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News Wrap: Brazil President Calls U.S. Spying on Allies ‘Totally Unacceptable’

September 24, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In other news, world leaders opened their annual gathering at the United Nations General Assembly today, with the focus heavily on Syria and Iran. President Obama called for consequences if Syria balks at disposing of its chemical weapons. He also welcomed possible signs of moderation by Iran’s new president. We will have much more on this story in just a moment.

The leader of Brazil also addressed the U.N. General Assembly and rebuked the U.S. for spying on her country. President Dilma Rousseff had already postponed a state visit to Washington after learning the National Security Agency intercepted phone calls and her own e-mail. Today, she said espionage among friends is totally unacceptable.

PRESIDENT DILMA ROUSSEFF, Brazil (through interpreter): Meddling in such a manner in the life and affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and, as such, it is an affront into the principles that should otherwise govern relations among countries, especially among friendly nations. A country’s sovereignty can never affirm itself to the detriment of another country’s sovereignty.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Rousseff said Brazil, which is an important hub for transatlantic fiberoptic cables, is adopting new laws and technology to protect against illegal interceptions of communications in the future.

For the first time, the former Pope Benedict XVI has publicly denied responsibility in covering up sexual abuse by priests. He did so in a letter to a prominent Italian atheist. Excerpts were published today in the newspaper La Repubblica.

The retired pontiff wrote — quote — “I never tried to cover up these things. That the power of evil penetrates to such a point is, for us, a source of suffering.”

Four men in Chicago were charged today in last week’s shootings at a park that wounded 13 people. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said one of the two accused shooters was convicted last year of illegal use of a weapon, but he was sentenced only to boot camp.

GARRY MCCARTHY, Chicago police superintendent: This state needs tougher penalties that hold dangerous criminals accountable for carrying illegal firearms. Illegal guns drive violence. Illegal guns drive murder. And if we don’t provide real punishment for the criminals who carry them, what message is it that we’re sending?

JUDY WOODRUFF: McCarthy said the park shootings were retaliation for an earlier gang-related shooting that same day.

The prospect of a federal government shutdown loomed ever larger today, as the U.S. Senate headed toward a key vote tomorrow. At issue is a House-passed bill that keeps the government going, but defunds the president’s health care law. Democrats mean to strip out that provision, but it could take all week. We will have more on this later in the program.

The body that regulates college athletics will begin gradually restoring football scholarships to Penn State University, starting next year. The school was stripped of scholarships after former coach Jerry Sandusky’s conviction for sexually abusing 45 boys. Today, the NCAA said that Penn State has made substantial progress since then. The university is also serving a four-year ban on postseason play.

Wall Street struggled to hold its ground today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 66 points to close at 15,334. The Nasdaq rose nearly three points to close at 3,768.