HARI SREENIVASAN: Iraq has suffered its second major bombing this week. At least 20 police officers were killed today at a police station in Hillah, a mostly Shiite city about 60 miles south of Baghdad. The bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a barrier as police were gathered outside for a shift change. In addition to the dead, 40 people were wounded. On Tuesday, a bombing in Baghdad killed at least nine Iraqis.
The U.S., France, Britain, and other nations agreed today to establish a fund for helping the rebels in Libya. At a meeting in Rome, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the fund could draw partly on $30 billion in frozen Libyan assets.
And in Libya, a rescue ship carrying more than 1,100 evacuees from Misrata arrived in rebel-held Benghazi. They included dozens of civilians wounded in heavy shelling by government forces.
In Syria, troops were on the move again in a bid to crush anti-government protests. The army said units were withdrawing from Daraa, the heart of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. But people in the coastal city of Banias reported forces were massing there. This cell phone video showed columns of tanks entering the city today.
Workers in Japan have made their first foray into a damaged reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The unit one building was rocked by an explosion just after the March earthquake and tsunami. Today, workers connected ventilation equipment to reduce radiation levels inside. The crews were allowed in after robots collected fresh data. Their readings showed radiation levels had fallen enough for humans to enter safely.
New worries about the U.S. economy roiled the stock market today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 139 points to close at 12,584. The Nasdaq fell 13 points to close at 2,814. And the price of oil took its steepest dive in two years, to drop back under $100 a barrel. The sell-off followed word that first-time claims for jobless benefits have hit an eight-month high.
NASA leaders and former astronauts marked the golden anniversary today of U.S. manned spaceflight. It was 50 years ago that Alan Shepard blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on May 5, 1961. He was wedged into his tiny Freedom 7 Mercury capsule for a suborbital flight that lasted just 15 minutes.
Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had become the first man in space just 23 days earlier. Shepard later walked on the moon during the Apollo 14 mission.
He died in 1998 at the age of 74.
Those are some of the day's major stories.