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News Wrap: Ukraine suspends offensive to allow investigators access to MH17 remains

July 31, 2014 at 6:06 PM EST
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GWEN IFILL: A team of investigators finally reached the Malaysia Airlines crash site in Eastern Ukraine today. The Ukrainian military suspended its offensive against pro-Russian separatists for a day so they could get through. The experts were escorted by armed troops and armored vehicles. One of their tasks is to bring back victims’ remains and personal belongings. Dozens of bodies have yet to be retrieved.

The head of the Dutch recovery mission recounted the day.

PIETER-JAAP AALBERSBERG, Head, Dutch Recovery Mission: We also succeeded today in salvaging DNA samples from 25 victims. We now also have the personal belongings of 27 victims in our possession. The belongings and the DNA samples were in the mortuary in Donetsk and have been handed over to the Dutch and Australian experts.

GWEN IFILL: All 298 passengers and crew members aboard the flight were killed when a missile brought the plane down two weeks ago.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Seven hundred and twenty-nine people in West Africa have now died from the worst Ebola outbreak on record. The World Health Organization estimates 57 of those deaths happened over a three-day time period last week. U.S. health officials warned Americans not to travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

And travelers around the globe were under new scrutiny. In China, airports began screening passengers’ body temperatures using thermal scanners.

GWEN IFILL: Stocks plunged on Wall Street today, erasing nearly all of this month’s gains. It was largely attributed to jitters over Europe’s economic woes and a jump in U.S. labor costs. The Dow Jones industrial average posted its first monthly decline since January, plummeting 317 points to close at 16,563; the Nasdaq fell 93 points to close above 4,369; the S&P 500 lost 39 points to close at 1,930, its worst day since April.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Argentina slid into its second debt default in 13 years today. The country failed to reach a deal with bondholders in down-to-the-wire emergency meetings last night in New York. The hedge funds want full payment plus interest to the tune of a billion-and-a-half dollars. That left the future of the South American nation’s economy in question. It is already in a recession, has a shortage of dollars, and has one of the highest inflation rates in the world.

GWEN IFILL:
The director of the CIA has apologized to Senate leaders for searching their office computers earlier in the year. An internal CIA investigation found officers improperly accessed a classified computer network as they prepared a report on the CIA’s interrogation program.

Agency Director John Brennan said he’s convened an accountability board to look into the matter.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Congress raced towards a shifting finish line it its effort to get out of town for an August recess. The House rejected the Senate version of a bill that would fund transportation projects through the end of the year. Instead, representatives sent their own $10.8 billion plan back to the Senate to fund it through next May.

And an immigration bill in the House faltered, forcing Republicans to regroup and not leave for recess yet. We will have on how the border funding bill unraveled later in the program.

GWEN IFILL: The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld two controversial state laws today. It ruled a Republican-passed law requiring photo identification at the polls is legal, even though that law is currently blocked in federal court. And it upheld the 2011 law that effectively ended collective bargaining for public workers. That law led to a recall election for Republican Governor Scott Walker and sparked massive protests.