News Wrap: Pfizer Recalls 1 Million Packets of Birth Control Pills
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KWAME HOLMAN: The day’s economic news showed promise. Factory output rose in January by the most in seven months, and Chrysler reported its best January sales in four years. It also earned a profit last year, for the first time since 1997. Ford sales also rose in January, but business at General Motors was down slightly.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 83 points to close at 12,716. The Nasdaq rose 34 points to close at 2,848.
Drug maker Pfizer has recalled a million packets of birth control pills. The company said today some of the packages contained too many active tablets, while others had too few. That raises the risk of an unintended pregnancy. The pills in question are manufactured by Pfizer, but sold in the U.S. under the Akrimax Pharmaceuticals brand.
At least 73 people were killed in Egypt today when a soccer match erupted into a riot. Fans of rival teams rushed the field in Port Said, hurling sticks and stones at each other. Egyptian state television reported at least 1,000 people were injured in the ensuing stampede.
U.S. forces now expect to end their combat role in Afghanistan some time in 2013. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta laid out that timeline today, the most explicit yet. He said a training role would continue through 2014. Meanwhile, a leaked NATO report said captured Taliban fighters believe their side will seize power again after NATO forces leave.
But a NATO spokesman in Kabul insisted the insurgents are losing the war.
BRIG. GEN. CARSTEN JACOBSON, International Security Assistance Force: We cannot really put that high a value on what they are saying, as they are talking about their perception of the campaign, what they believe how the campaign is going, and what they want us to believe how their campaign is going.
KWAME HOLMAN: The report also said the Pakistani intelligence service knows all about Taliban activities and the locations of their leaders.
But the foreign minister of Pakistan visited Kabul today, and she said the claims were nothing more than old wine in an even older bottle.
HINA RABBANI KHAR, Pakistani foreign minister: I don’t think these claims are new. These claims have been made for many, many years. And we all know the reasons for that. So, I think I can just disregard this as potentially a strategic leak or otherwise.
KWAME HOLMAN: Also today, NATO said an Afghan soldier shot and killed a coalition soldier in the south. An Afghan commander said it was an accident, but Afghan-on-coalition attacks have numbered six since December. And a Pentagon report today counted more than 40 such incidents since 2007, with 70 coalition troops killed.
In Pakistan, fighting between militants and the military ratcheted up in a series of incidents. Pakistani fighter jets bombed militants in a border region. The army reported up to 31 insurgents were killed. To the south, gunmen attacked a paramilitary checkpoint in Baluchistan Province, killing 11 soldiers. A separatist insurgency there has raged for decades.
A deep freeze kept much of Central and Eastern Europe in its grip today, and the death toll rose to 83. The hardest-hit areas, in pink on this map, had temperatures as low as -26 degrees Fahrenheit, as cold air pushed down from Siberia. In Bosnia, small mountain villages were cut off by heavy snow, and helicopters had to airlift emergency supplies. Parts of the Black Sea froze near the Romanian coastline. And even farther south, parts of Italy were having the coldest week in nearly 30 years.
A shipwreck hunter in New England may have found one of the richest sunken treasures ever. Greg Brooks announced today he’s located the wreck of a World War II cargo ship that carried 71 tons of platinum, valued today at $3 billion. A German U-boat torpedoed the ship off Cape Cod in 1942. Salvage operations may begin in March.
A stunning discovery rippled through the art world today. The Prado Museum in Spain announced it has a version of the Mona Lisa that is likely the earliest known copy. Officials said it was almost certainly painted by an apprentice as Leonardo da Vinci was painting his masterpiece. X-ray imaging taken two years ago allowed restorers to uncover a Tuscan landscape background similar to the original, but hidden under a black coating.
MIGUEL FALOMIR, Prado Museum (through translator): The most important thing is to return the painting to its original condition. The painting was covered for 250 years with a black dye. This painting can help us show the original painting from other points of view, and also help to document the practices in Leonardo’s studio. While Leonardo was painting the original, the disciples were painting their versions.
KWAME HOLMAN: The painting has been a part of the Prado collection for years, but had not been displayed often.
A renowned Polish poet who won the Nobel Prize for literature died today at her home in Krakow. Wislawa Szymborska was awarded the Nobel in 1996. The Prize Committee said she mixed elegant language with the fury of Beethoven. Her work spanned more than six decades, starting in 1945. Wislawa Szymborska was 88 years old.
And another death of note: The creator and host of “Soul Train,” Don Cornelius, was found dead of a gunshot wound at his Los Angeles home early today. Police said it was a suicide.
His TV dance show, with its trademark animated chugging train opening, aired nationally from 1971 to 2006. It showcased the best in R&B, soul and hip-hop music. Cornelius hosted the show for 22 seasons, until 1993. He was 75 years old.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.