In other news Thursday, rescue workers continued to search for nearly 400 people still missing after Typhoon Bopha hit the Southern Philippines. Flooding persisted in the Compostela Valley, one of the hardest hit areas in the country.
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The death toll from a typhoon in the Southern Philippines climbed to more than 370 today. Nearly 400 others are still missing since the storm hit Tuesday. Rescue workers in the hardest-hit Compostela Valley province battled surging floodwaters again today to reach survivors. Most of their homes were demolished, along with just about everything else.
MAYOR ROBECCO ROSITE, Cateel, Philippines (through translator):
Since I was born, this has never happened here. When I came back here yesterday, I cried because of what I saw. You can see our hills. Everything is gone; 100 percent of the crops are gone.
The typhoon is now swirling over the South China Sea. It's expected to break up by the weekend.
Washington state is now the first state in the nation where recreational use of marijuana by adults is legal. The new law was approved by voters last month, and took effect at midnight. In Seattle, about 100 people marked the occasion by smoking joints beneath the city's iconic Space Needle. Technically, doing that in public remains against the law. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. But the Justice Department has not said if it will try to block the Washington State law or a similar statute in Colorado.
Same-sex marriage also became legal in Washington State today and in Maryland. Gay and lesbian couples in both states began picking up marriage licenses. Those in Washington state have to wait three days to be married. Same-sex weddings in Maryland will begin on January 1. Maine will legalize the practice on Dec. 29. The three states are the first to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote.
In economic news, new jobless claims fell sharply last week, after a temporary spike in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. And, on Wall Street, stocks managed modest gains today. The Dow Jones industrial average added 39 points to close at 13,074. The Nasdaq rose 15 points to close at 2989.
The U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill normalizing trade relations with Russia. But the measure also contained provisions to punish Russian officials accused of human rights offenses, a move the Russian government has denounced. The House passed the legislation last month. President Obama has pledged to sign it into law.
It was all smiles today for the duchess of Cambridge as she left a London hospital. The former Kate Middleton was discharged after being treated for severe morning sickness. The duchess emerged with her husband, Prince William, three days after being admitted. The hospital stay prompted royal officials to announce her pregnancy to the public.
Those are some of the day's major stories.