In our news wrap Thursday, a white supremacist who killed 51 people at two New Zealand mosques was sentenced to life in prison without parole. The mass shootings happened in March 2019. Also, the death toll from two days of flash flooding in Afghanistan has now topped 150. Heavy downpours triggered mudslides that collapsed homes, and rescuers are still looking for signs of life beneath the mud.
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U.S. deaths from COVID-19 exceeded 180,000 today, as confirmed infections neared six million. Meanwhile, the head of the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield, attempted to clarify the guidance on testing, saying anyone exposed to the virus may indeed be considered for it. That's after the agency drew criticism earlier for abruptly changing its guidelines to say, those people don't need to be tested.
New numbers are out on the pandemic's economic toll. Overall, U.S. output fell at an annual rate of nearly 32 percent in the second quarter. And another one million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve announced a policy shift that will keep interest rates near zero, even if inflation exceeds target levels.
In New Zealand, a white supremacist gunman who killed 51 people at two mosques was sentenced today to life in prison without parole. The mass shooting happened in March of last year. Brenton Tarrant had pled guilt, but, today, in court, he did not speak. The judge called his crimes wicked and inhuman.
Judge Cameron Mander:
The beliefs upon which you rely to justify your crimes are rooted in religious and ethnic antipathy and intolerance.
The hatred that lies at the heart of your hostility to particular members of the community that you came to this country to murder has no place here. It has no place anywhere.
This is the first time that the maximum of life without parole has been imposed in New Zealand. The nation abolished the death penalty for murder in 1961.
The death toll from two days of flash flooding in Afghanistan has now topped 150. Heavy downpours triggered mudslides in the northern and eastern part of the country. Rescuers are still looking for signs of life under thick mud, while excavators dig for those who might have been buried in collapsed homes. More than 200 people have been injured.
Back in this country, firefighters in Northern California have made more progress against major wildfires in the San Francisco Bay Area. That, in turn, allowed more evacuees to go home. Thousands returned Wednesday to neighborhoods in Wine Country's Napa and Sonoma counties to find homes and cars incinerated by the flames.
And, on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 160 points to close at 28492. The Nasdaq fell 39 points, and the S&P 500 added five.