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Top of the News

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The latest headlines.


Welcome back to THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. We're on digital, FM satellite and online at

I'm Alison Stewart.


And I'm Robert Smith.

Coming up, the scoop on gift cards. Hassle-free? Not so much. What you need to know before you go out to target a Home Depot today.

But first, let's hear about today's top stories from our very own newscaster Rachel Martin.

BILL WOLFF (Announcer): This is NPR.

(Soundbite of music)


Hey, good morning everyone.

Police in San Francisco are investigating the mauling death of a visitor by a Siberian tiger that managed to escape from its cage at the San Francisco Zoo late Tuesday afternoon. The animal seriously injured two other men.

Here's reporter Bob Hensley with more.

BOB HENSLEY: According to zoo officials, one man was killed outside the facility where the tigers are kept. The other two were attacked about 300 yards away at a cafe. The animal was shot to death by San Francisco police officers as it was clawing at one of the victims. The incident occurred shortly after the zoo's closing time.

Lora LaMarca is a spokeswoman for the zoo.

Ms. LORA LaMARCA (Spokeswoman, San Francisco Zoo): The tiger was in her outdoor exhibit. We do know that she got out, but we did not know how.

HENSLEY: Officials at San Francisco Hospital say the injured victims, both men in their 20s, are in serious but stable condition. They're expected to survive. About a year ago, the 350-pound tiger attacked and injured a trainer.

MARTIN: That was reporter Bob Hensley in Modesto, California.

Rescuers in Nepal are searching icy river waters today for more than 100 people feared dead after a steel footbridge collapsed. At least 15 people have been confirmed dead and dozens injured. Five hundred people crossed the bridge over the Bheri River as they were on their way to a village fair about 300 miles west of Kathmandu. The 400-foot long bridge snapped under the weight and hundreds of people went tumbling into the water.

Thousands of prisoners in Iraq could be freed under a new law signed today by the Iraqi government. Iraq's parliament signed a draft law that will offer a general pardon to scores of prisoners held in U.S. military and Iraqi custody. The law sets out who's eligible to be released and who is not. More details coming up.

Christmas may be over but hey, Kwanzaa is just getting started. The seven-day festival of Kwanzaa begins today. It was created in 1966 as a celebration of America's ties to African culture.

Here's NPR's Brenda Box with more.

BRENDA BOX: Kwanzaa, which means first fruits in Swahili, was founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga more than 40 years ago, a year after the Watts riots in Los Angeles. He said he wanted to bring people together to focus on traditional African values. Millions of people observe Kwanzaa in the United States and other countries. And President Bush issued a Kwanzaa message in which he commended those who celebrate the holiday for taking pride in their rich heritage.

A recent survey by the National Retail Federation found that 1.6 percent of those questioned said they would celebrate Kwanzaa, compared to 92 percent observing Christmas and 5 percent marking Hanukkah.

MARTIN: NPR's Brenda Box. And that is the news. It is always online at

WOLFF: This is NPR.

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