News Wrap: In Afghanistan, roadside bomb causes first U.S. combat death since January

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A U.S. soldier keeps watch at a security tower at their base in Helmand, Afghanistan September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani  - RTS5LO0

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JUDY WOODRUFF:  The president toured flood damage in Louisiana today after historic storms more than a week ago inundated 20 parishes and left 13 people dead.

President Obama surveyed the damage from streets that just a few days ago were underwater.  It’s one sign of a gradual return to normal, but stacked up on the side of the streets were the remnants of just how bad, and historic, the floods had been.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  People’s lives have been upended by this flood.  This is not just about property damage.  This is about people’s roots.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  The president was in East Baton Rouge to meet with officials, first-responders and just some of the thousands who were flooded out of their homes.  More than 115,000 people have signed up for federal disaster assistance so far.

Today, Mr. Obama pledged more help is coming.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What I want the people of Louisiana to know is, is that you’re not alone on this.  Even after the TV cameras leave, the whole country is going to continue to support you and help you until we get folks back in their homes and lives are rebuilt.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  He said the federal government has already allocated $127 million for flood victims.  The flooding was the worst disaster in the U.S. since Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012.

Days of torrential rain dumped more than two-and-a-half feet of water in some parts.  Now, more than a week later, the water is receding, but in its wake, it is estimated that more than 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.

CARL STEWART, Flood Victim: Heartbreaking, you know, not just for me, but to see.  It looks like a bomb went off.

CARL STEWART: I kind of got shook up.

QUESTION:  Your whole life is…

CARL STEWART: It’s just ruined.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Officials in East Baton Rouge say it could take up to three months just to clear debris from the streets; 7,000 people are still living in temporary shelters.

And some political criticism continued over the timing of the president’s visit.  He had been on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tweeted today: “President Obama should have gone to Louisiana days ago, instead of golfing.  Too little, too late.”

Trump, along with running mate Mike Pence, toured the flood zone last Friday.

Earlier, Louisiana’s Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, had asked Mr. Obama to delay a visit to avoid tying up local authorities.  Today, he welcomed the president.  The governor had said after Trump’s visit that it was helpful in attracting national attention.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news:  An American soldier died in Afghanistan, after his patrol triggered a roadside bomb.  Another U.S. service member and six Afghan soldiers were wounded.  The explosion occurred in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province.  Fighting has intensified there in recent weeks, now that the Taliban has reclaimed about 80 percent of the province.  It’s the first U.S. combat death in that country since January.

There are staggering new numbers on the flow of unaccompanied children making the risky journey to the U.S. from Central America.  A new report from the United Nations’ children’s agency, UNICEF, estimates about 26,000 unattended children were apprehended at the U.S. border between January and June of this year.  Most fled from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to escape brutal gang violence and poverty.

Five new homegrown Zika cases were confirmed in Florida today.  They include the first one on Florida’s Gulf Coast in Pinellas County near Tampa, nearly 300 miles away from the other infection zones in Miami.  Florida’s surgeon general conceded they still don’t know precisely where that individual contracted the virus, since they had not traveled internationally.

DR. CELESTE PHILIP, Surgeon General, Florida:  The Department of Health here under Dr. Cho and his team will speak with that person, get a good history.  They’re already testing family members.  They will be looking at co-workers as well to better understand where transmission may have occurred.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  State officials stopped short of labeling it a new area of active local transmission.

There are new revelations today about Hillary Clinton’s activities at the State Department.  An Associated Press review found more than half of the nongovernment figures who met with her while she was secretary gave money to the Clinton Foundation.  Combined, those people contributed as much as $156 million to her family charity.

The Nigerian military today said that it believes airstrikes have killed a number of top Boko Haram militants, including the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau.  But there was no independent confirmation.  And his death has been falsely reported at least three other times.  The announcement came as Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Abuja for talks with Nigeria’s president on strategies to defeat Boko Haram.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:  Your country has taken back most of the territory that the terrorists had once captured.  But we also know that beating Boko Haram on the battlefield is only the beginning of what we need to do.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Boko Haram, which has pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State, has killed thousands of people and abducted some 300 schoolgirls; 218 of them are still missing.

Turkey has formally requested the extradition of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.  A State Department spokesman said the extradition request was unrelated to last month’s attempted coup in Turkey, which the Turkish government has blamed on Gulen and his followers.  Gulen lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

Traffic deaths across the U.S. are on the rise.  The National Safety Council reported more than 19,000 people have died on the roads from January through June of this year.  That’s up 9 percent over the same period last year, and up 18 percent from two years ago.  It attributed the rise to more people traveling on the nation’s roads due to a stronger economy and lower gas prices.

New estimates out today are forecasting this year’s budget deficit will increase after years of declines.  The Congressional Budget Office projects it will grow by one-third to $590 billion, due to lower-than-expected tax revenues.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher, led by gains in the technology sector.  The Dow Jones industrial average was up nearly 18 points to close at 18547.  The Nasdaq rose 15, and the S&P 500 added four.

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