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News Wrap: Tornadoes and Storms Ravage Southeast, Killing 10

April 26, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT
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In other news Monday, major cleanups were underway across the South after tornadoes ripped through the region, killing 10 people. Also, the company that owns a West Virginia coal mine where 29 miners died in an explosion defended itself from accusations of safety violations.

GWEN IFILL: Now, with the other news of the day, here’s Hari Sreenivasan in our newsroom.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Major cleanup efforts were under way across the South today after tornadoes ripped through the region over the weekend. Mississippi was the hardest-hit, with 10 people killed and hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed — 32 twisters ravaged the state, and the strongest packed winds of 160 miles an hour.

Today, bulldozers knocked down the wreckage, as survivors struggled to cope with the loss.

EMILY CRAVENS, tornado survivor: I don’t think it’s sunk in yet that it’s all gone. Every memory that I have made and my three children have made is about to be destroyed. And it will take some time. And we will heal. And the important thing is that God protected my family, and they were not injured. And those down the street were not so lucky.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Federal disaster teams were in Mississippi today to survey the damage.

The owner of a West Virginia coal mine defended itself today. Massey Energy said air samples taken shortly before a fatal explosion showed nothing unusual. The blast killed 29 miners. A Senate hearing on the explosion is set for tomorrow.

Wal-Mart has lost a round today in a long-running fight over gender bias claims. A federal court of appeals in San Francisco ruled 6-5 that a huge class-action lawsuit may go forward. The suit, filed in 2001, involves more than one million current and former employees. They say Wal-Mart favors men over women on pay and promotions. The company is the world’s largest private employer.

The British ambassador to Yemen had a close call today. A suicide attacker tried to kill him, but the ambassador escaped injury.

We have a report narrated by Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: Clearing up after a suicide bombing aimed at the British ambassador’s car. The ambassador survived, but the bomber is now dead. The Yemenis say he was a student from the south of the country and that there have been dozens of arrests.

This al-Qaida training video shows the group using the British, American and Israeli flags as target practice in the desert. But today’s attack makes it clear that the capital, Sanaa, is not safe. The suicide bomber struck shortly before 8:00 a.m. this morning, as the ambassador drove on his daily commute to the embassy. Yemeni officials said the bomber was on foot wearing a track suit and trainers.

Though the explosion killed the bomber and injured a bystander, nobody in the convoy was hurt.

TIM TORLOT, U.K. ambassador to yemen: Thank you very much.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: This is Tim Torlot, the 52-year-old ambassador, said by colleagues to be in good spirits tonight, though, this morning, al-Qaida apparently wanted him dead.

TIM TORLOT: Stability is only going to come with a government which is able to deliver services and the rule of law in an inclusive, comprehensive way.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: Mr. Torlot’s embassy is built like a fortress. It’s in scrubland outside the city, and guards armed with Kalashnikovs stalk the rooftops. It briefly closed in January following another al-Qaida threat. But it seems the jihadis knew the ambassador’s route to work.

Today’s attack marks a change in tactic, the attempted assassination of a single high-profile Westerner, though 16 people were killed in an assault on the U.S. Embassy back in 2008. And the effects could be profound, not just on the lives of Mr. Torlot and other diplomats, but on foreign investment into this, the poorest country in the Middle East, where the greatest antidotes to al-Qaida are education, money and jobs.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In Afghanistan, the U.N. scaled back operations in Kandahar, after a series of bombings blamed on al-Qaida and the Taliban. More than 200 Afghan employees were told to stay home. To the north, Afghan authorities investigated possible poison gas attacks that sickened more than 80 Afghan girls. Officials blamed militants who oppose education for girls.

The former dictator of Panama, Manuel Noriega, was extradited from the U.S. to France today. He has already been convicted on French charges of money-laundering. Noriega finished his U.S. prison sentence for drug trafficking two years ago. He chose to stay on in a Florida prison while he fought extradition.

The president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, has been reelected. That’s despite being wanted for war crimes in Darfur. The National Elections Commission declared al-Bashir winner today. The main challengers had dropped out, amid widespread charges of fraud. Meanwhile, violence erupted along the country’s north-south border area in recent days. More than 50 Arab nomads were killed in clashes with army forces.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide if banning violent video games for kids is a violation of free speech. The court agreed today to take a case from California. In 2005, the state banned selling or renting violent games to minors. A federal appeals court threw out the ban last year. The Supreme Court will hear the arguments this fall.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained a fraction of a point to close at 11205. The Nasdaq fell seven points to close below 2523.

Those are some of the day’s main stories. I will be back at the end of the program with a preview of what you will find tonight on the NewsHour’s Web site — but, for now, back to Judy.