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News Wrap: UN approves investigation of the Islamic State in Iraq

September 1, 2014 at 7:51 PM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The head of NATO is calling for a spearhead force to deter any Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced the plan today in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. It calls for several thousand troops ready to move on short notice. Alliance leaders will consider the plan on Thursday. We will turn to the day’s events in Ukraine after the news summary.

The United Nations Human Rights Council today condemned the Islamic State group for what it called abuses on an unimaginable scale. The council approved an investigation of the militants’ actions in Iraq, from mass killings to sexual abuse to forced conversion. This came after Iraq’s human rights minister appealed for help, saying, “We are facing a terrorist monster.”

MOHAMMED SHIA’ AL-SUDANI, Minister of Human Rights, Iraq (through interpreter): From here, I call upon countries all over the world to take a responsible stand in line with the international conventions, norms and humanitarian principles and values to take a clear-cut and strong action against the Islamic State group. It is not an Iraqi phenomenon. It is a terrorist organization that jeopardizes the security and peace of countries all over the world.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, Iraq’s caretaker prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, visited the small town of Amirli today. It was retaken by Iraqi forces on Sunday, after a two-month siege by the Islamic State group. Maliki toured the streets and spoke with Shiite Turkmen townspeople. He branded the militants beasts and killers and pledged that Iraq will send them all to their deaths. The siege was broken with the help of U.S. airstrikes.

In Afghanistan, talks on a power-sharing deal between rival presidential candidates have collapsed. Abdullah Abdullah’s camp said today that he and Ashraf Ghani failed to agree on the powers for a chief executive in a national unity government. The deadlock raises the risk of chaos, as U.S. and other combat troops are leaving.

Heavy fighting erupted today in Syria’s Golan Heights between the Syrian army and militants linked to al-Qaida. Government troops are trying to recapture a crossing point that the Nusra Front rebels captured last week. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji were abducted in the area last week. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

In North Korea, three American detainees were allowed to speak with U.S. and foreign news media today. They appealed for a high-ranking U.S. representative to negotiate their release. Kenneth Bae is a missionary convicted of trying to bring down the state. He’s serving 15 years. Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller are due to face trial soon on similar charges.

President Obama vowed this Labor Day to keep pushing Congress for a higher minimum wage. He wants to raise the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour.

Today, in Milwaukee, he said persistence is the key to winning over Congress, and he joked the same is true in affairs of the heart.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There is no denying a simple truth: America deserves a raise.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And I think, eventually, Congress is going to hear them. We will break those folks down. We will just stay on them.

(LAUGHTER)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We will just keep at it. That’s how I got Michelle to marry me. I just wore her down.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Republicans have blocked a minimum wage increase, on the grounds that it will hurt small business and job growth.