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News Wrap: FBI recovers child victims of sex trafficking across the U.S.

June 23, 2014 at 6:03 PM EDT

JUDY WOODRUFF: Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine promised today to honor a cease-fire with government forces. That came as President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued competing demands in a phone call.

White House officials said Mr. Obama urged Russia to stop letting arms flow to the rebels. The Kremlin said Putin demanded that Ukraine’s government talk directly with the separatists.

GWEN IFILL: Syria handed over the last of its declared chemical weapons today. The head of the international agency overseeing the effort said the stockpile included mustard gas and the raw ingredients for sarin nerve gas. It was loaded onto Danish and Norwegian ships and is set to be destroyed in the coming weeks.

AHMET UZUMCU, Director General, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons: Never before has an entire arsenal of a category of weapons of mass destruction been removed from a country experiencing a state of internal armed conflict. And this has been accomplished within very demanding and tight time frames.

GWEN IFILL: The agency acknowledged it’s entirely possible that Syria still has chemical weapons that it never declared and chlorine gas that is still being used in barrel bombs.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Israeli warplanes struck inside Syria today. They targeted nine army positions, including a headquarters facility and launching posts. The Syrian government reported four killed. The airstrikes followed Sunday’s cross-border attack that killed an Arab-Israeli teenager in the Golan Heights.

Back in this country, the Obama administration made public a secret memo that justifies using unmanned drones to kill Americans overseas. It says the government may attack U.S. citizens working with enemy groups like al-Qaida. A federal appeals court ordered the memo’s release in response to a lawsuit.

GWEN IFILL: The Supreme Court today upheld the government’s basic authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired plants. But the court also found the EPA went too far in expanding its regulatory reach without congressional approval. The upshot is that industrial sites may still need permits for greenhouse emissions if they also need permits for other pollutants.

JUDY WOODRUFF: A nationwide FBI operation over the past week has recovered 168 victims of child sex trafficking. FBI Director James Comey announced results today of an operation spanning more than 100 cities. The children are Americans and many had never been reported missing. Comey also said 281 alleged pimps are in custody.

JAMES COMEY, FBI Director: There’s a risk people will imagine these folks as some TV characters. They are not. They are people who are killing the souls of our children, who by their actions are snuffing the light out of the most vulnerable and the most promising of our people. The lesson of Operation Cross Country is that our children are not for sale.

JUDY WOODRUFF: This is the eighth operation of its kind since 2003. Overall, almost 3,600 children have been recovered from the streets.

GWEN IFILL: A much-anticipated report today found former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky should have been charged with molesting children long before 2011. The report was commissioned by Democratic state Attorney General Kathleen Kane. It faulted police and prosecutors for lapses of at least three years in the investigation.

Kane said a search of Sandusky’s home and other steps should have occurred sooner.

KATHLEEN KANE, Attorney General, Pennsylvania: This factual report indicates that there were long periods of time where nothing happened. There were long periods of delays that we can’t explain. This report also indicates factually that key investigative steps were not taken early on, for example the search warrant, and because of that, the case took longer than it could have or should have.

GWEN IFILL: The report cleared Republican Governor Tom Corbett of stalling the case for political reasons when he was attorney general. Sandusky is serving a 30-to-60-year sentence for molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period

JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama today publicly advocated for American women having access to paid maternity leave from their jobs. At a White House summit on families, he said the U.S. is the only industrialized country without such a law. No new legislation was announced, but the president also encouraged employers to offer more flexible work schedules.

GWEN IFILL: Honda and six other automakers are recalling almost three million more cars worldwide because their air bags can explode in hot weather. The focus is on older-model driver-side air bags made by Takata Corporation. The problem has led to recalls of 10.5 million vehicles over five years. There have been several reports of injuries.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Wall Street mostly lost ground for the first time in seven trading days. The Dow Jones industrial average slid nearly 10 points to close at 16,937. The S&P 500 was down a fraction at 1,962. But the Nasdaq rose a fraction to close at 4,368.

GWEN IFILL: A well-known Middle East scholar, Fouad Ajami, has died. He passed away Sunday after a lengthy bout with cancer. Ajami was a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and he advised the Bush administration in the buildup to the Iraq war. Over the years, he was also a frequent guest right here on the NewsHour.  Fouad Ajami was 68 years old.