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In our news wrap Tuesday, after a wave of criticism over last month’s LGBT rights law, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory expanded protections for state employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity and asked lawmakers to restore the right to sue over discrimination. Also, the Taliban launched a spring offensive in Afghanistan, warning of “large-scale” suicide bombings and assassinations.
In the day's other news: North Carolina's governor moved to ease or change parts of a new law on gay, lesbian and transgender rights. Pat McCrory ordered protections for state employees based on sexual orientation and gender. And he asked North Carolina lawmakers to restore the right to sue over discrimination. He said it shows he's listening.
GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), North Carolina: There is a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, passion and, frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy, especially against the great state of North Carolina. But, based upon this feedback, I am taking action to affirm the state's commitment to privacy and equality.
McCrory still supports a ban on letting transgender people select public bathrooms based on gender identity. The law has led to several major corporations canceling expansion plans in the state.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban launched a spring offensive, and warned of large-scale suicide bombings and assassinations. Hours earlier, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued an emergency warning to Americans. It cited a plot to attack a major hotel in the capital.
Police in Belgium have charged two more men in connection with the Brussels bombings. They allegedly helped rent an apartment for one of the attackers who killed 32 people last month. Prosecutors also announced three new arrests linked to November's attacks in Paris.
A new warning today about the world economy. In Washington, the International Monetary Fund downgraded its forecast for growth this year again, the new target, 3.2 percent.
MAURICE OBSTFELD, Chief Economist, International Monetary Fund:
Global growth continues, but at an increasingly disappointing pace that leaves the world economy more exposed to negative risks. Growth has been too slow for too long.
Despite that report, Wall Street surged higher, as a jump in oil prices lifted energy stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 165 points to close at 17721. The Nasdaq rose 38 points, and the S&P 500 added 19.
A measure of help may be on the way for the nation's bees. Garden care giant Ortho announced today it will stop using chemicals known as neonicotinoids by 2021. They attack insects' nervous system, but it's widely believed they have also helped to cause a dramatic decline in the bee population. Other companies are considering ending their use as well.
And Russian billionaire investor Yuri Milner pledged $100 million today to send tiny spaceships to the stars. The goal is to hunt for life in the Alpha Centauri. That's the star system closest to our solar system. Each probe will have a so-called light sail. They will capture energy from lasers on Earth and could travel at one-fifth the speed of light, far faster than any current craft.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": the possibilities around a contested Republican Convention; the last of the big banks settles over the financial crisis — is it still too big to fail?; a trip to the happiest nation on earth; and much more.
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