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News Wrap: Russia Says Syria Has Agreed to Peace Conference

May 24, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
In other news Friday, Russian officials announced that Syria has agreed "in principle" to attend an international peace conference on outlining a transition for new leadership. Also, in Kabul, Afghanistan, a guest house used by an international aid group was targeted by a suicide car bomber and five armed gunmen.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Syria has agreed in principle to attend an international peace conference brokered by the U.S. and Russia. The announcement came today from the Russian Foreign Ministry. The proposed talks aim to establish the outlines for a transition in Syria without President Bashar al-Assad. But he has already said he won’t step down without elections.

Meanwhile, Iran denied it has fighters inside Syria supporting Assad. The Friends of Syria made that claim yesterday.

In Afghanistan, a suicide car bomber and five heavily armed gunmen struck in the capital city of Kabul. Two guards were killed, as well as the gunmen. The target was a guest house used by an international aid group. After the bomb blast, a gun battle continued for hours as police traded shots with the attackers. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

British fighter jets were scrambled today to divert a Pakistani airliner headed for Manchester, England. Instead, it landed at London’s Stansted Airport, and two men were arrested on suspicion of endangering the aircraft. British officials said it’s a criminal matter, and not terror- related. Still, the incident raised tensions just two days after Islamic extremists allegedly killed a British soldier on a London street.

A major highway connecting Seattle, Wash., with Vancouver, Canada, was cut today after part of a bridge dropped into the Skagit River. It happened Thursday evening on Interstate 5 when a truck carrying an oversized load hit the upper part of the span. A section of the bridge collapsed, taking two vehicles with it.

Dan Sligh was one of the three people who were plunged into the water. All of them got out alive, with only minor injuries.

DAN SLIGH, Accident Survivor: You talk miracles. I don’t know what you want to call it. When you’re sitting down in the water and there’s all that mangled metal and bridge, and you’re looking around kind of pinching yourself and realizing that you’re lucky to be alive, it’s a pretty amazing day, to tell you the truth.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The bridge could be out for months, forcing more than 70,000 vehicles a day to find detours.

Wall Street had a relatively quiet day going into the Memorial Day weekend. The Dow Jones industrial average gained eight points to close at 15,303. The Nasdaq fell a fraction of a point to close at 3,459. For the week, the Dow lost a third of one percent; the Nasdaq fell more than a full percent.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Haynes Johnson died today at a hospital in Bethesda, Md., after a heart attack. Johnson was a Washington reporter for more half-a-century, and won a Pulitzer in 1966 for civil rights reporting. He also authored 11 books, and for years, provided historical insight and commentary on the NewsHour.

Here he is in 2009 speaking with Judy about the book he co-authored on the 2008 presidential election.

HAYNES JOHNSON, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist: We started on this book three years ago, not just to do another book on politics or presidents and so forth, but because we really did believe this was going to be a historic election. The stakes were so big for the country.

And whatever happened, it would be a test, not only for the presidency, but for the people and our political system. And that’s what we’re seeing now. It’s very tough. And whoever was going to be president was going to have one of the most difficult times since FDR in 1932, taking over all the issues before the country. And Obama is finding that. Is he handling it well? Is he trying to do too much? That’s the story. That’s the next phase. That’s the next chapter.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Haynes Johnson was 81 years old.

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