News Wrap: Suicide Bombing Kills Dozens in Iraq, Unrest Continues in Tunisia
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KWAME HOLMAN: At least 52 Iraqis were killed today when a suicide
bomber blew himself up in a crowd of Iraqi police recruits. It happened outside the police station in Tikrit, the northern city that was Saddam Hussein’s hometown. Doctors said the number of wounded reached at least 150. Many were applicants waiting to be processed for 2,000 new police jobs.
The former dictator of Haiti Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier now faces
criminal charges in his homeland. Police in Port-au-Prince took him to court today, two days after he returned from nearly 25 years in exile. A prosecutor said he’s charged with corruption, theft and other crimes.
The accusations stem from Duvalier’s 15 years in power, ending in 1986.
A judge will decide if the case goes to trial.
The political unrest in Tunisia raged for another day, despite the
announcement of a new government. Protesters in the north African nation demanded the new cabinet be purged of members of the old regime.
We have a report from John Ray of Independent Television News.
JOHN RAY: Tunisia has a new unity government, but today it seemed
united in name only — the worst violence here since the president fled, protests that might yet threaten his successors.
Once again, there is plenty of tear gas here. I have just seen a
policeman fire directly into the crowd, and then they have charged in with batons — a very, very unsafe place to be.
For hours, police fought running battles with demonstrators, the injured swept away in makeshift ambulances, their defiance encouraged by news that less than 24 hours after taking office, four ministers, members of the opposition, quit the coalition government.
But many are already enjoying freedoms undreamt of in a lifetime, for
the first time, headlines written by journalists, not dictated by the
MAN: And first and last for the people.
JOHN RAY: At this newspaper office, the censor’s chair is now empty.
SALEM TRABELSI, La Presse: Today, we are feeling free here.
JOHN RAY: Can there ever be any going back?
SALEM TRABELSI: No.
JOHN RAY: Tunisia’s prime minister, an ally of the deposed president,
says his country has entered a new era of liberty. The protests are part of the price, the final cost still to be calculated.
KWAME HOLMAN: In western Africa today, Nigeria’s army confirmed
soldiers now have shoot-to-kill orders to quell violence before the upcoming presidential election. On Monday, angry Christians killed a Muslim election worker in the central city of Jos. The violence in Jos has killed at least 500 people in recent months.
The president of China arrived in Washington this evening for a state
visit. Hu Jintao flew into Andrews Air Force Base just outside the capital. He was greeted by Vice President Biden, who led the U.S. welcoming delegation. Hu has a private dinner with President Obama tonight, then full-scale meetings tomorrow.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs previewed the agenda.
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS: We have a cooperative but a competitive relationship with China. And we understand the difficult challenges that — that lie ahead. You mentioned Iran and North Korea in the security basket. Currency is an important — I would say, currency and trade in the economic basket, and — and — and the very important issue and real issue of human rights.
KWAME HOLMAN: The two leaders will take questions tomorrow at a formal
White House news conference.
President Obama has ordered a sweeping review of federal regulations as
he moves to mend relations with business. The action today targeted red tape that imposes an unreasonable burden and hurts job-creation. The president wrote in The Wall Street Journal that he wants to “bring order to regulations that have become a patchwork of overlapping rules.”
Comcast won government approval today to take over NBC Universal in a
joining of two media giants.
Ray Suarez has our report.
NARRATOR: The following program…
RAY SUAREZ: NBC Television, the historic peacock network, will soon
have a new home. The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice
Department gave final approval to letting the parent company, NBC Universal, merge with Comcast, the nation’s largest cable TV and Internet provider.
The plan was set in motion in December 2009, when General Electric
announced it would sell its majority stake in NBC Universal for nearly $14 billion. Approval of the merger means Comcast will take over NBC Universal’s more than two dozen cable networks, including USA and Syfy, the Universal Pictures movie studio, and the NBC family of networks.
And Comcast, with nearly 24 million subscribers, will own one out of
every seven TV channels. But, after a yearlong review, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski threw his support behind the merger last December, with some conditions, key among them, assurances the merged company wouldn’t stifle competition in online video and would share NBC content with companies such as YouTube, if rival networks do the same.
In addition, Comcast must ensure that its 17 million high-speed Internet customers have equal access to all Web content, not just content controlled by Comcast.
KWAME HOLMAN: On Wall Street, stocks continued a New Year’s rally. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 50 points to close near 11,838. That’s its highest point since June of 2008. The Nasdaq rose 10 points to close at 2,765.
Democratic Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota announced today he will
not run for re-election next year. He’s served in the Senate since 1986 and chairs the Budget Committee. But he faced a potentially tough reelection fight in a state that’s increasingly Republican. Another Senate veteran, Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison, announced her plans not to run again. She’s held that seat since 1993.
Sargent Shriver, the former Peace Corps director and vice-presidential
nominee, died today in Bethesda, Md. He had struggled with Alzheimer’s since 2003. Shriver was the first head of the Peace Corps under President Kennedy, his brother-in-law, and he was Democrat George McGovern’s vice-presidential running mate in 1972.
In between, he ran President Johnson’s war on poverty, but he complained the war in Vietnam hurt the effort, as in this interview with Daniel Schorr, then a correspondent with CBS News.
SARGENT SHRIVER, former Peace Corps director: I think it would be a
gross deception to delude the American people that something substantial is being done about problems here at home, such as lack of education, lack of health, lack of justice, lack of housing, lack of opportunity, to delude them that something is being done about that, when you appropriate so little money, that you can’t do anything substantial about it.
How could anybody in their right mind decide that it is an intelligent
expenditure of your dollar to put 75 cents into military wars and drop out a cent and a quarter to solve the problems of the poor here at home?
KWAME HOLMAN: Sargent Shriver was 95 years old.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.