In our news wrap Friday, the Labor Department reported the economy shed 33,000 jobs in September, citing the damaging impact hurricanes Harvey and Irma had on the job market. Also, the White House would neither confirm or deny whether President Trump plans to decertify the Iran nuclear deal before the Oct. 15 deadline. It’s widely reported that he will take that step.
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And in a piece of related news, the White House wouldn't confirm or deny that President Trump will decertify the Iran nuclear deal before the October 15 deadline. It is being widely reported that he will take that step, and leave it to Congress to consider to reimpose sanctions.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says Mr. Trump is evaluating what she calls all the bad behavior of Iran.
SARAH SANDERS, White House Press Secretary:
Not just the nuclear deal as bad behavior, but the ballistic missile testing, destabilizing of the region, number one state sponsor of terrorism, cyber-attacks, illicit nuclear program. He wants to look for a broad strategy that addresses all of those problems, not just one-offing those.
The president says that Tehran has violated the spirit of the agreement, if not the actual provisions.
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have dealt a temporary blow to the U.S. job market. The storms shuttered thousands of businesses and forced evacuations in Texas and Florida last month. As a result, the Labor Department reports that the economy shed 33,000 jobs in September.
Even so, the unemployment rate improved. It fell to 4.2 percent, its lowest level since 2001.
A new storm warning is up for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, ahead of Tropical Storm Nate. It is on track to brush past Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula tonight, and then strike the U.S. late Saturday, as a hurricane. People along the Louisiana shoreline are already stockpiling supplies and trying to protect power lines. Officials are hoping that the storm will pass quickly, limiting its total rainfall.
Vice President Mike Pence got his first up-close look at the hurricane damage in Puerto Rico today, and vowed that more help is on the way. He first toured the destruction in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and then went on to San Juan. He told a church congregation that the federal government is in it for the long haul.
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE:
When one part of America cries out for help, we come together. And I believe in my heart that, when the history of this time and this crisis is recorded in Puerto Rico, this will be a chapter when Americans stood by Americans and delivered on that promise.
President Trump visited Puerto Rico earlier in the week, amid criticism that the federal response had been too slow.
Another U.S. commando has been found dead in the African nation of Niger. The Pentagon says he was killed Wednesday, along with three other special operations troops, in an ambush by Islamist extremists. The Americans were patrolling with soldiers from Niger.
Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is expected to plead guilty to desertion for leaving his post in Afghanistan in 2009. The Associated Press reports that he will also admit to a charge of misbehavior before the enemy. Taliban militants held Bergdahl hostage for five years, before he was freed in a prisoner swap. He is 31 years old now. He could face life in a military prison.
Las Vegas police say they still don't know the motive behind Sunday night's mass shooting that left 58 dead. Today, the county undersheriff, Kevin McMahill, said investigators are having trouble getting a fix on Stephen Paddock.
KEVIN MCMAHILL, Undersheriff, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department:
In the past, terror attacks or mass murder incidents, motive was made very clear, very clear in most of those cases, by a note that was left. By a social media post. By a telephone call that was made. By investigators mining computer data.
Today, in our investigation, we don't have any of that uncovered. I wish we did.
Paddock killed himself as police closed in on his location.
Australia today ended a three-month amnesty for turning in illegal firearms. The government says the public turned in 51,000 weapons to be destroyed, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says that the country's gun laws have prevented mass killings. Australia enacted strict curbs after a gunman killed 35 people in Tasmania back in 1996.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions today ordered federal government agencies to put new emphasis on religious freedom, even if it means overriding civil rights protections. Those could include same-sex marriage, transsexual rights and equal opportunity provisions for women and others. Civil liberties groups responded right away, charging that the new rule could lead to discrimination.
Wall Street was little changed today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost one point to close at 22773. The Nasdaq rose four points, and the S&P 500 slipped two.