In other news Wednesday, intense fighting spread across more of Yemen's capital of Sana'a, killing at least 41 people as tribal militants exchanged fire with troops loyal to President Saleh. In Syria, government troops killed nearly 50 more protesters in the past day, even as the regime freed about 500 political prisoners.
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New economic reports today stoked fears that the recovery is stalling. One showed manufacturing slowed in May, and the other said private employers added just 38,000 jobs.
The numbers sent Wall Street into a dive, and major indexes fell more than 2 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 279 points to close at 12,290. The Nasdaq fell 66 points to close at 2,769.
Intense fighting spread across more of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, today. At least 41 people were killed. Tribal militias exchanged gun and artillery fire with troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The violence moved into new sections of the city.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned again that Saleh is the main obstacle to peace.
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON:
We cannot expect this conflict to end unless President Saleh and his government move out of the way to-to permit a — the opposition and civil society to begin a transition to political and economic reform.
President Obama has dispatched counter-terror adviser John Brennan to the region. He will be in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates later this week for talks on Yemen.
In Syria, government troops killed nearly 50 more protesters in the last 24 hours, even as the regime freed about 500 political prisoners. Troops opened fire Tuesday and again today in Rastan, killing 41 people. And in the south, shelling in Hirak claimed eight more lives.
Elsewhere, protesters marched in Homs, carrying images of a 13-year-old boy, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb. His death, apparently after being tortured, has become a flash point. The government of president Bashar al-Assad now is promising an investigation into the boy’s killing.
A state of emergency was lifted today in the Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, home of the U.S. Fifth Fleet. Tanks and soldiers pulled out of the capital, Manama, but police stayed at a number of checkpoints. Majority Shiites began protesting in February, demanding a greater share of power. But, in March, Bahrain’s Sunni leaders called in troops from Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states to crush the protests.
The death toll from an E. coli outbreak in Europe has risen to 17, with hundreds more cases reported. Some 1,500 people have been sickened in Germany, where most of the cases occurred.
The German agriculture minister said today it’s still not known where the very virulent food-borne bacteria originated.
ILSE AIGNER, German agriculture minister (through translator):
The source simply cannot be clarified yet. It’s clear that these bacteria have appeared in humans, and we are working nonstop to find out where they have come from. Therefore, the entire chain is affected, production, as well as all the subsequent steps, until it finally is on the table.
Initial testing suggested most of the people who took ill had eaten certain tainted vegetables. Later tests cast doubt on those findings.
An apparent tornado hit near Springfield, Mass., this afternoon. Footage from the scene showed a funnel roaring through the area, whipping up debris. A local television station reported heavy damage, and the mayor’s office said trees had been torn up and cars blown over.
Meanwhile, the confirmed death toll rose to 134 in the huge tornado that hit Joplin, Mo., last month. State officials said they have accounted for everyone on the list of missing.
The space shuttle Endeavour made its final landing overnight after 25 flights. Endeavour touched down at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in predawn darkness. The mission was the next-to-last for NASA’s 30-year shuttle program. Hours earlier, the final shuttle bound for space, Atlantis, arrived at the launchpad to prep for its flight in July.
MICHAEL MOSES, Space Shuttle Program:
Being able to send Atlantis out to the pad and then go out and land Endeavour was really a combination I never really expected to have.
But, boy, it really was a nice — a nice thing to do. It really made you reflect on what we’re doing, and maybe not quite as sad as the — with the last of Atlantis heading to the pad, knowing that Endeavour was coming back later that night.
Now that Endeavour’s flying days are over, it will be displayed permanently at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
People who point high-powered lasers at planes and helicopters could face stiff fines from now on. The Federal Aviation Administration announced today the fines will go as high as $11,000. The laser pointers are used to point out stars at night, but can temporarily blind pilots when they aim at cockpits. Pilots have reported more than 1,100 incidents this year.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.