News Wrap: Louisiana flooding worsens; crews gain ground on California wildfire

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The floodwaters recede from Bethel United Methodist Cemetery in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana, U.S., August 14, 2016. REUTERS/Jeffrey Dubinsky - RTX2KT43

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HARI SREENIVASAN: The toll from days of historic flooding in Louisiana kept on climbing today. Local officials raised the number of fatalities to 10. Early estimates indicate at least 40,000 homes have been impacted.. The water did start to slowly recede in areas near Baton Rouge.

Meanwhile, some residents managed to return to their homes to assess the damage.

Governor John Bel Edwards acknowledged recovery efforts have been tough.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D), Louisiana: This is a very difficult situation to get response out as quickly as we would like to. We still have about 34,000 meters without electricity. That’s customers, so those are homes or businesses. We understand that there is still a lot of people who are suffering.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The governor also reported about 8,000 people remain in shelters, a number he expects will rise.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In California, crews have gained ground on a massive wildfire north of San Francisco. It’s charred nearly seven square miles, and destroyed 175 homes and other buildings. But local officials said the fire is now about 20 percent contained.

The progress came as authorities arrested a man they believe set the fire. He was charged with 17 counts of arson, and is suspected of starting several other fires in the area.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The nation’s third largest health insurer, Aetna, has announced plans to leave most of the health care exchanges set up under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It will sharply cut its participation from 15 states to just four next year, citing heavy financial losses. Aetna is the third major health insurer to pull out of the ACA in recent months, joining UnitedHealth and Humana.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Russia widened its bombing campaign in Syria today, this time launching airstrikes from Iran. The warplanes took off from a base near Hamedan about 175 miles southwest of Tehran. They targeted Islamic State fighters and other militants.

It’s the first time Russia has used another country’s territory for attacks in Syria. An American military official said the U.S. was warned in advance.

COL. CHRIS GARVER, Spokesman, Operation Inherent Resolve: They informed us they were coming through, and we ensured safety of flight as those bombers passed through the area and toward their target and then when they passed out again. They didn’t impact coalition operations in either Iraq or Syria during the time. We knew in time. It’s not a lot of time, but it’s enough. And it was enough time to make sure that we could ensure safety of flight.

JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s believed to be the first time that Tehran has allowed a foreign country to use one of its bases for military operations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

HARI SREENIVASAN: One of Britain’s most well-known radical Muslim preachers has been convicted of rallying support for the Islamic State. Anjem Choudary was found guilty in a London court last month. That was unreportable until now due to criminal proceedings. His followers have been linked to a number of high-profile attacks, including last year’s beheading of a British soldier in London. Choudary could face up to 10 years in prison.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Here in the U.S., regulators today unveiled new fuel-efficiency rules for large trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles. The caps will cut greenhouse gas emissions by over one billion tons, and save over $170 billion in fuel costs.

By 2027, heavy-duty trucks will be 25 percent more fuel-efficient than those sold in 2018. Heavy-duty vehicles account for more than 20 percent of transportation-related pollution.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Stocks slipped on Wall Street today, due in part to a lag in phone and utility company shares. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 84 points to close at 18552. The Nasdaq fell nearly 35 points, and the S&P 500 dropped 12.

JUDY WOODRUFF: A passing to note: Renowned TV host John McLaughlin has died. He was the creator, executive producer and host of “The McLaughlin Group,” a long-running weekly public affairs show. McLaughlin was too ill to host this past Sunday, the first time he’s missed a taping in 34 years. Besides his work in TV, he served as a speechwriter for Presidents Nixon and Ford.

John McLaughlin was 89 years old.

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