KWAME HOLMAN: At least 15 people were killed in a powerful explosion in Morocco today.
The government said it was a terrorist bombing. The lunchtime blast in Marrakech ripped through a cafe in the city’s main square, a favorite spot for foreign tourists. The force of the explosion tore the facade off the restaurant. State TV reported at least 10 of the dead were foreigners. 20 other people were wounded.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il now wants direct talks with South Korea. That word came today from former President Jimmy Carter, after a three-day visit to Pyongyang. He didn’t meet with Kim, but was given a message from the North Korean leader.
FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Chairman and Gen. Secretary Kim Jong-Il sent word that he is willing and the people of North Korea are willing to negotiate with South Korea, or with the United States, or with the six powers, the other five powers, on any subject, at any time, and without any preconditions.
KWAME HOLMAN: South Korea has insisted the North accept responsibility for sinking a South Korean warship last year and for an artillery strike on an island. But the North Korean message didn’t go that far.
There was word from Syria today that army units fought each other this week in the city of Daraa. The army was sent there on Monday to carry out a crackdown on protesters. Witnesses in the city reported some troops refused to shoot at the crowds and then came under fire themselves from other troops. Residents said at least 43 people have been killed in Daraa this week.
A military court in Bahrain has sentenced four Shiite protesters to death. They were convicted of killing two policemen last month. The four defendants were the first brought to trial since Bahrain’s Sunni rulers declared martial law in the Persian Gulf kingdom.
Israeli leaders have firmly rejected a deal between Palestinian factions to form a unity government for Gaza and the West Bank. The Israeli president, Shimon Peres, said today his country wouldn’t accept any government that includes Hamas, which now controls Gaza. But Hamas said again it wouldn’t accept the Jewish state as a permanent fixture in the Middle East.
London was a flurry of activity today, amid final preparations for tomorrow’s royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
We have a report from Katie Razzall of Independent Television News.
KATIE RAZZALL: A wave to the crowds on her last day as a commoner. Late this afternoon, a glimpse of Kate Middleton returning to the Goring Hotel, where she’s staying with her family.
This morning, the bride-to-be was spotted leaving Westminster Abbey after her last rehearsal, with Prince Harry, her bridesmaids and page boys and her parents. The official wedding service now public, the almost princess will walk up the aisle to this, Parry’s “I Was Glad,” composed for the crowning of Edward VII.
In the program, the couple write of how incredibly moved they have been by all the affection shown to them since their engagement — that affection on show for the duchess of Cornwall this afternoon, as she stepped outside Clarence House to meet those fervent royalists from all corners of the globe who’ve set up camp along London’s Mall.
WOMAN: Just outside Cannock, in the West Midlands.
WOMAN: I’m from Auckland, New Zealand.
WOMAN: Hampton, Middlesex.
MAN: Guildford, Surrey.
WOMAN: Baja California, Mexico.
WOMAN: Traveled from Belfast this morning.
WOMAN: Come from Zimbabwe.
KATIE RAZZALL: The pavements opposite Westminster Abbey now a sea of tents and down the Mall, too, people jostling for a spot on the route.
The best word to sum this up is probably surreal. You have got the people in the campsite, many of whom set up tents a couple of nights ago, just so they would be in the right position, which they are, right outside the Abbey. That is pretty bizarre in itself.
But then you have got the people outside who are taking photographs of the people inside. That’s bizarre, too. But everybody is united by the idea that something a little bit different is going on, different and with the clock ticking down to tomorrow, very British in its way. The wedding will epitomize Britishness at the palace with music by Elgar, Vaughan Williams, and of course the hymn “Jerusalem.”
KWAME HOLMAN: The ceremony begins at 6:00 a.m. Eastern time tomorrow.
A checklist could help detect autism by a baby’s first birthday. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, reported the finding today, after testing 10,000 babies. The checklist assesses a child’s behavior and ability to communicate, and can be completed by parents in a doctor’s waiting room. The researchers said they need to do further work before the test is ready for routine use.
On Wall Street, stocks moved higher again, despite a report showing only modest economic growth in the first quarter. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 72 points to finish at 12,763. The Nasdaq rose two points to close at 2,872.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.