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News Wrap: Rain finally falls on scorched California

In our news wrap Wednesday, rain fell across California for the first time since wildfires started raging in several areas of the state. The precipitation brings welcome relief but also new challenges during the recovery process. Also, the humanitarian group Save the Children estimates that 85,000 Yemeni children under age five have died since a civil war broke out in the country in 2015.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Rain fell across California today for the first time since a pair of deadly wildfires started raging at both ends of the state. The death toll from the so-called Camp Fire in the north rose to 81 people today. Some 870 others are still missing.

    Firefighters in the town of Paradise said the showers will help them battle the wildfire that is 80 percent contained. But the rainfall will also hinder their search efforts.

  • Rick Carhart:

    The rain is really a double-edged sword for this fire. It's definitely — any rain, any precipitation is going to help with fire suppression, clearly, but it definitely has its drawbacks and its disadvantages as well. The hillsides, without the ground cover that's been burned away, it definitely makes this more potential for mudslides.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    In Southern California, firefighters are also bracing for potential mudslides. The Woolsey Fire there is now more than 98 percent contained.

    We will have a closer look at the challenges of recovery efforts in Northern California after the news summary.

    The humanitarian aid group Save the Children estimates that 85,000 Yemeni children under the age of 5 have died of extreme hunger since that country's civil war broke out in 2015. It attributes that tragic toll to a Saudi-led coalition's intervention in the conflict and recent fighting in and around the port city of Hodeidah.

    U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said peace talks between Yemen's warring parties will take place next month in Sweden.

    Members of the international police organization Interpol today elected a South Korean to be the agency's next president, in a surprise defeat over a Russian front-runner. Kim Jong Yang edged out Russian general Alexander Prokopchuk, whose candidacy had stoked fears that Russia could use the role to target political opponents.

    Interpol's secretary-general reaffirmed the agency's impartiality when he spoke after today's vote in Dubai.

  • Jurgen Stock:

    No matter, of course, what the nationality of the president is, it's not affecting Interpol's neutrality and the independence of our organization. It is fundamental to Interpol's existence that we are neutral and that we are independent.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Kim has temporarily led Interpol since October, after his Chinese predecessor was arrested on corruption charges.

    Back in this country, the number of abortions in the U.S. has plunged to a historic low. New data out today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed a 26 percent decrease between 2006 and 2015. It's the smallest number of American women seeking abortions since Roe v. Wade became law in 1973. The decline was largely attributed to state laws aimed at restricting the procedure and better access to contraception.

    Democrats have flipped another seat in the House of Representatives, this time in Utah. Ben McAdams, the mayor of Salt Lake City — or county, rather — defeated his Republican opponent, two-term incumbent Congresswoman Mia Love, by nearly 700 votes. That victory gave Democrats a net gain of 39 seats in the House.

    On Wall Street today, stocks tried to claw their way back after yesterday's massive sell-off. The Dow Jones industrial average fell just under a point to close at 24464. The Nasdaq rose 63 points, and the S&P 500 added eight.

    And former Librarian of Congress James Billington died yesterday at a hospital in Washington of complications from pneumonia. Billington was a foremost scholar on Russian culture. In his 28 years at the helm of the library, he doubled the size of its collection and he helped to launch the National Book Festival in Washington.

    Billington's tenure spanned five presidential administrations, before he retired in 2015.

    He spoke to Jeffrey Brown back in 2007 about the library's efforts to preserve historical audio recordings.

  • James Billington:

    We're trying to preserve the creativity of the American people, in all its richness and variety, all formats, all of which really, since about the mid-19th century, have been on relatively fragile, perishable material, often hard to find, often impossible to play back or to read even, because of brittle paper and so forth.

    So we're trying to record this, and we're trying to save it for future generations. And it's part of the — a big part of the American story.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    James Billington was 89 years old.

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