In our news wrap Monday, the Iraqi parliament pushed back its next session five weeks, until mid-August, as government forces continue to battle Islamist militants. While Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has refused to step down, lawmakers are at an impasse over choosing new leaders. Also, pro-Russian fighters in Ukraine tried to regroup after major setbacks over the weekend.
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Rebels in Ukraine tried to regroup today after major setbacks over the weekend. The pro-Russian fighters lost their former stronghold in Slavyansk and fell back to Donetsk, vowing to keep fighting government forces.
Along the way, three bridges leading into Donetsk were blown up today. One was a railway bridge that was bombed as a cargo train passed over. Amid the fighting, Russia pressed again today for a new cease-fire in Ukraine.
The political stalemate in Iraq will go on, as the government battles Islamist militants who've seized a large portion of the country. The new parliament today delayed its next session for five weeks, until mid-August. Leaders are at an impasse over choosing a prime minister, president and speaker of parliament. Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has refused to step aside.
The White House isn't confirming that a German intelligence worker spied for the U.S. A spokesman said today he cannot comment on the matter. A 31-year-old German man was arrested last week, and there have been reports he admitted to passing documents to a U.S. contact.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the matter today during a visit to China.
CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL, Germany (through interpreter):
We have already opened an investigation. If the reports are correct, it would be a serious case. If the allegations are true, it would be for me a clear contradiction to what I consider to be a trustful cooperation between agencies and partners.
U.S.-German relations have been strained since last year, after revelations of large-scale snooping by the National Security Agency on Germany.
Pope Francis met with victims of sexual abuse by priests for the first time today and he apologized. The pontiff celebrated mass at his Vatican hotel with six victims who recounted their personal stories of abuse.
POPE FRANCIS, Leader of Catholic Church (through interpreter): Before God and his people, I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness. I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of church leaders who didn't respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves.
The pope also vowed to hold bishops accountable for the protection of minors, but he didn't give details on how he would do that.
In Kenya, anti-government protests in Nairobi turned violent today. Police and demonstrators battled with tear gas and stones as a rally in a nearby park spilled over into the streets. The crowds had gathered to demand talks with the government over economic inequality and other grievances.
And, in Nigeria, officials in the northeast report that 63 girls who were kidnapped last month have escaped. They apparently got away as their captors in the Boko Haram militant group were battling Nigerian soldiers.
Meanwhile, a government spokesman reports progress in the investigation of April's abduction of 200 other schoolgirls.
MIKE OMERI, Government Spokesman, Nigeria:
We are moving closer to finding them. At least we have identified a number of leads. We have identified in the course of this exercise. And that was what even led to the arrest of the intelligence — chief of intelligence of Boko Haram.
Nigeria's government and military have faced international criticism for failing to rescue the kidnap victims.
One of the last foreign ministers of the Soviet Union, Eduard Shevardnadze, died today. In the late 1980s, under Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, he signed major arms control deals and helped Eastern Europe regain its freedom. After the Soviet collapse, he became president of Georgia, and survived two assassination attempts. He eventually resigned. Eduard Shevardnadze was 86 years old.
A federal judge in Philadelphia has given initial approval to a landmark concussion settlement between the National Football League and former players. That came today after the league removed a cap of $675 million on claims for medical damages. The judge had questioned whether that amount would be enough to pay all claims. The settlement involves more than 4,500 former players who have sued the NFL.
Wall Street came back from the holiday weekend in a cautious mood. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 44 points to close at 17,024. The Nasdaq fell 34 points to close at 4,451. And the S&P 500 dropped seven to finish at 1,977.