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News Wrap: Moderate Syrian opposition renews plea for U.S. help

June 27, 2014 at 6:02 PM EDT

JUDY WOODRUFF: The head of Syria’s moderate opposition made a renewed plea for American help today. Ahmad al-Jarba met with Secretary of State John Kerry in Saudi Arabia. The White House called yesterday for $500 million to aid al-Jarba’s forces. Kerry said it’s vital to bolster the group, given the rise of Islamist militants known as ISIL.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: Obviously, in light of what has happened in Iraq, we have even more to talk about in terms of the moderate opposition in Syria, which has the ability to be a very important player in pushing back against ISIL’s presence.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, Syria’s military captured more territory near the border with Lebanon, cutting off more supply routes for the rebels. Government forces are now advancing toward Zabadani, a mountain resort that the rebels have held for two years.

The U.S. special envoy to the Middle East is resigning after a year on the job. The State Department said today that Martin Indyk is returning to his previous job at a Washington think tank. His departure was widely expected after peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians fell apart.

In Afghanistan, thousands filled the streets of Kabul today, protesting alleged fraud in the presidential runoff election two weeks ago. Candidate Abdullah Abdullah joined supporters as they chanted “death to fraudsters.”  They accused the current president, Hamid Karzai, who’s barred from running again, of trying to rig the race for Abdullah’s opponent.

MOHAMMAD KARIM, Protester (through interpreter): We don’t accept fraud in any way or by any means. Millions of people sacrificed to reach this point and achieve this victory. And thousands, hundreds of thousands and even millions are ready to sacrifice again to defend it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Initial results from the runoff are due next week.

For the first time, a top representative of the pope has been defrocked for sexually abusing children. A Vatican body convicted Polish Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski of assaulting teenage boys when he was the Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic. He is barred from performing any priestly duties, pending an appeal.

The White House review has found a coercive culture in the Veterans Administration health care system and recommends a restructuring. The review released late today focused on delays in getting appointments and care. It pointed to — quote — “significant and chronic systemic failures.”  But it said the quality of VA care is good.

The United States will stop the production of land mines and move to join an international treaty banning their use. The Obama administration announced the decision today, but didn’t say if the Pentagon will destroy its existing stockpile of mines. The treaty took effect in 1999, but U.S. military leaders objected to joining.

President Obama today brushed aside House Republican plans to sue him for abuse of power. He told ABC News that the lawsuit is a stunt, and he insisted he will keep using executive orders on issues like the minimum wage if Congress refuses to act. He emphasized the point later in Minneapolis.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We can’t afford to wait for Congress right now. And that’s why I’m going ahead and moving ahead without them wherever I can. I’m not sure which of the things I have done they find most offensive, but they have decided they’re going to sue me for doing my job.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Republicans charge, the president is effectively rewriting laws on health care and immigration, and, in so doing, violating the Constitution.

Police in Mississippi say that a Tea Party official embroiled in a hotly contested Senate race apparently committed suicide today. Mark Mayfield was found shot to death at his home outside Jackson. He had been charged with conspiring to photograph Senator Thad Cochran’s wife, who suffers dementia. Republican Cochran defeated a Tea Party rival this week in a runoff.

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is now a big step closer to installing an anti-suicide net. The bridge board of governors approved a funding plan today costing $76 million. The net is designed to stop people from jumping to their deaths. More than 1,400 people have done so since the famed span opened in 1937, including a record 46 last year.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained five points to close near 16,852. The Nasdaq rose almost 19 points to close just under 4,398. And the S&P 500 added three to finish near 1,961. But for the week, all three indexes fell a fraction of a percent.