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News Wrap: Clinton Accuses Russia of Sending Attack Helicopters to Syria

June 12, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
In other news Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia of sending attack helicopters to Syria to aid President Bashar al-Assad's efforts to quash rebel forces. Also, former Penn State assistant football coach and key witness Mike McQueary testified in court that he saw Jerry Sandusky in a shower with a boy.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Wall Street rebounded today, on hopes for a new economic stimulus. Stocks reacted to the president of the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago. He said he backed new Fed action to stimulate job growth. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 162 points to close at 12573. The Nasdaq rose 33 points to close at 2843.

A star witness testified today in the sex abuse trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Mike McQueary is himself a former Penn State assistant coach. He told of witnessing Sandusky molest a boy in 2001.

For more, we turn to Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post, who’s covering the trial in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

Joel, you heard some powerful testimony today from some important players in the case.

JOEL ACHENBACH, The Washington Post: Yes, it was a very intense day.

Yesterday was the same way. I mean, we heard a lot of very powerful testimony, first from an 18-year-old just graduated from high school four or five years ago. He testified that he was sexually abused by Jerry Sandusky in Sandusky’s basement.

And the witness sobbed on the stand. Yesterday, the witness had been very composed and sort of matter of fact. It was a much older person who was describing something that had happened many years ago. This was a little — this was a much younger witness and was overcome many times. He buried his face in his hands as he recounted this.

So, it was a very intense morning. And then this afternoon, Mike McQueary, the former Penn State assistant football coach, testified about what he saw one night when he walked into the locker room and he saw Sandusky he believes sodomizing a boy in the shower.

And let me just add one thing, is that underlying all this is this issue of people not coming forward, not doing more, not following up. And there was one witness at the end of the day, a wrestling coach, Joe Miller, who said, you know, he saw this strange thing with Sandusky on the floor on the mat with this boy face to face and he kind of wondered about it.

But he thought, no, it’s Jerry Sandusky. He’s a saint. He’s done so much for these kids.

HARI SREENIVASAN: So, Joel, why is McQueary so pivotal to the case?

JOEL ACHENBACH: Well, first of all, McQueary sat there on the stand, looked at Jerry Sandusky, and said, I have no doubt what I saw. You know, I’m sure about it.

And it was a very powerful moment when he looked right at Sandusky and he said this. You know, this is someone who is, you know, a coach at Penn State who — you know, he’s not — there’s no obvious reason why he would make up this story about walking in and seeing this in the shower and surprising Sandusky.

And I think he was a very strong witness, although the defense did try to highlight some inconsistencies with previous accounts by McQueary.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Joel, many thanks — Joel Achenbach.

JOEL ACHENBACH: Thank you.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Voters in half-a-dozen states cast ballots today. The day’s main focus was a special election in Tucson, Arizona. It will decide who succeeds former Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. She resigned in January to focus on her recovery after being seriously wounded in a mass shooting last year.

A sense of alarm grew today in a Syrian city where hundreds of civilians are feared trapped. Government guns fired for an eighth day on Haffa. U.N. and U.S. officials have warned that a new massacre may be in the works there. Rebels said they were evacuating Haffa, and angry crowds blocked U.N. observers from entering the city.

Meanwhile, in a Washington speech, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia of supplying helicopter gunships to attack Syrian cities.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. Secretary of State: They have from time to time said that we shouldn’t worry, everything they’re shipping is unrelated to their actions internally.

That’s patently untrue. And we are concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria, which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.

HARI SREENIVASAN: At the Pentagon, officials said there is no plan to block Russian weapons shipments to Syria because there is no arms embargo in place.

In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai declared there will be no more NATO airstrikes on any Afghan homes. He said he had reached that agreement with coalition forces. It followed last week’s NATO airstrike that killed 18 civilians celebrating a wedding. The victims included women and children.

In Kabul, Karzai said that kind of attack would never be tolerated in the U.S.

HAMID KARZAI, President of Afghanistan: Even when they’re under attack, they cannot use an airplane to bomb Afghan homes, even when they are under attack. And I had an argument with him. I said, do you do this in the United States? There’s police action every day in the United States in various localities. They don’t call an airplane to bomb the place.

HARI SREENIVASAN: NATO officials had a different interpretation of what was agreed to.

General John Allen, commanding all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the coalition agreed to limit airstrikes on civilian dwellings. But he also added a caveat.

LT. GEN. JOHN ALLEN, Commander, International Security Assistance Forces: It doesn’t obviate our inherent right to self-defense. We will always use our requirements for self-defense and do whatever we have to, to protect the force. But what we have learned is that we have inflicted civilian casualties by the employment of some of that aviation. So what we have agreed is that we will use all other means necessary.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Allen has apologized in person to families of the victims of last week’s airstrike.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Gwen.