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In our news wrap Tuesday, Shiite rebels in Yemen blasted a city with a rocket barrage, while Saudi Arabia launched new airstrikes just days after a shaky truce ended. Also, an American soldier died and two other U.S. service members were wounded in a firefight in Afghanistan's Helmand province. Several Afghan soldiers were also wounded.
The president was by turns tearful and tough today, as he pushed a plan to regulate more gun sales. He said he's targeting transactions at shows and flea markets because Congress is afraid to cross the gun lobby.
The National Rifle Association answered that the proposals are — quote — "ripe for abuse." We will have the story in full after the news summary.
In the day's other news, an American soldier died in a firefight in Southern Afghanistan. Two other U.S. service members were wounded, along with several Afghan soldiers. Pentagon officials said it happened in Helmand Province, and the fighting continued for hours.
PETER COOK, Pentagon Spokesman:
There is fighting on the ground as we speak, which is why it's hard for us to have every single detail as to what's transpired, and there's been an effort once again, as I mentioned before, to make sure that everything's being done to secure the safety of those Americans and the Afghan forces that they're accompanying in this particular situation in Helmand.
U.S. special operations forces have been working with Afghan troops in Helmand in recent weeks to repel new Taliban attacks.
Fighting in Yemen returned to full pitch today, just days after a shaky truce ended. Shiite rebels blasted the city of Marib with a rocket barrage, while Saudi Arabia launched new airstrikes in a series of cities, including Sanaa. Residents of the capital surveyed the damage today. Some accused the Saudis of hitting civilian targets, including a health center for the blind, but there were no casualties.
In Turkey, an all-too-familiar scene today, as the bodies of dozens more migrants washed up on shore. Authorities say at least 36 people drowned when their boats capsized in the Aegean Sea trying to reach Greece. Turkish crews found the victims strewn along beaches. They also managed to rescue at least 12 others from the choppy waters, but a mass migration agency said the danger has not deterred people.
JOEL MILLMAN, International Organization for Migration: Migrants and refugees continue to enter Greece at a rate of over 2,500 a day from Turkey, which is very close to the average through December, so we see the migrant flows are continuing through the winter, and, obviously, the fatalities are continuing as well.
Last year, nearly 3,800 migrants died trying to reach Europe by sea.
Back in this country, the gun control debate dominated presidential politics today, with one exception. Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders went after Wall Street, calling it an industry fueled by greed, fraud and arrogance. He told a crowd in New York that he'd break up the nation's big banks in his first year in office.
The armed men occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon now say that they will stay until federal officials let locals manage the land. They made that demand today at the site they have occupied since Saturday night. Their leader also dismissed a sheriff's appeal that they go home. He said local people welcome their presence.
AMMON BUNDY, Citizens for Constitutional Freedom: We also appreciate the advice that the community members have given us about how to reach out and how to share our message, so that other community members will know that we are not about fear. We're not about force. We're not about intimidation.
So far, federal agents have made no move to physically force the group to leave.
2015, it turns out, was a banner year for U.S. automakers, the best ever, in fact. Industry officials projected today that nearly 17.5 million vehicles were sold through December. That tops the old record set in 2000. General Motors led the pack with more than three million cars and trucks sold.
The stock market struggled to make any headway today, after Monday's big losses. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nine points to close at 17158. The Nasdaq rose 11 points, and the S&P 500 added four.
And West Point now has its first female commandant of cadets. Brigadier General Diana Holland was sworn in today at the United States Military Academy. She's a West Point graduate herself and a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Holland's appointment comes one month after the military opened all combat roles to women, and 40 years since West Point admitted women as cadets.
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