News Wrap: A Thousand Firefighters Battle Wildfire in Southern California
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KWAME HOLMAN: A thousand firefighters raced today to save half-a-dozen small communities in Southern California from a rapidly growing wildfire. The blaze erupted yesterday in the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains, 90 miles east of Los Angeles. Overnight, it ballooned to more than 15 square miles and burned out of control today. So far, at least 15 buildings have burned, and some 1,500 residents have been ordered to leave their homes.
In the Midwest, the problem is water, in the form of flash floods. Up to 10 inches of rain hit parts of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee early today. Water surged into homes and offices and poured through streets. Emergency workers rescued at least one baby, but two people were killed. It was the latest in a series of storms across the Midwest that began Sunday.
Thousands of Egyptians took part in rival rallies in Cairo today, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Opponents of ousted President Mohammed Morsi held a prayer service in Tahrir Square. Elsewhere, Morsi’s supporters held their own gathering, highlighted by a surprise appearance from his wife. She had not been seen since the military forced her husband out July 3.
Rebels in Syria marked the end of Ramadan with an attempted direct attack on President Bashar Assad. Two groups claimed they fired rockets and mortar rounds that struck his motorcade in Damascus. In turn, state television aired video of Assad unharmed at a prayer service.
His information minister portrayed the claims of the rebels as wishful thinking.
OMRAN AL-ZOUBI, Syrian Information Minister (through interpreter): Regarding what was said on the Saudi channel al-Arabiya, I confirm to you that, of course, the news is completely untrue. This news just shows the false hopes of some media outlets and the governments who are behind them.
KWAME HOLMAN: Opposition groups nonetheless said today’s attack rattled the regime.
Thirty people died today in Pakistan when a suicide bomber attacked a policeman’s funeral in the western city of Quetta. It left burned vehicles from the explosive coupled with ball bearings. Emergency workers rushed to help the wounded. Hundreds were at the funeral inside a police compound; 20 of the dead were policemen, including five senior officers.
A military judge at Fort Hood, Texas, refused to let defense lawyers take over today from Army Major Nidal Hasan. He’s accused of killing 13 people and wounding 32 nearly four years ago. Hasan is acting as his own attorney, but his standby lawyers say he’s trying to get himself executed. Today, the judge agreed to let Hasan continue defending himself, and ordered the lawyers to continue advising him.
On Wall Street today, stocks rose a bit after a three-day skid. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 27 points to close at 15,498. The NASDAQ rose 15 points to close at 3,669.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.