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News Wrap: U.S. Expresses Concerns Over Karzai’s Taliban Remarks

April 5, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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In other news Monday, the Obama administration voiced continuing concerns over relations with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, and gunman in Iraq killed a Shiite family of six on the heels of a violent weekend in Baghdad.
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JEFFREY BROWN: Now: the other news of the day.

Here’s Kwame Holman in our newsroom.

KWAME HOLMAN: U.S. officials raised new concerns today about Afghan President Hamid Karzai. On Saturday, Karzai told Afghan lawmakers he might join the Taliban, rather than submit to foreign pressure to reform his government. It’s unclear whether Karzai was serious, but, in Washington today, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said this.

P.J. CROWLEY, U.S. assistant secretary of state for public affairs: That particular comment is a bit of a head-scratcher. But, beyond that, you know, we’re — we’re — you know, we were troubled by some of his comments last week. We think we have addressed them.

I can’t explain, you know, what he said about the Taliban. He is the elected leader of Afghanistan. We’re working closely with he and his government.

KWAME HOLMAN: At the White House, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said a May 12 meeting between Karzai and President Obama still is on schedule.

In Iraq, gunmen killed a Shiite family of six outside Baghdad. The victims included four children. The attack followed an especially violent weekend in Baghdad. On Sunday, three suicide car bombings killed more than 40 Iraqis near several foreign embassies. Iraqi officials said militants are trying to undermine efforts to form a new government.

One hundred and fifteen miners were rescued today from a flooded coal mine in northern China. They had been trapped there since March 28.

We have a report narrated by John Ray of Independent Television News.

JOHN RAY: They are calling the miracle from 500 meters deep. After more than a week entombed underground, no one expected there to be so many survivors, nor even any at all.

Rescue teams had just about given up hope, when they detected faint signs of life. So, no wonder they clap as, one by one, they bring the living, rather than the dead, to the surface. One miner managed, feebly, to return the applause.

The drama has played out on live television, and the relief is tinged by anger at an accident relatives say should never have happened. Warning signs had been ignored by managers long before miners broke into a flooded shaft. Some survivors have spoken of attaching themselves by their belts to a rock wall, as water swept by, and hanging there for days before clambering into a mining cart that floated past.

In hospital, his eyes shielded against the light, this man mumbled a few words. “I’m in great pain,” he says.

Doctors say they are suffering from hypothermia, dehydration and shock. The safety record of China’s coal mines has improved, but it is still the worst in the world.

KWAME HOLMAN: Chinese officials said another 38 men still are trapped in the mine. There was no word on their fate.

Oceangoing cleanup crews raced today to contain an oil spill on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. A Chinese coal ship rammed into part of the reef off the coast of Queensland late Saturday. Today, a two-mile-long oil slick could be seen trailing from the damaged ship. About two tons of the 1,000 tons of fuel aboard the vessel already have spilled out.

The premier of Queensland said an investigation is under way.

ANNA BLIGH, premier of Queensland, Australia: This ship is — has acted illegally, going into these restricted areas. The commonwealth government is now investigating how this happened. And I hope, frankly, that they throw the book at them.

KWAME HOLMAN: The Great Barrier Reef extends more than 1,800 miles. It’s a United Nations world heritage site.

Wall Street started the week on a high note, after last Friday’s report that the economy added jobs in March. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 46 points to close at 10973. The Nasdaq rose nearly 27 points to close at 2429. And the price of oil closed well above $86 a barrel in New York trading, the highest in 18 months.

The federal government told Toyota today to pay more than $16 million, a record civil penalty for an automaker. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Toyota should have notified regulators much sooner about gas pedals that were sticking. The company has two weeks to accept or contest the fine.

For the record, Toyota is an underwriter of the “NewsHour.”

Those are some of the day’s main stories. I will be back at the end of the program with a preview of what you will find tonight on the “NewsHour”‘s Web site — for now, back to Jeff.