News Wrap: Hurricane Harvey caused potentially dangerous chemical spill, says EPA


JUDY WOODRUFF: And now, in the day's other news: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warned that Hurricane Harvey caused a potentially dangerous chemical spill from a Houston area Superfund site. The EPA says that it detected extremely high levels of dioxins in the San Jacinto River after a protective cap was damaged at the site. Dioxins are linked to cancer and birth defects, and can be spread in contaminated mud.

A 12th person has died after being taken from a sweltering nursing home in South Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma. It happened on September 13, when nearly 150 patients were wheeled out of the facility in Hollywood Hills. The building's air conditioning had lost power. A criminal investigation into the deaths is continuing.

New tragedy for Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar. U.N. officials report that more than 60 of them apparently drowned last night, when their boat capsized off Bangladesh. They were trying to join more than a half-a-million others who have already made the perilous journey.

Today, as relatives buried the drowning victims at a refugee camp, a U.N. spokesman said the story they told is astonishing.

JOEL MILLMAN, International Organization for Migration: The boat left Myanmar and had been at sea for two days. Survivors described being at sea all night, having no food, and that the captain of the vessel, who was a Bangladeshi national, as we understand it, was trying to evade checkpoints or sea patrols.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Rohingya are escaping a military crackdown in mostly Buddhist Myanmar.

Russia's state-funded broadcaster R.T. insisted today that it bought advertisements on Twitter last year simply to promote itself, not to meddle in the U.S. election. The editor in chief of R.T. said — quote — "It didn't occur to us that, in a developed democracy, regular media advertising could turn out to be a suspicious and harmful activity."

Twitter says R.T. spent $274,000 on ads for U.S. markets in 2016.

In Spain, the region of Catalonia is vowing to go ahead with Sunday's independence referendum, despite the central government's vow to prevent it. Thousands held a closing rally today in the Catalan capital of Barcelona, and farmers rolled through the streets on tractors in support of independence. Spanish national police have been ordered to seize ballots and keep polling stations closed.

Back in this country, the Air Force Academy is now investigating racist slurs found at the academy's prep school. The slurs appeared Tuesday on message boards outside the dorm rooms of five black students. Now the academy superintendent, Lieutenant General Jay Silveria, is laying down the law.

He called together all 4,000 cadets and the 240 prep school students yesterday, and he warned them in no uncertain terms.

LT. GEN. JAY SILVERIA, Superintendent, U.S. Air Force Academy: If you're outraged by these words, then you're in the right place. If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.

If you can't treat someone from another gender, whether that's a man or a woman, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you demean someone in any way, then you need to get out.

And if you can't treat someone from another race or a different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In 2015, about 29 percent of the Air Force Academy cadets were racial minorities.

The U.S. will admit a maximum of 45,000 refugees in the coming fiscal year. The Trump White House confirmed the number this evening. That is the smallest cap on the number of refugees since 1980.

And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 24 points, to close at 22405. The Nasdaq rose 42, and the S&P 500 added nine, both of those markets closing at all-time highs.

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