News Wrap: Lance Armstrong ‘Forthcoming’ on Doping in Oprah Interview
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Former cycling great Lance Armstrong was back at the center of a media storm today. It was widely reported that he has now publicly admitted to doping.
Armstrong’s statements came in an interview with Oprah Winfrey taped Monday. Winfrey didn’t release direct quotations or sound. Instead, on “CBS This Morning,” she said Armstrong had been forthcoming.
OPRAH WINFREY, “Oprah’s Next Chapter”: I felt that he was thoughtful. I thought that he was serious. I thought that he certainly had prepared himself for this moment. I would say that he met the moment. And, at the end of it, two-and-a-half — literally two-and-a-half-hours, we both were pretty exhausted. And I would say I was satisfied.
HARI SREENIVASAN: At the same time, Winfrey said Armstrong — quote — “did not come clean in the matter that I expected.”
The interview came several months after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued a damning 1,000-page report that accused Armstrong of masterminding — quote — “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen” while he led the U.S. Postal Service team.
Since then, Armstrong has been banned from professional cycling for life, stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, and lost most of his endorsements. The 41-year-old athlete and cancer survivor was also forced to leave the LIVESTRONG charity he founded. He apologized to its staff yesterday in Austin, Texas, before the interview. Some of his fans there voiced disappointment today.
RUSSELL WILLIAMS, Texas: We watched him win seven times. And we all just stood in amazement. And now to find out that it was based on lies, you know, it hurts all of us.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And there was outrage from some in the world racing community.
NICOLE COOKE, cyclist: There are so many riders that have stayed true to their morals, have ridden clean, and never had the opportunity to stand on the top of the podium, or, in some cases, never even got on to breaking into the professional scene. And Lance Armstrong and his people similar to him have taken away whole careers from people.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The World Anti-Doping Agency said today that Armstrong must confess in full under oath if he wants a reduction in his lifetime ban. The Oprah interview airs in two parts on her television network Thursday and Friday nights.
Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer will back President Obama’s choice of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary. Schumer said today the former Republican senator has now addressed claims that he’s anti-Israel, among other things. California Democrat Barbara Boxer also issued a statement of support. The backing of two prominent Jewish senators is expected to help Hagel ease concerns among other pro-Israel lawmakers.
A major debt rating agency warned today the U.S. could lose its top credit status if there’s a delay in raising the debt ceiling. The federal government is expected to exceed its borrowing limit by March, unless Congress acts. If Fitch does downgrade U.S. debt, it would join Standard & Poor’s, which took that action in 2011 during the last debt ceiling debate.
The U.S. House moved to pass a Hurricane Sandy relief bill this evening; $17 billion would go for immediate recovery in the affected Northeastern states. Another $33 billion is for long-term spending. Some Republicans argued that much of the money isn’t for emergency relief at all.
California’s Tom McClintock called for stripping that funding out.
REP. TOM MCCLINTOCK, R-Calif.: According to the Congressional Budget Office, more than 90 percent of this money won’t even be spent this year. That’s not emergency relief; $16 billion is to quintuple the size of the Community Development Block Grant Program. That’s the slush fund that pays for such dubious projects as doggie day care centers and doesn’t even have to be spent in the hurricane area.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Other Republicans joined with most Democrats to reject offsetting spending cuts. Instead, lawmakers from the Northeast urged the House to pass the storm aid now.
New York Democrat Hakeem Jeffries said it’s already taken too long.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES, D- N.Y.: It’s unacceptable, given the nature of the disaster that people at home have experienced. We have defaulted on our obligation to provide assistance to Americans in need. We’re a day late and a dollar short. In fact, we’re 78 days late and $51 billion short.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The Senate approved a $60 billion aid bill at the end of the last Congress. But House Speaker John Boehner delayed action at the time, sparking an outcry from congressmen of both parties.
More than 80 people were killed and dozens wounded in Syria today. Opposition activists said they died when twin explosions ripped through a university in Aleppo. The first day of exams turned into a scene of chaos as people ran from the carnage. Cars went up in flames, and the school’s grounds were littered with debris. It was unclear what caused the explosions, but activists blamed government forces, who in turned pointed at rebels.
Political turmoil in Pakistan deepened today, as the country’s highest court called for the prime minister to be jailed. The decision came amid mass protests demanding that the entire government be dissolved.
We have a report from Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: This afternoon, thousands in Islamabad celebrated their prime minister’s downfall, after Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered his arrest on charges of corruption.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, no longer whiter than white, and now facing arrest for allegedly taking millions from contract kickbacks. And this was the preacher breaking the news, Dr. Muhammad ul-Qadri, a moderate Sufi cleric in a sharp pinstriped suit. And his message of change is so dangerous to him that it comes from inside a bulletproof metal box.
MUHAMMAD TAHIR UL-QADRI, Sufi cleric: This is green revolution. This is peaceful revolution. This is democratic revolution. This is lawful revolution.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: Earlier, armed police fired tear gas and light ammunition into the air to keep protesters back from the center of power.
Afterwards, Dr. ul-Qadri showed them the spent cartridges from behind his bulletproof glass. But he’s clearly relishing the fight.
This cleric says he has (INAUDIBLE) parliament to save Pakistan from collapse, but it’s a mark of how weak this government is that a crowd of tens of thousands of people thinks it does have the power to force this government from office.
But the prime minister’s spokesman claims the scales of justice have been rigged, that the court is in cahoots with the army in a plot to topple Pakistan’s government. And we don’t know if these hundreds of soldiers still defending that government tonight will support the protest against it and once again seize power.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In Mali today, France stepped up military moves to stop an advance by Islamic fighters tied to al-Qaida. The French Defense Ministry said it’s tripling the number of ground troops to be deployed to 2,500. That followed an all-night air raid against the central town of Diabaly. It was seized by the rebels yesterday, despite the French bombing campaign.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. is looking for ways to help the French. He spoke in Portugal.
DEFENSE SECRETARY LEON PANETTA: There’s no consideration of putting any American boots on the ground at this time. We have commended the French for this effort. The United Nations has supported what the French are doing. And our hope is that we can work with the French to provide whatever assistance we can.
HARI SREENIVASAN: France had originally said it would mainly provide support for a military intervention by Mali’s African neighbors. Those countries have pledged thousands of troops to the campaign.
2012 was the Earth’s 10th warmest year on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said today the average global temperature was 58 degrees. That’s a full degree above the 20th century average. The U.S. had its hottest year ever, but a La Nina weather pattern and cooler elsewhere kept the global average from being even higher.
Wal-Mart rolled out a plan today to hire 100,000 military veterans over the next five years. The retailing giant said it will offer a job to any honorably discharged vet in the first year after active duty. Wal-Mart also announced plans to buy an extra $50 billion in U.S.-made goods over the next decade.
Wall Street labored today to make some gains, helped by upbeat retail sales numbers for December. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 27 points to close near 13,535. The Nasdaq fell six points to close at 3,110, as Apple stock again slipped lower.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.