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News Wrap: Funerals for New Zealand shooting victims begin

In our news wrap Wednesday, funerals began in New Zealand for victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings that killed 50 people. Hundreds gathered to pray before carrying coffins to burial sites, as the prime minister vowed to tighten gun laws. Also, emergency officials in the U.S. Midwest warn that massive, destructive floods aren’t yet over, as rain and melting snow could spread waters south.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news, emergency officials warned that historic flooding that devastated parts of the U.S. Midwest is far from over. They said fresh rain and melting snow will drive the flooding south, down the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

    Meanwhile, half of Iowa's 99 counties are already under emergencies. And in Nebraska, the estimated damage has topped $1 billion.

    Gov. Pete Ricketts asked for patience today.

  • Gov. Pete Ricketts:

    We know this is going to be a months-long recovery, just from the public infrastructure side. Replacing a bridge is not something that's quick and easy. So this is something that we're going to ask the patience of the people of Nebraska as we go through this.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Downriver, the state of Mississippi declared an emergency, in anticipation of floods to come. Several small towns in Missouri began evacuations, and forecasters also predicted major flooding for parts of Kansas and Arkansas.

    In New Zealand, funerals began today for victims of last Friday's massacre at two mosques. In Christchurch, where the killings took place, hundreds gathered at a park to pray before they carried coffins to burial sites. And students performed a traditional Maori haka in tribute to the 50 victims.

    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was there, and she promised quick action on new gun laws.

  • Jacinda Ardern:

    We have a large number of loopholes in our laws. And many New Zealanders would be astounded to know that you can access military-style semiautomatics in the way that you can here.

    There are a range of things that need to be fixed. And I guess if I was to say New Zealand was a blueprint for anything, in some ways, it's a blueprint what not to do.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    An Australian man is charged in the shootings. Today, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan portrayed the attacks as part of a broader attack on Turkey the Muslim faith. He also charged that Australia and New Zealand joined in a World War I attack on Turkey out of opposition to Islam. Leaders of both nations sharply criticized his remarks.

    Australia announced today that it is cutting the number of immigrants it accepts annually by nearly 15 percent. The total will fall from 190,000 to 160,000. Prime Minister Scott Morrison also said that many new arrivals will be barred from living in large cities. The moves are in response to public discontent over congestion and housing prices.

    A United Nations court has upheld the convictions of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and increased his sentence to life in prison. Karadzic had appealed the 2016 convictions and 40-year sentence for genocide and other crimes during the Bosnian war in the 1990s.

    In Bosnia today, relatives of Muslim men killed by Serb forces erupted in applause when the ruling came down. The court met in the Netherlands.

    Back in this country, President Trump says that he is looking forward to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report. As he left the White house today, the president criticized the process, but said he hopes the Justice Department will make the findings public.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Let it come out. Let people see it. That's up to the attorney general. I got 63 million votes, and now somebody just writes a report. I think it's ridiculous, but I want to see the report.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Mueller has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.

    The president also stepped up his assault on the late Republican Senator John McCain today. In Ohio, he complained that he approved the official procedures for the senator's funeral and stayed away from the service, as the McCain family wanted, but he never got a thank you.

    However, Republican Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia said the president's remarks were deplorable. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted that McCain was — quote — "a rare patriot and genuine American hero."

    The Federal Reserve has announced that it will hold its benchmark interest rate steady probably for the rest of the year. Policy-makers at the central bank took that stance today, as they forecast slower economic growth.

    Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the goal is to stay flexible.

  • Jerome Powell:

    I think we're in a good place right now, which is, we're being patient, we're watching. We don't see any data pushing us to move rates in either direction, and we're going to watch carefully and patiently as we allow events to evolve. And when they do clarify, we will act appropriately.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Powell said the Fed's overall outlook remains positive, and that he thinks the slowdown in growth is temporary.

    The European Union fined Google $1.7 billion today for antitrust violations. It was the company's third major fine in Europe since 2017, now totaling some $10 billion. In this latest case, regulators ruled that Google barred its rivals from placing ads on sites that use its AdSense service.

    Disney has finalized its takeover of FOX's entertainment divisions in a deal valued at $71 billion. The announcement paves the way for Disney to launch its own video streaming service later this year. But the acquisition is likely to mean layoffs for thousands of workers, as the company axes redundant positions.

    And on Wall Street, the news on interest rates did little to pump up stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 141 points to close at 25745. The Nasdaq rose five points, and the S&P 500 slipped eight.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour," the first treatment for postpartum depression is approved; I speak with former U.S. attorney and frequent Trump critic Preet Bharara; a case about racial bias in jury selection reaches the Supreme Court; how Uganda is combating the spread of Ebola; and much more.

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