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News Wrap: Maliki rejects appeals for a unity government in Iraq

June 25, 2014 at 6:03 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. economy suffered more in the first quarter than first believed. The government said today it shrank at an annual rate of almost 3 percent, due mainly to winter storms and falling health care spending. More recent data suggests a rebound since then.

Wall Street mostly shrugged off the report. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 49 points to close at 16,867. The Nasdaq rose 29 points to 4,379. And the S&P 500 added nine to finish at 1,959.

GWEN IFILL: The National Football League agreed today to remove a cap on payouts to former players with concussion-related problems. A federal judge had suggested the overall cap of $675 million wasn’t enough to cover as many as 20,000 retirees. The settlement is meant to last at least 65 years for former players with Lou Gehrig’s disease, dementia and other conditions.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Republicans in the House of Representatives are going to federal court with a lawsuit charging President Obama has abused his powers. Speaker John Boehner announced the move today. He gave no details of the specific legal claims, but said the goal is to protect the rights of Congress.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, Speaker of the House:  What we have seen clearly over the last five years is an effort to erode the power of the legislative branch. And I believe the president is not faithfully executing the laws of our country.

And on behalf of the institution and our Constitution, standing up and fighting for this is in the best long-term interest of the Congress.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Republicans have accused the president of unilaterally changing health care and immigration laws. The White House said today that congressional obstruction has forced Mr. Obama to make greater use of executive orders.

GWEN IFILL:  Supporters of gay marriage won two new legal victories today. A federal appeals court in Denver upheld a lower court ruling against Utah’s ban on same-sex unions. The state attorney general immediately promised to appeal. And a separate federal court struck down Indiana’s ban on gay marriage.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle is the latest to settle claims that priests sexually abused children. The church has agreed to pay $12 million to 30 men who say they were assaulted as children at two Catholic schools. It happened between the 1950s and the 1980s.

GWEN IFILL:  In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for all factions to unite against a Sunni insurgency. But he rejected appeals, from President Obama and others, to form a unity government. Maliki insisted today any such move would amount to a coup, since his Shiite bloc won the most seats in April’s elections.

NOURI AL-MALIKI, Prime Minister, Iraq (through interpreter):  It is not a secret to Iraqis the grave intentions harbored behind the call for the formation of a so-called government of national salvation. It is an attempt to eliminate our young democracy and to ignore voters’ opinions. The call to form a government of national salvation would torpedo the constitution and the political process.

GWEN IFILL:  Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry warned Iraq’s neighbors against intervening. On Tuesday, Syrian warplanes bombed an Iraqi border town seized by the Sunni extremist group ISIL. That same faction is also fighting in Syria.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Secretary Kerry also called today for Russian President Vladimir Putin to show he’s serious about fostering peace in Ukraine. Earlier, the Russian Parliament canceled a resolution authorizing military force to support Ukrainian rebels.

But, in Brussels, Kerry said Putin needs to do more, if he wants to avoid tougher economic sanctions.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:  We are delighted that President Putin put to the Duma the retraction of that law which empowered Russia to take action in Ukraine. That’s important. It’s a great step. But it could be reversed in 10 minutes, and everyone knows that.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Russia denies it is letting fighters and heavy weapons cross into Ukraine or that it is again massing troops near the border.

GWEN IFILL:  Libya held parliamentary elections today, despite growing chaos, three years after the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi. Turnout was sparse, but troops deployed to protect polling stations from possible attacks. At least two cities closed their polls entirely.