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News Wrap: Five Car Bombs Explode in Iraq, Killing at Least 36

April 29, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Five car bombs exploded in Shiite areas across Central and Southern Iraq today, killing at least 36 people. It was the latest in a wave of sectarian violence that’s left at least 218 dead since last Tuesday. After today’s bombings, the mangled remains of the vehicles and other debris littered streets in Diwaniya and other towns. In addition to the dead, dozens of people were wounded.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has confirmed that his national security team received payments from the CIA for the last 10 years. The New York Times reported today that the agency delivered millions of dollars in suitcases and even plastic bags in a bid to gain influence. Karzai said it was only — quote — “a small amount of money” and that it went to care for the wounded and to pay for housing. The Times report said, in fact, the money has fueled corruption and funded warlords.

In Bangladesh, rescuers ended the effort to find survivors of last week’s eight-story building collapse. The death stood at 382, with some 2,500 survivors.

We have a report from John Sparks of Independent Television News.

JOHN SPARKS, Independent Television News: In Dhaka this morning, the authorities gave up. Cranes and heavy cutting equipment were moved in, volunteer rescuers told to go, little chance now, say officials, of finding anyone left alive.

Yet, six days after this catastrophe, there are hundreds of people, perhaps as many as 1,000, still unaccounted for. Yesterday evening, rescue teams were given one last chance to find survivors. The obstacles were fearsome, the heat and stench of decomposing bodies overpowering, but they descended into the ruins nonetheless.

IDRIS ALI, Rescuer: You can’t see anything inside, but you can hear people shouting for help. It’s so dark, no wind, no light.

JOHN SPARKS: Mr. Ali told us they were looking for a woman, a distant voice amidst the rubble.

IDRIS ALI: We think there’s only one person alive now, and we’re trying to help. We can hear her, but we need more time.

JOHN SPARKS: Their efforts would be in vain. Rescuers started a fire, accidentally, as they tried to cut her free. To save themselves, they were forced to retreat.

“God knows what happened to the girl,” he said. They wept for the one they couldn’t reach.

The owner of the building, Sohel Rana, was led to court today dressed in a police helmet and bulletproof vest. An angry crowd shouted, “Hang him, hang him.”

In an interview conducted the day before the disaster, he said cracks in his building were nothing to worry about.

MOHAMMED SOHEL RANA, Factory Owner: I saw them. My engineer saw them. But they are not cracks, just plastic coming off. It’s not risky at all.

JOHN SPARKS: The family of the missing hang on, still waiting at the site with family pictures in hand.

HARI SREENIVASAN: A Mississippi man charged with sending ricin- tainted letters was ordered held without bond today, at least for now. James Everett Dutschke made his first appearance in federal court since being arrested on Saturday. The poisoned letters were sent in early April to President Obama, a U.S. senator and a Mississippi judge. Federal agents originally arrested another suspect, but decided they had the wrong man and let him go.

It has been two weeks since the Boston Marathon bombing, and the mother of the suspects is denying that she or her sons played any role. Zubeidat Tsarnaeva told the Associated Press that the charges are all lies. The focus on her came after Russian authorities reported she discussed jihad with her elder son, Tamerlan, in a phone call. It was intercepted prior to the Boston attack. Tsarnaeva lived in the U.S. for 10 years until last fall.

President Obama has nominated the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, to be the next secretary of transportation. Anthony Foxx is the first African-American nominee to be tapped for a Cabinet slot in the president’s second term. The 41-year-old Democrat pledged today to work with Congress and state and local governments to boost public works spending and create jobs.

SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION- DESIGNATE ANTHONY FOXX: There’s no such thing as a Democratic or Republican road, bridge, port, airfield, or rail system. We must work together across party lines to enhance this nation’s infrastructure.

HARI SREENIVASAN: If confirmed by the Senate, Foxx will succeed Ray LaHood, the outgoing secretary. LaHood was one of a handful of Republicans serving in the Obama administration.

State funding for preschool education fell last year by the most since record-keeping began. Rutgers University researchers reported today that most cuts were due to lingering budget problems caused by the recession. They also said half-a-million students are now enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs that do not meet federal standards.

In economic news, consumer spending and personal income rose in March by 0.2 percent. The increases came despite a return to higher payroll taxes to fund Social Security. Overall, the news encouraged Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 106 points to close at 14,818. The Nasdaq rose more than 27 points to close at 3,307.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Gwen.