News Wrap: Sierra Leone rescue crews battle devastating mudslide

World

HARI SREENIVASAN: All of today's comments surrounding the events in Charlottesville follow a protest last night in neighboring North Carolina.  Demonstrators in Durham tore down a Confederate statue outside a courthouse.  They attached a rope and overturned the bronze monument, before kicking it and cheering.  The Durham County sheriff said protesters will face felony charges.

In the day's other news: The death toll from yesterday's devastating mudslide in Sierra Leone has surged to more than 300. And the Red Cross estimates another 600 people are still missing. Rescue crews battled still fast-moving waters, as they searched homes ravaged by the floods. Survivors recounted the horror of the mudslides in the capital, Freetown.

ALFRED JOHNNY, Mudslide Survivor (through interpreter): There was a big sound and the ground was trembling and stones started falling. When I came out, a stone nearly killed me, so I ran away. When I looked back, all the buildings were covered with mud. Nobody survived from that part of the hill.

HARI SREENIVASAN: If you want to hear more about the rescue and recovery efforts in Sierra Leone, we spoke with Idalia Amaya of Catholic Relief Services. You can find that interview on our Facebook page.

And, separately, monsoon-fueled rains across Southeast Asia have now killed more than 200 people in Nepal, Bangladesh, and India.

The president of Argentina today became the latest Latin American leader to speak against the prospect of U.S. military action in Venezuela. President Mauricio Macri said force is not the way to go. Colombia's president also said military force shouldn't be considered. Macri spoke during a visit by Vice President Mike Pence, who once again declined to rule out military action.

Pence did say he's confident a — quote — "peaceable solution can be achieved."

The president of Iran has issued a new threat about his country's nuclear program. President Trump says Iran has violated the spirit of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, a pact he has repeatedly wanted to scuttle. But speaking to lawmakers in Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran's nuclear activities could be advanced quickly if the U.S. continues its — quote — "threats and sanctions."

PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI, Iran (through interpreter): If the U.S. administration is willing to repeat previous experiences, Iran will certainly, within a short period, not short on a scale of weeks or months, but short on a scale of hours and days, will return to a much more advanced position than when the talks started.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Earlier this week, Iran's Parliament voted to increase spending on the country's ballistic missile program and foreign operations of its Revolutionary Guard.

Back in this country, voters went to the polls today in Alabama's Senate Republican primary. It's a race to fill the seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Luther Strange, who was appointed to the seat, is up against Congressman Mo Brooks and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. The contest could go to a runoff next month between the top two finishers. President Trump has thrown his weight behind Strange.

READ MORE: What to watch in Alabama's special election

The federal government is facing pushback on its attempt to get information about visitors to a Web site that helped organize protests at President Trump's inauguration. The site's provider, DreamHost, says it is challenging a request for data on some 1.3 million visitors to the page. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Friday in Washington.

President Trump's threat to stop subsidies for insurers could add $194 billion dollars to federal deficits over a decade. That's according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. It says ending insurance subsidies would force an increase in federal payments directly to individuals. The president has said cutting the payments, which help cover costs for people with lower incomes, would force lawmakers to negotiate on health care reform.

And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained five points to close at 21998. The Nasdaq fell seven points, and the S&P 500 dropped a point.

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