News Wrap: Annan Says Syria Not Making Good on Cease-Fire Promises
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Wall Street hit the brakes again today. Stocks extended a weeklong slump, amid simmering concerns about U.S. corporate earnings and debt problems in Europe. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 213 points to close below 12,716. The Nasdaq fell nearly 56 points to close at 2,991.
The government of Syria claimed today that its army is pulling back from towns and villages as part of a U.N.-brokered cease-fire plan. But rebels reported shells were still falling across the country.
We have a report narrated by Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News.
JONATHAN MILLER: Homs this morning, no independent observers to verify, but multiple sources asserting that the bombardment goes on, tanks and troops on the streets still in Homs, in Hama, from Aleppo in the north to Daraa in the far South.
Have the tanks and the troops gone?
WALEED FARES, Syrian activist: It’s still there with armored vehicles, the shelling, the mortars, snipers everywhere. It’s war.
JONATHAN MILLER: What are your hopes for the Kofi Annan plan?
WALEED FARES: It will not work anymore, I think. It’s failed.
JONATHAN MILLER: Ten thousand dead, tens of thousands in prison, and Bashar al-Assad accused by the French today of flagrant lies, by the British of using the U.N.-brokered deadline as cover for intensified efforts to crush the revolt.
The Turkish prime minister, furious over the killing of Syrian refugees inside Turkey yesterday, today said his erstwhile friend Assad was killing 60, 70, 80, 100 every day, mercilessly shooting fleeing women and children in the back.
As Kofi Annan, the U.N. and Arab League envoy arrived at a refugee camp in Turkey today, opposition sources claim more than 60 killed across Syria on top of the thousands reported killed in the past week alone.
The former U.N. chief watched stone-faced as Syrian girls danced and sang of their lost land.
KOFI ANNAN, former U.N. secretary-general: This has gone on for too long and it is time that the violence stops.
JONATHAN MILLER: Syrian state TV saw things differently. Reporting on their foreign minister’s visit to Moscow, they blamed what they called armed terrorist gangs for scuttling the Annan peace plan. The minister claimed some troops have been pulled out of cities, but he didn’t say where.
And even his Russian host sounded skeptical, although he cajoled Syrian rebel groups to adhere to the peace plan, too. Fighters from the Free Syrian Army say they won’t stop shooting until Syrian forces withdraw.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Later, Annan sent a letter to the U.N. Security Council, saying the Syrian regime is not making good on its promises.
At least 16 people were killed by suicide bombers in Afghanistan today. Three attackers struck in the western region of Herat, setting off a vehicle packed with explosives. Later, in the south, two more bombers blew themselves up outside a police station in the Helmand Province. The Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks.
In Yemen, army officials reported heavy fighting between al-Qaida militants and government forces has killed 127 people in two days. It started Monday in the town of Lawdar in Abyan Province, which sits on a strategic highway. Today, the fighting spread along the borders of two more provinces, Shabwa and Marib.
The European Human Rights Court has ruled that Britain may legally extradite terror suspects to the U.S. Among them is Egyptian-born cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri. The one-eyed radical is suspected of trying to set up an al-Qaida training camp in Oregon. The European court rejected claims that their rights would be violated in the U.S. justice system. But a court official said they can still appeal the ruling.
CLAIRE OVEY, European Court of Human Rights: It’s not a final judgment. This is a chamber judgment. And either side now has up to three months to ask for the case to be referred to the grand chamber. If and when this judgment does become final, it means that as far as the European Court of Human Rights is concerned, these applicants can be extradited to the U.S.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The five suspects could face life in prison without parole if they’re found guilty.
The man accused in last July’s massacre in Norway, Anders Behring Breivik, was not insane at the time. A new psychiatric assessment reached that conclusion today, contradicting an earlier evaluation. Breivik has confessed to killing 77 people in a bombing in Oslo and a shooting rampage at an island youth camp. He’s insisted he was in his right mind, and that he acted to protect Norway from being overrun by Muslims. Breivik’s trial is set to begin on Monday.
Major wireless providers are moving to make stolen phones useless to thieves. The industry announced today it’s creating a centralized database that records a cell phone’s unique identifying numbers which will be up and running in six months. If the device is reported stolen, wireless carriers will be able to recognize it and block any attempt to make calls.
There’s been a surge in thefts of smartphones. In New York City alone, police say more than 40 percent of all robberies involve the phones.
Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins suspended manager Ozzie Guillen for five games today after he praised Fidel Castro. Guillen had told “TIME” magazine that he loves and respects the retired Cuban leader. That touched off an uproar in Miami’s Cuban-American community. The manager apologized today at the Marlins’ new ballpark in the city’s Little Havana section. He said he’s very sorry.
OZZIE GUILLEN, Miami Marlins manager: Very, very guilty, very guilty, very bad, very sad, very embarrassed, because I don’t just represent myself. I represent Latin America. I represent a ball club and I represent an organization. Politics has nothing to do with sports.
And I was very stupid, very naive about the comment. And that’s the reason I’m here, because I want to try to make this thing better and people know exactly what I feel.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Guillen’s suspension without pay takes effect immediately.
The neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Trayvon Martin has lost his legal counsel. George Zimmerman’s lawyers announced today in Orlando, Fla., that they have withdrawn after he cut off contact. They also said Zimmerman spoke to a special prosecutor, against their advice. Zimmerman has said he killed Martin in self-defense. The teenager was unarmed at the time.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.