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News Wrap: U.S., Afghan Troops Claim Gains in Taliban Stronghold

October 21, 2010 at 5:08 PM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: There was word today a U.S. and Afghan offensive is making gains against Taliban fighters in their stronghold in Kandahar. A report in The New York Times said the advances are due mainly to a new mobile rocket and raids on insurgent supply lines. The operation began this summer.

Mass protests against pension reforms in France raged for another day. Youths rioted in Lyon, and police fought back with water cannons and tear gas. In Paris, students marched peacefully, opposing austerity measures that would raise the minimum partial retirement age to 62 and the full-time retirement age to 67.

In Paris, President Nicolas Sarkozy insisted the government will not give in.

NICOLAS SARKOZY, French president (through translator): I perfectly understand that people are on strike. There is a right to strike. We shouldn’t be offended, and we shouldn’t criticize. But no one has the right to take innocent people hostage in their daily lives. We cannot be the only country where, when there is a reform, a minority group wants to paralyze the others. This is not possible.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The French Senate is expected to vote on the retirement age question tomorrow. Approval of the final text by both houses of Parliament could come next week.

The government rescue of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could end up costing nearly $260 billion. That projection today from the Treasury is roughly twice what the companies already received. It’s also easily the most expensive bailout of the financial crisis. Fannie and Freddie buy home loans from lenders and sell them as bonds, with a guarantee against default.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 38 points to close at 11146. The Nasdaq rose two points to close at 2459.

Toyota is recalling more than 1.5 million Lexus, Avalon and other models around the world — 740,000 of those vehicles are here in the United States. The majority may have a problem with a master cylinder that can weaken braking power. Toyota has recalled more than 10 million vehicles for a variety of problems over the past year.

For a list of the affected models, you can log onto our Web site, NewsHour.PBS.org.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.