News Wrap: Ousted Yemeni President Saleh to Seek Exile in Ethiopia
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The opposition in Syria reported dozens of new deaths today, as many as 138. And there were also new protests against the regime even in the Syrian capital.
We have a report narrated by Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News.
JONATHAN MILLER: In the heart of Damascus last night, local people gathered to curse the soul of the dictator and in support of the rebel Free Syrian Army.
This unverifiable footage purportedly showing protesters being fired on by Syrian soldiers, at least three reportedly killed, this man hit, but dragged to safety. In the same district, Kafar Soussa, this morning, a mass funeral for those killed last night. The secret police are everywhere here, but the defiance too spirited to stifle.
Here, two protest marches meet within spitting distance of the presidential palace.
The president will be chaffed by today’s news that his new referendum on a new constitution has won 89.4 percent popular support. It guarantees the rights and freedoms of the Syrian people and means Bashar al-Assad could still be president in 2028.
This is Homs this morning.
WOMAN (through translator): How can this be, Bashar? And you want a constitution? Is this what God wants? This is what you want. You are killing your people. May God ruin you. May God ruin you.
JONATHAN MILLER: Despite heavy shelling in Homs, the rebel Free Syria Army appears to be putting up stiff resistance. It’s not just Baba Amr district that is being pummeled by government artillery. Syrian ground forces reportedly began an assault on Inshaat, just to the north, in the early hours of this morning.
The northeastern districts of Khalidiya, Bayada and Ashera have also been heavily shelled again today. The Gulf state of Qatar today said it was time to give guns to the rebels. The E.U. is sticking to sanctions.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Late today, the Syrian Red Crescent was able to evacuate three people from the city of Homs.
The ousted president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, will leave the country within two days to go into exile into — in Ethiopia. Saleh’s aides announced that today, amid fears that his continued presence in Yemen would incite new violence. The former leader had been in the U.S. recently for medical treatment. He returned to Yemen on Saturday for the inauguration of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi as the country’s new president.
The anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks began publishing more than five million e-mails today from Stratfor, an intelligence analysis firm based in Texas. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the e-mails show Stratfor has run a network of paid informants and spied on activist groups for major multinational corporations. Stratfor insisted it adheres to high professional standards.
An Ohio teenager was killed and four others wounded today when a gunman opened fire at a high school outside Cleveland. Police surrounded the locked school in Chardon after the shooter allegedly targeted students in the cafeteria. Worried parents gathered outside.
Sheriff Daniel McClelland said the suspect was taken into custody a short time later.
DANIEL MCCLELLAND, Geauga County, Ohio, sheriff: Several years ago, the Chardon school district and local law enforcement began conducting drills, training, practice, if you would, for an event just like occurred today. As a result of that, we were well-prepared for the response.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Other students described the shooter as a classmate who had been bullied. Police would not speculate on the motive.
In economic news, the housing sector showed new life in January. The National Association of Realtors reported contracts to buy homes reached the highest level in nearly two years. And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average came close to ending the day above 13,000, but fell short in the end. For the day, the Dow gained just one point to close at 12,981. The Nasdaq rose two points to close at 2,966.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.