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News Wrap: Philippines bombing terrorist dead, confirms FBI

In our news wrap Wednesday, the FBI confirmed that one of its most wanted terrorists was killed in the Philippines in January. Zulkifli Bin Hir was a leader of a militant group linked to al-Qaida. Also, President Obama signed off on a new way to hit back at foreign hackers. A new executive order imposes sanctions for stealing trade secrets or damaging computer systems.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And in the day's other news, it appears one of the FBI's most wanted terrorists has been killed in the Philippines.

    Zulkifli bin Hir, known as Marwan, was a leader of militants linked to al-Qaida, and blamed for bombings in the Philippines. FBI officials say DNA tests show he died in a January police raid in the Southern Philippines.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    President Obama has signed off on a new way to hit back at foreign hackers, with sanctions. His executive order signed today imposes penalties for stealing trade secrets or damaging computer systems. Companies that knowingly profit from such attacks could also be targeted.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The Republican governor of Arkansas backtracked today, amid a backlash over a religious freedom bill. It followed a similar furor in Indiana that's galvanized gay activists and prompted businesses to demand action.

    GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON, (R) Arkansas: I have asked them to change the current law and I have asked them to recall it and change the language on it. That's my request today.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The announcement from Governor Asa Hutchinson came a day after the Arkansas House passed the religious objection measure. Hutchinson's office earlier said he'd sign it. But he changed course in the face of charges that the bill allows discrimination based on sexual orientation.

  • GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON:

    What is important from an Arkansas standpoint is that, one, we get the right balance, and, secondly, we make sure that we communicate that we're not going to be a state that fails to recognize the diversity of our workplace, our economy and our future.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Hutchinson wants the Republican-dominated legislature to make the bill look more like the federal religious freedom law, which President Clinton signed in 1993. The federal law says the government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion. It doesn't define person, but the Arkansas bill and a new law in Indiana do, and they include churches and corporations.

    In addition, the Indiana law bars private discrimination lawsuits against someone claiming a religious exemption. And the Arkansas bill sets the legal bar higher for the government to override a religious exemption claim. That makes it different from the 20 other states with a similar law on the books, including the one in Indiana.

    Just yesterday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence made news when he called for additional legislation to clarify the law he signed only last week.

    Meanwhile, in Arkansas, anti-discrimination activists welcomed today's announcement, but called for more.

  • CHAD GRIFFIN, President, Human Rights Campaign:

    Our work is not finished. And we are not at the end of the road until all Arkansans, all citizens of this state are treated equally under the law and are provided the protections that should be guaranteed.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Retail giant Wal-Mart, based in Arkansas, had urged Governor Hutchinson to veto the bill. It commended his announcement today. And similar proposals are pending in more than a dozen states.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    In Yemen today, there were claims and counterclaims after a missile strike killed at least 35 workers at a dairy plant. It happened in the Red Sea port city of Hodaida, as a Saudi Arabian coalition expanded its air campaign against Shiite rebels. The rebels said a warplane fired the missile that hit the factory. The Saudis said it was an anti-aircraft missile fired by the rebels.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The government of Iraq has declared victory over Islamic State militants who had overrun the city of Tikrit. Black smoke rose over the city as Iraqi forces, along with Shiite militias, cleared away the remaining pockets of resistance. ISIS militants had seized the city last summer.

    Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi hailed the achievement after a month-long offensive.

  • HAIDER AL-ABADI, Prime Minister, Iraq (through translator):

    Thank God the losses are in small percentage. Some talked about the delay of the offensive. It wasn't delayed, but we had preparations to minimize the losses.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    U.S. airstrikes in the last week helped the Iraqis. Their next target could be the city of Mosul, which ISIS still controls.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Nigeria began its first peaceful transition of power today, with the president-elect declaring his nation has suffered enough.

  • PRESIDENT-ELECT MUHAMMADU BUHARI, Nigeria:

    Muhammadu Buhari spoke in the capital, Abuja, and vowed to battle corruption and the Islamist militants of Boko Haram. You voted with your heart. Your vote affirms that you believe Nigeria's future can be better than what it is today.

  • MUHAMMADU BUHARI:

    (APPLAUSE) You voted for change. And now change has come.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Meanwhile, supporters of the one-time military dictator celebrated in the streets for a second day. Buhari defeated sitting President Goodluck Jonathan in the election.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Back in this country, McDonald's announced its raising base pay for workers at its company-owned restaurants. Starting July 1, new workers earn a dollar more than the local minimum wage. The raise applies to 10 percent of the 14,000 McDonald's in the U.S. The rest are run by franchisees, and are not affected by the policy change.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    There's word that more than 61,000 bridges in the U.S. need repair or rebuilding. A report in USA Today cites a new analysis by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. The group says there's been a slight improvement from last year, but it calls for new taxes to support the Highway Trust Fund. The fund has to be renewed by June.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    In economic news, car companies in the U.S. posted mixed results for March. Hyundai and Subaru reported double-digit gains, while sales at GM and Ford slipped.

    Stocks also sank again today, mostly on discouraging economic news. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 78 points to close below 17700. The Nasdaq fell 20 points, and the S&P 500 was down eight.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    And two deaths of note tonight.

    Misao Okawa passed away in Japan at the age of 117. She'd been declared the world's oldest person in 2013. The title now goes to an American, Gertrude Weaver of Arkansas, who is 116 years old.

    And Gary Dahl, creator of the 1970s bewilderingly popular fad the Pet Rock has died. He made a fortune selling plain rocks, in a box, for $3.95 each. Gary Dahl was 78 years old.

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