News Wrap: White House press secretary Carney steps down
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JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama had more than one major personnel announcement today. In addition to the changes at the Veterans Affairs Department, he’s getting a new White House spokesman. Jay Carney will be stepping down after three-and-a-half years.
JAY CARNEY, White House Press Secretary: You know, these jobs — these jobs put a certain amount of strain on any — everybody’s family, everybody’s family. And mine have been — my kids and my wife have been extraordinarily supportive and patient. And I just feel blessed to have been able to do this for as long as I have.
Carney is being replaced by 38-year-old Josh Earnest, who is now the principal deputy press secretary.
A friend of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers was charged today with obstructing the investigation. The 23-year-old man from Kyrgyzstan, now living in Quincy, Massachusetts, is accused of lying about his friendship with Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Federal prosecutors say they do not believe that he knew in advance about the attacks.
Russia has called again for Ukraine to stop its military offensive against pro-Russian rebels. President Vladimir Putin made the appeal in a phone call with the president of France. But, in Kiev, the Ukrainian defense minister insisted the campaign will continue, despite losses. He spoke a day after an Army helicopter was shot down near the city of Slavyansk, killing 14 servicemen.
In Syria, there’s word that thousands of people are fleeing government-held cities ahead of next week’s presidential election. Opposition activists say insurgents ordered civilians to leave before they launch attacks to disrupt the vote. President Bashar al-Assad is expected to win a third term, despite demands by the U.S. and others that he give up power.
Officials in Northern India fired two policemen today in the face of outrage over the gang rape and killing of two girls, ages 14 and 15. It happened Wednesday in a tiny village in Uttar Pradesh state, India’s most populous region.
Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News filed this report.
And a warning: Some of the images may be disturbing.
LINDSEY HILSUM: The girls were found hanging from a mango tree. Horrified villagers gathered to protest that the police had refused to investigate because the family are Dalits, lower caste.
MAN (through interpreter): My sister went out around 8:30 p.m. to answer the call of nature and was kidnapped by four men who did something bad to her. One of the accused is a police constable.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Under Indian law, we can’t name the family or the victims. The father said, when he reported the crime, instead of apprehending the culprits, the police threatened to put him in prison.
MAN (through interpreter): Look at this. The accused have got the protection of the police, and here I am, the victim, left in the lurch. Is this justice?
LINDSEY HILSUM: Today, a few demonstrators came out in Delhi. All Indian women are vulnerable to sexual violence, they say, but lower-caste women, Dalits, are most at risk. In Uttar Pradesh, where police, politicians and the accuser all from the same high caste, the Dalits, they say, don’t stand a chance.
MAN (through interpreter): They have been raped and exhibited, shown to everybody. This proves that it’s dumb to reinforce the caste structure.
LINDSEY HILSUM: In December 2012, tens of thousands protested after a young woman was gang-raped and murdered on a bus in Delhi. Four of the six rapists were condemned to death.
A campaign showing Hindu goddesses scarred by domestic violence was meant to encourage women to report such crimes. But, today, TV presenters suggested that not much had changed.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state ridiculed reporters today for focusing on the attack. He dismissed their questions, and instead, asked them: “Why are you worried? What’s it to you?”
Back in this country, the House voted early today to block the federal prosecutions of medical marijuana use in states where it’s legal. Republicans and Democrats joined in passing the measure, in a rare bipartisan moment. Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana use.
Medicare will no longer automatically deny coverage of sex-change surgery. An appeals board in the Department of Health and Human Services threw out the 30-year-old policy today. Activists said that it could prompt private insurers to follow suit. Medicare covers 49 million senior citizens and those with disabilities. It’s not clear how many might be affected by the ruling.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 18 points to close at 16,717, a new record high. The Nasdaq fell five points to close at 4,242. And the S&P 500 added three to finish at 1,923, also a record high. For the week, the Dow gained a fraction of a percent. The Nasdaq and the S&P rose more than 1 percent.
Two boys, one from Texas, one from New York state, reveled in the glory today of being co-champions in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. It was the first tie in 52 years, and it came about last night after 14-year-old Sriram Hathwar and 13-year-old Ansun Sujoe used up the entire list of words.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ansun, if you spell this word correctly, we will declare you and Sriram co-champions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No more questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the letters out there.
ANSUN SUJOE, National Spelling Bee Co-Champion: OK, whatever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: However you say it, just spell it.
ANSUN SUJOE: F-E-U-I-L-L-E-T-O-N?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JUDY WOODRUFF: No way I could have spelled that.
Each winner gets a trophy and more than $33,000 in cash and prizes.