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News Wrap: Kerry expresses optimism for renewed Syrian truce

In our news wrap Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry expressed optimism in Geneva that progress is being made towards restoring the truce in Syria. While the Syrian military extended its own unilateral cease-fire in some urban areas, fighting continued to rage around Aleppo. Also, an Islamic State car bombing killed at least 18 and wounded dozens more in Baghdad.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    In the day's other news: The U.S. said progress is being made toward restoring a truce in Syria. That came as the Syrian military extended its own unilateral cease-fire in some areas, including Damascus. But violence continues to rage farther north in Aleppo.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Geneva today meeting with the U.N.'s envoy for Syria. Kerry expressed optimism, but stopped short of detailing truce proposals.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: We are working over these next hours intensely in order to try to restore the cessation of hostilities and at the same time to raise the level of accountability that will accompany the day-to-day process of implementing this cease-fire.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    To that end, Kerry, who later spoke by phone with his counterpart in Moscow, said the U.S. and Russia agreed to station personnel around the clock in Geneva to better monitor a new truce.

    An Islamic State car bomb killed at least 18 people and wounded dozens more in Southwestern Baghdad today. Workers used shovels and water hoses to clear debris following the blast. Many of those killed were Shiite pilgrims commemorating the death of a revered eighth century imam.

    Puerto Rico has defaulted on a $422 million bond payment that was due today. Its officials warned, the U.S. territory's debt crisis could soon worsen without the help of Congress.

    In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said he hopes this creates a — quote — "new sense of urgency for lawmakers" to restore Puerto Rico's debt restructuring authority. The island's default will likely prompt lawsuits from creditors, and could foreshadow more problems to come when a much larger payment is due July 1.

    Nearly all of Detroit's 97 public schools were forced to close today after teachers staged their latest sick-out. They protested the possibility that some of them won't get paid through the summer if the debt-stricken school district doesn't receive more funding from the state. Today's closure impacted some 46,000 students.

    Cancer researchers today issued a warning to New England residents who get their drinking water from private wells. A study from the National Institutes of Health found a correlation between bladder cancer and arsenic levels in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont wells. Bladder cancer incidence in the region is 20 percent higher than the rest of the country. The risk is even greater if wells were dug before 1960, when arsenic-based pesticides were common.

    The person behind the digital currency Bitcoin may have finally been identified, after years of speculation. Craig Wright, an Australian entrepreneur and computer scientist, told several news agencies today he invented the currency back in 2009. Bitcoins allow consumers to purchase goods or services and exchange money anonymously without involving banks or other third parties.

    In an interview with the BBC, Wright said he came forward with reluctance.

  • CRAIG WRIGHT, Entrepreneur:

    I didn't decide. I had people decide this matter for me. And they are making life difficult, not for me, but my friends, my family, my staff. I don't want money. I don't want fame. I don't want adoration. I just want to be left alone.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    But several publications have questioned Wright's claim. Earlier today, I spoke to Andy Greenberg, a senior writer from "Wired" via Google Hangouts. He said today's revelation has raised even more questions.

  • ANDY GREENBERG, WIRED:

    This has only gotten hairier as a story. It was unclear at first whether this was a hoax or whether we had found the creator of Bitcoin. And I think we have only gone further down that rabbit hole.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    For our full interview with Andy Greenberg, visit our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.

    On Wall Street today, stocks bounced back after last week's losses. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 117 points to close at 17891. The Nasdaq rose 42 points. And the S&P 500 added 16.

    The first U.S. cruise liner in nearly 40 years docked in Cuba this morning. Passengers waved to locals as the 700-passenger ship operated by Carnival Cruise subsidiary Fathom Travel pulled into Havana. The arrival follows President Obama's restoration of ties with Cuba in late 2014.

    For the record, Fathom Travel is a NewsHour underwriter.

    And some history was made in English soccer today. Leicester City has won the Barclays Premier League after overcoming 5,000-to-1 odds. The Foxes finished near the bottom of the league last year, but lost only three times this season, and clinched the title today, when second-place Tottenham played to a tie. It's Leicester City's first championship in the club's 132-year history.

    Still to come on the NewsHour: Politics Monday, a look ahead to Indiana's make-or-break election for Ted Cruz; then, CIA director Leon Panetta on the fight against al-Qaida five years after Osama bin Laden's death; how Warren Buffett's son is helping Africa feed itself; and much more.

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