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News Wrap: 11 Dead in Shootings in Connecticut, Indianapolis

August 3, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN: Mass shootings erupted today in two parts of the country. A gunman in Manchester, Connecticut, killed eight people and then himself at a beer distribution facility. Police and ambulances rushed to the scene after the shooting began during a shift change. Investigators said the gunman was a driver who had been asked to resign.

Hours earlier, in Indianapolis, a masked man opened fire at a birthday party with an assault-style rifle. He killed two people and wounded six before fleeing.

Some of the wildfires in western Russia are burning out of control.

That word came today from the country’s top emergency official. He appealed for more manpower. Ten thousand firefighters already are battling fires in more than a dozen western provinces. At least 40 people have been killed and nearly 2,000 homes destroyed.

In Southern Iraq, a car bomb tore through an outdoor market, killing at least 15 people and wounding 60. And attackers in Baghdad killed five Iraqi soldiers and left an al-Qaida flag behind. It’s the second such incident in less than a week.

In Afghanistan, insurgents tried and failed to storm the Kandahar Airfield, NATO’s largest base in the south.

COMMODORE GORDON MOULDS, Kandahar Airfield Commander: It was initiated with two rocket attacks and then was followed up with five suicide bombers. Nobody got onto Kandahar Airfield. And we are now clearing up after the attack.

KWAME HOLMAN: The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. And NATO reported one of its soldiers was killed in Eastern Afghanistan. His nationality wasn’t given.

A fierce gun battle broke out between Lebanese and Israeli troops along their border. At least four people were killed in the worst violence there since the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah militants. Today’s incident lasted for several hours after Israeli soldiers cut down a tree along the fence dividing the two countries. Each side blamed the other for starting the trouble.

The U.S. Senate began debate today on the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Nearly all Democrats and a handful of Republicans are expected to vote to confirm later this week. Supporters and opponents laid out sharply different views of Kagan, who’s currently U.S. solicitor general.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), Judiciary Committee Chairman: Solicitor General Kagan reflected an understanding of the judicial role and a traditional view of deference to Congress and judicial precedent.

Hers were mainstream views. She indicated she wouldn’t be the kind of justice who would substitute her personal preferences and overrule congressional efforts designed to protect hardworking Americans, pursuant to our constitutional role.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R-Ala.): This is not a judge committed to restraint, objectivity, but believes in the power of judges to expand and advance the law and visions of what the judge may think is best for America.

She would be an activist, liberal, progressive, politically-minded judge who will not be happy simply to decide case, but will seek to advance her causes.

KWAME HOLMAN: If confirmed, Kagan will succeed Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired earlier this year.

A commission in New York City cleared the way for an Islamic center and mosque today, a move that drew national attention. The complex would be two blocks from ground zero, site of the 9/11 terror attacks. Opponents jeered the vote and said it insults the memory of those killed by Muslim extremists.

LINDA RIVERA, Opponent of Islamic Center Development: It’s a horrible betrayal of our 3,000 victims and our wonderful and brave policemen and firemen, who gave their lives willingly. They should be all about our heroes, our victims and our heroes, not about lifting up and glorifying Islam.

KWAME HOLMAN: The Anti-Defamation League, a leading Jewish rights group, also opposed the plan. And several top Republicans, including Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, have sharply criticized it as well.

But New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city shouldn’t cave to popular sentiment.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I-N.Y.), Mayor of New York: Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11 and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us, as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values and play into our enemies’ hands if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else.

KWAME HOLMAN: The group that owns the site gave no indication of when work on the Islamic center and mosque might begin.

Wall Street pulled back a bit today, after consumer spending and housing figures came in weaker than expected. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 38 points to close at 10636. The Nasdaq fell more than 11 points to close at 2283.

Also today, automakers reported mixed results for July. GM and Chrysler sales were — made slight gains, while Ford’s numbers were flat. Sales fell at Toyota and Honda, but Nissan shot up 15 percent.

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