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News Wrap: Four Men Convicted in India Gang Rape

September 10, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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GWEN IFILL: The day’s news on Syria served as a tonic for Wall Street. Stocks rallied as it appeared diplomacy was overtaking the possibility of military action. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 128 points to close at 15,191. The Nasdaq rose almost 23 points to close at 3,729.

This is primary day in New York City, with voters choosing party nominees for mayor and other races. In the mayor’s contest, Democratic front-runner Bill de Blasio hopes to get 40 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff. Among the Republicans, former transit authority head Joe Lhota holds a commanding lead. The ultimate winner will succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who’s held the office for 12 years.

The Justice Department has released hundreds of classified documents from 2009 that depict misuse of domestic surveillance. They show incidents in which the National Security Agency went too far, and then misled a secret oversight court about its violations. At one point, a federal judge even threatened to halt the collection of phone data. Civil liberties groups sued to force release of the material.

In India, a court convicted four men today in the fatal gang rape of a young woman last year. The incident triggered worldwide condemnation and reforms in India’s sexual violence laws.

We have a report from John Sparks of Independent Television News. .

JOHN SPARKS: Not long after sunrise, a police van swept past the cameras and into a district court in Delhi, inside the vehicle, four men wearing hoods, four men accused of a crime that shocked and deeply shamed the people of India.

Outside the gates, an angry crowd formed up.

“We want justice. Hang the rapists,” they bellowed. They have come to hear the judge’s verdict and deliver an impromptu one of their own.

“A death sentence for everyone convicted of rape,” says this woman.

Five men and one juvenile were charged with torturing, raping and murdering a 23-year-old physiotherapy student last December. Police say the gang attacked the woman and a male friend after they boarded this bus. The men beat them with an iron bar, gang-raped the woman, then threw them off the moving vehicle.

The 23-year-old died two weeks later. Word of the attack quickly spread, and young middle-class protectors took to the streets, violence against women in India no longer something they were prepared to ignore. Politicians scrambled to respond, increasing penalties and setting up fast-track courts for rape. The murder of the 23-year-old student was the first case to be heard.

A lawyer brought news of the verdict.

“All four were found guilty on all charges, and, tomorrow, a sentencing hearing will begin,” he said.

The juvenile was earlier given a three-year sentence. Another gang member took his own life in jail.

GWEN IFILL: The four convicted men now face the possibility of death by hanging, the maximum penalty for their crimes.

Crews working to control east of San Francisco made significant progress overnight. The blaze that is scorching Mount Diablo State Park is now at least 45 percent contained. It started on Sunday and has since blackened five square miles of woodlands; 75 homes are still threatened.

Americans are facing a growing crisis in cancer care. That warning, issued today by the Institute of Medicine, found demand is growing just as the work force of cancer specialists is shrinking. At the same time, costs continue to rise. The report called for patients to get more involved in picking their care and their caregivers.

An apparent outbreak of food poisoning possibly linked to Chobani Greek yogurt has spread to nearly 90 people, that according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Chobani had already announced a voluntary recall of 35 varieties of its yogurt that may have been contaminated by mold. The FDA is now working with the company to speed up that process.

Congress today awarded its highest civilian honor to four young black girls killed in a church bombing in Alabama three weeks after the March on Washington 50 years ago. In a ceremony at the Capitol, the Congressional Gold Medal was given posthumously to Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, Denise McNair. Their deaths helped spur the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act a year later.

Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell paid tribute.

REP. TERRI SEWELL, D-Ala.: While the names of the four little girls will never appear on the roll call here in Congress, their legacy truly paved the way for me and so many others to serve here in Congress. I know that the journey that I now take, as Alabama’s first black congresswoman, wouldn’t be possible had it not been for the journey of Addie, Carole, Denise, and Cynthia.

GWEN IFILL: Past recipients of the medal include other civil rights figures, as well the Wright brothers, Mother Teresa, and Bob Hope.