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In other news this day: A bombing ripped through the main police academy in Yemen, killing at least 37 people. A minibus packed with explosives blew up right outside the school in the capital city of Sanaa. Mangled wreckage littered the residential area, and investigators combed through it for evidence. Suspicion fell on al-Qaida's Yemen branch.
The search for that passenger jet that crashed off Indonesia last month has finally made major progress. Officials announced a crucial discovery today in the 11-day-old hunt.
Faye Barker of Independent Television News reports.
From the depths of the Java Sea, a breakthrough that investigators hope will provide answers to what happened to the ill-fated AirAsia plane.
Found today, what's believed to be the tail of the missing Airbus. It may contain the black boxes, holding crucial flight data and cockpit voice recordings. At a press conference in Jakarta, the head of Indonesia's search-and-rescue effort said it's the first significant piece of wreckage to be identified.
It was spotted around 20 miles from the plane's last known location. Flight QZ8501 disappeared on route from Surabaya to Singapore 10 days ago. The pilot had requested to fly higher due to bad weather, but the request was denied. Shortly afterwards, the plane dropped off the radar; 162 people were on board, all now presumed dead. So far, around 40 bodies have been recovered.
It's thought that bad weather was a likely cause for the plane to crash, but clearer skies now mean the search can, for now at least, go on uninterrupted.
A winter storm across the Middle East brought new misery today to hundreds of thousands of people who've fled the civil war in Syria. Refugees had to endure freezing cold at makeshift camps like this one in Eastern Lebanon. Some cleared heavy snow from their tents to keep the shelters from collapsing.
Here in the U.S., a deep freeze gripped the Eastern two-thirds of the country, shutting schools from the Dakotas to Alabama. Arctic air and high winds meant subzero windchills in many areas. It was minus-27 degrees in Chicago and in the minus-30s in the Dakotas. Officials everywhere warned those who did venture out to guard against frostbite.
This was day two of the new Congress, and battle lines were already being drawn over the proposed extension of the Keystone oil pipeline. Republicans, with their new majorities, are moving to approve the long-delayed project, shipping Canadian oil to the Gulf Coast.
After the White House threatened a veto again today, the new Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, fired back.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, Majority Leader:
The president is not going to set the agenda for us here in the Senate. We have an agenda that we believe helps save and create jobs for Americans. If the president wants to be a part of that, he can sign the bills that make it to his desk. And if he doesn't, then I'm sure he will make his best effort to explain to the American people why these measures are not in the best interest of the country.
Another flash point developed over the president's health care law. It says companies with 50 full-time workers must provide health insurance and it defines full-time as working 30 hours a week. Republicans say that's encouraging companies to cut hours, and they want to change it to 40 hours. White House aides warned today the president would veto that bill as well.
A confrontation between Senator McConnell and the Environmental Protection Agency will have to wait. The EPA announced today a final rule on carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-fired power plants will be delayed until mid-summer. McConnell's home state, Kentucky, is a major coal producer. He's vowed to overturn the new rule.
The director of the FBI now says there is very clear evidence that North Korea was behind the hacking of Sony Pictures. James Comey sought today to answer skeptics who've said the U.S. provided no evidence to support its claim. He told a conference in New York that U.S. investigators tracked the hackers and found the evidence.
JAMES COMEY, FBI Director:
Several times, they got sloppy. Several times, either because they forgot or they had a technical problem, they connected directly, and we could see them. And we could see that the I.P. addresses that were being used to post and to send the e-mails were coming from I.P.s that were exclusively used by the North Koreans.
The Sony Pictures' computer network was crippled as the company promoted "The Interview," a comedy about a plot to kill North Korea's leader. The film is now available online and in a limited number of theaters.
Wall Street roared back to life today, after five losing sessions in a row. Stocks surged, as oil prices steadied and hopes rose for new economic stimulus in Europe. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped nearly 213 points to close at 17584; the Nasdaq gained 57 to close at 4650; and the S&P 500 added 23 points to finish near 2026.
The University of Virginia has lifted a ban on fraternity and sorority parties under new safety rules. In a statement overnight, the school president, Teresa Sullivan, said they will have to — they will have to have several non-drinkers present to monitor any gathering and prohibit any pre-mixed drinks. A "Rolling Stone" article had detailed an alleged gang rape at a fraternity party, but the story has been called into question.
At Florida State University, quarterback Jameis Winston announced today he's leaving college after two years in order to enter the National Football League draft. Winston has won a Heisman Trophy and a national title. He's also faced an allegation of sexual assault, but has never been charged.