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News Wrap: Newark to reform policing under DOJ agreement

In our news wrap Wednesday, the city of Newark, New Jersey, agreed to reform the way its police officers treat minorities under a settlement with the Justice Department. Also, President Obama commuted prison sentences for 61 drug offenders.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    In the day's other news: President Obama commuted prison sentences for 61 drug offenders, highlighting his push to overhaul the criminal justice system. More than a third were serving life sentences. Most will now be freed at the end of July.

    After the announcement, Mr. Obama lunched with people who had had their sentences commuted previously.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    It is my strong belief that, by exercising these presidential powers, I have the chance to show people what a second chance can look like, that I can highlight the individuals who are getting these second chances and doing extraordinary things with their lives.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    In all, President Obama has now commuted the sentences of almost 250 inmates. The White House said that is more than the previous six presidents combined.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    The city of Newark, New Jersey, agreed today to reform the way its police treat minorities. Federal investigators found the police made unconstitutional stops and arrests and resorted to excessive force too often. Under a settlement with the Justice Department, the police will revise its policies, and officers will start wearing body cameras.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Two Minneapolis police officers will face no charges in the death of a black suspect that sparked protests. Jamar Clark was fatally wounded in a struggle with the officers last November. Today, the county prosecutor said he had concluded that the pair, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, had reason to fear for their lives.

  • MIKE FREEMAN, Hennepin County Attorney:

    In this case, officer Ringgenberg subjectively believed that Clark had or was in the process of obtaining control of his weapon, and that were Clark able to remove the weapon from his holster, both Ringgenberg and Schwarze likely would be shot. Ringgenberg's subjective belief is also objectively reasonable.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Some community activists decried the decision and called for new protests.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    The governor of Virginia has vetoed a bill that would allow clergy and others refuse to marry same-sex couples on the basis of religious beliefs. The Republican-controlled legislature approved the bill, but Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe said it's unconstitutional.

    Earlier this week, the Republican governor of Georgia vetoed a similar bill.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    In Iran today, the supreme leader defended test-firing ballistic missiles and warned against weakening that effort. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei posted a statement online, saying: "Those who say the future is in negotiations, not in missiles, are either ignorant or traitors."

    That was seen as a slap at former President Akbar Rafsanjani, who'd called for dialogue, not missiles.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Migrant sailings from Turkey to Greece surged today just before officials begin enforcing an agreement to send them back. Nearly 770 people arrived in the last 24 hours, and as Greek authorities dealt with them, the U.N.'s refugee chief made a fresh appeal in Geneva.

    FILIPPO GRANDI, UN High Commissioner for Refugees: We must find a way to manage this crisis in a more humane, organized and equitable manner, and this is only possible if the international community is united and in agreement on how to move forward.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Meanwhile, as the weather warms, the migrant flow from North Africa is also picking up. The Italian coast guard and navy rescued more than 1,300 people just today.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Japanese government regulators gave the go-ahead today to activate an ice wall around the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant. The underground structure is supposed to freeze the ground and block radioactive water from leaking into the Pacific Ocean. A massive earthquake and tsunami severed damaged the plant in 2011. The water is used to keep melted reactor cores from overheating.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Taiwanese company Foxconn has agreed to buy Japan's struggling electronics brand Sharp for $3.5 billion. It's the first foreign takeover of a major Japanese electronics producer. Foxconn also assembles Apple's iPhones.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Back in this country, the Food and Drug Administration eased the rules for the abortion-inducing drug Mifeprex in order to expand access. Women may now take the drug later in pregnancy and make fewer doctor's visits. FDA's changes are expected to undermine existing restrictions in several states.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Wall Street managed to keep its rally going today. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 83 points to close at 17716. The Nasdaq rose 22 points, and the S&P 500 added nearly nine.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And prominent MIT economist Lester Thurow has died. He focused on income distribution early in his career, turned to the challenges of globalization, and in recent years warned of the growing gap between rich and poor. He also wrote several bestselling books on economic policy for general audiences. Lester Thurow was 77 years old.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": why Donald Trump's rhetoric is appealing to millions of voters; Madeleine Albright and Stephen Hadley discuss the U.S. role in the Middle East; a peace deal that could change Colombia's cocaine trade; and much more.

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