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Two NATO Troops Killed in Afghanistan

December 31, 2010 at 3:50 PM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Two more NATO troops were killed in Afghanistan today. That brings the year’s toll for foreign troops to 711, the highest since the war began. American deaths were also the highest, at 498.

But Afghan and coalition officials cited progress against the Taliban, announcing the death of a shadow governor of a northern province.

A top ally of Ivory Coast’s internationally recognized leader today declared the country in a civil war situation. Incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo has refused to relinquish power after losing to Alassane Ouattara more than a month ago.

Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, offered to support the U.N. if force is needed to oust Gbagbo, and if West African nations ask for help. Leaders of a 15-nation bloc of African countries have prepared plans to forcefully take over power if talks fail.

A bomb exploded at a Nigerian army barracks today, killing at least 30 people. Nigerian state television reported it happened in the capital city, Abuja, in a beer garden as people gathered to celebrate the New Year. Today’s bombing follows a series of Christmas Eve explosions in central Nigeria that killed more than 30 people.

Officials in New Orleans ordered residents of the last remaining FEMA trailers to move out or face steep fines. Only 221 of the trailers are left out of the more than 23,000 that were put in place as temporary homes for Hurricane Katrina victims. State administrators described the existing trailers as blight, and want them removed by March.

A ground beef recall is in effect for possible contamination from E. coli. More than 34,000 pounds of potentially tainted organic ground beef products were distributed in New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Wisconsin, California and Washington State. The company, First Class Foods of Hawthorne, California, has not yet received any reports of illnesses.

Freezing temperatures in Florida this month cost farmers and citrus growers $273 million. Crops of green beans, sweet corn, and eggplant were among the hardest hit by the cold snap. And the Florida Department of Agriculture statistics do not account for the last 10 days of the month. The crop losses have driven up the price of produce in stores across the U.S., and led to increased imports from overseas.

On Wall Street, stocks were mixed on the last day of a strong year for the market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained more than seven points, to close at 11,577. The Nasdaq fell 10 points, to close above 2,652. For the year, the Dow gained 11 percent, the Nasdaq rose 17 percent.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.