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News Wrap: Hezbollah denies responsibility for Beirut blast

In our news wrap Friday, the death toll from the massive Beirut port explosion reached 154, with more than 5,000 injured. As rescue teams combed the area in search of victims, Iranian-backed Hezbollah insisted it was not to blame. Also, an Air India Express plane crashed and broke in two while trying to land in heavy rain in southern India. At least 16 people were killed and more than 120 hurt.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: The death toll from the massive Beirut port explosion reached 154, with more than 5,000 hurt. More bodies were found today, as French rescue teams and others searched the area.

    With that operation under way, the head of the powerful Hezbollah militia insisted that his Iranian-backed group is not to blame.

  • Sayyed Hassan Narsallah (through translator):

    I wholeheartedly deny that there is anything that belongs to us in the port, no warehouse for weapons, rockets, no guns, no bombs, no bullets, no nitrate, nothing, absolutely, not now and not in the past, never.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Lebanon's President Michel Aoun vowed to investigate all possible causes.

    An Air India Express passenger jet crashed and broke in two today trying to land in heavy rain in Southern India. At least 16 people were killed, and more than 120 hurt. Doctors and rescuers worked through bad weather to reach survivors. The 190-passenger flight carried people who'd been stranded abroad by the pandemic.

    Britain says that it will crack down on a wave of migrants crossing the English Channel from France. Authorities yesterday picked up at least 235 people in small boats. That is a one-day record. More migrants were found at sea today. British officials say organized smuggling and good summer weather are behind the increase.

    China has fired back after President Trump banned U.S. companies from doing business with the Chinese owners of WeChat and TikTok. New executive orders could bar distribution of the social media apps within the U.S. in 45 days. Mr. Trump charges that they share data with the Chinese government.

    But Beijing says that the accusation is baseless.

  • Wang Wenbin (through translator):

    Under the pretext of national security, the U.S. frequently abuses its state power and unjustifiably cracks down on non-U.S. companies. This is a blatant act of bullying, and China is firmly opposed to it.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Also today, the U.S. imposed economic sanctions on Carrie Lam. She's the pro-Beijing leader of Hong Kong. She's accused of helping implement a tough new Chinese security law in the city.

    A federal appeals court in Washington says House Democrats may pursue a fight to subpoena former White House counsel Don McGahn. They want to know whether President Trump tried to obstruct the Russia probe. The White House argues that McGahn has legal immunity. Today's ruling revives the Democrats' lawsuit, but there's little time to resolve the issue before the current Congress ends in January.

    Jerry Falwell Jr. is taking an indefinite leave of absence as president and chancellor of Liberty University. The evangelical Christian school in Virginia issued a terse statement this afternoon. In recent days, Falwell apologized over photos he posted online. One showed his pants unzipped and his arm around a young woman.

    Wall Street struggled make headway today, as investors pored over the July jobs report. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 46 points to close at 27433. The Nasdaq fell 97 points, and the S&P 500 added two.

    And Brent Scowcroft has died. He was the only person to serve as national security adviser in two administrations. His first stint came under President Gerald Ford in 1975. He served again under President George H.W. Bush, 14 years later.

    Scowcroft helped fashion U.S. policy on the end of the Cold War, the first Gulf War and other critical events. And he remained a close observer of the world.

    In 2011, he talked with Jim Lehrer on the "NewsHour" about online organizing in the Arab Spring protests.

  • Brent Scowcroft:

    Now the world is politicized. For most of our history, the average man didn't know what was going on in anything other than his own village. And he didn't care much. Now everybody is within eyesight of a TV or earshot of a radio. They hear what's going on.

  • Jim Lehrer:

    Or one of those little — those little instruments.

  • Brent Scowcroft:

    That's right. Whatever. And they're moved and they're activated by it.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Brent Scowcroft was 95 years old.

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