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News Wrap: Kerry visits Afghanistan to press election resolution

August 7, 2014 at 6:02 PM EST
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GWEN IFILL: Secretary of State John Kerry returned to Afghanistan today, in an urgent bid to end presidential election deadlock. In Kabul, he pressed the two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, to accept results from an ongoing audit of votes from the June runoff. The U.S. wants a national unity government formed by next month. American combat forces are due to leave Afghanistan by year’s end.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, the body of U.S. Army Major General Harold Greene arrived back in the U.S. He was killed this week by an Afghan soldier outside Kabul. Troops carried the flag-draped metal case off a C-17 cargo plane at Dover Air Force base in Delaware. The general’s family and officials, including Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno, were on hand.

GWEN IFILL: This was the final day of a 72-hour truce between Israel and Hamas, with negotiations continuing in Egypt for a longer cease-fire.

In Gaza, several thousand Palestinians marched in support of Hamas. A spokesman for the militants insisted there can be no peace until the blockade of Gaza is lifted.

MUSHIR AL MASRI, Hamas Spokesman (through interpreter): The talks in Cairo are going on, and we are still waiting to hear the answers. We have fair and legal demands, and the Israeli occupation has no choice except to respond to our demands. There will be no cease-fire and the enemy will not live in security while Palestinians aren’t living in real security.

GWEN IFILL: In turn, Israeli officials have said Hamas must disarm first before the blockade can end.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Cambodia, two of the last leaders of the Khmer Rouge reign of terror were convicted today of crimes against humanity. The fanatical communist movement killed nearly two million people in the late 1970s, a quarter of the population; 83-year old Khieu Samphan and 88-year-old Nuon Chea remained stoic today as the verdict was read. They were sentenced to life in prison by a U.N.-backed tribunal.

CHEA LEANG, Co-Prosecutor (through translator): This verdict cannot turn back time or the lives of those who died or were killed under the sun’s heat, overworked, starved. However, this verdict can provide some justice and restore the respect of victims.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Khmer Rouge’s supreme leader, Pol Pot, was never tried and died in 1998.

GWEN IFILL: The Russian government has granted permission to Edward Snowden to remain in Russia for three more years. His one-year asylum expired August 1. Snowden faces espionage charges in the U.S. for leaking extensive records on surveillance by the National Security Agency.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, a jury in Detroit convicted a white homeowner today of killing an unarmed black teenager on his front porch. Theodore Wafer fired a shotgun at Renisha McBride after she knocked at his door in the predawn darkness. He said he thought it was a break-in.

Prosecutors said McBride had been drinking and wrecked her car and was looking for help. The case sparked comparisons to the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida.

GWEN IFILL: Hawaii is bracing for Hurricane Iselle’s arrival tonight, the first direct hit on the state in more than 20 years. The storm could arrive with winds of 85 miles an hour and heavy rain, but Governor Neil Abercrombie counseled residents and tourists today not to panic.

REP. NEIL ABERCROMBIE, D-Hawaii: We all have to have confidence in one another. And I want to assure the public that, from the point of view of those that you have appointed who have the jurisdiction, who have the responsibility, we’re ready. And if we all work together, we’re going to come through this in very fine fashion.

GWEN IFILL: A second hurricane is also headed toward Hawaii, but is still several days away. And if that weren’t enough, a moderate earthquake jolted the area today. But there were no reports of damage.

JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama has signed a bill to help veterans who’ve endured long waits for health care. The ceremony today, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, involved a $16 billion measure. It will pay for hiring thousands more VA doctors and nurses, and for vets to see private doctors in some cases. The new law also makes it easier to fire senior VA officials for poor performance.

GWEN IFILL: The top conferences in college sports moved a big step closer to making their own rules on everything from scholarships to recruiting. The NCAA governing board voted to let the five richest conferences make unilateral changes in some longstanding rules. The new system could take effect in January unless other schools combine to vote down the changes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 75 points to close at 16,368; the Nasdaq fell 20 points to close below 4,335; and the S&P 500 slipped 10 to finish at 1,909.