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News Wrap: Yemen’s Saleh Burned Badly, Bleeding Inside Skull, U.S. Says

June 7, 2011 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Wall Street gave up some early gains today, and ended with a fifth straight losing session.

Stocks retreated after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made no mention of any new stimulus efforts at a speech in Atlanta. The Dow Jones industrial average shed 19 points to close at 12,070. The Nasdaq fell one point to close at 2,701.

The president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was hurt worse than thought in an explosion at his compound last Friday. Saleh is now in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. U.S. officials said today he’s burned over 40 percent of his body, and is bleeding inside his skull. Separately, the Yemen Defense Ministry reported government troops around Zinjibar killed 30 Islamic militants over the past two days.

And there was more fighting in Taiz. Army tanks shelled rebel tribesmen near the city’s presidential palace. At least four people were killed there.

In Syria, fears of an impending all-out attack by the military sparked an exodus from a town near the Turkish border. Residents said they expected an assault after the government claimed 120 security troops were killed in the town on Monday. Syrian officials said armed gangs ambushed the troops. But activists said today the real story is that soldiers mutinied and fought with their own officers and guards.

European farmers demanded full compensation today for losses caused by a deadly E. coli outbreak in Germany. Agriculture ministers said growers across Europe are losing up to $600 million a week because consumers are scared to eat cucumbers, tomatoes and other produce.

We have a report narrated by Jane Dodge of Independent Television News.

JANE DODGE: “We need to restore the honor of the cucumber,” a Spanish MEP told the European Parliament today, comical perhaps to some, but the Spanish remain furious with the Germans for wrongly accusing them of being the source of this outbreak.

ANTONIO MASIP HIDALGO, Spanish member of European Parliament (through translator): Germany has a serious problem of credibility. It’s intolerable the way Mrs. Merkel has dealt with the countries to the south on their farming and financial issues.

JANE DODGE: Farmers around Europe are still calculating their losses. In Romania, tons of cucumbers have been brought to a warehouse on the outskirts of Bucharest to be destroyed. These farmers will now be eligible to apply for compensation from the E.U. European agriculture ministers agreed to set up an emergency fund at a summit in Luxembourg this afternoon.

ROSA AGUILAR, Spanish agriculture minister (through translator): We have to respond to all the producers with 100 percent of the real market value of the merchandise that has been lost.

JANE DODGE: It seems playing hardball paid off. The E.U.’s agriculture commissioner announced tonight that the emergency fund would be increased.

Meanwhile, the scale of this E. coli outbreak keeps growing. Twenty-four people have now died; 642 are in intensive care. But Germany’s national disease control centers say the number of new cases is declining, a sign the epidemic might have reached its peak.

HARI SREENIVASAN: It is still unclear what caused the outbreak, but, in the absence of clear answers, Russia and Saudi Arabia have banned all imports of produce from Europe.

A huge wildfire burning in eastern Arizona is now causing trouble in other states. Thick smoke soared above Arizona mountain towns today and spread as far east as Iowa. The blaze caused hazy skies and even prompted health warnings in Colorado and New Mexico. The fire has burned more than a week in Arizona, consumed nearly 500 square miles of forest, and forced several thousand people to leave their homes.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.