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News Wrap: Egyptian Official Survives Assassination Attempt

September 5, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN: The interior minister of Egypt’s military-backed government survived an apparent assassination attempt today in Cairo. A suspected car bomb blew up near his convoy, wounding at least 22 people.

Our Margaret Warner is in Cairo, and I spoke with her earlier about the incident.

Margaret, welcome.

What’s been the reaction to this attack among the people in Egypt?

MARGARET WARNER: Kwame, it is a huge story here. It led the evening news. It’s playing in an endless loop, the scene of the bomb blast, the base of that building sheared off all the way up to the fourth floor.

And there’s a lot of commentary about how alarming this is, that this is the first assassination attempt or attack on any member of this new interim government since the military deposed the elected leader, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, two months ago, that this clearly looked like a very professional job, this was a big bomb, pros did this attack, and, third, that the target of the attack was the man who’s been driving the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, that is, the interior minister, that has killed more than 1,000 Morsi supporters and rounded up untold thousands more.

And, in fact, the interior minister predicted — he said, “I think this is not the end, but the beginning of a new wave of violence.”

We happened to be interviewing the deputy prime minister at the time. And he said, if the crackdown did drive some members of the Brotherhood or Islamists to start another insurgency of the type this country saw in the ’80s and ’90s, he said, “Then, we won’t tolerate it and anything we do to crack down on it will be justified.”

KWAME HOLMAN: So, Margaret, we are seeing reports here of the Muslim Brotherhood officials making statements saying that they condemn this attack. What’s to be made of that?

MARGARET WARNER: Well, Kwame, we happened to go, then interviewed this afternoon Amr Darrag, a longtime Brotherhood figure, who I think issued that statement condemning it.

He flatly denied anyone from the Brotherhood was involved when I said, who do you think is involved? But, interestingly, he and the interior minister both agreed that this is a very dangerous thing to have happened in this volatile atmosphere right now, that this country is so polarized that acts, major acts of violence by one side can easily trigger a vicious cycle, more violence on the other side.

KWAME HOLMAN: Our Margaret Warner in Cairo.

Thank you.

A two-month hunger strike by California prisoners ended today, after legislators agreed to consider reforms. At its height, more than 30,000 inmates at two-thirds of the state’s prisons have refused to eat. They were protesting the solitary confinement of reputed gang leaders and others, sometimes lasting many years. Legislators now have promised hearings on that and other issues.

An illegal fire set by a hunter caused the huge wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park in California. The U.S. Forest Service said today the hunter set a fire, then lost control of it. The individual has not been identified publicly. The resulting Rim Fire has become one of the largest in the state’s history. It’s now 80 percent contained.

Wal-Mart workers and supporters demonstrated for higher wages across the country today, the latest in a series of such actions. They gathered in 15 cities to demand better jobs and a so-called living wage. They also said Wal-Mart should rehire employees allegedly let go for protesting.

MARTHA SELLERS, protester: I want Wal-Mart to stand up and do the right thing and reinstate the illegally fired workers. I want them also to improve our working conditions, improve the poverty wages they put us through, and provide health care for all of their workers.

KWAME HOLMAN: The demonstrations were the most extensive since some Wal-Mart workers staged Black Friday walkouts in November. The company maintained today that the vast majority of its employees do not share the opinions of the demonstrators.

Google argued today that it should be allowed to go on scanning the contents of mail in Gmail accounts to help target advertising. The online search giant asked a federal judge in San Jose, California, to throw out a class-action lawsuit that seeks to end the practice. Google defends the scanning, saying it is automated and no humans read the e-mails.

Wall Street managed small gains for the day, but investors mostly marked time ahead of tomorrow’s report on unemployment and jobs. The Dow Jones industrial average gained six points to close at 14,937. The Nasdaq rose more than nine points to close at 3,658.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington announced today its two-week-old giant panda cub is a girl. The cub, not yet named, appears to be in good health. Zookeepers said she was born to Mei Xiang, the female panda artificially inseminated in March. Tests show the father is Tian Tian, also living at the National Zoo. Giant pandas are among the world’s most endangered species.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.