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In our news wrap Thursday, there were no reported deaths in Syria for the first time in three years due to frigid temperatures and storms. But activists warned that the weather conditions are “catastrophic” for refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. Also, record-breaking cold temperatures hit states from New England to the Midwest, causing school closures and some breakdowns in public transportation.
Here in the U.S., stock markets soared for a second day on hopes for an upbeat jobs report tomorrow and possible economic stimulus action in Europe. The buying binge more than made up for losses from earlier in the week.
In all, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 323 points to close near 17908; the Nasdaq rose 85 points to 4736; and the S&P 500 added 36 to finish at 2062.
Record-breaking cold hardened a deep freeze that stretched to day from the Midwest to New England. Windchills dipped below zero again, prompting schools to push back classes or cancel them for a second day in a row. But commuters had little choice but to brave the elements, as the cold caused breakdowns in public transportation.
Hopefully summer comes sooner, like real soon, you know? I can't take this anymore, man.
Do you see my eyes are running, my nose is running? Is it comfortable? I don't think so.
I'm originally from the Caribbean. So I'm freezing. I don't know what I'm going to do to change this.
But it's very cold, and I got to go to work, so that's why I'm out here.
And there is another so-called Alberta Clipper coming behind this one. Minnesota and the Dakotas could face wind gusts of up to 50 miles an hour.
Overseas, frigid temperatures also gripped the Middle East again, prompting appeals to help Syrian refugees. Blizzards, rain and high winds have buffeted camps in Jordan and Lebanon, where hundreds of thousands have fled the fighting in Syria. Today, activists warned conditions for refugees are catastrophic. But the storm silenced the guns inside Syria, with no reported deaths for the first time in three years.
There was no letup in the violence across Iraq, where 23 people died in suicide attacks. The first bomber rammed his car into a checkpoint south of Baghdad, killing three police officers and four civilians. A second attacker targeted police and Shiite militiamen in Samarra, killing eight more people. Later, a bombing in Baghdad claimed another eight lives.
Egypt's army is making new moves to curb the influx of guns and militants across its border with Gaza. The military said today it's doubling a buffer zone. The decision means more than 1,200 homes will have to be destroyed in one of Egypt's poorest districts.
Rough seas blocked efforts today to recover the black box recorders from the AirAsia plane that crashed off Indonesia. Shaky underwater video showed divers examining the tail section after it was located yesterday. The recorders are believed to be in that wreckage. Crews may try raising it to the surface tomorrow.
The U.S. government has fined the Honda Motor Company a record $70 million for failing to report complaints of deaths and injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration imposed the penalty today. Honda has acknowledged that it never reported more than 1,700 complaints on safety issues going back to 2003. It also withheld warranty claims.
Back in this country, one of the Senate's leading liberals, California Democrat Barbara Boxer, announced today she will not seek reelection in 2016. The four-term senator issued her statement in an online video, answering questions posed by her grandson.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER, (D) California: I am never going to retire. The work is too important. But I will not be running for the Senate in 2016. I'm going to continue working on the issues that I love. I will have more time to help other people through my PAC for a Change community. I have to make sure the Senate seat stays progressive. That is so critical. And I want to help our Democratic candidate for president make history.
Boxer was elected to the House in 1982, and to the Senate 10 years later. She's been a staunch advocate of abortion rights and environmental protection. She is 74 years old, but says age is not a factor in her decision.
Police in Colorado Springs, Colorado, appealed today for tips on a bombing this week near an office of the NAACP. The civil rights organization joined in the appeal. The bombing caused only minor damage and no injuries. The FBI is investigating, but says it's too soon to tell whether the NAACP was the target.
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