News Wrap: Biden calls Iraq’s PM after Carter comments

In our news wrap Monday, Vice President Joe Biden called Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to try and to reassure the leader a day after the U.S. defense secretary blamed Iraqi forces for the loss at Ramadi. Also, for the first time in 14 years, no American troops were involved in major ground combat on this Memorial Day. President Obama honored the occasion at Arlington National Cemetery.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    For the first time in 14 years, no American troops were involved in major ground combat on a Memorial Day. President Obama took note of that in his appearance at Arlington National Cemetery. He laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and said the site is more than a final resting place for fallen heroes.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    Each simple stone marker, arranged in perfect military precision, signifies the cost of our blessings. It is a debt we can never fully repay, but it is a debt we will never stop trying to fully repay by remaining a nation worthy of their sacrifice.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Another wreath-laying in Kabul paid tribute to more than 2,200 Americans killed in the Afghan war. Some 10,000 are still stationed there as advisers and trainers.

    Vice President Biden sought to reassure Iraq's prime minister today after a dust-up over fighting the Islamic State group. In a statement, White House officials said the vice president's phone call — quote — "recognized the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces."

    That came after Defense Secretary Ash Carter had blamed the loss of Ramadi on Iraqi troops who ran away.

    ASHTON CARTER, Secretary of Defense: They withdrew from the site. And that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Iraqi leaders condemned Carter's statement, and a top commander in Iran charged today that, in fact, the U.S. lacks the white — rather, the will to fight ISIS.

    There's word that Cleveland has reached a settlement with the Justice Department over alleged police abuses. The New York Times reports that it involves a pattern of excessive use of force and unconstitutional actions. On Saturday, a judge acquitted a white Cleveland officer in a shooting barrage that killed two unarmed black suspects.

    The governor of Texas declared disasters in two dozen counties today, after a weekend of catastrophic flooding and tornadoes. And the severe weather continued early today, as a storm blasted a Mexican city just across the Texas border.

    The people of Ciudad Acuna awoke to the ravages of a tornado that tore through just after daybreak. Authorities reported more than a dozen people were killed. Farther north, lightning lit up the Kansas sky overnight, and outlined a twister moving across the open plain.

    Together, they were the latest outbreaks from a massive weather system that stretched all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes. In its wake came not only tornadoes, but severe flooding.

  • MAN:

    Here we go. Here we go. Whoa!

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Central Texas bore the brunt, with creeks and rivers rapidly swelling, sweeping cars away.

  • MAN:

    Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    At least a dozen people were missing after flash flooding sent the Blanco River rising 26 feet in an hour.

  • KHARLEY SMITH, Emergency Coordinator, Hays County:

    We do have 12 missing persons that we are actively searching for. We have additional concerns, where we are gathering information from reporting parties to make sure that the residents are missing or are not missing.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Across Texas, hundreds of homes were destroyed, and nearly 2,000 people were forced to move to higher ground.

  • PEGGY WELBORE:

    They have lost everything, their cars, their furniture, everything. And it's just amazing. I can't even begin to let it all sink in. I don't think I want to know just yet.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Severe flooding also hit the Dallas area, and the governor warned, Texas is not out of the woods yet.

    GOV. GREG ABBOTT, (R) Texas: It sends a powerful message to anyone who is in harm's way over entire state of Texas over the coming days as we see ongoing rain, and that is the relentless tsunami-type power that this wave of water can pose for people.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And the rain did keep falling in Houston and elsewhere, further damaging apartments and homes that had been torn open by a tornado on Sunday. The storms are blamed for at least three deaths in Oklahoma and Texas.

    In India, there was no break in extreme heat that's killed more than 500 people in recent weeks. Temperatures in one northern state reached 116 degrees on Sunday. People suffering from dehydration inundated hospitals that were battling power outages. And streets in several major cities were abandoned as people sought out shade.

    National police in Malaysia report they have found 139 mass graves, and signs of torture, in more than two dozen camps where traffickers once held migrants. Investigators carried away body parts today from one site at the border with Thailand. It's believed Rohingya Muslims who'd fled Myanmar were kept there.

    China sharply criticized the U.S. today in a diplomatic row over the disputed South China Sea. Beijing complained after a U.S. reconnaissance plane flew over the Spratly Islands, where the Chinese are building bases, despite international protests

  • HUA CHUNYING, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman (through interpreter):

    The U.S. military aircraft's spying on China's islands could easily cause miscalculation and was very dangerous and irresponsible. I want to emphasize that China's determination to protect its national sovereignty and territorial integrity is as firm as a rock.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    A tabloid owned by the Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper went even further. It said war with the U.S. is inevitable, unless Washington backs off.

    Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced today to more jail time. He got eight months in prison for taking illegal payments from a U.S. businessman. It happened when he was mayor of Jerusalem. Olmert had already received a separate six-year sentence for taking bribes.

    Back in this country, anonymous threats targeted airliners bound for New York. U.S. fighter jets escorted one Air France flight to Kennedy Airport after claims of a chemical weapon on board. That plane was eventually searched and cleared. And then authorities searched a flight from Saudi Arabian Airlines because of another call. An American Airlines flight from England was also threatened.

    And comedian Anne Meara died over the weekend after a long career in TV, movies and the stage. Meara and husband Jerry Stiller were a hit comedy duo in the 1960s before she went on to a series of acting roles. In 2006, she joined son Ben Stiller in the movie "Night at the Museum." Anne Meara was 85 years old.

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