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Other News: North Koreans Protest New U.N. Sanctions

June 15, 2009 at 6:15 PM EDT

JIM LEHRER: In other news today, there was a massive rally in North Korea to protest new U.N. sanctions. The U.N. Security Council toughened an arms embargo last Friday in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear test.

Today, thousands of civilians and soldiers filled the capital city’s main square. They carried banners and chanted slogans in support of the country’s policies and leadership.

U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal officially took command of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. He replaces Army Gen. David McKiernan, who was asked to step down last month
by Defense Secretary Gates.

The official handover ceremony took place in Kabul. McChrystal is the former head of the Joint Special Operations Command. He pledged to protect the people of Afghanistan.

GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, commander, International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan: We must recapture the excitement and inspiration that ignited this country upon the fall of the Taliban in 2001. We must rededicate ourselves to the Afghan people and help them build a government and a future for their country that they can be proud of.

JIM LEHRER: McChrystal will oversee the largest international force ever in Afghanistan. There are 56,000 U.S. troops and 32,000 other foreign troops already in the country.

In Iraq, the top American commander said the U.S. is committed to pulling back combat troops by the end of June. Army Gen. Ray Odierno said nearly all troops will leave urban areas as agreed in a U.S.-Iraqi security agreement.

And in Britain, Prime Minister Brown launched an inquiry into the government’s decision to join the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He said the private investigation will disclose “all but the most
sensitive information.”

Three foreign hostages were found dead today in Yemen, according to that country’s state news agency, and other news organizations reported six other bodies were also found. The group of nine vanished Friday during a picnic in a volatile part of northern Yemen. It included seven Germans, one Briton, and a South Korean. The slayings took place in a region where al-Qaida militants have a strong presence.

In U.S. economic news, stocks on Wall Street sank more than 2 percent today. A weak manufacturing report, falling commodities, and a stronger dollar helped fuel the sell-off. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 187 points to close at 8,612. The Nasdaq fell 42 points to close at 1,816.