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News Wrap: Washington continues blizzard big dig

In our news wrap Tuesday, Washington lurched slowly back to life, as crews worked to remove snow for a third day and subway service returned to near-normal operations. But many side streets remained unplowed, posing a challenge to reopening schools. Also, a congressional task force called for keeping more nonviolent criminals out of federal prison, which would save $5 billion in the process.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff. Gwen Ifill is away.

    On the "NewsHour" tonight: The federal government closes for a second day and the death toll climbs, as the East continues to dig itself out of that massive snowfall.

  • Then:

    President Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prison, saying the practice has lasting and devastating effects.

    And we celebrate the birthday of genius composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by taking apart one of his masterpieces.

  • ROB KAPILOW, Composer/Pianist:

    This is on everybody's cell phone ring tone.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Yes.

  • ROB KAPILOW:

    Everyone has heard this. Even if you think you have never heard a note of…

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Right.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • ROB KAPILOW:

    … music, this is the one you have heard.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."

    (BREAK)

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    More people and places along the snowbound East Coast got back to normal and got back to work today. But the death toll rose to 45, and, in Washington, D.C., especially, there was still a lot of digging out to do.

    The nation's capital lurched slowly back to life on this third day after the great blizzard. Federal offices remained closed, but work crews were out early to clear more snow, and the mayor sounded cautiously optimistic.

    MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D), Washington, D.C.: We have finished two full days of plowing and removal, and our crews made good progress through the night. They have gotten down to asphalt on all major arteries.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Washington's subway system was also back to near-normal operations, albeit with some delays. But many side streets remained unplowed, and emergency manager Chris Geldart said the focus now is getting into those neighborhoods.

  • CHRISTOPHER GELDART, Emergency Manager, Washington, D.C.:

    That operation will continue through today and through tonight. We're monitoring progress every two hours on where we are to ensure that we have no areas in the city that we have not touched and that are not passable.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    That effort will be vital to reopening D.C. public schools tomorrow.

  • Another concern:

    how to pay for the massive cleanup effort that's eating up most of the city's annual snow removal budget of $6.2 million. D.C. officials have asked for federal disaster assistance. And another kind of help arrived today in the form of a snow melter, on loan from Indianapolis. It was quickly deployed to tackle the mountains of snow being collected from city streets.

  • MAN:

    We have water inside this, like, a giant hot tub, basically, get the BTUs to get the temperature up to a certain level, then just start loading it.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Meanwhile, New York City with a much larger snow budget has recovered more quickly and is already clearing outer boroughs of snow.

    In the day's other news, Wall Street surged ahead as oil prices turned higher again. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 280 points to close at 16167. The Nasdaq rose 49 points, and the S&P 500 added 26.

    A congressional task force today called for keeping more nonviolent criminals out of federal prison, and saving $5 billion in the process. The panel recommended prosecuting — quote — "only the most serious cases" and repealing mandatory minimum penalties for many drug offenses. That could cut the federal prison population by 60,000 in 2024. It's now nearly 200,000.

    In Syria, bombings erupted in the central part of the country, killing at least 20 people and wounding more than 100. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks in Homs. They struck just three days before peace talks are supposed to begin, and left refugee officials warning of the price of failure.

  • JAN EGELAND, Secretary General, Norwegian Refugee Council:

    As we do now have momentum to get agreements, we can, as humanitarians, reach the besieged areas, all of them, within days of the agreement. All of the millions, we ought to reach within weeks. We can do it. So, finally, if they lose this momentum, I think they will live to regret it.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Meanwhile, Syrian opposition groups backed by Saudi Arabia met in Riyadh to decide whether to attend the peace talks. And Russia pushed for the main Syrian Kurdish party to participate, despite opposition from Turkey, which considers it a terrorist group.

    A policeman in Afghanistan shot dead 10 other officers late Monday in the country's latest insider attack. It happened in the south, in Uruzgan province, bordering the Taliban strongholds of Helmand and Kandahar. One local official said the victims were sleeping when they were killed. Another said they'd been drugged. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

    Travel warnings about the mosquito-borne Zika virus expanded today to the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said pregnant women should consider postponing any visit there and to 22 other destinations. Most are in the Caribbean and in Latin America. The virus is being linked to birth defects.

    The official design for a new World War I memorial has been unveiled in Washington. Artist renderings today show walls bearing relief sculptures of soldiers, with quotations. Each cubic foot represents an American soldier who died in the war, a total of 116,516. The memorial will be located near the White House in a small urban park.

    Something old is new again in the world of Peter Rabbit. There's word today that an unpublished story by renowned children's author Beatrix Potter is bound for bookstores, more than a century after it was written.

    Sharon Thomas of Independent Television News has the story.

  • SHARON THOMAS:

    "Once upon a time, there was a serious, well-behaved young black cat. It belonged to a kind old lady who assured me that no other cats could compare with Kitty.

    The tale of "Kitty-in-Boots" tells the story of a well-behaved cat who leads a double life. For more than a century, it lay undiscovered. Beatrix Potter penned 23 books in her lifetime. Now a 24th has been unearthed. The tale of "Kitty-in-Boots" was referenced in an out-of-print biography on the author. Three manuscripts were then found in the Victoria and Albert Museum archive in London.

    Her classic "Peter Rabbit" has been published in 36 languages, and sold more than 45 million copies. Beatrix Potter had only completed a single drawing to go with "Kitty-in-Boots." The rest will be created by illustrator Quentin Blake.

    PATRICIA ROUTLEDGE, Patron of the Beatrix Potter Society: I mean, it will go like a hot cake. It's tantalizing, but, of course, the announcement has been made now.

  • SHARON THOMAS:

    This July marks the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter's birth. The tale of "Kitty-in-Boots" will be published in September.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And the story that started it all, "The Tale of Peter Rabbit," was first published in 1902.

    And two passings of note.

    Actor Abe Vigoda died today in Woodland Park, New Jersey. He was best known as the mafia captain Tessio in "The Godfather," and as the sad-sack Detective Fish in the 1970s TV series "Barney Miller." Abe Vigoda was 94 years old.

    And Concepcion Picciotto has died at a Washington homeless shelter. She staged a three-decade peace vigil outside the White House, the longest political protest in American history.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": an end to solitary confinement for juveniles; the fine line between promoting security and fear on the campaign trail; a push for an alternative to college; and much more.

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