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News Wrap: NATO Forces in Afghanistan Take Heavy Casualities

October 13, 2010 at 4:51 PM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: NATO forces in Afghanistan took heavy casualties today. Six troops were killed in three separate incidents. That brought the total for October to 34 dead. Word of the deaths came as the U.N. Security Council renewed the NATO’s mission in Afghanistan for one more year.

At Fort Hood, Texas, testimony began at a pretrial hearing on last November’s mass shootings. Major Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is charged with killing 13 people. Witnesses today described hiding under desks as gunfire erupted. One man testified that Hasan shouted, “God is great” in Arabic. Police ultimately shot Hasan, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. The hearing will determine if there’s enough evidence to take the case to trial.

Fifty states and the District of Columbia opened a joint investigation today into the growing foreclosure scandal. They will look into whether lenders used shoddy or fraudulent documents to evict thousands of homeowners. Employees at four large lenders have admitted they signed foreclosure documents without reading them. More than two-and-a-half million U.S. homes have gone into foreclosure since December of 2007.

The woman who led the drive to reform one of the country’s worst performing urban school systems is resigning. Michelle Rhee announced today she will step down as head of the public schools in Washington, D.C., at the end of the month. She gained national attention by firing a host of low-performing teachers and raising test scores. But she also drew strong criticism. Today, Rhee said she enjoyed every minute of her work.

MICHELLE RHEE, chancellor, District of Columbia Public Schools: I’m honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to serve the very deserving young people of this city.

The thought of not being in this role anymore is heartbreaking, to put it mildly. But I do know that it is the right thing for the school system and the right thing, most importantly, for the children of D.C.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Rhee’s departure was expected after the man who hired her, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, lost his reelection bid. His apparent successor has been a critic of Rhee.

Newer cars in the U.S. will be allowed to use more corn-based ethanol. The Environmental Protection Agency today approved gasoline mixtures containing up to 15 percent ethanol. The maximum now is 10 percent. The ethanol industry maintains that higher concentrations of the corn-based fuel will not harm engine performance. The auto industry disagrees. And livestock operations warn the move will mean higher corn prices for them.

Upbeat reports on corporate earnings helped Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 75 points to close at 11096. The Nasdaq rose 23 points to close at 2441.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.