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In our news wrap Tuesday, the death toll of the Nepal earthquake rose to more than 4,600 and aid workers continue to look for survivors. Also, officials say they thwarted a suicide bombing attack on the U.S. embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The suspected terror plotters allegedly had ties to the Islamic State group.
The issue of whether the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry went before the U.S. Supreme Court today. Justices heard two hours of arguments in cases from four states. Afterwards, lawyers on both sides said the court's decision will be critical in the life of the nation. MARY BONAUTO, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders: The Constitution promises equal protection and due process and liberty to all right now. It's not a popularity contest. The court, absolutely, it's their job to ensure that every individual's liberty and equality is protected, regardless of state laws. JOHN BURSCH, Former Solicitor General, Michigan: What is so important I think for the country to understand is that when the court takes social decisions like this away from the people, it cuts off debate, it hardens positions. And when people are forced to sit down with each other and talk civilly and compassionately and try to persuade, we are a much better democracy for that. A decision is expected by June. We will hear some of the audio from today's arguments and analysis after the news summary.
Little by little, aid began getting to earthquake survivors in Nepal today, but the death toll kept rising, to more than 4,600.
Mark Austin of Independent Television News reports from the ravaged capital city of Kathmandu.
MARK AUSTIN, ITN:
It is desperate, it is disorganized, and it is almost certainly too late.
In the center of Kathmandu, still, they dig frantically in hope. A community overwhelmed is doing the best it can. But, in truth, it is hopelessly inadequate for the task in hand here. This was a temple, a favorite with the tourists. Some almost certainly lie buried here. And on the mound of rubble, those who came for a holiday are instead helping an ill-prepared country deal with catastrophe.
Nobody who's organizing us. We just do what we think is right. And people are giving us like different directions all the time.
Considering the tools we're using and the manpower, it's amazing.
But it looks just so chaotic to me.
It is. It is, really. But it's happening. It's — looks like they might have found somebody.
As we spoke, the shouts of the chaos signaling another body had been found.
With every passing hour, the number of dead increases, and the chances of finding anyone alive diminish. They think they may find survivors here, still, but the cold reality has to be this is day four after the earthquake. And this is now really a recovery operation.
And the frantic search for survivors is matched only by the growing clamor for food. Here, they are handing out small bags of cooking oil and noodles. But just look at the desperation. And just look at the queues. These are the people unable or too frightened to return to their homes. And just as nature has dealt them one terrible blow, the weather is frowning on them, too.
SAGAR UPADHAYA, Volunteer Aid Worker:
The rain, a lack of sanitation and overcrowded conditions are all the ingredients needed for one crisis to follow another. This aid worker is very worried. Any outbreak of waterborne diseases can happen anytime here. And if that happens, it would be — it would be a scenario of epidemic. You won't be able to control in this population of 5,000 to 7,000 in this ground. And there are people on the other side as well. So it's very, very difficult here.
And you think that is a realistic possibility?
Yes. That's a very, very realistic possibility.
In this shattered city this evening, more international specialist rescue teams are finally getting down to work. If there is anyone still alive, these are the people who will find them.
But no earthquake can stop the passing of time. It is four days and counting. Kathmandu is a place in need of miracles, when, tonight, all it has is despair.
After night fell, a French rescue team did free a survivor from the ruins of a hotel in Kathmandu. But closer to the quake's epicenter, 250 people were missing after a mudslide and avalanche.
In Saudi Arabia, authorities said they have broken up a plot to carry out a suicide bombing attack on the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh. Two suspects were arrested, along with more than 90 others with alleged ties to the Islamic State group.
Tensions flared today in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. military said Iranian forces fired warning shots across the bridge of a cargo vessel sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands. It happened in the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranians directed the ship to sail toward their navy's main port at Bandar Abbas. There were no Americans aboard, but the U.S. Navy sent a destroyer to monitor the situation.
The U.S. Senate has begun debating a bill to let Congress review and possibly reject any nuclear agreement reached with Iran. The bill has bipartisan support, and Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted a vigorous discussion.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, Majority Leader:
Preventing the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism from gaining access to nuclear weapons should be the goal of all senators, no matter what party they belong to. The price of a bad agreement with Iran could be catastrophic.
Republicans have offered more than 50 amendments, on everything from Iran's human rights record to its support for Islamist militants. Minority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats warned that some of the amendments are poison pills designed to disrupt the nuclear negotiations.
SEN. HARRY REID, Minority Leader:
A number of my Republican colleagues have stated publicly in their efforts to be a Republican nominee for president what they want to do with this bill. I am concerned that they and others want to use this good bipartisan piece of legislation as a platform for their political ambitions.
It's unclear exactly when the Senate might get to a final vote on the bill.
Eight convicted drug smugglers have been executed in Indonesia, despite international pleas that they be spared. Relatives of the convicted men today traveled today to the prison island, where a firing squad carried out the death sentences. Indonesia had rejected pleas from Australia, Brazil, and other nations to delay the executions. A woman from the Philippines was spared, at least temporarily.
From Nigeria, there's word that nearly 300 girls and women have been rescued from Boko Haram militants. The army announcement today said they're being screened and profiled. But a spokesman said they do not include any of the 200-plus girls who were abducted from the village of Chibok a year ago.
Back in this country, President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said today they're determined to go ahead with a free trade agreement. The president acknowledged opposition in Congress to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but said it's critical to expanding U.S. influence and exports in Asia. Abe addresses Congress tomorrow.
The nation's largest poultry producer will eliminate the use of human antibiotics in its chicken flocks. Tyson Foods announced today it's halting the practice in 2017. It's the latest and largest such move in the poultry industry, amid concern that widespread use of antibiotics is generating supergerms.
The National Football League is giving up the tax-exempt status it's held since the 1940s. In a statement today, commissioner Roger Goodell said the league wants to eliminate a recurring dispute with Congress over the issue. Individual NFL teams already pay taxes.
And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 70 points to close above 18100. The Nasdaq fell about five points, and the S&P added nearly six.
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