HARI SREENIVASAN: Commemorations here and abroad began today for the 9/11 anniversary on Sunday.
Traders at the New York Stock Exchange observed a moment of silence before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and others rang the opening bell. And a ceremony at the Pentagon featured a once-tattered flag from near the World Trade Center site. Volunteers were invited to sew a few stitches of repair work.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke at the event. He said 9/11 stands as a defining moment for Americans.
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON PANETTA: We will always grieve, always grieve over those taken from us so violently, but we do so with the knowledge that, had it not been for the heroic actions of many that day here at the Pentagon, the human toll would have been far worse.
HARI SREENIVASAN: There were also events in Europe, including a moment of silence on the Belgian stock market before trading began there. And in Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy joined a wreath-laying at the American Embassy.
Wall Street went down hard today. Fears about Europe’s debt troubles spiked again when a top official resigned from the European Central Bank, and doubts that President Obama’s jobs plan will pass also fueled the sell-off. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 303 points to close below 11,000 again at 10,992. The Nasdaq fell 61 points to close just under 2,468.
For the week, the Dow lost 2 percent; the Nasdaq fell half-a-percent.
Flooding in the Northeast began to recede slowly today as remnants of Tropical Storm Lee finally moved on. The system left behind at least 12 dead, plus extensive damage, with federal disaster areas declared in Pennsylvania and New York state.
In Binghamton, N.Y., the swollen Susquehanna River crested overnight at 11 feet above flood stage, the second such disaster in recent years.
MATT RYAN, mayor of Binghamton, N.Y.: This is supposed to be a 500-year flood, but we had one five years ago, so it’s obviously very sobering. And this is actually worse than the one five years ago.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Some homes were cut off as the rushing water rose steadily through Thursday.
MAN: You need to leave the area immediately.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Some 20,000 people had been ordered to evacuate from areas in danger of flooding. Many turned to the safety of shelters, including one at a local university.
CHERYL ROHEDN, Binghamton, N.Y.: We just found out that the apartment is totally — it flooded, and we have lost everything on the bottom floor of our apartment.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Farther down the Susquehanna, in northeastern Pennsylvania, the water crested above 42 feet overnight in Wilkes-Barre, higher than the historic levels of Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
Rose Simko was one of the 75,000 residents across the region who had to evacuate this week.
ROSE SIMKO, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.: Well, the most important thing is, is we have our lives. That’s what you have to look at. Everything is replaceable. Anything that you want to keep as cherishables or heirlooms, take it with you. And that’s what we did.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Elsewhere, a torrent washed away this house in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and smashed it into a bridge. The damage in New Jersey was less than feared, but in Wayne, water from the Pompton and Passaic rivers rose to six feet in some places.
The overnight blackout in Southern California, Arizona and Mexico came to an end today. San Diego was hardest-hit when 1.4 million homes and business went dark late Thursday afternoon. Cars clogged the streets and airlines shut down after computer systems failed. Loss of power also caused a treatment plant to spill more than two million gallons of sewage onto the city’s beaches. The outage was triggered by work being done at a substation in Arizona.
In Syria today, protesters appealed for help against the government crackdown for the first time. Thousands poured into the streets in a number of cities, shouting, “We want international protection.” Many also carried signs and chanted slogans demanding the death of President Bashar al-Assad. Security forces again opened fire, killing several people. Elsewhere, activists reported troops in the city of Homs killed at least 20 people on Thursday.
Rebels in Libya have entered one of Moammar Gadhafi’s last strongholds. A spokesman for the National Transitional Council said fighters entered Bani Walid from the north and east, and were battling snipers there. They had missed — they had massed forces for a week, and given the town until Saturday to surrender. But the assault began early after Gadhafi’s loyalists began firing rockets.
Meanwhile, the international police agency Interpol issued arrest warrants for Gadhafi, one of his sons and his intelligence chief.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.