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Other News: Three U.S. Troops Killed in Afghanistan

August 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM EST
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In other news, the U.S. military announced that three more American soldiers were killed since Saturday in Afghanistan, bringing the total number of American deaths there in the month of August to 18.
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, the U.S. military in Afghanistan announced three more Americans have died in fighting since Saturday; that made 18 killed so far this month.

And in Iraq, more bombs went off in Shiite sections of Baghdad. At least eight Iraqis were killed.

Intelligence officials in Pakistan reported a missile strike killed as many as 14 militants. They said a U.S. drone aircraft attacked a Taliban camp near the Afghan border. Another U.S. strike apparently killed the commander of the Pakistani Taliban last week. The Taliban insisted today’s missile attack hit a house and killed six civilians.

A court in Myanmar has sentenced opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to more detention. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate heard today she will spend another year-and-a-half as a prisoner in her own home.

We have a report narrated by Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: She’s 64 now and has paid for the Nobel Peace Prize she won in 1991 by spending most of her time in detention. She was let out earlier this year to meet foreign diplomats, but who knows what toll 14 years of confinement and house arrest have taken on the famously sanguine Aung San Suu Kyi.

Today, her supporters dared to gather on Rangoon streets and film secretly outside the prison where she stood trial. Burma’s generals reduced her three-year jail sentence, but they showed no intention of releasing her yet.

The verdict was broadcast on Burma’s news: 18 months more house arrest for violating internal security, though the presenter helpfully added that Suu Kyi would be allowed to watch state television, as if that would soften the blow.

Suu Kyi’s lawyer said he wasn’t surprised, that he’d been stocking up on books and medicine as his client prepares to while away more hours and months in her lakeside villa until the woman elected to lead her country 19 years ago can actually leave home.

It was this American tourist who gave Burma’s generals their latest excuse. John Yettaw used flippers to swim across Suu Kyi’s lake in May to see her without permission. Today, he was imprisoned for seven years, including hard labor, and among the charges, swimming in a non-swimming area.

And around the world, including London, there were protests on Suu Kyi’s behalf. The Europeans talked about new sanctions against Burmese wood and ruby exports. The Americans said next year’s Burmese elections would have no legitimacy without Suu Kyi.

Burmese security forces were out in strength today on the road leading to the prison where Suu Kyi was tried and where she gave this message to the foreign diplomats watching: “I hope we can work closely for peace and prosperity,” she said, “a hope that stretches back decades,” a hope tonight nurtured once again from behind these barricades leading to her home.

JIM LEHRER: After the sentencing, President Obama issued a statement that called for Suu Kyi’s “immediate, unconditional release.”

Rescuers in Taiwan scoured remote villages today looking for survivors of a deadly typhoon. The storm’s weekend assault killed at least 70 people. So far, military helicopters have airlifted more than 900 people who fled three villages in the south. But hundreds of others may still be trapped in mudslides that covered vast areas. The storm caused the worst flooding in Taiwan in 50 years.

In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department reported worker productivity soared last spring by the most in almost six years.

But on Wall Street, stocks were down as new concerns about bank profits dragged on the broader market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 96 points to close at 9,241. The Nasdaq fell 22 points to close at 1,969.

Oil prices were also down. The price in New York trading dropped back under $70 a barrel.

General Motors announced today it’s ready to set a radical new gas mileage standard. The company said its plug-in hybrid electric car, the Chevy Volt, should get 230 miles a gallon in city driving. CEO Fritz Henderson said the Volt will travel up to 40 miles on a single battery charge. After that, a small gasoline engine generates the electricity.

FRITZ HENDERSON, chief executive officer, General Motors: Since three-quarters of Americans commute fewer than 40 miles a day, most Volt drivers will operate on a daily basis without having to use a single drop of gas.

Incidentally, it’s also much less expensive to drive a car with electricity. In Detroit, for example, you can charge the Volt at night, off peak, for about five cents per kilowatt hour, which means a full 40-mile charge of the Volt will cost about 40 cents.

JIM LEHRER: The Volt could cost around $40,000 when it hits dealer showrooms next year. Henderson said the price is expected to come down in future years.

He also acknowledged plugging in the car will be a problem for people in apartments. Ultimately, G.M. expects charging stations to meet that demand.

Medical researchers may have found another critical use for aspirin. A new study indicates it could cut the risk of death in colon cancer patients by 30 percent. The findings are in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The patients took aspirin in conjunction with surgery and chemotherapy. Colorectal cancer kills nearly 50,000 Americans each year.