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News Wrap: Syrian Forces Kill at Least 13 in Nationwide Demonstrations

July 8, 2011 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The dismal unemployment report pushed Wall Street lower today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 62 points to close at 12,657. The Nasdaq fell more than 12 points to close at 2,859. For the week, the Dow gained half-a-percent; the Nasdaq rose more than 1.5 percent.

Security forces in Syria killed at least 13 people today amid mass demonstrations against President Bashar Assad. The largest crowds were in the city of Hama, where activists said hundreds of thousands of people gathered. Troops have massed there in recent days. The U.S. and French ambassadors visited Hama yesterday in a show of support for the protesters.

The U.N. Refugee Agency warned today of a looming catastrophe in East Africa amid the worst drought since the 1950s. Millions of people across Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, and South Sudan are endangered, and many are being forced from their homes to search for help.

We have a report from Rohit Kachroo of Independent Television News. He’s in a village in Eastern Kenya.

ROHIT KACHROO: More than 1,000 new refugees today. As Somalia inched towards famine, the population of their new home edged towards that of a large city with its own morning rush.

The city has now grown its own commuter village, formed in terrible conditions by desperate people. There are more arriving all the time. But many are stuck, unable to make the final few miles to the main camp, where there’s a proper supply of food and water.

The people who live here haven’t been placed here. They have chosen to come. They have created their own community because the pressure in the main camp is so great.

Muslema is waiting for space there to free up. She tells me that, to get here, she walked for an entire month from northern Somalia with her five children. But, along the way, she took on another child, because his mother died from hunger as they traveled south together.

Age 17, Mohammed made the whole journey here on his own. But when he turned up without a parent, he, too, was taken in by a foster mother. Families have been reformed along the way. There are now only a few miles left of this journey, but when they will make it, they still don’t know.

HARI SREENIVASAN: North Sudan officially recognized the independence of South Sudan today. The South became the world’s newest country at midnight local time, after a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war. South Sudan will also face the challenge of entrenched poverty and sporadic border conflicts with the North.

Thousands of Egyptians rallied in Cairo today, demanding swifter reforms by the country’s interim military rulers. Protesters flocked to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, charging that there is no clear plan for a transition to democracy. They also want former regime members prosecuted for the killing of some 900 protesters earlier this year.

One of the top college football powers in the U.S., Ohio State, will surrender all 12 wins from last season, including its victory in the Sugar Bowl matchup. The school took that step today after disclosures that players sold memorabilia for cash and tattoos. The scandal already forced the coach to resign.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.