News Wrap: Demonstrators in Cairo Clash With Police
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Thousands of anti-government protesters marched in the streets of Egypt today in what was dubbed a day of rage. The clashes broke out in Cairo and elsewhere around the country and killed at least three people.
Demonstrators called for an end to President Mubarak’s 30-year-rule, inspired by recent protests that ousted Tunisia’s leader.
We have a report from Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: It began in Tunisia, and now Egypt is tasting its own dose of people power, waves of protesters braving tear gas on the banks of the River Nile this afternoon. “Freedom,” they chanted, and “Down with Hosni Mubarak,” Egypt’s president for the last 30 years, marching past Cairo’s world-famous archaeological museum, until water cannon pushed them back.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: We watched the crowd disperse in panic as the water cannon truck charged towards them. Protesters responded by chasing it and trying to climb on board.
One police estimate put the number of demonstrators at 15,000 inside the capital, with more protests in other towns and cities — not on a Tunisian scale, yet such defiance here is rare and could mark the beginning of something bigger. Egyptians were brandishing the Tunisian flag, shouting down poverty, corruption and the seemingly unending rule of one man.
MAN (through translator): It is a failed government. They can’t achieve anything. Prices are rising. So is poverty. So is unemployment. Why?
JONATHAN RUGMAN: A reported six Egyptians have set themselves alight in the last few weeks, while the poverty here is more than a match for Tunisia’s, Egypt’s population being eight times the size.
In the market, the price of basics has gone up by around 20 percent in the last few months. And one of the organizers of today’s protest says Egyptians are desperate for a better way of life.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Today’s mass demonstrations in Egypt were also organized with the help of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. But by late afternoon, it was widely reported the country’s access to the Twitter website had been blocked.
In Russia, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed retribution is inevitable for yesterday’s suicide bombing at Moscow’s largest airport. At least 35 people died and 180 were injured, but there has been no claim of responsibility for the attack. Putin and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited the wounded today in a Moscow hospital. Meanwhile, mourners gathered to place flowers at a makeshift shrine to the victims near the site of the blast.
The first Guantanamo detainee tried in a U.S. civilian court was
sentenced to life in prison today. Ahmed Ghailani was convicted last fall for his role in the 1998 terrorist bombings of two American embassies in Africa. He was found guilty of conspiracy to destroy government buildings, but was acquitted of all other charges, including 224 counts of murder.
In New York today, a judge denied Ghailani’s request for leniency, citing the suffering and horror he and his confederates caused.
Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is back on the ballot in Chicago. The Illinois Supreme Court granted him a stay, a day after an appeals court found him ineligible to run for mayor. The state’s top court ordered city election officials to print ballots with Emanuel’s name. It is still considering the appellate court’s decision on an expedited timetable.
That court ruled Monday that Emanuel didn’t meet the requirements to run for office since he didn’t live in Chicago for the year before the election.
In economic news, U.S. consumer confidence hit an eight-month high in January, with Americans feeling more optimistic about the job market.
Meanwhile, new data showed home prices are falling across most of America’s largest cities.
The mixed reports caused stocks on Wall Street to finish flat. The Dow Jones industrial average lost three points to close at 11,977. The Nasdaq rose more than a point to close at 2,719.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.