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Other News: Home Sales Rise, Mexico Drug War Escalates

March 23, 2009 at 6:15 PM EST
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, the housing market showed signs of life and helped fuel that rally on Wall Street. The National Association of Realtors reported sales of existing homes grew 5 percent in February. That was the largest gain in nearly six years. It was driven by first-time buyers snapping up foreclosed homes at deep discounts.

The government of Mexico will offer $2 million each for the arrest of 24 top drug lords. It’s the latest effort to stop the drug violence engulfing Mexico and spilling into the southwestern U.S. More than 8,000 people have died in the drug wars in Mexico over the past two years.

In Iraq, a series of bombings killed 31 people; 23 of them died in a suicide attack at a funeral; eight others were killed in a blast at a bus terminal.

The stepped-up violence came as President Abdullah Gul of Turkey arrived in Baghdad. He urged action to stop Kurdish rebels from attacking into Turkey. It’s the first time a Turkish head of state has visited Iraq in more than 30 years.

New fighting across southern Afghanistan has claimed dozen of lives since the weekend. Taliban fighters in Kandahar province stormed a police patrol today, killing eight Afghan officers. And NATO confirmed it killed a senior Taliban commander and nine others Saturday in Helmand province. Two NATO soldiers were killed in that same region; there was no word on their nationalities.