News Wrap: Automakers Show Strong Sales in May
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KWAME HOLMAN: Despite other signs of a slowdown, U.S. auto sales were up in May by double digits. Chrysler sales rose 30 percent over this time last year, and both Ford and GM had gains of better than 10 percent. Toyota was up 87 percent. It faced severe vehicle shortages a year ago after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami crippled its factories.
The European Union got a boost today in its bid to rein in public spending and debt of member states. Officials in Ireland announced voters there ratified the E.U.’s new fiscal treaty, with tighter rules on deficits. But in debt-stricken Greece, the leader of a radical left coalition vowed to cancel an international austerity package if his party wins elections this month.
ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Syriza Party Leader (through translator): I want to make clear that the first act of the government of the left, as soon as the new parliament is sworn in, will be the cancellation of the bailout and its implementation laws.
KWAME HOLMAN: The Greek vote is June 17. New polls show the pro- and anti-bailout factions running neck and neck.
The U.N. Human Rights Council condemned Syria today for last week’s massacre in Houla. The panel called for an independent investigation into the 108 civilian deaths. At the same time, thousands of Syrians staged mass protests, charging the regime and its gunmen carried out the massacre.
Activists said security forces opened fire, killing five people. In neighboring Lebanon, the U.N. special peace envoy, Kofi Annan, conceded there’s been no progress.
KOFI ANNAN, Former U.N. Secretary-General: I know we are all impatient. We are also frustrated by the violence, by the killings. So am I. I think perhaps I’m more frustrated than most of you, because I’m in the thick of things, and would really want to see things move much faster.
KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, news emerged of another mass killing — 11 factory workers killed Thursday by gunmen. The opposition and the Syrian government blamed each other.
A record-breaking wildfire kept growing in New Mexico today, and fire officials said it could burn for weeks. The big blaze has spread across 340 square miles in the Gila National Forest. A wall of thick smoke hovered today over the isolated mountainous area, where more than 1,200 firefighters labored. The fire is the largest ever in New Mexico.
A Florida judge has revoked bond for George Zimmerman in a killing that touched off nationwide protests. He’s charged with murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February. The judge originally let Zimmerman go free on $150,000 bond. Today, he ruled the suspect misled the court about how much money he had raised from a Web site. Zimmerman was ordered back to jail within 48 hours.
Britain made ready today to celebrate queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee, 60 years on the throne.
We have a report from Richard Pallot of Independent Television News.
RICHARD PALLOT: The salutes from the appropriately named HMS Diamond echoing around Portsmouth Harbor this morning to officially begin the celebrations.
MEN: Hip hip hooray!
RICHARD PALLOT: Those who have known just a fraction of the queen’s reign already have the wave mastered, as the carriage took them to school in the Midlands, as elsewhere both young and old prepared for four days of festivities and thanks.
WOMAN: Well, we all love the queen. She’s been reigning over us for 60 years and we just want to celebrate. We’re here today.
RICHARD PALLOT: The fervor is reminiscent of the queen’s silver jubilee, some 35 years ago. Then, most streets or at least one nearby had some sort of party.
And this time, 9,500 streets in England and Wales will be shut as residents celebrate, far eclipsing the numbers for last year’s royal wedding, while in Bath, the flag that has been unused for those entire 60 years was unfurled once again over the very same building where it hung for the coronation.
KWAME HOLMAN: Those are some of the day’s major stories.