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News Wrap: Gen. Dempsey plays down prospects for major U.S. action in Iraq

July 3, 2014 at 7:50 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Today’s robust jobs report provided a big jolt to the financial markets. The Dow Jones industrial average passed a new milestone, closing above 17,000 for the first time. It gained 92 points in a shortened trading day ahead of July 4 to finish at 17,068. The Nasdaq rose 28 points to close near 4,486. And the S&P 500 added more than 10 points, to 1985.

Hurricane Arthur powered up today as it headed toward the Outer Banks of North Carolina. By late this afternoon, the storm had winds of 90 miles an hour and was closing on Cape Hatteras. Its approach prompted evacuations and canceled Fourth of July plans for some. Others stayed put, amid indications the storm would brush past Hatteras without making a direct hit.

Either way, Governor Pat McCrory urged people to leave, and he promised emergency crews would be ready.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY, R, N.C.: We’re already taking action in preparation to have a very quick recovery and ensuring that we can get back online as quick as possible regarding utility service, water services, roads, transportation, and anything else that needs to be repaired or fixed within a very short period of time.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The hurricane also roiled holiday weekend plans farther north. The Fourth of July Boston Pops concert and fireworks were moved up to tonight. And tropical storm warnings were posted for Nantucket Island and Cape Cod.

The top U.S. military commander played down prospects today for major American action in Iraq. Several hundred U.S. advisers have deployed to help Iraqi forces fight Sunni militants of the Islamic State, or ISIL. But the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey, says he doesn’t see the need for an industrial-strength force for now.

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman: Assessing, advising and enabling are very different words than attacking, defeating and disrupting. We may get to that point, if our national interests drive us there, if ISIL becomes such a threat to the homeland that the president of the United States, with our advice, decides that we have to take direct action. I’m just suggesting to you we’re not there yet.

JUDY WOODRUFF: ISIL has declared an Islamic caliphate, and, today, its fighters extended their grip on Eastern Syria. They seized more towns, plus the country’s largest oil field after winning the allegiance of local tribes. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia deployed 30,000 of its troops to its border with Iraq amid reports that Iraqi forces had withdrawn. Baghdad denied it.

The United Nations warned today that the Syrian refugee crisis may destabilize the entire region. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees appealed for donor nations to make good on promised aid. He estimated that at least 2.9 million Syrians are now in neighboring states and 100,000 more are joining them each month.

Tensions were on the rise along the Israeli border with Gaza today, after a night of rocket fire and airstrikes. It follows the deaths of three Israeli teenagers and the apparent revenge killing of a Palestinian teen. Israel bolstered its forces and moved more equipment near Gaza, while street clashes intensified in Jerusalem between police and Palestinian youths. Each side criticized the other.

PRESIDENT SHIMON PERES, Israel: Time now to do only two things, to respect the law and to avoid incitement.

SAMI ABU ZUHRI, Hamas Spokesperson (through interpreter): The Israeli occupation is responsible for this escalation. The Palestinian people are acting in self-defense.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to calm the situation today, vowing to find the attackers responsible for the Palestinian teen’s death. Earlier in the week, he pledged to make Hamas pay.

The latest major auto safety recall came today from Subaru. The company announced it’s calling in more than 600,000 cars and SUVs with brake lines that may be prone to rust. The recall affects certain model years of the Legacy, Outback, Impreza, and Forester. It’s mainly for cars sold in cold weather states, where salt is used to treat roads in winter.