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News Wrap: On Eve of Final Referendum Vote, Opponents Clash in Alexandria

December 21, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
In other news Friday, the streets of Egypt's Alexandria were filled with clashing Islamists and their opponents. It was the eve of a final-round vote on a draft constitution that's backed by Islamists and President Mohammed Morsi. Also, North Korea has detained an American citizen and says he confessed to unspecified crimes.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The streets of Egypt’s second largest city were filled with clashes today between Islamists and their opponents. The groups confronted each other in Alexandria. It was the eve of a final round on — a final-round vote on a draft constitution that’s backed by Islamists and President Mohammed Morsi.

Supporters of Morsi and protesters threw rocks at each other, and riot police intervened with tear gas. Officials said at least 40 people were injured. It was unclear who started the fight.

North Korea has detained an American citizen and says he confessed to unspecified crimes. He was identified today as Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American tour operator from Washington state. North Korean state media said he entered the country with a tour on Nov. 3. The North has detained five other Americans since 2009. All were released eventually.

American leaders past and present paid tribute today to the late Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii. A crowd filled the National Cathedral in Washington for the service honoring the Japanese-American who became a war hero and served in the Senate more than 50 years.

President Obama recalled watching Inouye during the televised Watergate hearings in 1973.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: To see this man, this senator, this powerful, accomplished person who wasn’t out of central casting, and the way he commanded the respect of an entire nation, I think it hinted to me what might be possible in my own life.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Inouye died Monday at the age of 88.

A pre-Christmas storm rumbled across the Great Lakes today toward Canada. The storm had closed roads and grounded more than 1,000 flights on Thursday. But, as conditions improved, Chicago’s O’Hare International and other airports returned to normal for one of the busiest days of the year.

Elsewhere, parts of Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan dug out from more than a foot of snow. The storm was blamed for at least nine deaths in half-a-dozen states.

The day that some pegged as the end of the world came and went without incident. The focus on Dec. 21, 2012, was said to be based on projections in an ancient Mayan calendar. In Mexico, tourists and New Age spiritualists gathered to greet the day at Mayan archaeological sites. And thousands converged on Stonehenge in England for an end-of-the-world party coinciding with the winter solstice.

It may not be doomsday, but Americans are feeling less hopeful about the future. The University of Michigan’s consumer confidence index fell this month to the lowest point since July. And Wall Street gave ground today on worries about the lack of a budget deal in Washington. The Dow Jones industrial average lost almost 121 points to close near 13,190. The Nasdaq fell 29 points to close at 3,021. For the week, the Dow gained about half-a-percent; the Nasdaq rose 1.7 percent.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.