News Wrap: Greece Ushers in New Government Supporting Bailout
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The Federal Reserve’s pronouncements didn’t do much for Wall Street. Stocks struggled as the forecast of slower growth undercut any momentum. The Dow Jones industrial average lost just under 13 points to close at 12,824. The Nasdaq rose a fraction of a point to close at 2,930. And the price of oil fell below $82 a barrel, the lowest price since October. It’s down 23 percent in two months.
A new leader took control in Greece today, supporting the country’s international bailout, but vowing to negotiate easier terms. The head of the conservative New Democracy Party, Antonis Samaras, was sworn in as prime minister.
Later, he sought to reassure the Greek public.
ANTONIS SAMARAS, Greek Prime Minister (through translator): We will do everything in our power to lift our people out of the crisis as soon as possible. This is what I will be asking for when I see the new cabinet tomorrow morning: hard work so we can give concrete hope to our people.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Samaras and his three-party coalition face huge challenges. Unemployment in Greece now tops 20 percent, and thousands of businesses have closed there.
There were new disclosures today on the computer spy virus known as Flame that targeted Iran’s nuclear program. The Washington Post reported the U.S. and Israel jointly created Flame and used it to map and monitor Iran’s computer network. The goal was to gather intelligence that could slow Iranian efforts to build a nuclear weapon. The existence of the malware surfaced publicly last month.
More than 20 Americans and Afghans were killed in a suicide bombing in Eastern Afghanistan today. The attack in Khost killed three U.S. troops and their Afghan interpreter. Seventeen other Afghans were killed as well. It happened near a mosque when a bomber rammed his motorcycle into a military convoy. Women and children were among the dead, and more than 30 people were wounded.
In northern Nigeria, a curfew failed to stop Muslim-Christian violence that’s killed nearly 100 people since Sunday. It started Sunday, when the Islamist group Boko Haram bombed three churches. That triggered a wave of reprisal killings. Some of the worst bloodshed came in the city of Damaturu. Police said at least 34 civilians and six police and soldiers have been killed there.
British police warned today they will arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if he leaves his refuge at Ecuador’s embassy in London. Officials said he violated terms of his bail by going there. Supporters gathered outside the embassy, where Assange is seeking asylum. He hopes to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex crime allegations.
A WikiLeaks spokesman said it is unclear what will happen next or how long it will take.
KRISTINN HRAFNSSON, WikiLeaks Spokesperson: This is going to be contemplated by the Ecuadorian authorities. They are getting information from Julian and then seeking information from the Swedish, the U.K. and the U.S. authorities before they take their final decision.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Assange has voiced fears that if he is sent to Sweden, he could, in turn, be extradited to the U.S. for leaking thousands of secret government documents.
But, in Sweden, the lawyer representing Assange’s accusers in the alleged sex crimes dismissed the asylum request.
CLAES BORGSTROM, Attorney (through translator): Well, it never ceases to amaze, all his different efforts to postpone the trial, or at least the legal proceedings and investigation in Sweden. But I am convinced that it is doomed to fail this time as well.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So far, Assange has not been formally charged in either the U.S. or Sweden.
The drama surrounding former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak took a new turn today. His lawyer told The New York Times that talk of a health crisis was false, and that Mubarak had merely fallen in his prison bathroom. The 84-year-old Mubarak was transferred to a military hospital yesterday, amid reports that he had nearly died. Officials claimed today he was slipping in and out of a coma.
Meantime, Egypt’s election committee said it will not announce the presidential runoff winner tomorrow, after all. The group said it has to review hundreds of complaints about the voting.
The parliament of Kuwait has been dissolved by the country’s constitutional court. The court ruled today that elections last February were unconstitutional.
The Islamist-led opposition party won control of the legislature in that vote. But today’s decision reinstated the old parliament elected in 2009 and seen as more supportive of the government.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.