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News Wrap: UN report details Syrian civil war child abuses

February 5, 2014 at 6:02 PM EDT
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GWEN IFILL: Millions of winter-weary Americans got no relief today. Instead, a new system knocked out power, grounded flights and sent cars careening.

The second major storm this week dumped snow, sleet and freezing rain from the Midwest to New England, causing delays for thousands of commuters at airports and on the road.

WOMAN: I’m waiting for the summer. I have had enough. Please, no more snow.

GWEN IFILL: More than a million homes and businesses lost power, most of them in Pennsylvania. And the governors of New York and New Jersey declared states of emergency.

In the Midwest, Indianapolis began trying to dig out from eight inches of snow that fell Tuesday. At one point, a Southwest jet arriving in Kansas City, Mo., had to be towed off a snowbound runway.

MAN: I came here because I thought I would be going south and it would be warmer. And it’s really not.

GWEN IFILL: Even so, many judged it safe enough to take to the streets.

RYAN CURTIS, traveler: The roads aren’t bad. I mean, if you have got four-wheel drive, you can get around in this.

GWEN IFILL: Others found out the hard way just how dangerous the roads could be.

LT. JERRY WILLIAMS, Indiana State Police: We have had a situation where people thought that, because they were in a four-wheel drive vehicle, that they were in invincible.

GWEN IFILL: Meanwhile, more and more cities and counties reported they’re running short on rock salt and the funds to pay for street plowing and cleanup.

School districts have their own troubles: Many are running out of snow days, which may force them to make up the lost time when the weather finally warms up.

The nation’s second largest drugstore chain will no longer sell tobacco products beginning in October. CVS made the announcement today, citing its new emphasis on working with doctors and hospitals to improve public health. We will explore the health and business implications of that decision right after the news summary.

The United Nations has documented new horror in the Syrian civil war, the torture and killing of children. A U.N. report, released overnight, charges government forces have tortured children they suspect of having ties to rebel groups. Some were as young as 10 years old. It also accuses the rebels of executing some children and recruiting others to fight.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government missed another deadline today for destroying its chemical weapons. The regime was to have handed over its entire arsenal by now. Instead, U.S. officials estimate only a fraction have actually been surrendered.

Still, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today the agreement is still alive.

JAY CARNEY, White House Press Secretary: We have heard from the Russian government that it is their expectation that the Assad regime will be delivering a substantial portion of its chemical weapons supplies and equipment in the relatively near future.

GWEN IFILL: The Syrian foreign minister insisted today his government intends to meet the June 30 deadline to complete the process.

In Iraq, multiple bombings rocked Baghdad today, killing at least 34 people and wounding scores more. The worst was near the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, where two car bombs exploded. Other bombs hit commercial districts, and a suicide attacker blew himself up near the entrance to the Green Zone that houses foreign embassies.

The U.S. has sharply reduced drone strikes in Pakistan, as the government there seeks peace talks with the Taliban. The Washington Post reported today, Pakistani officials asked for restraint, and the lull began in December. The report said the Obama administration will still carry out strikes against senior al-Qaida targets if the opportunity arises.

A United Nations committee lambasted the Vatican today over its handling of priests who sexually abused children. The Committee on the Rights of the Child condemned what it called the Roman Catholic Church’s code of silence. It demanded disclosure of all files on pedophile clergy and bishops who concealed their crimes.

KIRSTEN SANDBERG, U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child: The Holy See has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators. The Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the church and the protection of the perpetrators above children’s best interests.

GWEN IFILL: The committee also criticized church teachings against homosexuality, contraception and abortion. The Vatican shot back that the report is distorted, and it accused the U.N. panel of interfering with religious freedom. We will take a closer look at the report, and the response, later in the program.

Google agreed today to display competitors’ links more prominently in Europe to settle a major antitrust action. The search giant entered a deal with the European Union, ending a three-year investigation, and avoiding a fine of up to $5 billion. Google has a 90 percent market share in Europe, compared with about 70 percent in the U.S.

Wall Street spent the day looking for direction and, mostly, didn’t find any. The Dow Jones industrial average lost five points to close at 15,440. The Nasdaq fell almost 20 points to close at 4,011.

The Olympic torch arrived in Sochi, Russia, today setting the stage for the Winter Games to open on Friday. Spectators lined the streets to watch the flame paraded through the host city. It was one of the last legs on a nearly 40,000-mile trip that’s taken the torch around the world, underwater, and even into space.

Also today, the Homeland Security Department warned airlines flying to Russia that terror groups might try to smuggle explosives on board in toothpaste tubes. There were no other details.