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In our news wrap Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told House Democrats Americans will start receiving direct deposits of COVID-19 aid next week. He also pressed Congress to add $250 billion to the Payroll Protection Program for small businesses. Also, the Afghan government freed 100 Taliban prisoners, saying the release was part of an agreement between the insurgent group and the U.S.
In the day's other news: Wall Street focused on hopes that a coronavirus peak may be near.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 780 points, to close at 23433. The Nasdaq rose 203 points, and the S&P 500 added 90.
Americans will start receiving direct deposits in their bank accounts next week as part of a coronavirus rescue package. That is what U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told House Democrats today. He also pressed Congress to add another $250 billion for small businesses in what is now called the new Payroll Protection Program.
Top Democrats Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also urged more money for hospitals, food stamps and other needs.
In Afghanistan, the government freed 100 Taliban prisoners today, and said that it was part of an agreement between the insurgents and the U.S. The prisoners were held at the Bagram jail near Kabul.
Afghan officials said they are among some 5,000 detainees that are supposed to go free.
Jawed Faisal (through translator):
One hundred Taliban were freed by the National Directorate of Security and attorney general's office, after the Taliban's Qatar office and the released prisoners themselves pledged that they would not return to the battlefield.
These 100 prisoners are part of the list which was agreed on by the Taliban's technical team and the government's technical team during their negotiations in Kabul.
The Taliban said it has not verified that those released are on the agreed-to list. Just yesterday, Taliban officials broke off talks, citing lack of progress on the prisoner release.
A truck driver pled guilty today in the deaths last year of 39 migrants found in a truck in England. Maurice Robinson entered a plea to manslaughter. His refrigerated truck was discovered outside London last October. Police found the bodies of Vietnamese migrants, who died of lack of oxygen and overheating. Police believe traffickers smuggled them into England.
The Vatican has named a new commission today to consider whether to ordain women as Roman Catholic deacons. Pope Francis created the panel, as the church faces a shortage of priests. Deacons are allowed to preside at weddings, baptisms and funerals, but not to perform mass.
A central figure in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton has died. Her lawyer says Linda Tripp passed away today. He didn't give a cause of death. Tripp secretly recorded Monica Lewinsky discussing sexual encounters with the president. That led to his impeachment, but he was acquitted by the Senate.
Linda Tripp was 70 years old.
And Grammy-winning singer-songwriter John Prine died last night in Nashville, after contracting the coronavirus. His half-century career began in Chicago clubs and earned accolades for songs depicting ordinary people and their frustrations and pleasures.
His best-known works included "Angel From Montgomery" and "Sam Stone."
John Prine was 73 years old.
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