In our news wrap Thursday, at least 94 people died after an overcrowded ferry sank in northern Iraq. Passengers were celebrating Kurdish holidays when the vessel capsized in the Tigris River near Mosul, where heavy rains and snowmelt fed a strong current. Also, the government of New Zealand banned sales of military-style semi-automatic guns and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
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A crowded ferry sank in Northern Iraq today, killing at least 94 people, as they celebrated the Kurdish new year and Mother's Day. The vessel capsized near Mosul in the Tigris River, where heavy rains and snowmelt fed a strong current. Families waited along the riverbanks, hoping for word of their loved ones. Many of the victims were mothers and their children.
In New Zealand, the government today imposed an immediate ban on sales of military-style semiautomatic guns and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement six days after a gunman used a semiautomatic rifle to kill 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch.
I absolutely believe there will be a common view amongst New Zealanders, those who use guns for legitimate purposes and those who have never touched one, that the time for the mass and easy availability of these weapons must end.
Ardern said she expects Parliament to act quickly to ban both sales and possession of such weapons. The ban excludes smaller-caliber guns commonly used by hunters and farmers.
Facebook is facing more questions about how it handled video of the New Zealand killings. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company waited half-an-hour to remove the video after a user flagged it.
Separately, Facebook also acknowledged today that it stored millions of user passwords in plain readable text on internal servers for years. The company says there is no evidence that anyone misused the data.
A Florida man pled guilty today to mailing package bombs to top Democrats, to news media outlets and to critics of President Trump.
Cesar Sayoc appeared in federal court in Manhattan as part of a plea deal. The bombs appeared in the weeks just before last November's midterm elections. None of them went off.
Flood damage is still spreading in parts of the U.S. Midwest, with new warnings of what's yet to come. Cities and towns down the Missouri River were poised today for flood crests to arrive in the days ahead. The high water already swamped farms, homes and roads across Nebraska and Iowa. Water was still rising in parts of Missouri, as local officials awaited the worst.
Every flood that comes along anymore is a new record. Everybody, it just keeps getting higher and higher. After the last flood, they came around and said, well, if you build above this level, you will be protected with flood insurance.
Well, everyone pretty much did that, built their house up on a basement. It wasn't high enough this time. So, there's going to be a lot of disaster out there.
Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said today that there could be unprecedented major flooding across most of the nation this spring.
The commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, General Robert Neller, is warning that military deployments to the southern border ordered by President Trump are threatening combat readiness and budgets. The Los Angeles Times reports that he spelled out his concerns in two internal memos this week. He also cited funding transfers brought on in part by the president's declaration of a national emergency on the border.
U.S. Border Patrol officials in Texas have released hundreds of migrants from severely crowded detention centers. It is widely reported that some 2,200 were let go in the Rio Grande Valley this week. Most were families with children.
Word of the releases came as Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visited the region today.
The president has, more times than I can count, made it clear it is not the policy of the United States to catch and release. It's not. But we are out of detention space. We need Congress to change the laws.
Local officials say they are being overwhelmed by the need to find shelter and food for the migrants.
On Wall Street, a tech rally led the broader market higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 216 points to close at 25962. The Nasdaq rose 110 points, and the S&P 500 added 30.
And baseball star Mike Trout now has the richest contract ever in North American team sports. The Los Angeles Angels formally announced the 12-year deal last night worth $430 million. Trout is 27 years old, and already one of the best players of his generation.