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News Wrap: Lebanon officials charged with negligence in deadly Beirut blast

In our news wrap Thursday, Lebanon's caretaker prime minister and three other former ministers were charged with negligence in the Beirut explosion, applications for unemployment aid have spiked as companies cut more jobs amid the pandemic, President-elect Biden continues to build out his incoming administration, and President Trump announced Israel and Morocco have agreed to normalize relations.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: Applications for unemployment aid have spiked, as companies cut more jobs amid the relentless surge in COVID-19 infections.

    The U.S. Labor Department reported 853,000 people filed jobless claims last week. That is the most since September. That's up from 716,000 the week before.

    The pandemic has also taken a toll on the U.S. federal budget. The Treasury Department said the deficit ran 25.1 percent higher in the first two months of this fiscal year, compared to the same period last year, amid a rise in COVID spending.

    President-elect Joe Biden announced more of his picks for top jobs in his incoming administration today. He tapped former National Security Adviser Susan Rice to lead the White House Domestic Policy Council. And he selected Denis McDonough to serve as the secretary of veterans affairs. McDonough was chief of staff to former President Barack Obama.

    President Trump announced today that Israel and Morocco have agreed to normalize relations. The U.S.-brokered deal is the fourth in four months between Israel and Arab nations.

    In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cheered the agreement and laid out its terms.

  • Benjamin Netanyahu:

    We will resume liaison offices quickly between Israel and Morocco and work as rapidly as possible to establish full diplomatic relations. We will also institute direct flights between Morocco and Israel and Israel and Morocco, giving this bridge of peace an even more solid foundation.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    As part of the deal, the U.S. will also recognize Morocco's claim over the disputed Western Sahara region.

    Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab was charged today with negligence in connection with the Beirut port explosion. The prosecutor probing August's blast also charged three former ministers. More than 200 people died and thousands were injured when the explosive material stored at the port detonated.

    The Minneapolis City Council today unanimously passed a new budget that will shift $8 million from the police department to violence prevention and other programs. It did not cut the size of the police force. The city has seen a rise in crime amid calls to defund the police, after the police killing of George Floyd in May.

    An investigation by the Associated Press has uncovered at least six allegations of sexual misconduct involving senior FBI officials over the past five years. Two were brought forward this week by women who say they were sexually assaulted by ranking agents. Several of the accused were transferred or retired with full pensions and benefits.

    The Trump administration tonight carried out the first of five executions that it has scheduled before president-elect Biden takes office in January. Former Texas gang member Brandon Bernard will be put to death by lethal injection for the 1999 killing of a religious couple in Texas. He was 18 at the time of the crime. President Trump resumed federal executions in July, after a 17-year pause.

    The U.S. Justice Department is suing Alabama for failing to protect mail inmates in its state prisons. In a statement, the DOJ said the facilities were — quote — "riddled with prisoner-on-prisoner and guard-on-prisoner violence." The violations have led to homicides, rapes, and serious injuries. Governor Kay Ivey called the lawsuit disappointing.

    And stocks were mixed on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 69 points to close at 29999. The Nasdaq rose 67 points, and the S&P 500 slipped nearly five.

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