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News Wrap: Tropical Storm Nicole Floods East Coast Highways

October 1, 2010 at 4:12 PM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Flooding rain and high winds moved up the East Coast today, battering the Northeast and New England. Remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole left major highways and cars underwater in Newark, New Jersey, during the morning commute.

More than 10 inches of rain flooded homes and businesses in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. In the storm’s wake, coastal North Carolina struggled to recover from nearly two feet of rain in the last five days.

The political stalemate in Iraq may finally be nearing an end, after seven months. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki won the support today of a major Shiite group led by Muqtada al-Sadr. Al-Sadr is known for his hard- line opposition to the U.S. presence in Iraq. His backing puts al-Maliki a big step closer to a majority in Parliament.

Pakistan was hit with new turmoil today on several fronts. It began with attackers burning fuel that was meant for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The attacks came in South and Central Pakistan. Shortly after midnight, gunmen torched more than two dozen NATO tanker trucks. A truck driver and his assistant died in a second incident.

Meanwhile, supply convoys were halted for a second day at a key border crossing in the northwest. The crossing closed Thursday after a NATO helicopter raid killed three Pakistani soldiers.

Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani delivered a warning to NATO during a speech today to Parliament.

YOUSUF RAZA GILANI, prime minister, Pakistan (through translator): If you attack inside Pakistani territory and cause any collateral damage, we will not accept it. We will never allow you to interfere with Pakistan’s sovereignty and security.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In Washington, Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke voiced confidence the border crossing would reopen soon. Amid the tensions, Pakistan’s former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, launched a bid to return to power. He acknowledged making mistakes before stepping down, under pressure, in 2008.

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, former Pakistani president: There were some decisions which I took which resulted — which resulted in negative political repercussions. I take this opportunity to sincerely apologize to the whole nation for those wrong decisions.

(APPLAUSE)

HARI SREENIVASAN: Even so, Musharraf insisted, only he has the experience to fight al-Qaida, the Taliban, and the spread of extremism.

Hours earlier, al-Qaida’s leader in hiding, Osama bin Laden, issued a new audio message directed at Pakistan. It called for new efforts to help Muslims affected by war and natural disasters. Catastrophic flooding in Pakistan has generated widespread anger over the government’s response.

The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, reasserted his power today, after violent protests by police. The revolt centered on frozen promotions and bonus cuts, but Correa said it was a coup attempt. At one point, he was roughed up and tear-gassed, and troops had to storm a hospital to rescue him. At least three people were killed.

The U.S. has apologized for deliberately infecting nearly 700 prisoners and mental patients in Guatemala with sexual diseases. It was done in the late 1940s to test penicillin. In a statement today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, called it reprehensible research.

Car bombs rocked Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, today, as the African nation celebrated 50 years of independence. At least eight people were killed. The explosions went off minutes apart, leaving the smoking hulks of the two cars. Militants in the country’s southern delta claimed responsibility. It was the first time the group had struck the capital.

In U.S. economic news, Bank of America froze home mortgage foreclosures in 23 states. It’s checking on whether officials signed legal papers without reading them. Two other companies have taken similar steps.

And, on Wall Street, stocks moved higher after improvements in consumer spending and auto sales. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 41 points to close at 10829. The Nasdaq rose two points to close at 2370. For the week, the Dow and the Nasdaq lost a fraction of 1 percent.

A single transaction apparently triggered the stock market’s flash crash. On May 6, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged nearly 1,000 points in less than 30 minutes. Today, the Securities and Exchange Commission said a huge computerized sell order by an unnamed trading firm started the frenzy. The markets have imposed new curbs to prevent a repeat.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.