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News Wrap: U.S. needs way to audit elections, says Homeland Security chief

In our news wrap Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee criticized both the Trump and Obama administrations for a lack of urgency about Russian cyberattacks and election security. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen acknowledged there's a problem with making sure election results are genuine. Also, an Islamic State suicide bomber blew himself up near a Shiite shrine in Kabul.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    New headlines tonight in the furor over Facebook.

    CEO Mark Zuckerberg issued a statement late today. He conceded mistakes that apparently let an outside firm obtain data from 50 million Facebook users. But he says Facebook has already taken corrective steps and plans more. We will have a full report after the news summary.

    In the day's other news: The Senate Intelligence Committee criticized both the Trump and Obama administrations for a lack of urgency about Russian cyber-attacks and election security. Lawmakers pressed Kirstjen Nielsen and Jeh Johnson, the current and former homeland security secretaries.

    Nielsen acknowledged there's a problem with making sure election results are genuine.

  • Kirstjen Nielsen:

    If there's no way to audit the election, that is absolutely a national security concern. You must have a way to audit. You could do it through paper ballots or you can do it through this voter verification, but you must have a way to audit and verify the election results.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Russian agents targeted election systems in 21 states in 2016. There's no evidence any votes were actually altered. Only 19 states have reached out for cyber-security reviews.

    In Afghanistan, an Islamic State suicide bomber blew himself up near a Shiite shrine in Kabul today, killing at least 33 people; 65 others were wounded, and emergency workers rushed them to a nearby hospital. Police say the attackers struck near crowds gathering to celebrate the Persian new year.

    An attack on Damascus, Syria, has claimed 44 lives. State media reports rebels fired mortars into a busy market during Tuesday evening's rush hour. Aftermath video showed glass and debris littering the street. It was one of the deadliest attacks in the Syrian capital since the civil war began.

    Meanwhile, in Northwest Syria, war monitors say an airstrike on a rebel-held province killed 21 people, 16 of them children.

    One hundred and four captive girls were freed in Nigeria today by Boko Haram. The Islamist militants returned them to Dapchi, where a total of 110 were kidnapped from a boarding school four weeks ago. The girls were reunited with their parents, and said they were freed because they are Muslims. Several others didn't return.

  • Khadija Grema:

    There were five of us that died. Those that died were not killed by Boko Haram. They died because they were trampled upon. It was stress and trauma that made them tired and weak.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    The government denied it paid ransom for the mass release. But Boko Haram left a warning, saying, "We did it out of pity. And don't ever put your daughters in school again."

    In 2014, the militants kidnapped 276 girls from Chibok. Some 100 of them have never returned.

    Back in this country, a major storm hit the Northeast with heavy snow and high winds and disrupted the first day of spring. It was the region's fourth nor'easter in three weeks. New Jersey and New York City declared emergencies, and airlines canceled more than 4,000 flights.

    Meanwhile, a strong Pacific storm dumped heavy rain along the California coast. Thousands of people were told to evacuate in Santa Barbara County to escape possible mudslides.

    The U.S. Senate gave final approval today to a bill to curb sex trafficking online. It allows victims to take action against Web site operators that facilitate the crime. The bill sailed through the House and Senate, despite industry warnings about curbing free speech. President Trump is expected to sign it into law.

    Mississippi will soon have its first female U.S. senator. State Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith was appointed today by the Republican governor. She will replace fellow Republican Thad Cochran, who's retiring due to failing health.

    Illinois is set for what could be the most expensive governor's race in American history. Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner survived Tuesday's primary against a conservative challenger. He will face Democratic billionaire J.B. Pritzker, who celebrated his own primary win last night. He's already spent $70 million on his campaign.

    Separately, Holocaust denier Arthur Jones won a Republican nomination for Congress. He ran unopposed in a heavily Democratic district in Chicago.

    The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate today by another quarter percentage point. It also indicated it still expects to raise rates twice more this year. The Fed's new chairman, Jerome Powell, said the economy is strong enough to stand it.

  • Jerome Powell:

    Several factors are supporting the outlook. Fiscal policy has become more stimulative. Ongoing job gains are boosting income and confidence. Foreign growth is on a firm trajectory. And overall financial conditions remain accommodative.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    The Fed has raised rates six times since 2015.

    And on Wall Street, stocks surged, then sank over lingering questions about just how high interest rates will go. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 45 points to close at 24682. The Nasdaq fell 19 points, and the S&P 500 slipped five.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour," what's in Congress' massive spending bill; Senator Angus King on safeguarding state election systems against Russian interference; 3-D printing taken to the next level; and much more.

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