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News Wrap: U.N. Reports 60,000 Dead in Syria Since Civil War Began Two Years Ago

January 2, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Wall Street started the year with a bang, as the fiscal cliff deal put an end to fears of sweeping tax hikes and spending cuts. The Dow Jones industrial average surged 308 points to close at 13,412, its biggest gain in a year. The Nasdaq rose more than 92 points to close at 3,112.

The civil war in Syria yielded grim new numbers today. The U.N. human rights office reported the number of dead has risen sharply over previous figures.

We have a report narrated by Alex Thomson of Independent Television News.

Some of the images may be disturbing.

ALEX THOMSON: Truly shocking, the words of the U.N. officials. Syrians need no persuading of that. The figure that now 60,000, not 40,000, are dead in a war approaching 2-years-old will surprise nobody here.

Today, at least another 30 or so added to that death list. Somebody fired missiles into the petrol station. They had had none here for four days. News was spreading fast that the resupply was happening, and the place was crowded — vulnerable human bodies, metal, concrete, fire, and high explosive.

We can only show you a little of what took place here. Government jets were filmed apparently bombing Damascene suburbs, as they do almost every day. Activists blamed the government forces for the petrol station attack.

But with the government restricting access to outside journalists, there’s really no way of verifying who did what or why. It is the story of the Syrian civil war. And just last week, the same United Nations left more or less wringing its hands, its diplomats saying talking is the only way out of this bloody stalemate, but nobody wants to talk seriously. Neither side wants to talk directly to the other at all right now.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In another development, the family of American journalist James Foley announced he’s missing in Syria. He was seized by gunmen near the Turkish border in late November.

In India, several thousand women staged a new protest over the gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student, who died of her injuries. The protesters held a silent march in New Delhi to the Gandhi memorial. They called for reforms in the justice system and a national focus on sexual violence. The six suspects in the gang rape and murder are to be formally charged tomorrow.

The U.S. Coast Guard kept close watch today on a grounded oil drilling barge in the Gulf of Alaska. The Royal Dutch/Shell barge was being towed Monday night when it broke loose in stormy conditions. Since then, rough seas have hampered efforts to board the drilling vessel to assess any damage. But a federal response coordinator at the scene said there are no signs of a fuel leak.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett sued today to overturn NCAA sanctions against Penn State University. The sanctions followed the scandal over sexual abuse of children by a former Penn State football coach, Jerry Sandusky. He’s now in prison. Corbett asked a federal court to throw out all of the penalties against the school, including a $60 million fine, a four-year ban on bowl games and a loss of athletic scholarships.

GOV. TOM CORBETT, R-Penn.: A handful of top NCAA officials simply inserted themselves into an issue they had no authority to police under their own bylaws, and one that was clearly being handled by the justice system. They used Penn State’s tarnished public image as an opportunity to force the university to endure harsh, unjustified, and unprecedented punishments.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In response, the NCAA said the lawsuit is an affront to Sandusky’s victims and has no merit.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.