Wednesday morning news: March 20, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence visits flood-ravaged Midwest » Vice President Mike Pence visited flood-ravaged Nebraska on Tuesday.

He viewed the flooding from the air, and met with volunteers and first responders. Pence said the White House will work quickly to move aid into the area.

PENCE: To all the families that have seen their homes flooded, seen livestock lost, had their lives, their communities upset by these extraordinary floods and severe weather, our message is this: We’re with you. 

The Nebraska Farm Bureau estimates farm and ranch losses could reach $1 billion. The Bureau’s president Steve Nelson estimates $400 million in crop losses because of crops that will be planted late, if at all. He also estimates up to $500 million in livestock losses.

Floodwaters have also swamped parts of Iowa and Missouri. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said the devastation is hard to describe.

REYNOLDS: It looked like an ocean, and I mean I saw the top of grain bins. We saw buildings sliding, we saw—I mean it’s just unbelievable, and that’s people’s lives. Those are fifth generation farms. 

Flooding is expected to continue in the region through the weekend.

Disaster worsens in Mozambique in wake of cyclone » Meantime the situation in Mozambique remains dire, after a cyclone ripped through the southern African nation last week. Hundreds are dead, and the lives of thousands more are at risk as heavy rains continue to fall. The flooding is so severe, some describe it as “an inland ocean.”

Aid groups report people clinging to rooftops and trees as rivers burst their banks and waters rise. An official with the World Food Program called it a “major humanitarian emergency that is getting bigger by the hour.”

Numerous countries are mobilizing support, including the U.S., the European Union and Britain.

New Zealand PM vows to deny gunman a platform » New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday she’s determined to prevent the gunman in last week’s mass shooting from gaining fame.

ARDERN: He sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety. And that is why you will never hear me mention his name. He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless. 

The gunman left behind a 74-page manifesto before Friday’s massacre and live-streamed video footage of the attack.

The suspect also fired his lawyer and wants to defend himself. Many see that as a sign he wants to use his trial as a platform to spread his white-supremacist ideology.

The first lawyer assigned to defend him said a judge could order another lawyer to assist during the trial. He also said the gunman won’t likely be successful trying to use the legal proceedings as a platform.

Boeing CEO seeks to reassure airlines, public about 737 Max » Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg says the aircraft manufacturer is taking action to ensure the safety of its 737 Max jets. Those assurances follow two crashes that killed more than 300 people.

MUILENBURG: As the facts from the accident become available and we understand the necessary next steps, we’re taking action to fully reassure airlines and their passengers of the safety of the 737 MAX.  

Muilenburg says Boeing representatives are supporting the investigation into the cause of last week’s Ethiopian Airlines crash. It killed 157 people.

MUILENBURG: The tragic losses of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 and Lion Air flight 610 affect us all, and we join the world with heavy hearts in grieving. 

And in an open letter addressed to airlines, passengers, and the aviation community, Muilenburg says Boeing will soon release a software update for 737 Max jets. It will also offer related pilot training to “address concerns.” Many aviation experts suspect the planes’ new flight-control software played a large role in the crashes.

ISIS camp falls in Syria » AUDIO: [Sound of fighting in Baghouz]

In Syria, U.S.-backed forces are one step closer to defeating ISIS in its last stronghold. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more.

AUDIO: [Sound of fighting in Baghouz]

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: After weeks of fighting in the village Baghouz, Syrian Democratic Forces on Tuesday seized control of an ISIS encampment.

A spokesman for the SDF said hundreds of militants surrendered overnight. Among those captured were suspects in a January bombing that killed four Americans in northern Syria.

An unknown number of ISIS fighters are still clinging to a tiny sliver of land between the Euphrates River and the encampment. But taking control of the camp is a major advance toward finally destroying the self-declared ISIS caliphate.

The siege has also been slowed by the unexpectedly large number of civilians in Baghouz, most of them families of ISIS members.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Angels outfielder to sign largest contract in sports history » Getting paid almost a half-billion dollars to play baseball is not a bad gig if you can get it. And Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout is getting roughly $430 million over the next 12 years. His new contract extension will be the largest guaranteed deal in sports history.

At just 27 years old, Mike Trout has won two MVP awards and has finished top-5 in MVP voting in each of his seven seasons.

TROUT: When I’m in there, I’m playing nine innings hard, and you know it’s just an incredible honor.

Trout heard there after winning the All-Star game MVP in 2015.

His new contract dwarfs the record-setting $330 million deal the Philadelphia Phillies gave outfielder Bryce Harper earlier this month.

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik) Vice President Mike Pence, center, is flanked by Neb. Gov. Pete Ricketts,left, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, right, upon his arrival in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, March 19, 2019 to view the recent floods and offer support for it’s victims. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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