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News Wrap: Extreme Weather Whips Areas of the Midwest and West United States

May 31, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
In other news Friday, flash flooding and tornadoes killed three people in Arkansas overnight. Up to a dozen tornadoes touched down in Arkansas alone, as well as one in Illinois and three in Oklahoma. Also, firefighters worked to contain wildfires near Santa Fe, N.M., and in the Angeles National Forest in California.

KWAME HOLMAN: Flash flooding and tornadoes killed three people in Arkansas overnight, and a new string of severe storms marched across the nation’s midsection today. Up to a dozen tornadoes touched down in Arkansas alone, as well as one in Illinois and three in Oklahoma that caused structural damage to homes. The storm system brought heavy rain with it, making flash flooding a problem across the region.

In the Western U.S., firefighters fought two growing wildfires. A rapidly moving blaze some 25 miles west of Santa Fe, N.M., already has already scorched 1,000 acres and jumped a highway. Meanwhile, 500 firefighters in California tried to control a 1,400-acre wildfire in the Angeles National Forest, north of Los Angeles. It was only 15 percent contained.

The FBI has confirmed three letters tainted with ricin, including one sent to President Obama, were postmarked on the same day from Spokane, Wash. The other poisoned mailings targeted a federal judge and a post office in Spokane. A fourth letter sent to nearby Fairchild Air Force base still is being tested. The FBI also is trying to track down a fifth suspicious letter en route to the CIA. The Secret Service said the letters were similar to ones sent to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The U.S. urged Russia today not to send Syria’s Assad regime highly specialized weapons that could prolong that country’s civil war. Today, the Russian manufacturer of MiG fighter jets announced plans to sign a new agreement to ship at least 10 of the aircraft to Syria. Separately, Russia said it will supply Syria with an order for anti-aircraft missiles.

In Washington today, Secretary of State John Kerry said those actions would only hinder efforts at peace negotiation.

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY, United States: It is not helpful to have the S-300 transferred to the region while you are trying to organize this peace and create peace. It is not helpful to have a lot of other ammunition and other supplies overtly going in, not just from the Russians — and they are supplying that kind of thing — but also from the Iranians and Hezbollah.

KWAME HOLMAN: We will have more on the situation in and around Syria later in the program tonight.

Unemployment in the Eurozone hit a record high of 12.2 percent for the month of April. That calculates to more than 19 million people out of work across the 17 countries that use the euro. The European Union’s statistics office warned that if the jobless rate continues at this pace, 20 million people could be unemployed by the end of the year. Spain and Greece already have unemployment rates above 25 percent.

A late afternoon sell-off on Wall Street sent stocks tumbling. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 209 points to close at 15,115. The Nasdaq fell 35 points to close just below 3,456. For the week, the Dow lost more than one percent. The Nasdaq fell a tenth of a percent.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Jeff.