In other news Thursday, captors in Somalia threatened to kill an American hostage if the United States attempts to free him. The warning followed a Navy SEAL raid that rescued another American and a Dane. Also, government forces in Syria stormed the town of Douma, detaining at least 200 people, according to activists.
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Pirates in Somalia threatened today to kill an American hostage if the U.S. attempts to free him. The warning followed a Navy SEAL raid that rescued another American and a Dane who had been held since October.
The latest U.S. captive was abducted on Saturday. His captors said today he's being moved frequently to discourage a new raid. One pirate said, if they try again, "We will all die together."
In Syria, government forces stormed a town just outside Damascus, and fighting raged with army defectors. It happened in Duma, a flash point suburb of the capital. Troops went house to house, and activists said at least 200 people were detained. In downtown Damascus, only 10 miles away, thousands of pro-government backers flooded the streets in a show of support for President Bashar al-Assad.
Democrats in the U.S. Senate have blocked a Republican effort to bar President Obama from raising the nation's debt limit. The vote today was largely along party lines. The national debt currently stands at $15.2 trillion. The increase would raise it by another $1.2 trillion. The House voted against the increase last week.
On Wall Street, stocks fell as lagging home sales undercut an early rally. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 22 points to close at 12,734. The Nasdaq fell 13 points to close at 2,805.
The Obama administration has released new rules aimed at restoring national forests. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today the goal is to protect woodlands, while creating opportunities for the timber industry. The rules would shorten the average time it takes to develop forest management plans, among other things. The current rules have been in place since 1982. Several attempts at revisions have been thrown out by federal courts.
The Penn State community paid final respects today to former football coach Joe Paterno. And there were overtones of the scandal that led to his firing last November. More than 12,000 people packed the school's basketball arena for the service.
A line of speakers, including former Penn State quarterback Todd Blackledge, lauded the legendary coach.
TODD BLACKLEDGE, former Penn State quarterback: Joe's success and his impact didn't end Sunday when he died. And it didn't end yesterday, when we all said goodbye to him. It will live on in this place, Penn State, and it will live on in the lives and the hearts of all the people here for many, many years to come.
The Penn State trustees had dismissed Paterno and said he should've done more about allegations that a former assistant molested children.
But Paterno's longtime friend Nike chairman Phil Knight defended the coach's response.
PHIL KNIGHT, Nike:
In the year in question, it turns out he gave full disclosure to his superiors, information that went up the chain to head of the campus police and the president of the school. Whatever the details of the investigation are, this much is clear to me: If there is a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation, not in Joe Paterno's response to it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
Paterno worked at Penn State for more than 60 years. He died Sunday of lung cancer at age 85.
Those are some of the day's major stories.