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News Wrap: In Egypt, Draft Constitution Passes in Referendum

December 25, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN:  Police in Webster, N.Y., found human remains today in the burned-out home where a gunman ambushed firefighters on Christmas Eve.  The victim appeared to be William Spengler’s sister.  He left a note saying he wanted to burn down the neighborhood and kill people.  Spengler set fire to his house, then shot four firefighters, killing two, before killing himself.  He had a revolver, a shotgun, and a Bushmaster rifle, the same model used in the Newtown school shooting.

GERALD PICKERING, Webster Police Chief:  I can’t even tell you at this time what the victims were shot with.  We are assuming it was the rifle because of the distance.  But that all is going to go to — the medical examiner has their work cut out for them in this case.  And there will have to be autopsies done.

KWAME HOLMAN:  Two firefighters remained hospitalized today in stable condition.  The fire Spengler set ultimately burned seven homes.

The election commission in Egypt confirmed today the new constitution won nearly 64 percent of the vote in a referendum.  The panel also reported turnout was just a third of the country’s 52 million registered voters.  President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood backed the draft constitution.  Opponents warned it paves the way for Islamic rule and curbs on civil liberties.

The six Persian Gulf Arab nations demanded an end to what they called Iranian interference.  They issued a statement today at the end of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s annual summit.  The statement gave no details.  The six U.S. allied countries also called for swift international action to end the bloodshed in Syria.

In Central Asia, a military plane crashed early this morning in Kazakstan, killing 27 people, including the country’s head of border security.  The Russian-made aircraft went down near the southern city of Shymkent. The dead also included seven crew members and 19 border guards.  There was no immediate word on the cause of the crash, but Kazakstan has been plagued by heavy winds and snow in recent weeks.

The longtime actor Charles Durning died Monday at his home in New York.  He came to be known as the king of character actors in a 50-year career that spanned Broadway, the movies and television.  Along the way, he earned two Oscar nominations.  One was for his role as the corrupt governor in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” in 1992.  And, in “Tootsie,” he played the unwitting suitor of Dustin Hoffman, who was posing as a female soap opera star.

Charles Durning was 89 years old.