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News Wrap: South Carolina inmates die in prison battle

In our news wrap Monday, at least seven inmates died at a maximum security prison in South Carolina, where gang members fought each other with homemade knives. Also, the Government Accountability Office reports the EPA illegally spent $43,000 on a soundproof communications booth for use by embattled EPA administrator Scott Pruitt.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: At least seven inmates died at a prison in South Carolina after a pitched battle that lasted most of the night. One more inmate said bodies were — quote — "stacked on top of each other."

    It happened at a maximum security facility in Bishopville, where gang members fought each other with homemade knives. Authorities say most of the dead were stabbed or beaten to death; 17 other prisoners were seriously injured.

  • Bryan Stirling:

    What we believe from the initial investigation is that this was all about territory. This is about contraband. This is about cell phones. And you have heard us talking about these over and over again. These folks are fighting over real money and real territory while they're incarcerated.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    At least 20 inmates have been killed in South Carolina prisons since the start of last year.

    The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, faces new questions tonight. The Government Accountability Office reports today that the EPA illegally spent $43,000 on a soundproof communications booth for Pruitt's use. He's already under fire over first-class air flights and a bargain condo lease linked to an energy lobbyist.

    Meanwhile, an inspector general reported that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke could have avoided taking a charter flight last year that cost $12,000.

    A powerful spring storm moved out of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic today after blasting a wide swathe of the nation and killing three people. A tornado struck Sunday nears Greensboro, North Carolina, and the damage was bad enough to close three schools for months.

    Mayor Nancy Vaughan says the devastation is sweeping.

  • Nancy Vaughan:

    It really looked like a war zone, and we have to remember that people are living in these conditions. Today, everybody is grateful just to be alive, as we are grateful that they are alive. They are going to be living under some very difficult conditions for a very long time.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    To the north, the system dumped two feet of snow in Wisconsin and Minnesota over the weekend, and broke records for April snowfall all across the upper Midwest.

    In China, the widely used micro blog site Weibo has reversed its decision to censor gay content after a public backlash. The company that runs Weibo initially said the crackdown was a response to tough cyber-security laws. Now it says it will mainly focus on removing pornographic and violent material.

    President Trump moved today to fill two more vacancies on the Federal Reserve Board. The White House said he's nominating Richard Clarida, a professor at Columbia University, to be the Fed's vice chairman. Kansas Bank Commissioner Michelle Bowman is the choice to fill a second slot. Both nominations require Senate approval.

    Wall Street's week is off to a good start. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 213 points to close at 24573. The Nasdaq rose 49 points, and the S&P 500 added 21.

    And the 2018 Pulitzer Prizes are out, and they're dominated by reporting on sexual misconduct and the Russia investigation. "The New Yorker" magazine The New York Times won the public service prize for coverage of the Harvey Weinstein scandal that galvanized the MeToo movement.

    The Times also won, along with The Washington Post, for investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

    In the arts, rapper Kendrick Lamar's album "Damn" took the music prize. He's the first non-classical or jazz artist to win a Pulitzer. Andrew Sean Greer novel "Less" won the prize for fiction.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": how revelations from the former FBI director affect the ongoing investigations surrounding the president; the situation in Syria following the weekend's airstrikes by Western allies; inside the musical culture of the Tuareg people of Mali; and much more.

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