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News Wrap: Al-Shabab gunmen rampage coastal hotels in Kenya

June 16, 2014 at 6:02 PM EST
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GWEN IFILL: Gunmen went on a rampage in Kenya, killing at least 48 people and burning down two hotels. Some of the victims had gathered to watch the World Cup. The attacks happened in the coastal town of Mpeketoni, and the Somali militant group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility. Witnesses said the attackers targeted non-Muslims and met little resistance from Kenyan security forces.

The Kenyan government vowed to crack down on militants.

JOSEPH OLE LENKU, Interior Minister, Kenya: I wish to assure the country of the government’s commitment to deal with political incitement and caution political leaders inciting the public to desist from destructive politics and ethnic profiling that may be responsible for this heinous act.

GWEN IFILL: A State Department spokeswoman today reiterated its warning to American citizens traveling to Kenya, citing terrorist threats in Nairobi and along the coast.

Russia cut off natural gas deliveries to Ukraine today. Gazprom, the Russian state gas authority, had demanded nearly $2 billion for Ukraine’s past due bills. And it wanted up-front payments for future supplies.

In Kiev, Ukraine’s prime minister rejected the move, likening it to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the ongoing separatist insurgency in Eastern Ukraine.

ARSENIY YATSENYUK, Prime Minister, Ukraine (through interpreter): It is not about gas. It is a general Russian plan to destroy Ukraine. We are not going to subsidize Russian Gazprom. Ukrainians are not going to pull out of their pockets $5 billion every year for Russia to buy weapons, tanks, and planes to bomb Ukrainian territories.

GWEN IFILL: Ukraine says it has enough reserves to last until December. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, said he’s offering up a peace plan that includes a cease-fire with pro-Russia rebels. But he noted Ukraine’s armed forces have to get the border with Russia under control first.

The U.S. Army launched an investigation today into the 2009 disappearance of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl was captured and held by the Taliban for five years. But former members of his unit have said he walked off on his own. A two-star general is in charge of the probe. Bergdahl, who is now recovering at an Army medical center in Texas, will not be interviewed until his caregivers give the go-ahead.

One of the candidates in Afghanistan’s presidential runoff has called Saturday’s vote a fraud. Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah decried initial reports that his rival, former finance minister Ashraf Ghani, was leading by a million votes. Final results aren’t expected until July 22, but Abdullah said the early numbers can’t be right.

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, Presidential Candidate, Afghanistan: When the commission announced that the turnout is over seven million people, there is no collaborating evidence at all throughout the country. That is something that is questionable. And what we are concerned about is once again engineered fraud.

GWEN IFILL: In April’s first round of voting, Abdullah led with 45 percent of the vote. Ghani lagged more than 13 points behind.

The latest talks on the future of Iran’s nuclear program are under way in Vienna. An interim agreement with six world powers comes to an end in late July. Under that deal, Iran cut back on parts of its nuclear program in exchange for reduced economic sanctions. The number two U.S. diplomat, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, will be among the U.S. officials participating this week.

Starbucks is offering its employees two years of free or reduced-cost college, in a new partnership with Arizona State University. It applies to any of the 135,000 U.S. employees who work at least 20 hours a week. And it’s for online undergraduate courses.

At the announcement in New York, Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the company’s work force to take advantage of the opportunity.

ARNE DUNCAN, Secretary of Education: It’s not easy working. It’s not easy raising a family. It’s not easy taking classes online. But if you do this, if you invest in yourselves, what you are going to do for yourself, for your kids, for your families for the next 40 or 50 years, you are going to absolutely change that trajectory.

So, I urge you to take advantage of this. I urge you to work hard together and support each other in this new journey. If you guys can do this well, think about the example this sets for the rest of the nation.

GWEN IFILL: Employees who take part in the tuition plan will not be required to stay at Starbucks after earning their degrees.

GM announced another whopping new recall today: 3.2 million cars in the U.S. for possible ignition switch problems. The company said it will change or replace the keys on the cars from the 2000 to 2014 model years involved in the recall. GM is in the midst of a major safety review of problems with ignition switches the company failed to disclose for years.

It was a mostly quiet day on Wall Street today with slight gains. The Dow Jones industrial average added five points to close at 16,781. The Nasdaq rose 10 points to close at 4,321. The S&P 500 gained more than a point to close above 1,937.

San Antonio Spurs fans had a lot to celebrate today, five national basketball championship titles. Last night, the Spurs defeated the two-time defending champs, the Miami Heat, 104-87. The Spurs captured the title in front of the home crowd in game five of the series. Outside, thousands partied in the streets of San Antonio, in mostly peaceful celebrations.

Formula One racing legend Michael Schumacher has emerged from a coma, and was moved to a Swiss medical center today. He was in a skiing accident late last year in the French Alps, and has been hospitalized with brain injuries since then. His manager said Schumacher will continue the process of rehabilitation and recovery in Switzerland.

Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died in California today of cancer. Gwynn played 20 seasons with the San Diego Padres, earning his nickname Mr. Padre. He had 3,141 hits over his career and won eight National League batting titles. In 2010, he had the first of two operations to remove tumors in his right cheek. Gwynn attributed his cancer to using smokeless tobacco throughout his career. He was 54 years old.