In other news Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to stop another aid ship bound for Israel's maritime blockade on Gaza. Also, the three-day peace conference in Afghanistan came to a close with a resolution urging the government to negotiate with the Taliban.
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Still to come on the “NewsHour”: the latest on the efforts to cap the Gulf oil spill; the analysis of Shields and Brooks; and the lure of Wall Street — but, first, the other news of the day.
Here’s Kwame Holman in our newsroom.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed today to stop another aid ship heading for Gaza. The Rachel Corrie was on schedule to reach the Israeli exclusion zone, 20 miles offshore, by Saturday morning, despite a maritime blockade on Gaza.
An Irish Nobel peace laureate, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, was on board. She said activists wouldn’t resist if Israeli forces board the ship. Nine people were killed on Monday when commandos raided a flotilla of aid ships and fighting erupted on one.
In Afghanistan, a three-day peace conference came to a close. Delegates at the peace jirga issued a resolution urging the government to negotiate with the Taliban. It said militants who take part should not — should be removed from a U.N. list that imposes travel and financial restrictions.
President Hamid Karzai offered his own appeal to the militants during his closing remarks in Kabul.
HAMID KARZAI, president of Afghanistan (through translator):
Dear Taliban members who are dissatisfied, use this opportunity. This is the voice of the Afghan people, and this is the voice of peace. Embrace it. Come and join us, that we can rebuild our country with our own hands and make it peaceful and stable.
Many Taliban leaders rejected the jirga, and insisted there will be no peace talks until foreign troops leave Afghanistan.
Most of the senior leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq have been captured or killed in the last three months. That word came from the U.S. commander, General Ray Odierno, in a Washington briefing today. And The Washington Post reported the Obama administration has greatly expanded special forces operations against al-Qaida and other extremists. The account said units have been deployed to 75 countries, up from 60 a year ago.
The president has made his choice for director of national intelligence. It was widely reported late today retired Air Force General James Clapper will be nominated tomorrow. He’s currently the top intelligence official at the Pentagon. If the Senate confirms him, Clapper would replace Dennis Blair, who resigned as DNI last month.
A massive inferno in the capital of Bangladesh killed at least 117 people overnight. Police in Dhaka said an electrical transformer exploded and started the blaze in narrow alleys of an old neighborhood. Most of the dead were trapped in two or three residential buildings.
One witness described the scene.
IQBAL HOSSAIN, eyewitness (through translator):
What I saw here can only be described as scenes from hell. There was nothing we could do. We had to stand at a distance and watch people burning and dying. Down the street, the fire was advancing like lava. Everywhere, people were running and screaming in pain and fear. People couldn’t help each other. They were dying where they stood.
Officials said firefighters had trouble reaching the scene because their trucks couldn’t fit through the narrow streets.
Japan has a new prime minister. The parliament today elected Naoto Kan to the post. Kan has served as finance minister, and is known as a populist. He pledged today to regain the trust of the Japanese people. His predecessor, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, stepped down on Wednesday. He broke a campaign promise to move a U.S. Marine base off Okinawa.
Fast-food giant McDonald’s recalled 12 million “Shrek” drinking glasses today. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said there were traces of cadmium in the painted designs. The toxic metal is a known cancer-causing agent. McDonald’s said about seven million of the collectible glasses have been sold. They were made in the U.S.
Those are some of the day’s main stories — now back to Judy.