JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning pregnant women to avoid traveling to Miami Beach, Florida, on account of the Zika virus. Officials say mosquitoes in the popular tourist destination transmitted the virus to at least five people. That area is just minutes from the state’s initial infection zone.
Governor Rick Scott said that Florida will remain vigilant in the face of the new outbreak.
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R-Fla): We know from our experience successfully dealing with other mosquito-borne viruses in our state that, through constant surveillance and immediate action, that we will protect our families and visitors. We will continue the same approach with the Zika virus in our state.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The CDC also suggested pregnant women and their partners — quote — “consider delaying travel to all of Miami-Dade County.”
Florida now has 36 non-travel-related Zika infections.
It was yet another day of cleanup and recovery following those deadly floods in Southern Louisiana. Some 86,500 people have now filed for federal assistance after more than two-and-a-half feet of water soaked parts of the state. Meanwhile, most schools in the Baton Rouge area are preparing to reopen in the coming days.
Firefighters in Southern California have made major progress in battling the massive wildfire burning east of Los Angeles. The fire, which first erupted Tuesday, is now about 26 percent contained. That’s up from just 4 percent yesterday. Still, the fire spans nearly 58 square miles. Early estimates say that 96 homes have already been destroyed. Some 82,000 residents remain under evacuation orders.
Violence surged for another day in Syria, as the bloody battle for Aleppo once again put civilians in the crosshairs. The fighting showed no signs of abating, in spite of international calls for a brief cease-fire to allow desperately needed humanitarian aid to reach residents.
Diana Magnay of Independent Television News narrates our report.
DIANA MAGNAY: The rebels have broken the government siege on rebel-held areas in the east, opening up one tenuous access route in the city’s south.
Some supplies have made it through, but they are vulnerable to attack. Government forces are fighting to retake rebel positions beyond this main road, but they’re being forced to retreat back into the city, or into what’s left of it. And they’re vulnerable, too, taking shelter behind a wall where they think they can’t be seen, unaware of the rebel missile headed directly for them.
Russia today launched long-range cruise missiles from warships in the Eastern Mediterranean aimed, they say, at targets in Syria belonging to Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra. They say they have nothing to do with the bombs which each day destroy more and more of Aleppo, that Russia would never strike targets in populated areas.
But civilian targets are being hit as a matter of course across Syria. Last night in Darayya, a suburb of Damascus, a field hospital was destroyed by what the Free Syrian Army says were barrel bombs filled with napalm, and just north of Homs, seven more killed today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Fierce battles are also under way in Syria’s Northeast, where Kurdish forces are fighting the Syrian army for control of Hasakah. Syrian government warplanes have bombed that city for two straight days. Yesterday, the U.S.-led coalition had to scramble aircraft to protect American special operations ground forces who are supporting the Kurds there.
Today, the Pentagon warned Syria would be — quote — “well-advised” not to hit U.S. and allied personnel inside the country.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin touched down in Crimea today, amid renewed tensions between his government and Ukraine. It’s been two years since Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine. Putin’s visit came a week after he accused he called Ukrainian saboteurs of attacking Russian troops in Crimea. Kiev denies the claim, and says it’s a pretext for a new Russian invasion.
But, today, Putin met with his Security Council and he doubled down on the charges.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through translator): It looks like our partners in Kiev made a decision to escalate the situation and it’s clear why they are doing it, because they don’t want or can’t, for some reason, comply with cease-fire accords, as well as can’t explain their failures in social and economic policy to their own people.
JUDY WOODRUFF: At the same time, Russian military forces are building up their presence along Russia’s western border within striking distance of Ukraine. I will talk to State Department spokesman John Kirby about this right after the news summary.
Stocks fell on Wall Street today, led by declines in utility shares. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 45 points to close at 18552. The Nasdaq fell nearly two points, and the S&P 500 slipped three. For the week, both the Dow and the S&P 500 lost a fraction of a percent. The Nasdaq rose a fraction of a percent, notching its first eight-week winning streak since 2010.