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News Wrap: Kerry aims to mend U.S.-Saudi relations

November 4, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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GWEN IFILL: Billionaire investor Steven Cohen and his high-profile hedge fund agreed today to a record plea deal for insider trading. SAC Capital Advisors will admit to criminal fraud and pay $1.8 billion in fines and forfeitures.

For federal prosecutors in New York, it’s the biggest catch yet in a long-running investigation.

PREET BHARARA, U.S. Attorney: Sometimes, blame-worthy institutions need to be held accountable, too. No institution should rest easy in the belief that it is too big to jail. That is a moral hazard that a just society can ill afford.

GWEN IFILL: Cohen wasn’t charged with any criminal violation, but will no longer manage money for anyone but himself. We will have more on the details of the case right after the news summary.

The deposed president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, went on trial today in Cairo, and quickly condemned the proceedings. He insisted he’s still Egypt’s rightful leader, and he rejected military rule. The trial then adjourned until January. We will hear from a reporter covering the trial later in the program.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Saudi Arabia, in a bid to mend frayed relations with a longtime ally. They have been strained by differences over Syria, Egypt and Iran. Kerry met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal after talks with King Abdullah. He said Saudi Arabia is the region’s linchpin.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. Secretary of State: If we can get stability and ultimately hopefully peace in a place like Syria, the possibilities are endless. The Saudis are very, very important to all of these things. The Saudis are really the sort of senior player, if you will, within the Arab world, together with Egypt. Egypt is in more of a transition. So Saudi Arabia’s role is that much more important.

GWEN IFILL: Kerry sought to ease Saudi concerns that repeating that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must step down and that Iran cannot be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon. Protesters in Iran staged one of the largest anti-American rallies in years. It marks the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators packed the streets in a show of opposition to President Hassan Rouhani’s recent opening to the U.S. They stomped on the American flag and carried anti-American signs.

REZA FARAHBAKHSH, demonstrator (through interpreter): Thank God the rally is more spirited than last year. Some people said, let’s not chant death to America this year. It’s not good for us. But the leader has said that it is a good thing for us to chant death to America. The world must see this.

GWEN IFILL: Meanwhile, talks over Iran’s nuclear program are set to resume Thursday in Geneva.

The World Bank is out with a study that finds cleaner cooking stoves could save a million lives a year and slow global warming. The agency says many of the deaths are people in developing countries who cook indoors with wood or coal and breathe in the smoke. It says the solution lies in stoves that burn less fuel or cleaner fuel and cost just a few dollars each.

A federal trial began in Milwaukee today on Wisconsin’s voter I.D. law. It’s the latest flashpoint in a nationwide battle over such measures. The Wisconsin law requires a driver’s license or other photo I.D. to vote. Republicans say it targets fraud. Democrats argue the law discriminates because the poor and minorities are less likely to have such I.D.s.

Wall Street opened the week with a relatively calm day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 23 points to close at 15,639. The Nasdaq rose 14 points to close at 3,936.