HARI SREENIVASAN: In other news today: The smoke is clearing from days of wildfires in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, and recovery efforts are in full swing. The death toll from the blaze rose to 10 people today as search-and-rescue crews fanned out around the eastern city of Gatlinburg.
Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters said authorities were making headway on dozens of missing-persons reports.
MAYOR LARRY WATERS, Sevier County: We’re pleased with one aspect of it, and that is that a significant number of those leads, we found people where they are, and we hope that that trend continues as we move forward.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Officials said they expected the search teams to finish combing the fire-ravaged areas tonight.
JUDY WOODRUFF: French President Francois Hollande said today that he will not seek a second term, citing historically low approval ratings. During his time in office, France has grappled with high unemployment rates and terrorism. The first round of the French presidential election is set to begin next April.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Colombia’s Congress has ratified a long-sought peace agreement with the leftist rebel group FARC after years of negotiations. That comes after Colombian voters narrowly rejected an earlier version in a referendum last October. Lawmakers voted last night, clearing a final hurdle to the deal’s implementation. Now FARC rebels will have six months to turn over their weapons to U.N. monitors.
SERGIO JARAMILLO, Colombian High Commissioner of Peace (through translator): We are committed to working very quickly on the amnesty law for members of the FARC who have not committed atrocious crimes, non-admissible crimes. That is perhaps the first thing we have to do.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Opponents of the deal in Congress boycotted the vote, calling the accord too lenient on the rebels.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. Senate today unanimously voted to extend sanctions on Iran for another decade. Supporters said that it will give Congress the ability to punish Iran, should it violate its landmark nuclear deal with the U.S. The measure had already won approval in the House. Now President Obama is expected to sign it into law.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The United Nations is out with its latest tally of the world’s population. It offers a staggering look at the struggles facing young women today. The planet’s population grew 1 percent this year to 7.4 billion people; 89 percent of the world’s 125 million 10-year-olds are living in developing countries, where girls face obstacles to equal education, quality health care, and safety.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There are new signs the U.S. manufacturing sector is starting to rebound. Factory activity hit a five-month high in November, due in part to an increase in new orders and production.
Even so, stocks were mixed on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average notched another record high, climbing 68 points to close at nearly 19192. The Nasdaq fell 72 points, and the S&P 500 slipped seven.