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News Wrap: Typhoon Rips Through Southeast Asia

September 30, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT
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JIM LEHRER: And in other news today, nations across Southeast Asia counted at least 331 people dead after one of the worst typhoons in years. The storm was downgraded to a tropical depression as it crossed into Laos, but it left devastation in the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.

In Vietnam, parts of two provinces were cut off by flooding. And across the central part of the country, nearly 180,000 homes were destroyed or damaged. More than 350,000 people were evacuated from the storm’s path.

The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq called for flexibility today on withdrawing troops over the next year. Army General Ray Odierno told a U.S. House hearing 4,000 troops will leave by the end of October. That’s earlier than planned. At the same time, he said U.S. officials should not forget about Iraq, even as they shift resources to Afghanistan.

GEN. RAY ODIERNO: The plan we have, I believe, allows us to withdraw deliberately and maintain what I believe is appropriate level of security that the Iraqi security forces ultimately can sustain and continue to improve. That said, we work very carefully, I work very carefully with General Petraeus in order to identify any capabilities that we have and no longer need that could be used in Afghanistan.

JIM LEHRER: American troops are set to withdraw completely from Iraq by the end of 2011.

The U.S. House has given final approval to tripling non-military aid to Pakistan. The bill includes $1.5 billion dollars a year for the next five years for economic and other development work. The goal is to counter growing anti-American sentiment. The Senate approved the measure last week. It now goes to the president for signature.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a new challenge to local bans on handguns. The court agreed today to consider the issue next year in a case from Chicago. Last year, the justices struck down a similar ban in Washington, D.C. The Chicago case could extend that decision to local and state laws in general.

On Wall Street today, stocks were up and down, but ended the day with a loss. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up nearly 30 points to close at 9,712. The Nasdaq fell more than 1 point to close at 2,122.