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News Wrap: Major storms disrupt Thanksgiving travel

In our news wrap Wednesday, a major storm dumped heavy snow across the Midwest, disrupting travel on the day before Thanksgiving. As much as a foot fell in some places, delaying flights at Chicago O’Hare, while a separate system slammed Oregon and California with rain, snow and high wind. Also, explosions and fire at a chemical plant in Texas have forced thousands of people from their homes.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    A major storm dumped heavy snow across the Midwest today, fouling travel on the day before Thanksgiving. As much as a foot fell in some places, delaying flights at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, one of the nation's busiest.

    A separate system slammed Oregon and California with rain, snow and high wind, and transportation officials scrambled to keep roads clear.

  • Rich Anthes:

    We ran into some fog a little earlier, where — reduced the visibility substantially. Snow's coming down, and it's sticking. Caltrans is out in full force. They're sanding. They're plowing. They laid a brine solution down last night.

    We are going to try to keep it open. We are. That's our goal, is to keep it open and keep it safe.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Utility crews in California and Oregon also worked today to restore power to thousands.

    Explosions and fire at a chemical plant in Texas have forced thousands of people from their homes tonight. The first blast hit the TPC plant at Port Neches, 80 miles east of Houston, before dawn. A second explosion erupted this afternoon.

    It sent new fires racing through the site and new clouds of smoke high overhead. There were no deaths, but some 60,000 people within four miles of the plant were ordered to evacuate.

    President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani is facing new questions about financial dealings in Ukraine, amid the impeachment inquiry. The New York Times and The Washington Post report that Giuliani pursued contracts with Ukrainian officials as he was pushing them to investigate Mr. Trump's political rivals.

    We will take a closer look after the news summary.

    In Iraq, security forces have killed six more protesters and wounded 35 amid new unrest over corruption and economic distress. In Baghdad, crowds threw rocks over a barricade today, braving live fire and tear gas. Some of the security officers were even spotted dancing amid the debris. Later, protesters burned the Iranian Consulate in Najaf, in a show of opposition to Iran's influence in Iraqi affairs.

    Officials in Iran now say that 200,000 people took part in protests over gas prices last week, and that 7,000 were arrested in a crackdown. Also today, the government reported nearly 900 banks, gas stations and official buildings were burned out during rioting.

    Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a rally that it was all fomented by the United States.

  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (through translator):

    It was a deep, extensive, and very dangerous conspiracy that cost the U.S. so much money and effort. They thought that they had found the opportunity and brought their troops to the field. This move was destroyed by the people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Amnesty International says more than 140 protesters were killed in the crackdown. Iran has not reported any number of its own.

    Violence surged overnight in Lebanon, and dozens of people were hurt. Riot troops were called out in Tripoli, as supporters and opponents of the country's president fought each other. The clashes left buildings damaged and fires burning. Protests against the country's political elite began in mid-October.

    And in Colombia, several thousand demonstrators marched in Bogota again today over economic conditions and a variety of other causes. The peaceful gathering came after nearly a week of sometimes violent protests. Four people have been killed, and millions of dollars in business have been lost.

    Back in this country, the White House says that it will defend making immigrant visas contingent on proof of health insurance. A federal judge temporarily blocked the policy on Tuesday. Opponents argue that it would bar nearly two-thirds of all prospective legal immigrants.

    Meanwhile, immigration agents have arrested some 250 foreign students who enrolled in a fake university outside Detroit, so that they could stay in the U.S. It was part of a sting operation.

    Massachusetts today became the first state to ban flavored tobacco and e-cigarette products. Most of its provisions take effect immediately. Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed the bill at a ceremony in Boston. And he urged more action from the federal government.

  • Charlie Baker:

    A national policy with respect to this stuff obviously can be far more effective than doing this one state at a time.

    But I cannot understand why anybody would think, given all the data and all the evidence and all the information that's out there at this point in time, that the right thing for us to do would be nothing.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Trump has proposed banning most flavors of e-cigarettes nationwide, but has not yet taken any concrete action.

    At least six companies that make or distribute prescription opioid painkillers are facing a federal criminal investigation. The Wall Street Journal and others report that the focus is their role in the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdoses.

    The drugmakers include Amneal, Johnson & Johnson, Mallinckrodt, and Teva, along with distributors AmerisourceBergen and McKesson.

    On Wall Street today, major indexes finished at record highs for a third straight day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 42 points to close at 28164. The Nasdaq rose 57 points, and the S&P 500 added 13.

    Former President Jimmy Carter was released from a hospital in Atlanta today to head home for Thanksgiving. He had surgery two weeks ago to relieve pressure on his brain caused by bleeding from a recent fall. Mr. Carter is 95 years old.

    And former Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus has died. He gained fame in 1973, when he refused to fire the Watergate special prosecutor, as President Richard Nixon had ordered, and resigned his post instead. He was also the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

    William Ruckelshaus was 87 years old.

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