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News Wrap: Syrian Troops Fire on Thousands of Protesters

June 24, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: This was another bloody Friday in Syria. Government troops opened fire on thousands of protesters. Activists reported at least 15 were killed. The shooting took place as crowds gathered after Friday prayers near Damascus and in several other cities, defying the ongoing crackdown.

The uprising against President Bashar al-Assad is now three months old. The opposition estimates his forces have killed nearly 1,400 people.

Greece has moved a step closer to another financial bailout. In Brussels today, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced a new agreement with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. It calls for the Greek Parliament to enact $40 billion in new austerity measures.

GEORGE PAPANDREOU, Greek prime minister: What we’re doing is changing Greece. We’re not asking for money to remain the same. We’re not asking for money to be thrown into a black hole. We’re saying, let’s have a program — and this is the program we decided on — where we can continue to make major changes.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The Parliament has to approve the new spending cuts and tax increases next week for the bailout funds to be released.

Public employees in New Jersey will have to cough up sharply higher contributions to their pension and health care plans. The state assembly gave final approval to the new requirements last night, affecting half-a-million teachers, police and others. Public sector unions staunchly opposed the bill. Republican Gov. Chris Christie said the changes will save New Jersey up to $132 billion over the next 30 years.

Wall Street ended the week on a slide. Stocks fell amid poor earnings from technology companies and ongoing concerns about debt troubles in Europe. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 115 points to close at 11,934. The Nasdaq shed more than 33 points to close below 2,653. For the week, the Dow lost just over half-a-percent; the Nasdaq rose more than one percent.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.