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News Wrap: Six U.S. Marines Killed in Afghanistan Helicopter Crash

January 20, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: Six U.S. Marines were killed in a helicopter crash in Southern Afghanistan today. There was no immediate word on the cause. The Taliban claimed it shot down the chopper, but U.S. officials said there was no indication that enemy fire was involved.

France warned today its forces might leave Afghanistan early after an Afghan soldier shot and killed four French troops. It was the latest in a series of similar attacks.

In Paris, President Nicholas Sarkozy called off efforts to train Afghan units until security improves.

NICOLAS SARKOZY, French president (through translator): From now on, all the operations of training and combat help by the French army are suspended. If the conditions of security are not clearly restored, then the question of an early withdrawal of the French army back in France will arise.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Fifteen French soldiers were wounded in the attack.

A quarter-of-a-million homes and businesses were in the dark today in Washington state after a major winter storm knocked out the power. The storm was also causing widespread flooding as heavy snow and ice began melting. Rivers in Oregon spilled out of their banks as well, and more rain was in the forecast.

The orange glow of fire kept fire crews on edge outside Reno, Nev. Thousands of people had to flee after the fast-moving brushfire tore through the area yesterday. It reached the city outskirts overnight, destroying at least 26 homes. By today, firefighters had the blaze 50 percent contained. The fire was fueled by 80 mile-an-hour winds.

The front steps of courthouses in a number of U.S. cities were occupied by protesters today. The rallies were aimed at a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that abolished most limits on corporate and labor spending in federal elections. In Washington, about 150 people marched in front of the Supreme Court, protesting corporate involvement in government. They were joined by some Occupy Wall Street activists.

In economic news, Microsoft and IBM reported better earnings than expected, while Google missed its target.

And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 96 points to close at 12,720, but the Nasdaq fell a point to close at 2,786. For the week, the Dow gained more than 2 percent; the Nasdaq rose nearly 3 percent.

Famed blues singer Etta James died today of leukemia at a Los Angeles-area hospital. She had a string of hits in the late 1950s and ’60s, including her signature classic “At Last.” In 2009, she performed it on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

ETTA JAMES, singer (singing): At last. . .


ETTA JAMES (singing): . . . my love has come along. And my lonely days, they’re over. And life is like a song.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Etta James was 73 years old.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.