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News Wrap: June Deadliest Month for U.S. Troops in Iraq in 2 Years

June 30, 2011 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The news from Greece helped reassure Wall Street, and stocks gained ground for a fourth day. The Dow Jones industrial average was up nearly 153 points to close at 12,414. The Nasdaq rose 33 points to close above 2,773.

U.S. forces in Iraq have had their deadliest month in two years. Officials announced today that three American soldiers were killed Wednesday in the south near the border with Iran. That made 15 this month, the most since June of 2009. Shiite militias in Iraq have stepped up attacks on U.S. forces. The militias oppose any move to have the troops stay into next year, past a year-end deadline.

NATO’s monthly losses in Afghanistan reached 64 today, most of them Americans, with two more soldiers killed in the south. And 20 Afghan civilians died when a roadside bomb blew up the bus they were riding.

Meanwhile, the coalition said Tuesday’s deadly attack on a Kabul hotel was the work of the Haqqani Network. The group has ties to al-Qaida and the Taliban. A leader of that network was killed in a NATO airstrike last night.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates got a ceremonial send-off on his last day on the job. President Obama and the outgoing Joint Chiefs chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, joined hundreds of others on the parade ground outside the Pentagon to mark the occasion. The president awarded Gates the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

And the secretary joked it had been a secret to rival the raid on Osama bin Laden.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT GATES: I’m deeply honored and moved by your presentation of this award. It is a big surprise. But we should have known a couple of months ago you’re getting pretty good at this covert ops stuff.

(LAUGHTER)

HARI SREENIVASAN: Gates served four-and-a-half years as defense secretary, starting under President Bush. He will be replaced by Leon Panetta, who moves over from his post as CIA director. Panetta’s successor at the CIA, Gen. David Petraeus, won Senate confirmation today.

In Lebanon, a U.N.-backed tribunal issued indictments today in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. He was one of 23 people killed in a massive truck bombing in Beirut six years ago. He was a prominent Sunni leader, and supporters demanded justice. Lebanese officials said one of the indicted was a senior member of Hezbollah. The Shiite militant group backed by Iran has threatened violence if anyone tries to arrest one of its members.

German lawmakers have approved plans to shutter all nuclear plants by 2022. The vote today endorsed the government’s decision to move to other forms of energy after the nuclear plant disaster in Japan.

The German environment minister called the vote a technological and economic revolution.

NORBERT ROETTGEN, German environment minister (through translator): I believe this is a real turning point for our country, with which our country is agreeing on a common project. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a national community project that we are approving today.

HARI SREENIVASAN: German industry and neighboring countries have warned, the shift from nuclear will make electricity more expensive and less available.

Some 12,000 federal prisoners in the U.S. will be eligible for early release on crack cocaine convictions. The U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to allow that move today. Last year, Congress cut sentences for crack-related crimes to equate them with penalties for powdered cocaine. The commission today extended the change to those jailed under the old penalties. Prisoner releases could begin in November.

The National Basketball Association headed toward a lockout of its players tonight. The players union and team owners failed to reach a new labor agreement as a midnight deadline approached. The two sides remained at odds over a new salary cap system and other issues. As a result, NBA commissioner David Stern said he would recommend the first lockout in 13 years.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.