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News Wrap: Central American search teams find more hurricane dead

In our news wrap Thursday, Hurricane Iota’s death toll has passed 40 across Central America. Search teams continue to find bodies in landslides triggered by flooding. Entire communities in Honduras and Nicaragua were overwhelmed, with thousands left homeless. Also, a badly damaged giant space telescope in Puerto Rico is shutting down. The iconic Arecibo radio telescope was built in the 1960s.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: The U.S. economy showed new signs of damage from surging COVID-19 infections and restrictions.

    The Labor Department reported another 742,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits just last week. That was up about 30,000, and it marked the first increase in five weeks.

    President Trump is pulling out more stops in his bid to undo president-elect Joe Biden's victory. Wisconsin today formally ordered a recount in Milwaukee and one heavily Democratic county paid for the Trump campaign.

    And it was widely reported that Mr. Trump will try to get state lawmakers in states he lost to name new electors. These are the individuals who represent their state in choosing the next president.

    We will get details on this after the news summary.

    Hurricane Iota's death toll has risen to more than 40 across Central America, as search teams find more bodies in landslides. The slides were triggered by flooding that overwhelmed whole communities in Honduras and Nicaragua.

    Rescue efforts are continuing, and the president of Honduras is pledging to help thousands left homeless.

  • Juan Orlando Hernandez (through translator):

    We are continuing with humanitarian work. It is crucial that people do not return to their homes. There are still places at risk.

    In the meantime, we have to attend to our people with hot food in the shelters. Those who are outside of their homes, in shelters, support will be taken there.

  • Judy Wodruffo:

    All told, some 230,000 Hondurans and Nicaraguans are in shelters.

    Human Rights Watch called today for the U.S.-led security coalition in Afghanistan to investigate soldiers' conduct. That's after an Australian probe concluded that Australian special forces killed at least 39 Afghan prisoners, farmers and civilians over the years. The report says it's alleged that British and U.S. Special Forces carried out similar crimes.

    A badly damaged giant telescope in Puerto Rico is shutting down. The National Science Foundation says the iconic Arecibo radio telescope is unstable and beyond repair, after years of hurricanes, humidity and earthquakes. The telescope, with its 1,000-foot-wide dish, was built in the 1960s. It has searched for planets, asteroids and possible life forms.

    Back in this country, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is ending several emergency lending programs run by the Federal Reserve during the pandemic. They use Treasury funds to back the corporate bond and municipal debt markets, among other things. The Fed says that the economy still needs that support, but Mnuchin said today that Congress intended the programs to stop at year's end.

    And on Wall Street, stocks managed a modest advance. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 44 points to close at 29483. The Nasdaq rose 103 points, and the S&P 500 added 14.

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