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News Wrap: Coal Mine Explosion Killls At Least 16 in Colombia

June 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: At least 16 miners have died in a coal mine explosion
in northwestern Colombia. It happened last night at the SanFernando mine
in Amaga, just south of Medellin. Today, rescue crews searched for dozens of
workers still trapped underground and feared dead.

The force of the blast collapsed an access tunnel that is more than a
mile long and plunges 500 feet down. Authorities said they believe a buildup of
methane gas caused the explosion. At least nine people were killed at the same
mine last August.

European Union leaders adopted new sanctions against Iran today over its
nuclear program. The restrictions are designed to block investments in Iran’s
oil and gas sector and limit its refining and natural gas capability. The E.U.
penalties go beyond those approved by the U.N. Security Council last week. The
U.S. imposed its own new penalties yesterday.

Israel has eased its blockade of Gaza. A spokesman for Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu outlined the new terms today. They include letting
construction materials for civilian projects into Gaza.

MARK REGEV, Israeli government spokesperson: The government of Israel
took decisions to liberalize the system, under which civilian goods may enter
the Gaza Strip, to expand materials for projects inside Gaza that are under
international supervision.

But, of course, we must remain with the security procedures that prevent
the import into Gaza of weapons and more materials that could strengthen the
Hamas military machine.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The militant group Hamas rules Gaza, and a spokesman
called the Israeli move nothing more than window-dressing. The chief negotiator
for the Palestinian Authority, Saeb Erekat, was critical as well.

SAEB EREKAT, chief Palestinian negotiator: There is no such thing as
easing the siege. This siege must be totally and completely lifted. This is a
collective punishment against 1.5 million people living in Gaza. It has no
political dimension.

HARI SREENIVASAN: An Israeli naval blockade of Gaza will stay in place.
Last month, Israeli commandos killed nine people on aid ships bound for Gaza.

More than two dozen Pakistani soldiers are missing after they were
attacked by militants. In all, about 40 troops disappeared on Monday, when
their checkpoint was overrun near the Afghan border. Since then, at least 14
have been found or released.

The U.S. Justice Department has arrested nearly 500 people in a major
crackdown on mortgage fraud. Attorney General Eric Holder announced today the
roundup began in March, as part of Operation Stolen Dreams. He said
investigators documented more than $2 billion in losses from fraud schemes
nationwide, including this one in Chico, California.

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. attorney general: A prominent homebuilder caught with
a significant amount of unsold new homes at the — as the housing market cooled
allegedly used straw buyers to sell his houses at an inflated price, with
undisclosed sales rebates. This scheme inflated prices on other homes in the
area, creating artificially high comparable sales, and affecting the overall new
home market.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Other major cases have unfolded in Detroit, Atlanta,
New Jersey, and Duluth, Minnesota.

Wall Street managed slight gains despite some disappointing news. The
government reported first-time claims for jobless benefits rose unexpectedly
last week. Even so, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 24 points to close
at 10434. The Nasdaq rose more than a point to close at 2307.

A panel of health experts concluded today a new morning-after
contraceptive is safe and effective. The Food and Drug Administration will now
consider whether to allow sales of the new pill, ellaOne. It’s already approved
for use in Europe. Anti-abortion groups have warned ellaOne is more like an
abortion drug than emergency contraception.

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