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News Wrap: Afghanistan Tops Iraq in Total U.S. Troop Presence

May 24, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Wall Street shuddered again today amid uncertainty over Europe’s economy and financial reform in the U.S. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 126 points to close at 10066. The Nasdaq fell 15 points to close at 2213.

For the first time since 2003, U.S. military forces in Afghanistan are now larger than those in Iraq. The U.S. military announced today 94,000 Americans are serving in Afghanistan and 92,000 in Iraq. There was also word that another U.S. soldier was killed in Iraq today. That makes 4,400 since the war began seven years ago.

A state of emergency was in force today in parts of Jamaica. Heavily armed police were on patrol a day after battling gunmen from an alleged drug gang.

Sporadic gunfire echoed today in the barricaded slums of West Kingston, as more government forces deployed. Security troops spent Sunday in firefights with gunmen who shot at police and set a police station on fire. At least two officers were killed and six wounded.

DWIGHT NELSON, Jamaican minister for national security: It is really reprehensible when these policemen put their lives on the line to protect our lives and our property, and are gunned down like clay pigeons, as they were yesterday.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The shooters were holed up in the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood, the stronghold of alleged drug lord Christopher Coke. The violence erupted after Jamaican officials agreed to extradite Coke to the U.S. on charges in trafficking in marijuana, crack cocaine and guns. Jamaica’s prime minister, Bruce Golding, declared a state of emergency.

BRUCE GOLDING, Jamaican prime minister: This decision was based on information and advice provided by the security forces that actions were being taken which pose significant threats to law and order in the corporate area.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Coke’s gang is linked to the governing Labor Party, but Golding agreed to arrest him last week in the face of growing pressure.

In Washington today, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley underscored the U.S. view of Coke as one of the world’s most dangerous drug lords.

P.J. CROWLEY, U.S. assistant secretary of state for public affairs: We have been working with the government of Jamaica for a number of months on this extradition request, and we seek the removal of Mr. Coke to the United States as soon as possible.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In the meantime, Jamaican police warned, other drug gangs have now joined the fighting.

U.S. officials issued a travel alert and warned that roads to the Kingston Airport could be blocked. The Jamaican government said today flights were departing and arriving on schedule.

Human error may have caused the Air India disaster that killed 158 people over the weekend. The country’s civil aviation minister said today other factors looked absolutely normal at the time. The Boeing 737 overshot the hilltop runway as it tried to land early Saturday morning in Mangalore. The plane crashed and then plunged into a ravine. Only eight people survived the crash.

A doctor who first suggested a childhood vaccine could cause autism was banned from practicing in Britain today. A British oversight body found Dr. Andrew Wakefield committed serious misconduct. His 1998 study connecting the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine to autism has been widely discredited. Still, it led to major declines in vaccination rates worldwide. Wakefield now has an autism center in Texas.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Judy.