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News Wrap: U.S. Contractor Killed in NATO Base Attack in Afghanistan

May 19, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN: Taliban militants in Afghanistan attacked a giant U.S.-run NATO base, killing a private U.S. security worker and wounding nine American troops. Ten of the insurgents died as well. The pre-dawn raid targeted Bagram Airfield north of Kabul. It touched off firefights with U.S. forces that went on for eight hours. It was the second strike on NATO forces in as many days.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate fell short today in a bid to push financial reform to a final vote. Republicans balked at cutting off debate until several key issues are addressed. Those include banning commercial banks from trading in derivatives and exempting auto dealers from oversight by a new consumer bureau. Ultimately, a Senate bill would have to be reconciled with the financial reform measure already passed by the House.

Wall Street spent another nervous day over fears Europe cannot fix its debt problems any time soon. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 66 points to close at 10444. The Nasdaq fell nearly 19 points to close at 2298.

A federal jury has ordered drugmaker Novartis to pay $250 million for discriminating against women in its work force. The punitive damages award came today in New York. It affects 5,600 women who claim they were paid less and promoted less often than men were. Novartis said it was disappointed with the verdict. There was no immediate word on a possible appeal.

In Romania, an estimated 40,000 public workers protested against planned cuts in wages. Teachers, policemen, doctors and other government employees rallied in Bucharest. They blew whistles and chanted, “Down with the lying government.” The government is cutting salaries by 25 percent and pensions by 15 percent to deal with a budget crisis.

Top U.S. scientists urged drastic action today to slow global warming. For the first time, the National Academy of Sciences called for a specific change in climate policy. It recommended a carbon tax on fossil fuels or a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions. The academy said the U.S. needs to cut those emissions by up to 80 percent over the next 40 years.

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