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News Wrap: Investigators piece together killing of U.S. Army general in Afghanistan

August 6, 2014 at 6:02 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Investigators in Afghanistan today pieced together the circumstances surrounding yesterday’s killing of a U.S. Army general. They said an Afghan soldier hid in a bathroom, then opened fire on a group of foreign and Afghan officers. Major General Harold Greene was killed, but officials say there was no indication that he was specifically targeted. The general’s remains were being readied today to return to the U.S.

GWEN IFILL: Indirect talks began in Cairo today on a long-term cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. An Israeli official told Reuters his government is ready to extend a 72-hour truce, now in its second day. But Hamas said there’s been no agreement.

And at the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said the death and destruction in Gaza from Israeli strikes has shocked and shamed the world.

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General, United Nations: Mere suspicion of militant activity doesn’t justify jeopardizing the lives and safety of many thousands of innocent civilians. International humanitarian law clearly requires protection by all parties of civilians and civilian facilities, including U.N. staff and U.N. premises.

GWEN IFILL: Ban called for Hamas to halt all rocket fire and weapons smuggling and for Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza.

Later, in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted Israel’s tactics in Gaza were justified and proportionate. He said it’s Hamas that bears the blame for heavy civilian casualties.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel: So it’s not that they don’t want them. They want them. And they pretty much say so. Indeed, Hamas has adopted a strategy that abuses and sacrifices Gaza’s civilians. They use them as human shields. They endanger them and deliberately increase the death toll.

GWEN IFILL: Officials in Gaza say nearly 1,900 Palestinians died in the fighting, most of them civilians. Israel lost 64 soldiers and three civilians were killed.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Eastern Ukraine, government forces made new gains today against pro-Russian rebels holding the city of Donetsk. At the same time, there were new warnings that Russia’s military might invade to protect the rebels.

In Warsaw, the Polish prime minister pointed to a Russian buildup just across the Ukrainian border.

DONALD TUSK, Prime Minister, Poland (through interpreter): We have reasons to believe, according to information I have received in the last few hours, that the threat of direct Russian intervention is certainly greater than it was a few days ago. For that reason, it is not ruled out that the Ukrainian crisis could grow more serious than it already is.

JUDY WOODRUFF: U.S. and NATO officials say the Russians now have about 20,000 troops massed along the border. A NATO statement today suggested Moscow could use the pretext of a humanitarian mission to invade.

GWEN IFILL: The U.S. and Europe have already imposed sanctions on Russia over its actions. Today, the Kremlin struck back. President Vladimir Putin announced his government will target agricultural imports from the West. The Russian veterinary service said all such products from the United States will be banned outright.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Iraq, two car bombs tore through Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, killing more than 50 people. Meanwhile, to the north, the government reported an airstrike killed 60 militants in Mosul now held by the Islamic State group. And Kurdish forces launched an offensive against Islamic State fighters near the regional capital of Irbil.

GWEN IFILL: The death toll from the weekend earthquake in southern China rose sharply overnight to at least 589. Rescue teams found more bodies as they reached mountainous farming villages that had not yet been searched. In addition to the dead, more than 2,400 people were injured.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The state of Hawaii braced today for a one-two hurricane punch. The first of the two storms could strike Friday, with the second trailing by a couple of days. In advance, people in Honolulu rushed to stores to stock up on food and power supplies. Others battened down boats before high winds and storm surges hit.

GWEN IFILL: Another veteran Republican lawmaker has turned back a Tea Party challenge. Kansas Senator Pat Roberts won his primary yesterday by a narrow margin. Meanwhile, in Michigan, Republican Congressman Kerry Bentivolio, a Tea Party ally, lost to a challenger supported by the party establishment. Another Tea Party-backed congressman, Justin Amash, won renomination.

And Democrat Debbie Dingell was nominated to succeed her husband, Congressman John Dingell. He’s retiring after a record 58 years in the House.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Same-sex marriage lawsuits in four states went before a federal appeals court in Cincinnati today. A three-judge panel heard arguments on gay marriage bans in Michigan and Kentucky. The issue in Ohio dealt with recognizing same-sex unions from other states. And a Tennessee case more narrowly focused on the rights of same-sex couples. The judge’s rulings could be weeks away.

GWEN IFILL: There’s word that Bank of America and the Justice Department are nearing a record settlement over alleged conduct before the housing meltdown. The Wall Street Journal reports the bank will pay $16 billion to $17 billion. It involves actions by two subsidiaries in the mortgage market. The announcement is expected tomorrow.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 14 points to close at 16,443; the Nasdaq rose two points to close at 4,355; and the S&P added a fraction to finish at 1,920.