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News Wrap: Massachusetts Tornadoes Kill at Least 3, Fling Cars Atop Homes

June 2, 2011 at 12:00 AM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN: Wall Street labored again today to overcome concerns about the economy. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 41 points to close at 12,248. The Nasdaq rose four points to close at 2,773.

At least 18 communities in central and western Massachusetts took stock of their losses today after a night of tornadoes. The storms killed at least three people and injured 200. Some of the worst damage could be seen across Springfield today. A school bus lay on its side among splintered trees, and damaged cars sat on the roofs of flattened homes.

Gov. Deval Patrick toured the tornado sites today and declared a state of emergency.

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK, (D) Massachusetts: We have got a real mess on our hands here. But we are all in this together.

And for those who are feeling, quite understandably, that they can’t imagine what a better tomorrow looks like, I want to assure them that we’re going to do everything to help folks get to that better tomorrow and that we’re going to get there together.

KWAME HOLMAN: Springfield is home to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The site wasn’t damaged in the storm. Officials said the deaths were the first caused by tornadoes in Massachusetts since 1995.

The war on drugs was branded a failure today by an international group of political, financial and cultural leaders. The Global Commission on Drug Policy said the evidence is clear that the drug fight cannot be won.

Former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso chaired the commission. He said governments should decriminalize marijuana, for instance, and focus on regulation instead.

FERNANDO HENRIQUE CARDOSO, former Brazilian president: Stop the war on
drugs. And let’s be more constructive in trying to reduce the consumption. If you look only after the production, the market is so profitable, that all time will be someone which will be capable to risk his life to continue to be trafficking.

So, it’s better to reduce consumption and to use other instruments, and not just to limit ourselves to the position of war.

KWAME HOLMAN: The Office of White House Drug Czar rejected the group’s conclusions. A spokesman said making drugs more available would only raise the risk to public health and safety. The commission included former Secretary of State George Shultz and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, among others.

In Pakistan, Islamic militants from Afghanistan battled Pakistani security forces at a border checkpoint for a second day. Officials reported at least 63 people had been killed in the fighting. The clashes erupted in a town in Pakistan’s Upper Dir district, just across from Kunar Province in Afghanistan. Police said 25 troops were killed, along with 35 militants and three civilians.

Fighting raged through the night in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. Tribal militias and troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh traded artillery and gunfire, forcing the city’s international airport to close for a time. Thirty miles to the north, in Amran, thousands of tribal fighters skirmished with Saleh’s forces, and waited for word to march on Sana’a.

There were new killings in central Syria, as heavy guns again blasted a town that’s been a center of protests. Activists said 15 more people were killed in Rastan, for a total of 58 in the last three days. The latest victims included a four-year-old girl. The killings of children have fueled new public anger toward President Bashar al-Assad and his regime. Opposition leaders have called for a new round of nationwide demonstrations tomorrow.

China today denied any involvement in or support of recent computer hacking. It came a day after Google reported attacks on Gmail accounts used by senior U.S. government and military officials. The company said the attacks originated in China.

But, in Beijing, the Chinese foreign ministry rejected any official culpability.

HONG LEI, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (through translator): The Chinese government has always opposed any kind of criminal activity that tries to harm the Internet and computer systems, including hacking activities, and will punish these crimes according to the law.

Hacking attacks are an international problem. And China is also a victim of this crime. The so-called allegation that the government supports hacking attacks is completely fabricated, with ulterior motives.

KWAME HOLMAN: Google said the Gmail hacking was traced to the city of Jinan, home to a military vocational school. Computers there were tied to another assault on Google’s systems 17 months ago.

In Washington today, Secretary of State Clinton said the FBI has opened an investigation.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: Google informed the State Department of this situation yesterday in advance of its public announcement. These allegations are very serious. We take them seriously. We’re looking into them. This is going to be a continuing problem. And, therefore, we want to be as prepared as possible to deal with these matters.

KWAME HOLMAN: A White House spokesman said no official U.S. government email accounts were compromised in the attack.

Also today, Sony said it is fully restoring its PlayStation Network in the U.S., Europe, and parts of Asia. Hackers stole customer data from the network back in April and forced Sony to shut down the service.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.