News Wrap: Senate hits standstill on government funding bill

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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (R) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speak with reporters regarding a stop-gap funding bill to avoid a federal government shutdown later this week on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2016.          REUTERS/Gary Cameron - RTSPQAO

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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news:  The U.S. Senate failed to advance a spending bill to keep the federal government running past Friday, when the fiscal year ends.  Democrats demanded money to help Flint, Michigan, with its lead-contaminated water, and a dozen conservative Republicans defected.  Charges of election-year politics dominated the debate.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, Majority Leader:  After Labor Day, it was pretty clear what the way forward was, but they have sort of dragged everybody around here for multiple weeks, obviously interested in producing some kind of shutdown scenario.

SEN. HARRY REID, Minority Leader:  All we want to do is help the people of Flint.  This shouldn’t be hard.  We should be able to find a path forward to fund the government and help the people of Flint.  There’s no excuse for leaving the people of Flint, Michigan, behind.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  GOP leaders have promised to address the Flint water issue after the election in a separate piece of legislation.

In Syria, the government offensive to retake all of the besieged city of Aleppo shifted into a deadly new gear.  Ground troops and armor began moving in, as we hear from Alex Thomson of Independent Television News.

ALEX THOMSON:  Backed by the relentless airstrikes, several sources are confirming tonight that Syrian government ground forces have attacked into rebel-held east Aleppo from the north and the south today.

The white helmet civil defense rescue teams on the streets of the east of the city, the rebel-held area, to rescue those caught in the airstrikes and shell fire, as they do night and day, and civilians, 250,000 of them, caught up in the wider effects of warfare and siege in east Aleppo.

WOMAN (through translator):  I don’t know what to say.  Our hearts are full of fear.  May God hold the tyrants accountable.  My oldest son is 6 years old.  I wish for security for country, just like we had it before, to be able to move freely.

ALEX THOMSON:  What’s at stake is huge.  If government forces, with Russian support, take these streets, Syria’s biggest city falls, and the West’s dream of toppling President Assad will be over.

But taking this vast urban warren will need thousands of soldiers.  More likely, Assad’s forces will simply pound it into submission from afar, as they did in Homs and parts of Damascus.  But civilians in government-held west Aleppo are also being attacked, seemingly indiscriminately, by rebels from the east.

This was Hamadaniah district today filmed by Russian state television.

WOMAN (through translator):  Gunmen fire at us regularly,.  We live like we are in a tinderbox and pray every day that the Syrian army holds the line.

ALEX THOMSON:  Although pro-government civilians face the terror of bullets, mortars and shells, in the rebel-held east, they face the might of the Russian and Syrian air force, incendiary bombs, bunker-busting munitions and barrel bombs, as well as shells, mortars and bullets.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  The offensive against Aleppo has effectively ended any hope of restoring a cease-fire.

Taiwan was hit today by its third typhoon this month.  The storm swept across the island with winds topping 100 miles per hour, heading for a second landfall in Southeastern China.  The winds and heavy rain tore down signs, ripped away parts of buildings, and knocked a tour bus sideways.  Four people died, and three million homes lost power.

In the U.S., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, appears to have escaped major flooding, after a rain-swollen river finally crested.  Temporary barriers kept the water out for the most part today.  Some neighborhoods did flood in the state’s second largest city.  Officials said it could have been much worse, but the crest was well below the devastating levels in 2008.

There’s word that more than 90 percent of the world’s population now lives in areas with excessive air pollution.  What’s more, the World Health Organization reports that it’s causing some 6.5 million deaths every year, from strokes to heart disease to lung cancer.

DR. MARIA NEIRA, World Health Organization:  For us, it is extremely important to put this data outside, for politicians to understand, for citizens to be aware of this, for countries to take action, and for all of us to move into promoting some interventions that will cause reduction of air pollution.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  The U.N. agency says Southeast Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Pacific regions are the worst affected.

A former al-Qaida rebel in Mali was convicted today of destroying historic tombs.  The International Criminal Court returned a guilty verdict for Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi in its first conviction for attacks on cultural sites.  Al-Mahdi admitted to demolishing nine mausoleums during a rebel occupation of Timbuktu in 2012.  The Islamists were ultimately driven out.

In economic news, the World Trade Organization warned that global trade is slowing to its weakest pace since 2009.  The group cited a growing opposition to doing business across borders, what it calls creeping protectionism.

Meantime, Wall Street recouped some of Monday’s losses.  The Dow Jones industrial average gained 133 points to close at 18228.  The Nasdaq rose 48 points, and the S&P 500 added nearly 14.

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