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News Wrap: UN reports sharp rise of Iraq civilian deaths

July 18, 2014 at 6:16 PM EDT

JUDY WOODRUFF: And to some of the day’s other main stories now.

Iran and six world powers, including the U.S., have agreed to extend talks on curbing the Iranian nuclear program. Sunday had been the deadline for finishing a long-term deal. The extension grants an extra four months.

The number of civilians dying in the violence of Iraq is rising sharply. That word comes in a new report from the United Nations. It says that between January and June, nearly 5,600 civilians were killed in Iraq. There were just over 7,800 killed in all of 2013. Sunni extremists have stepped up their fight against the Iraqi government since the beginning of the year.

Waters off the U.S. Atlantic Coast will be opened to oil and gas exploration for the first time since the 1980s. The Obama administration opened the way today, approving the use of sonic cannons. They fire sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine to pinpoint energy deposits beneath the ocean floor. Officials acknowledge that thousands of sea creatures may be harmed in the process.

Firefighters in Washington state battled a large wildfire today that’s destroyed about 100 homes. The fire has scorched 260 square miles in the north-central part of the state, and it’s forced the evacuation of an entire town 120 miles from Seattle; 100 miles to the south, another major fire burned near the town of Leavenworth, forcing hundreds more to flee.

Shipping giant FedEx is vowing to fight federal charges that it helped illegal pharmacies deliver drugs to customers without prescriptions. A grand jury indictment, announced last night, accuses FedEx of conspiring to ship painkillers, sleeping aids and anti-anxiety medicine. The company denies wrongdoing, and says that it will plead not guilty.

Wall Street finished the week by rebounding from yesterday’s losses. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 123 points to close at 17,100. The Nasdaq rose 68 points to close at 4,432. And the S&P 500 added 20 to 1,978. For the week, the Dow gained about 1 percent. The Nasdaq and the S&P rose about a half-a-percent.