News Wrap: Record rains soak Detroit suburbs

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GWEN IFILL: Record-breaking rain left Detroit’s suburbs soaked today. Monday’s deluge dumped more than six inches in some places. This morning, parts of major interstates remained closed, as cars and trucks were lifted from the flooded roads. Authorities warned people to stay off the roads if possible, and dive teams checked deep areas for any missing people.

One woman died of a heart attack after her car was stranded. Flooding also shut down General Motors’ tech center outside Detroit, where about 19,000 people work.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In the Middle East, a temporary truce in Gaza held for a second day, but it was unclear if Israel and Hamas were making progress toward a lasting cease-fire. The two sides were meeting separately with Egyptian mediators in Cairo. A previous three-day cease-fire ended last week.

GWEN IFILL: The government of Russia dispatched a miles-long humanitarian aid convoy toward Eastern Ukraine today. But Ukrainian leaders insisted it wouldn’t be allowed to enter under Russian military control.

Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News filed this report.

LINDSEY HILSUM: An orthodox priest sprinkles 280 aid trucks with holy water to help them on the 600-mile journey from Moscow to the Ukrainian border, baby milk, wheat and other supplies, 2,000 tons in total. No question that those trapped by fighting need help, but the Ukrainian government fears that the Russians have ulterior motives.

DANYLO LUBKIVSKY, Deputy Foreign Minister, Ukraine: You don’t need tanks and artillery to bring food and medicine for civilians. Stop the aggression. Stop the Russian terrorists.

LINDSEY HILSUM: This is what he’s talking about. Western governments say the Russians have been transporting armor to the border, while Russian officials have talked of sending peacekeepers to Ukraine.

President Putin was showing the Egyptian president around one of his warships today. The aid convoy is a new tactic in his battle to control Eastern Ukraine.

Yet there’s no doubt that humanitarian is needed. And while many blame Russia for arming separatists, it’s the Ukrainian government forces that are causing damage like this in the city of Donetsk.

“When the bombs are very loud, we sit here and we lean back. There’s a hole, so we try to stay away from the ceiling.”

This week has seen the fiercest fighting of the conflict. Pro-Ukrainian volunteers launched mortars in sunflower fields like those where FLIGHT MH17 was brought down. International teams hoping to salvage wreckage and investigate cannot operate in such conditions, so they have left. The Ukrainians won’t let up because they think the Russian-sponsored rebels are on the back foot.

Explosions echo through Donetsk, as Ukrainian forces press their advantage. Luhansk is said to be worse. People shelter in basements. Water is short, electricity intermittent. If the aid convoy gets through, President Putin will look good. If the Ukrainians block it, they will look bad. Whatever happens, the Russian president is determined to retain his influence in what he sees as his backyard.

GWEN IFILL: The convoy could arrive at the Russian-Ukrainian border in several days.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Looming famine in South Sudan brought new action today. The United States pledged $180 million of food aid to help nearly four million people who face starvation. That’s a third of South Sudan’s population. Fighting between rival factions erupted in December. Since then, at least 10,000 people have been killed, with more than a million displaced.

GWEN IFILL: In economic news, U.S. employers advertised nearly 4.7 million jobs in June, the most in 13 years. And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost nine points to close at 16,560. The Nasdaq fell 12 points to close at 4,389. And the S&P 500 slipped three to 1,933.

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