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News Wrap: At G-8 Summit, Leaders Press for Syrian Peace Talks

June 18, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Leaders at the G8 summit pressed for Syrian peace talks today. But a final statement didn’t call for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad, and didn’t mention military aid for the opposition.

Russian President Vladimir Putin defended his country’s arms shipments to the Assad regime, but he warned Europe against joining the U.S. in arming the rebels.

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia: We believe that our position is irreproachable, both from a moral and legal point of view. Now, about possible weapon supplies by our European partners to the armed Syrian opposition, what will happen with those weapons later? Who will monitor in whose hands they will end up and where they will turn up in the end, perhaps in Europe itself?

HARI SREENIVASAN: Both Putin and President Obama said they’re still committed to hosting a Syrian peace conference in Geneva as early as July.

Suicide bombers in Iraq attacked a Shiite mosque in Baghdad today, killing at least 34 people. The first blast hit at a checkpoint, and in the confusion, a second bomber got inside the mosque and blew himself up during midday prayers. Since April, nearly 2,000 people have been killed in Iraq, the worst violence since 2008.

In Northwestern Pakistan, at least 29 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a funeral. Scores of wounded were taken to a local hospital. Among those killed was a newly elected lawmaker. Authorities said he may have been the target of the attack.

U.S. surveillance of phone and Internet data has thwarted dozens of terror plots worldwide, including one aimed at Wall Street. That’s what the director of the National Security Agency told the House Intelligence Committee today.

Army Gen. Keith Alexander insisted the surveillance is essential to maintaining national security.

GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER, Director, National Security Agency: These programs, together with other intelligence, have protected the U.S. and our allies from terrorist threats across the globe, to include helping prevent the terrorist — the potential terrorist event over 50 times since 9/11.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Another witness, Deputy FBI Director Sean Joyce, said one plot involved a plan to bomb the New York Stock Exchange.

The U.S. House moved this evening to adopt one of the most sweeping anti-abortion bills in years. The Republican-backed measure would ban almost all abortions that take place 20 weeks after conception. Supporters said studies prove that a fetus feels pain after 20 weeks. Opponents said the evidence is not conclusive. The bill is not expected to come to a vote in the Democratic-led Senate.

Brazil braced today for more nationwide protests. Last night brought some of the largest demonstrations in decades, fueled by a sluggish economy and anger over spending for next year’s World Cup of soccer.

We have a report narrated by Tom Barton of Independent Television News.

TOM BARTON: Molotov cocktails thrown at police, while police fire tear gas at protesters. This was the moment protests in Rio de Janeiro turned violent, as crowds attempted to storm the state assembly building.

Across Brazil, an estimated 200,000 people took to the streets. The protests, mostly peaceful, were held in at least six major cities. The cost of the World Cup, running into billions, has proved a focal point for protesters. This banner says, “When your son gets sick, take him to the stadium.” And this protester is calling for money to be spent on schools and hospitals, not an expensive football tournament.

A month away from a papal visit, a year away from a World Cup, and just three years from hosting the Olympics, Brazil seems far from prepared for its moments on the world stage.

HARI SREENIVASAN: A major new auto recall is coming. Chrysler agreed today to call in nearly three million Jeep vehicles. Federal safety regulators say their gas tanks can catch fire in a rear-end collision. They say 51 people died over three years in fiery crashes involving Jeeps. Chrysler initially insisted the tanks are not defective. The recall affects Jeep Grand Cherokees from 1993 to 2004, and Jeep Libertys from 2002 to 2007.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 138 points to close at 15,318. The Nasdaq rose 30 points to close at 3,482.

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