In our news wrap Wednesday, rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah have reached a deal to form an interim unity government in five weeks, and hold national elections six months later. The American and Israeli governments criticized the move. Also, Russia’s foreign minister accused Washington of engineering the political upheaval that began last fall in Ukraine.
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Officials in South Korea now say search teams have recovered at least 156 bodies from a sunken ferry. Nearly 150 others remained unaccounted for as the search operation ended its eighth day. Divers are having to navigate the dark depths and will have to rip through cabin walls to find the remaining victims.
Another brief glimmer of hope faded today in the search for that missing Malaysian plane. Investigators found sheet metal with rivets that washed ashore in Southwestern Australia. But initial analysis found no connection to the jetliner.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s government announced an international team will investigate the disappearance.
DATUK SERI HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, Transport Minister, Malaysia:
Indeed, it is imperative for the government to form an independent team of investigators, which is not only competent and transparent, but also highly credible. As I have consistently said since the beginning, we have nothing to hide.
Officials in both Malaysia and Australia also insisted they’re not ready to give up the search.
Rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah have reached a new reconciliation deal. They agreed today to form an interim unity government within five weeks, and then hold elections. Hamas rules Gaza, and Fatah rules the West Bank. Several previous unity agreements have failed. Israel and the U.S. regard Hamas as a terror group. Both governments criticized the announcement.
Russia and the U.S. traded new blows today over Ukraine, just days after agreeing to try to ease tensions there. The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said Washington engineered the upheaval that began last fall. In Washington, a State Department spokeswoman called the comments ludicrous.
Violent clashes erupted overnight in Rio de Janeiro just weeks before Brazil hosts the soccer World Cup. Tensions flared in a slum, known as a favela.
We have a report from Nick Ravenscroft of Independent Television News.
NICK RAVENSCROFT, ITN:
In the heart of Rio’s tourist slum, mayhem, barricades set on fire in protest at the death of a local man, thought to be at the hands of police. This mobile phone footage captured the moment that police moved in with live rounds.
Local people can be heard screaming as they flee in fear. It was then that another local man was shot dead, with police reportedly mistaking him for a drug trafficker.
“He came down from the favela,” says this man. “The police asked him to stop. He put his hands up to show he had no weapon. Even so, they shot him.” A group of French tourists arrived to stay at a hostel up in the favela, picking their way through the wreckage. We had to explain to them what had happened.
Are you scared?
Yes. Yes, I’m scared.
Sorry. We have to go.
Down here is the entrance to the favela, where it all started earlier. You can still see there’s a lot of police activity here. If we just move around, you can see that we have got the shock battalion of Rio police. That’s the elite police battalion waiting in reserve.
And over here just one block away is the famous Copacabana Beach, where thousands of fans will in a few weeks’ time be watching the football. Fifty days and counting, with TV studios being built on Copacabana Beach, big screens and countless hotels for fans, this latest outbreak of violence is at the center of Rio’s World Cup.
Across the city, they have been trying to pacify neighborhoods controlled by violent armed gangs. But it is far from job done. In seven weeks, these streets should be hosting a World Cup party. But right now, there is only anger and fear.
Back in this country, the governor of Georgia signed a law allowing people with gun licenses to carry firearms into bars, some government buildings, and places of worship. It also lets school employees carry guns if school districts approve.
Federal prison inmates who’ve served more than 10 years, and have no history of violence, will be encouraged to seek presidential clemency. The Justice Department formally announced the new criteria today, as part of an effort to shrink the prison population.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole said it’s aimed primarily at drug offenders given harsh penalties under old sentencing guidelines.
JAMES COLE, Deputy Attorney General:
We are launching this clemency initiative in order to quickly and effectively identify appropriate candidates, candidates who have a clean prison record, do not present a threat to public safety, and were sentenced under out-of-date laws that have since been changed and are no longer seen as appropriate.
More than 23,000 inmates may be eligible for clemency consideration under the revised rules.
Wall Street’s six-day winning streak came to an end today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 12 points to close at 16,501. The Nasdaq fell 34 points to close below 4,127. And the S&P 500 slipped four to finish at 1,875.