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News Wrap: Up to 90 Reportedly Killed in Ongoing Syrian Violence

November 15, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: The actions by police and protesters had little effect on Wall Street’s traders today. Instead, they focused again on concerns about Europe’s debt troubles. In the end, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 17 points to close at 12,096. The Nasdaq rose nearly 29 points to close at 2,686.

Reports out of Syria today told of a growing wave of violence. Up to 90 people were killed on Monday, and activists said nearly three dozen of those were soldiers and police, apparently killed by army defectors. The attacks happened in Dara’a in southern Syria, where there was also widespread shelling. The eight-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad began there.

Today, the leader of neighboring Turkey said his country has lost all confidence in Assad.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkish prime minister (through translator): It is not among our expectations that the Assad regime will show honest, credible, courageous, and determined management. It is not among our expectations that the Assad regime will meet all the demands of the Syrian people and the international community, because he has always been deceptive.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Arab League officials met with members of the Syrian opposition in Cairo, Egypt, today. The league has already suspended Syria and voted to impose sanctions.

In Afghanistan, a new poll released today showed support for the Taliban has declined. The annual survey was partly funded by the U.S. government. Only 29 percent said their sympathies lie with the militants, down nearly 30 points in two years. At the same time, respondents said lack of security and corruption in government are major problems. The results came on the eve of a major conference of some 2,000 Afghan leaders.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain tried today to move beyond a widely publicized interview gaffe. It happened Monday, when Cain met with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial board. He struggled to answer when he was asked how President Obama handled the crisis in Libya.

HERMAN CAIN, (R) presidential candidate: I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason. No, that’s — that’s a different one.

I have got to go back. Let’s see. Got all this stuff twirling around in my head.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Aides said today that Cain was overtired because he’d had just four hours of sleep the night before. Cain has been falling in the polls in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.

Meanwhile, Republican rival Rick Perry unveiled a plan for overhauling government. He called for slashing the salaries of the president and Congress by half, among other things.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.