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News Wrap: In France, Riots Exacerbate Fuel Shortage

October 18, 2010 at 5:49 PM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Strikers in France today defied a government order to stop blocking the country’s oil refineries.

About 1,500 gas stations have nearly run out of fuel. French oil workers were demonstrating against cost-cutting pension reforms that would raise the country’s retirement age to 62. Students also torched cars and tires, blockading themselves from riot police. The reforms have already been approved by the lower National Assembly. The Senate is set to vote Wednesday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy insisted today the proposal will pass, in spite of the protests.

A new al-Qaida terror threat has emerged in France. Saudi Arabian intelligence services warned European officials an attack is likely, especially in France. But they had no specific information on a time, date, place or target list. It follows an ongoing wider threat to Europe that prompted the U.S. State Department to issue a travel alert to Americans traveling in Europe.

Four men were convicted of plotting to blow up synagogues in New York City and simultaneously shoot down cargo planes. A jury returned the guilty verdicts in a federal court in Manhattan today. The four men were arrested last year in an FBI sting operation. A paid FBI informant supplied them with inert bombs to use in the planned attacks. The defense argued the government entrapped their clients.

Iran participated in a high-level meeting on Afghanistan today. The international group met in Rome as part of a renewed push to end the nine-year-old war. It included members of the Afghan government, NATO, the European Union, United Nations, and other key players. Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the U.S. gave the go-ahead for Iran to attend.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE, Special U.S. Representative For Afghanistan and Pakistan: We were asked whether we had any problems with that. We said no. This is a meeting in Afghanistan, and it is restricted to Afghanistan. And what we are discussing here is not affected by, nor will it affect the bilateral issues that are discussed elsewhere concerning Iran.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In Afghanistan today, gunmen killed nine workers who were guarding a NATO supply convoy on Sunday night. It happened in the south, where military supply convoys are regularly attacked.

The most powerful typhoon in years hit the Northern Philippines today, killing at least three people. The super typhoon is named Megi. It is forecast to reach Vietnam and China later this week. The cyclone packed sustained winds of 140 miles per hour. Its force toppled trees and power lines, creating near-zero visibility conditions. Vietnam has already seen more than 31 inches of rain ahead of the typhoon’s arrival. Heavy flooding has killed 30 people. And Chinese officials braced for the worst, ordering the evacuation of 140,000 people who live in coastal communities.

Bank of America announced today it plans to resume some foreclosures in the U.S. next week. The mortgage lender will proceed with foreclosures in 23 states, and paperwork will be re-filed for more than 100,000 cases.

Bank of America was the only lender to halt foreclosures in all states after evidence emerged the bank filed documents that employees didn’t read. Bank of America is a NewsHour underwriter.

Stocks were up on Wall Street today, led by bank earnings. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 81 points to close~ above 11143. The Nasdaq rose nearly 12 points to close at 2480.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.