KWAME HOLMAN: A Philadelphia abortion doctor will serve life in prison without parole for murdering three babies. Dr. Kermit Gosnell was convicted Monday of killing the babies moments after they were born alive at his grimy clinic. Today, the 72-year-old Gosnell forfeited his right to appeal in a bid to avoid the death penalty.
The death toll in the civil war in Syria may be far higher than reported so far. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in London, estimated today that at least 94,000 people have died in the two-year conflict. That exceeds the U.N.’s numbers by more than 20,000. The human rights group drew its information from sources across Syria. It said the death figure could be as high as 120,000.
In Bangladesh, a prayer service today honored the 1,127 people who perished in last month’s garment factory collapse in Dhaka. Thousands of mourners returned to the site of the disaster to pay tribute to the victims and to those survivors who remain hospitalized. The search for bodies ended yesterday. In a related development, Walmart joined other retailers today in pledging in-depth safety inspections at the Bangladesh factories it uses.
The U.S. Defense Department now plans to furlough more than 600,000 civilian employees for 11 days through September. Secretary Chuck Hagel announced it today at a town hall with Pentagon workers. Thousands of workers at shipyards will be exempt, and there won’t be as many furlough days as originally feared. But Hagel said he could not avoid furloughs entirely under mandatory budget cuts from sequestration.
DEFENSE SECRETARY CHUCK HAGEL, United States: I can’t run this institution into the ditch. This will go until the end of the fiscal year. We have taken it as close to the line as we can, and still capable of protecting this country and this country’s interests around the world.
KWAME HOLMAN: The furloughs are set to begin in early July.
Three U.S. troops were killed in Southern Afghanistan today. NATO said they died when a roadside bomb struck their convoy in the Zhari district of Kandahar province. A day earlier, a truck bomb killed three Georgian soldiers in the NATO force. So far this year, 58 foreign troops have died in Afghanistan, including 44 Americans.
Authors of a sweeping U.S. immigration bill defeated new efforts today to make major changes to the measure. The Senate Judiciary Committee spent a second day voting on some of the hundreds of proposed amendments. Supporters turned back a Republican proposal for eye scans and fingerprints to track those entering and leaving the country.
The Oscar-winning actor and director Angelina Jolie has announced she had preventive — a preventive double mastectomy. She says she underwent the surgery after learning she was strongly predisposed to getting breast cancer. Jolie told her story in an opinion piece in The New York Times. She said she hopes it will help other women in similar situations. A genetic test found Jolie had an 87 percent chance of getting breast cancer. Her mother died of the ovarian cancer at age 56.
We have more online about the gene that increased Jolie’s risk of developing the disease. That’s on our Health page.
There may be no benefit to sharply restricting salt intake. And it may actually do harm. The Institute of Medicine reports today that Americans do eat far too much salt, and says some reduction is good. But researchers found no evidence that drastically cutting back helps overall heart health. The panel called for more and better research to find the best level.
The National Transportation Safety Board called today for states to cut the threshold for drunken driving by nearly half. The board recommended lowering the maximum allowed blood alcohol level from .08 to.05. It said that standard has substantially reduced highway deaths around the world. The new recommendation translates to about one drink for a woman weighing less than 120 pounds and two for a man weighing around 160 pounds.
On Wall Street, stocks rose to fresh highs, partly on news that small business owners are a bit more optimistic about their prospects. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 123 points to close at 15,215. The Nasdaq rose more than 23 points to close at 3,462.
Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Judy.