News Wrap: Wall Street Gains, Iran Test-Fires Ballistic Missiles
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The chief executive of Barclays Bank resigned today in London amid a growing financial scandal. The British banking giant has admitted reporting falsely low interest rates on loans from other banks during the crisis of 2008. That data helped determine a benchmark rate for more than half a trillion dollars in contracts worldwide. Several other global banks are also under investigation.
On Wall Street, stocks ran up some gains today in a shortened session before the July Fourth holiday. The Dow Jones industrial average added 72 points to close at 12943. The Nasdaq rose nearly 25 points to close at 2976.
Automakers had a big month in June. Chrysler and General Motors reported sales gains of 16 percent to 20 percent over June of last year. Ford reported a 7 percent gain. Toyota sales were up by 60 percent. The Japanese automaker has bounced back from last year’s tsunami that severely disrupted its supply chain.
There was more heavy fighting near the capital city of Syria today. Government tanks and guns shelled villages near Duma, a suburb of Damascus that’s been under fierce assault. The army offensive there began nearly two weeks ago. Many of the buildings have now been blasted into nothing more than abandoned ruins. U.N. observers tried to get into Duma today to visit hospitals, but they were forced to turn back because of reports of snipers in the area.
Separately, Human Rights Watch reported the Syrian government is running a network of more than two dozen torture centers.
REED BRODY, Spokesman, Human Rights Watch: We have documented 20 different methods of torture, beatings, electric cables, sexual violence, people having their fingernails pulled out, stress positions. And these methods are used by each of the security forces that run each of these prisons that we list.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The report was based on interviews with more than 200 army defectors and former detainees since the uprising began in March of last year. The Syrian government had no immediate response.
In Iraq, at least 40 people were killed in a series of bombings. The attacks hit four Iraqi cities, with the worst toll in Diwaniya, south of Baghdad. A vegetable truck filled with explosives went off in a crowded market there, killing 25 people. The attacks came during a major religious pilgrimage for Shiites. They have often been targeted by Sunni insurgents linked to al-Qaida.
Iran test-fired several ballistic missiles today. The powerful Revolutionary Guard said it was a message to Israel and the U.S. not to attack Iran’s nuclear sites. One missile was a long-range type that can reach Israel. State media said all of the weapons struck mock enemy bases as part of a military exercise. Also today, Tehran insisted sanctions will not deter its nuclear effort either.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman rejected the European Union’s newly imposed embargo on Iranian oil.
RAMIN MEHMANPARAST, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman (through translator): As long as they wrongly believe that various types of pressure on Iran and imposing illegal and illegitimate sanctions would make us retreat from our rights, and as long as they imagine they can negotiate with us from a higher position, such an attitude will definitely have a negative impact on the success of the talks.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Those talks over Iran’s nuclear program resumed today in Istanbul, Turkey. Technical experts from Iran met with their counterparts from the U.S. and five other powers.