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Meeting Between Florida Pastor, NYC Imam Still Unclear

September 10, 2010 at 5:51 PM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: There was another development on the Koran burning story today. The imam behind the building of an Islamic center in New York City said he has no plans to meet with the Florida pastor who has threatened to burn copies of the Islamic holy book.

But Pastor Terry Jones said he still hoped to meet with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf in New York City this weekend, but was awaiting word from him. Yesterday, Jones claimed he had a deal with the imam to cancel the Koran burning in exchange for relocating the Islamic center. The imam denied any deal existed.

There were protests across Afghanistan today against the possible Koran burning, and some — some turned violent. Thousands of angry Afghans took to the streets after Friday prayers. At least 11 protesters and police were injured in various clashes. Protesters chanted “Death to America” and burned roadblocks made out of tires. Muslims consider the Koran the sacred word of God and insist it must be treated with respect.

An American hiker jailed in Iran will not be released tomorrow, as scheduled. An Iranian prosecutor said the legal process on her case is not yet complete. And an official from the president’s office said her release is postponed. Sarah Shourd is one of three Americans who have been detained in Iran for more than a year. On Wednesday, the Iranian government announced plans to set her free to mark the end of Ramadan.

A California neighborhood south of San Francisco is picking up the pieces after a ruptured gas line caused a massive explosion. At least four people died and more than 50 others were injured.

Light wisps of smoke drifted across the early-morning skies above San Bruno, as fire crews searched for survivors.

JIM RUANE, mayor, San Bruno, California: This is very difficult for the city of San Bruno. The sun is shining over there, but there is still a dark cloud over this city. You have heard the numbers. Unfortunately, the numbers are going to get higher.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Thursday evening, a fireball shot 1,000 feet into the air, sending flames roaring through a residential neighborhood just south of San Francisco. The fire was triggered by the explosion of a gas pipe three feet underground, a sound that could be heard for miles.

MAN: The roar that — it just shook your body. You could feel the intensity of the fire.

WOMAN: We just fled. Like, we were terrified, screaming. Like, we just ran to our car. And, like, it was just, like, horrifying.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Flames from the ensuing fire reached as high as 100 feet, as homes and cars were turned into ash within an hour.

Today, fire crews were able to fully contain the blaze, but still have not been able to search all the homes because some are too hot. A giant crater filled with water marks the site of the explosion. Pacific Gas and Electric is investigating the cause and looking into reports that residents smelled gas before the blast.

In Colorado, high winds fueled a wildfire burning in the foothills outside Boulder. Evacuated residents were allowed to return home, but officials warned they might have to leave again. Meanwhile, 9,000 residents on the west side of the city of Boulder were warned they might have to evacuate if the winds got worse. Some 950 firefighters are battling the blaze that ignited on Monday. It spans 10 square miles and is only 45 percent contained. It has already destroyed nearly 170 homes.

A federal judge in Southern California has declared the military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy unconstitutional. She will draft an injunction to stop the prohibition of openly gay service members within a week. Government lawyers warned, the judge doesn’t have the authority to issue a nationwide order. The Justice Department will have one week to respond, but has yet to indicate its intentions.

President Obama named Austan Goolsbee to chair his Council of Economic Advisers today. Goolsbee was his senior economic adviser during the 2008 presidential campaign, and has since advised him on economic strategy. The 41-year-old University of Chicago professor has already been confirmed to the council by the Senate. He replaces Christina Romer, who left the administration last week to return to teaching at the University of California, Berkeley.

Stocks finished slightly higher on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 47 points to close above 10462. The Nasdaq rose six points to close at 2242. For the week, the Dow gained nearly half-a-percent; the Nasdaq rose more than two-tenths-of-a-percent.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.