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News Wrap: Obama consoles Orlando attack survivors

In our news wrap Thursday, President Obama traveled to Orlando to meet with survivors and the families of the victims of a mass shooting at a gay night club. Also, a British member of Parliament who had campaigned to keep the United Kingdom in the European Union was shot dead in a small town in Northern England.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    And I'm Hari Sreenivasan.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    On the "NewsHour" tonight: Senate Democrats end a nearly 15-hour filibuster early this morning in a push for gun control, four days after the Orlando shooting.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Also ahead this Thursday, we sit down with three survivors of the Orlando attack to hear their stories of that harrowing night inside the Pulse nightclub.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And with the Olympic Games in Brazil around the corner, fears of Zika grip both athletes and tourists — how residents are reacting.

    POLLYANA RABELLO, Mother of Microcephalic Child (through interpreter): If our country is unable support its own people, who are Brazilians, who pay taxes, why bring others if you can't even support these people?

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."

    (BREAK)

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    This was a day when President Obama joined the mourning in Orlando, as a shocking new killing shook England. The president traveled to Florida to console survivors and families of the 49 murdered Sunday at a gay nightclub. And he met with police and first-responders.

    Afterward, Mr. Obama and Vice President Biden left flowers at a makeshift memorial, and spoke with reporters.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    Today, once again, as has been true too many times before, I held and hugged grieving family members and parents, and they asked, why does this keep happening? And they pleaded that we do more to stop the carnage. They don't care about the politics. Neither do I.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But a leading Republican caused a stir today when he initially charged the president bears the blame for the nightclub killings.

    Arizona Senator John McCain told reporters: "Barack Obama is directly responsible for it because his decision to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq led to the rise of ISIS."

    Later, McCain said he misspoke, and didn't mean to imply the president was personally responsible for Orlando.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Britain was stunned today when a member of Parliament was shot dead in her own district. Labor Party M.P. Jo Cox had campaigned to keep Britain in the European Union. She was killed in the small town of Birstall, near Leeds, in Northern England.

    Griff Witte is London bureau chief for The Washington Post, joins us now.

    Griff, for an American frame of reference, there might be people who think about this like the Gabby Giffords shooting or attack that happened a few years ago here. Who was Jo Cox?

  • GRIFF WITTE, The Washington Post:

    Jo Cox was someone who was widely respected on all sides of the political debate in Britain. She was someone who had been a human rights campaigner before she became a member of Parliament. She was elected to Parliament last year as a member of the center-left Labor Party, and she was seen as someone with a really extraordinarily bright future in politics.

    David Cameron today called her a rising star.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    And there were several different narratives that were swirling. What happened on the scene around the attack?

  • GRIFF WITTE:

    Well, what we understand is that Jo Cox was meeting with constituents at a library in this small town, which is something that she does every Thursday afternoon, and she was walking out of the building, and she was approached on the sidewalk by a 52-year-old man who began stabbing her. A passerby tried to intervene, tried to stop the attack, and the attacker then pulled out a gun.

    It's believed to have been perhaps an antique weapon. Firearms are very tightly regulated here in the U.K., and he began to shoot her. And shot her at least two times, perhaps three times. And she died about an hour later.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Griff Witte, we also heard that the shooter or the assailant had yelled "Britain first." Besides being a slogan, it's also the name of a far-right party. And this comes in the context of this much, much larger conversation about the Brexit right now.

  • GRIFF WITTE:

    Right.

    And I want to stress that it's not clear that this man has any kind of relationship with Britain First, which is an organization that is on the far, far right here in the U.K. It is an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim organization that does very provocative demonstrations across British.

    The organization says it has no affiliation with the assailant here and has condemned his actions. Nonetheless, witnesses have said that he yelled "Britain first" as he was engaging the attack and afterward. And so that has led to speculation that he has had — he has some kind of political motives.

    Family members, however, say that they don't know him to be someone who had any kind of political affiliations at all or strong political views, but they say that he was mentally troubled.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right. Griff Witte of The Washington Post joining us from London, thanks so much.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    In the day's other news: Search crews in the Mediterranean have recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the EgyptAir plane that crashed last month. The flight disappeared between Crete and the Egyptian coast, killing all 66 people on board.

    Investigators say the voice recorder was damaged, but its memory unit is still intact. They're working to see if it sheds light on what caused the crash.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    CIA Director John Brennan warned today that the Islamic State group is trying to send operatives into the West to carry out new attacks. Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the militants hope high-profile attacks will compensate for territory they have lost in Iraq and Syria.

  • JOHN BRENNAN, Director, CIA:

    ISIL has a large cadre of Western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West. And the group is probably exploring a variety of means for infiltrating operatives into the West, including in refugee flows, smuggling routes and legitimate methods of travel.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    The gunman in the Orlando killings claimed allegiance to the Islamic State, but Brennan said today the CIA has found no actual connection.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Swathes of downtown Saint Louis had no electrical power, and no air conditioning, for much of this day, as the heat headed toward 100 degrees. The cause was an overnight fire inside a manhole. Last night, smoke could be seen billowing from underground. City hall, courts and other administrative buildings closed for the day.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Philadelphia is now the first major American city to adopt a tax on carbonated drinks. City council today gave final approval to a levy of 1.5 cents per ounce for sugary and diet sodas. The beverage industry had waged a multimillion-dollar campaign to block the measure.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    A late-day rally lifted Wall Street after five days of losses. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 93 points to close at 17733. The Nasdaq rose 10 points, and the S&P 500 added six.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    And Walt Disney opened Shanghai Disneyland today, its first theme park in mainland China. The opening ceremony featured Communist Party leaders and familiar characters. Officials held up the park as a symbol of U.S.-China relations. It's valued at $5.5 billion.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": a senator's 15-hour filibuster, could it change the gun control debate?; making economic sense of Britain's vote to leave or stay in the E.U.; the Navy's new approach to PTSD; first-hand accounts from survivors of the Orlando shooting; and much more.

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