Thursday morning news – March 5, 2020

House approves $8.3 billion to fund coronavirus fight » Lawmakers in the House passed an $8.3 billion measure Wednesday to battle the coronavirus outbreak.  

AUDIO: On this vote the yeas are 415. The nays are 2. Two-thirds being in the affirmative, the rules are suspended. The bill is passed.

The bipartisan vote offered a rare display of unity on Capitol Hill. 

It came just nine days after President Trump asked for $2.5 billion to fight the COVID-19 coronavirus. When lawmakers on both sides of the aisle voiced concerns that might not be enough, the president said he’d gladly accept more.  

The Senate is likely to pass the measure today and send it to the president’s desk for his signature. 

Death toll rises from Tennessee tornadoes » The death toll from tornadoes that ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday has risen to at least 24. Authorities said some were killed in their beds as they slept. 

In Putnam county, in between Nashville and Knoxville, 18 people died in the overnight hours of Tuesday morning.  

PORTER: There were five children under the age of 13 and 13 adults. 

The twisters shredded more than 140 buildings across the state and they moved in so quickly that many did not have time to flee to safer areas. Baxter, Tennessee resident Billy Dyer… 

DYER: It was like a freight train, whirlwind, explosive sound, and it was through fast. I mean, it seemed a long time, but after it went through, it went through pretty fast. 

Rescuers have continued searching through the debris of shattered homes and buildings looking for victims. The governor declared an emergency and sent the National Guard to help with search-and-rescue efforts. 

Nashville Mayor John Cooper said Wednesday that there was some good news to report. 

COOPER: I am pleased to say there are no reports of missing persons in Nashville, Tennessee, in Davidson County. Now that can change, but right now that’s great. 

Early findings by National Weather Service survey teams indicated that a tornado of at least EF-3 intensity hit Nashville and Wilson County to the east. 

U.S. military launches airstrikes against Taliban » The U.S. military on Wednesday conducted its first airstrike against Taliban forces in Afghanistan since signing an ambitious peace deal with the militant group.

Military spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett said in a tweet that the strike was defensive in response to a Taliban assault on Afghan government forces. It was the first U.S. attack against the militants in 11 days. 

And it came just one day after President Trump expressed optimism about talks with Taliban leaders. He told reporters on Tuesday…

TRUMP: We had a very good conversation with the leader of the Taliban today. They’re looking to get this ended, and we’re looking to get it ended. I think we all have a very common interest. 

Leggett said Taliban forces had conducted 43 attacks on Afghan troops on Tuesday in Helmand. According to a spokesman for the province’s governor, at least two police officers were killed.

Leggett called on the Taliban to stop the attacks and uphold their commitments based on the peace agreement signed on February 29th.

The Afghan Interior Ministry said Wednesday that four civilians and 11 Afghan troops were killed in a wave of Taliban attacks in the past 24 hours.

UN: Iran multiplying enriched uranium stockpile » Iran has multiplied its stockpile of enriched uranium as it continues its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The United Nations reports that Iran has increased its stockpile of enriched uranium by more than three times the limit agreed to under the 2015 nuclear deal. The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency in its report said the current stockpile amounts to more than 2,200 pounds. The deal with world powers set the limit at 660 pounds. Back in November, Iran had already increased its production to 824 pounds.  

The current stockpile provides Tehran with the amount needed to produce a nuclear weapon. The UN agency also criticized the country’s leaders for refusing to provide access to two unidentified locations or answer questions about its activities at the sites.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Bloomberg ends presidential bid » Michael Bloomberg is out. The former New York City mayor ended his presidential bid Wednesday. On Tuesday night, he told supporters he had no intention of quitting. 

BLOOMBERG: No matter how many delegates we win tonight, we have done something no one else thought was possible. In just three months, we’ve gone from just 1 percent of the polls to being a contender for the Democratic nomination for president. 

But after a lackluster showing in Super Tuesday contests, Bloomberg changed his tune. He said his presence in the shrinking field could make it harder for the party to defeat President Trump in November. 

Bloomberg spent an estimated $500 million on his campaign. And he vowed to keep spending to defeat the president. 

Meantime, the Associated Press on Wednesday called both Maine and Texas for former Vice President Joe Biden. That caps a Super Tuesday that saw Biden wrestle frontrunner status from Senator Bernie Sanders overnight.

(AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez) Former Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg waves to supporters as he announces the suspension of his campaign and his endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden for president in New York Wednesday, March 4, 2020. 

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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