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News Wrap: More Rain Expected for Flood-Ravaged Colorado

September 13, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: U.S. and Russian negotiators worked into the night in Geneva on putting Syria’s chemical weapons under international control. One U.S. official reported the two sides were at a pivotal point.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the meetings with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, were constructive. He said the outcome may determine if there’s any hope for actual peace talks.

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: We are committed to try to work together, beginning with this initiative on the chemical weapons, in hopes that those efforts could pay off and bring peace and stability to a war- torn part of the world.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Washington, President Obama said he will insist that any chemical weapons deal is verifiable and enforceable.

Also today, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said he expects an overwhelming report that chemical weapons were used in Syria last month. His chief inspector said the report is finished, but he declined to discuss the findings.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Thousands of people in Colorado faced a flooded landscape today, after days of heavy rain that triggered flash floods. The casualty count stood at three dead and 17 others still unaccounted for.

We get a report from NewsHour producer Mary Jo Brooks.

MARY JO BROOKS: Walls of muddy brown water poured down mountainsides today. That added to floods that have already inundated towns along Colorado’s Front Range.

WOMAN: We have lived in this area for 32 years. Never has the creek gone. It’s gone over, but it’s never flooded. This, I would consider a 100-year flood for us.

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER, D-Colo.: A foot-and-a-half or two feet of water doesn’t look like it’s life-threatening, but it is. It’s different than normal water.

MARY JO BROOKS: Governor John Hickenlooper had those words of warning this morning for residents of his drenched state, where roads are washed out, communities are cut off and thousands are being urged to leave.

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER: You have got to recognize that this — this water is filled with debris and sand, and it is almost like liquid cement. And it can — even just a foot-and-a-half of water can knock people over and you can be swept away.

MAN: Oh, my gosh! Oh, my gosh!

MARY JO BROOKS: The entire town of Lyons was being evacuated by National Guard troops after U.S. Route 36 was washed out. It stranded the 2,000 people who live there. There were evacuations overnight in Boulder too, as warning alarms blared, urging people who lived along Boulder Creek to head for higher ground.

JEREMY BARNES, flood victim: I feel heartbroken, really hurt.

MARY JO BROOKS: Jeremy Barnes lives halfway between Boulder and Lyons on Left Hand Creek. He wasn’t under official evacuation orders, but as the water rose higher, he decided to leave. By then, though, it was too late, his car and house were engulfed by water. And he and his wife had to be rescued by firefighters.

JEREMY BARNES: We had no idea anything like this was going to happen. And it probably would have been OK, but then once this wall of water came down the canyon, there was just no getting away from it.

MARY JO BROOKS: The skies over Colorado were clearer today, but forecasters warned the next round of rain could come this evening and with it new flooding.

JUDY WOODRUFF: New violence erupted today across Iraq, and Afghanistan. In Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, a bomb exploded at a Sunni mosque, killing 33 people and wounding at least 45 others. The attack continued almost nonstop bloodshed that began in April. The U.N. estimates more than 4,000 Iraqis have died since then.

And in Afghanistan, a U.S. Consulate came under Taliban attack. It happened in the western city of Herat, which had been considered one of the safer areas of the country. The militants triggered multiple car bombs, touching off a firefight with security forces. No Americans were hurt, but at least four Afghans died and 17 people were wounded. Later, U.S. officials said that all consulate personnel have temporarily been moved to Kabul.

The government of Iran announced today it’s converting its supply of 20 percent enriched uranium into reactor fuel. The U.S. had feared the uranium might be enriched to the 90 percent level that’s needed for a nuclear bomb. Also today, President Hassan Rouhani said he wants to end the standoff over his country’s nuclear program, so long as Iran retains its right to enrich uranium.

In India, a judge has sentenced four men to be hanged for a gang rape and murder that became a symbol of widespread sexual violence.

We have a report narrated by Nina Nannar of Independent Television News.

NINA NANNAR: As they were driven to court today to hear their sentences, “Save us brothers,” the men called from inside the police bus, but their crime had caused revulsion and disbelief around the world.

And there were shouts and cheers outside as the death sentences were passed. The men’s brutal rape and murder of a 23-year-old student, said the judge that, had shocked the collective conscience of India.

It has been an anguished wait for the victims’ family. Today, said her brother, they got justice.

MAN: My sister was a brave girl. And today’s verdict is a tribute for her courage. And she will — wherever she will be, she will — happy.

Fruit seller Pawan Gupta, Mukesh Singh, who was unemployed, Akshay Thakur, a bus cleaner, and Vinay Sharma, a gym instructor, launched their vicious attack on a bus bring driven around Delhi. The student’s friend was beaten up. She was raped and assaulted so brutally, she died in hospital two weeks later.

The case horrified millions in India, the country’s appalling record on sexual violence against women bringing many onto the streets to protest, calling for the government to take such crimes more seriously. The result was tougher anti-rape laws, but campaigners say after today’s result, the fight for other victims of sexual crimes must continue.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The death sentences handed down today are still subject to review by higher courts.

Two major immigration measures are close to becoming law in California. Governor Jerry Brown announced today that he will sign a bill authorizing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. California would be the 10th state to take that step. The state assembly also passed a bill last night that allows undocumented immigrants to become practicing lawyers.

Wall Street finished this Friday on an up note. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 75 points to close at 15,376. The Nasdaq rose six points to close at 3,722. For the week, the Dow gained 3 percent, for its best five-day showing since January; the Nasdaq rose more than 1.5 percent.