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Other News: Violence in Iraq Kills 33

June 22, 2009 at 6:15 PM EST
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, fresh violence in Iraq killed at least 33 people. A series of bombs went off in and around Baghdad, mostly in Shiite districts. Dozens of Iraqis were wounded, in addition to those killed.

On Saturday, a large truck bomb killed at least 75 people in the north. The attacks have intensified as U.S. troops get ready to leave Iraq’s major cities next week.

U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan will soon have new rules of engagement to safeguard civilians. Their new commander, U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal, plans to order troops to break off fights with militants hiding in houses. A spokesman said today the troops should attack only if they’re in imminent danger.

In economic news, the World Bank predicted overall growth will fall nearly 3 percent this year. That was much worse than an earlier forecast, and it sparked a sell-off on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 200 points, more than 2 percent, to close at 8,339. The Nasdaq fell 61 points to close at 1,766, a loss of 3 percent.

The news dragged down the price of oil nearly 4 percent. It closed below $67 a barrel in New York.

President Obama today hailed an agreement to close a gap in Medicare’s drug coverage. He said pharmaceutical companies will spend $80 billion over 10 years. It’s to cut the cost of drugs for the elderly and to help fund broader health care reform. Mr. Obama called it a “significant breakthrough” in that overall effort.

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: Today marks a major step forward, but it will only be meaningful if we complete the journey. And to those who here in Washington who’ve grown accustomed to “sky is falling” prognoses and the certainties that we cannot get this done, I have to repeat and revive an old saying we had from the campaign: Yes, we can. We are going to get this done.

JIM LEHRER: The president said some Medicare recipients will get at least a 50 percent discount on covered drugs. An industry spokesman said parts of the agreement are not yet final.

A major new anti-smoking measure has now become law. Today’s signing in the White House Rose Garden followed a fight that lasted for years. The Food and Drug Administration won the power to regulate the making and marketing of tobacco products. The FDA will not be allowed to ban nicotine or tobacco outright, but cigarette makers will have to disclose ingredients and add large, graphic warnings to their cartons.

Two Washington, D.C., subway trains collided late today in a fatal crash. The local fire department said at least one person was killed when one train ended up on top of the other. Local news accounts said three people died, more than 50 others were hurt in the wreck. There was no immediate word on what caused the collision.