In our news wrap Thursday, a reservoir serving much of the western U.S. has reached a record-low level as the region grapples with extreme drought, unemployment claims fell for a sixth straight week as a May consumer price increase showed the biggest 12-month inflation spike since 2008, and the U.S. envoy to the United Nations called on the security council to publicly address Ethiopia's conflict.
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In the day's other news: U.S. health regulators have extended the expiration date on the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine by six weeks. That lengthens the shelf life from three months to 4.5, when stored at normal refrigeration levels. The announcement comes after state officials warned that many doses in storage would expire before the end of the month.
The U.S. Labor Department gave a mixed economic outlook today. Unemployment claims fell for a sixth straight week to a new pandemic low of 376,000. Meanwhile, consumer prices in May increased 5 percent over the past year. That is the biggest 12-month inflation spike since 2008. Higher demand for goods and services as the economy reopened, coupled with supply bottlenecks, have driven that surge.
There is movement in Washington on infrastructure. This evening, a group of 10 senators, five from each party, announced a bipartisan agreement. They still need to discuss it with their Senate colleagues and with the White House, but this new plan would add roughly $579 billion in new spending.
President Biden had proposed a $1 trillion increase. Another Republican group had gone only as high as $250 billion.
A reservoir that serves much of the Western U.S. has reached a record low level, as the region grapples with extreme drought. Levels at the manmade Lake Mead located in Arizona and Nevada on the Colorado River are expected to continue falling until November. That will put more pressure on the region's water supplies and electric output at the lake's Hoover Dam.
The U.S. envoy to the United Nations called today on the Security Council to publicly address the conflict in Northern Ethiopia. Fighting between army and rebel forces has ravaged the Tigray region since November. The U.N. estimates that 350,000 people are grappling with food shortages there. And most of the region's 5.5 million people could face famine if the fighting escalates.
This is a region that, even prior to the conflict, has been affected by shocks in recent years. We had the desert locusts this past year, hailstorms, some pockets of the region that are already chronically affected by drought. It means that this is an area that is already a bit on the edge.
The Ethiopian government has downplayed the shortages and said that food aid is being delivered.
In Myanmar, a military plane crash has killed at least 12 people, including a well-known senior Buddhist monk. The aircraft went down in the central Mandalay region, reportedly due to bad weather. Army-run TV said that the plane was on its way to lay the foundation for a new monastery.
Palestinian officials said that Israeli special forces shot and killed three Palestinians, including two military intelligence officers, during an overnight raid in the occupied West Bank. Thousands of mourners joined funeral processions for the Palestinian officers in the towns of Jenin and Nablus. Israeli media reported that the Israeli forces were arresting two operatives from a militant group when they came under fire.
The wife of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman admitted today in a D.C. federal court to helping her husband run his multibillion-dollar criminal empire. Emma Coronel Aispuro pleaded guilty to three federal charges, including drug trafficking, as part of a plea deal. She will be sentenced in September, and could face life in prison. Her husband is serving a life sentence in Colorado.
And on Wall Street today, stocks shook off fears of rising inflation. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 19 points to close at 34466. The Nasdaq rose 108 points, and the S&P 500 added 19 to close at a new record high.