkish prime minister said that would amount to aiding in ethnic cleansing.

    Back in this country, the U.S. Senate moved to impose new sanctions on North Korea, after its recent nuclear test and satellite launch. The legislation targets the communist state's ability to access money for nuclear warheads and long-range missiles. A similar version already passed the House.

    And Wall Street struggled to a mixed finish after oil prices sank again. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 100 points to close at 15914. The Nasdaq rose almost 15 points, but the S&P 500 slipped a fraction of a point.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": how candidates hope to sway the South's more diverse electorate; where leaders of the Arab spring are five years later; the CIA deputy director on imminent terror threats; and much more.

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