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News Wrap: 115 Roman Catholic Cardinals Start Papal Election Process

March 12, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: 115 Roman Catholic cardinals began their Vatican conclave today to select the next pope. Their first vote was inconclusive, but they will resume tomorrow, continuing until one man wins a two-thirds majority.

We have a report from Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News.

JONATHAN RUGMAN, Independent Television News: At 5:34 this afternoon, the doors to the Sistine Chapel shut. The Swiss guards of the Vatican were left standing watch over a process seemingly immune to time itself.

If there’s a front-runner, it’s this man, Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, who seemed to know the oath of secrecy by heart. Behind him, Odilo Scherer from Sao Paulo, Brazil. In a chapel which has been swept for bugging devices and cameras and watching all this pomp and circumstance, a rather more bedraggled crowd in front of St. Peter’s enduring thunder and rain.

This morning, we found Cardinal Thomas Collins from Toronto heading off to what he called an awesome experience.

Do you have a favorite in your mind?

CARDINAL THOMAS COLLINS, Archbishop of Toronto, Canada: This isn’t politics. It really isn’t.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: The Canadian, clutching his cassock close, and keeping his choice for the walls of the Sistine Chapel alone.

Do you thrill it will be a quick conclave? Or do you have any feeling about that?

THOMAS COLLINS: I think with Viterbo in 1200, it was three years. So, but that — I don’t …

They had — look, they had to take the roof off wherever they were. And I would hate to do that with the Sistine Chapel. You would wreck a lot of good art. OK. See you, guys.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: Later, the cardinals entered the majestic St. Peter’s Basilica, the leaders of the Catholic flock seeking divine inspiration before choosing their shepherd-in-chief.

Leading the mass, 85-year-old Cardinal Angelo Sodano, praying for unity and a pontiff who would embrace the mission with a noble heart. There was applause, if not universal, when Pope Benedict’s former right-hand man thanked him for what he called a brilliant papacy.

Tonight, the eternal city really felt that way, a swollen crowd agog for nothing more than a puff of holy smoke.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The cardinals’ schedule each day calls for two rounds of voting in the morning and two more in the afternoon.

A Colorado judge today entered a plea of not guilty for James Holmes, the man accused in the mass shooting at a movie theater last July. That came after his lawyers said Holmes wasn’t yet ready to enter a plea of his own. The accused gunman sat silently next to his defense team in court. He is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder in the attack that left 12 people dead and 70 injured. Holmes may yet choose to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

A sharply divided U.S. Senate committee has voted to expanded mandatory federal background checks to nearly all gun purchases. The tally in the Judiciary Committee today was 10-8, with all Democrats for it and every Republican against it. A vote on a separate plan by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines was delayed.

The Federal Aviation Administration today approved Boeing’s plan to redesign the troubled batteries on its 787 Dreamliner. In several instances, the lithium ion batteries have overheated or caught fire. As a result, the entire fleet of Dreamliners was grounded earlier this year. The FAA says the extensive testing of the redesigned batteries will be needed before the planes can return to service.

The top U.S. intelligence official warned today that North Korea’s tough talk and provocative actions pose a serious challenge. National Intelligence Director James Clapper appeared at a Senate hearing on global threats. Clapper said North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong-un, is proving unpredictable. His regime recently staged a long-range missile launch and nuclear test, and has threatened a nuclear strike against the U.S.

RETIRED LT. GEN. JAMES CLAPPER, National Intelligence Director: The rhetoric, while it is propaganda-laced, is also an indicator of their attitude and perhaps their intent. So, for my part, I am very concerned about what they might do. And they certainly, if they so chose, could initiate a provocative action against the South.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Clapper also warned that across-the-board spending cuts are hurting the intelligence budget and jeopardizing national security.

Five American troops were killed in Afghanistan last night when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed. It happened outside Kandahar City in the south. NATO said an investigation was under way, but initial reports showed no enemy activity in the area. Two other Americans also died yesterday, shot by an Afghan policeman.

There’s a new health warning out about the commonly used antibiotic Zithromax. The Food and Drug Administration said today it can cause a potentially fatal irregular heart rhythm in some patients. Zithromax is often prescribed to treat bronchitis and sinus infections.

The woman chosen to run the Securities and Exchange Commission promised — quote — “unrelenting enforcement today.” Former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White spoke at her Senate confirmation hearing. She is expected to be confirmed, but Richard Cordray faces Republican opposition to his nomination to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. His current temporary appointment expires at year’s end.

It was a light trading day on Wall Street, and stocks didn’t move much one way or the other. The Dow Jones industrial average gained two points to close at 14,450. The Nasdaq fell 10 points to close at 3,242.

And Twinkies could be back in stores this summer. The companies buying bankrupt Hostess Brands said today that’s their goal. Two companies jointly submitted the only bid to buy the Twinkies brand for $410 million dollars. It is subject to approval by a federal bankruptcy court on March 19th.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Judy.