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News Wrap: Sao Paulo subway workers walk off the job ahead of World Cup

June 9, 2014 at 6:02 PM EDT

JUDY WOODRUFF: Shelling ripped into the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk for a second day in fighting between government forces and pro-Russian rebels. Mortar fire left a trail of destruction throughout the city, damaging several buildings. It also left many people pleading for a peaceful resolution.

SVETLANA VIKTOROVNA (through interpreter): This will never end. They will end the shooting only when they wipe us from the face of the planet, when nothing remains here but a flat space. Only then the war will be finished.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Just yesterday, newly installed President Petro Poroshenko announced the start of negotiations involving his government, Russia and European security monitors.

GWEN IFILL: In Iraq, a double bombing tore through Kurdish political offices in a string of attacks that killed at least 40 people. It came a day after similar bombings on Sunday. Today’s took place in the town of Tuz Khormato, about 130 miles north of Baghdad. Local officials said a suicide bomber drove a truck filled with explosives to a checkpoint. A second truck blew up as the people ran to the scene.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad granted a wide-ranging amnesty today. He reduced jail terms for many crimes and canceled some altogether, but it was unclear just how many prisoners would be freed. Assad has issued several amnesties since the uprising against him began in 2011. Today’s announcement came less than a week after his reelection.

GWEN IFILL: Police in Brazil fought today with subway workers who walked off the job just as a flood of tourists begin arriving for the World Cup. It was the latest sign of trouble in the run-up to the most popular sporting event on the planet.

Dan Rivers of Independent Television News filed this report.

DAN RIVERS: As Brazil prepares to welcome the world three days before kickoff, this was the scene in Sao Paulo.

Riot police fired tear gas at striking metro workers, whose walkout has brought Brazil’s largest city to a standstill at the worst possible time. But there aren’t just problems here. In Rio, the smoldering threat of gang violence is just one challenge.

We found this burning car on the main road from the airport in one of the city’s toughest neighborhoods. It was set ablaze by feuding dealers. The army gave us exclusive access to the sprawling slum known as Marre. Flak jackets are advisable here. Today, soldiers were shot at by gang members in this area; 2,400 troops are deployed here to quell gang violence, fear and football on streets few outsiders would dare to walk along.

But it’s not just gang violence that’s threatening to disrupt the World Cup. There’s been months of protest and unrest at the amount of money being spent on the event. What should be a sporting celebration has become deeply controversial. Some are preparing to party.

But is this country really ready for the giants of the football world and half-a-million fans? They certainly love the beautiful game like nowhere else, but can they do it justice as hosts?

GWEN IFILL: Ready or not, the competition begins Thursday, when Brazil plays Croatia in the opening match.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 18 points to close at 16,943, another new record. The Nasdaq rose more than 14 points to close at 4,336. And the S&P 500 added the better part of two points to finish at 1,951, also a record.