In our news wrap Wednesday, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn announced his resignation in the wake of a scandal over diesel cars that were rigged to pass pollution tests, but denied personal wrongdoing. Also, imprisoned Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed received presidential pardons and were released from prison in Cairo.
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And in the day's other news, the head of the German automaker Volkswagen is out, amid a scandal over rigging diesel cars to pass pollution tests. CEO Martin Winterkorn announced today he's stepping down.
He denied any personal wrongdoing, but in a statement, said — quote — "Volkswagen needs a fresh start. I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation."
Germany's economy minister warned today against assuming the scandal will do lasting harm to V.W. or to the German economy.
In Egypt, two imprisoned Al-Jazeera journalists received presidential pardons in a case that's drawn international attention. Hours later, Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian national Baher Mohamed, joined by their wives, were released in Cairo. They had been arrested in December 2013 and convicted of reporting what the government called false news.
MOHAMED FAHMY, Journalist:
Where are we going to start? I don't know. What are we going to do? We're going to travel the world. We're going to celebrate. We're going to party and, you know, we just really hope that this is — our families have suffered so much since the beginning of this trial, and we're very happy that President Sisi took this action and released us.
A third Al-Jazeera journalist had already been deported.
The coup in the West African nation of Burkina Faso is apparently over, after just one week. The interim president of the country announced today he's returned to power. He had the backing of the military, which opposed the coup by members of the presidential guard. Burkina Faso is supposed to hold elections next month.
Chinese President Xi Jinping turned his attention to doing business today on the first leg of his visit to the U.S. It is Xi's tour of a Boeing plant near Seattle, and it coincided with news that Chinese firms will buy 300 aircraft. And he spoke of broader cooperation with the U.S.
XI JINPING, Chinese President (through interpreter):
In the last 36 years, since China and the United States established diplomatic relations, our relationship has been forging forward. I intend to have in-depth exchange of views with President Obama and other American leaders to make sure that this relationship will deliver more tangible benefits to people in our two countries and elsewhere in the world.
In a Seattle speech last night, Xi also said that the U.S. and China can work together to address cyber-crimes.
U.S. officials have strongly suggested China was behind a huge breach of federal personnel records. Now it turns out the hackers stole 5.6 million fingerprint images. That number, from the Office of Personnel Management, is five times more than first reported. The images were part of applications for federal security clearances.
President Obama is voicing doubts that a U.N. summit in Paris this year will do enough to cut carbon emissions. In "Rolling Stone" magazine's latest cover story, he says — quote — "Whatever various country targets are, it's still going to fall short of what the science requires."
Even so, the president says he hopes for aggressive enough targets.
Wall Street had another down day, driven by falling oil prices and weak factory data. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 50 points to below 16280. The Nasdaq fell four points. And the S&P 500 also dropped four.
And today marked the high point of the hajj, the annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca. Some two million people made their way to Mount Arafat outside the city for a day of prayer and repentance. Many held umbrellas to shield against the sun.