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News Wrap: Supreme Court Returns Jerusalem Status Passport Case to Lower Court

March 26, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The Supreme Court dealt with two other cases of note today. The justices upheld the federal court’s jurisdiction over a disputed passport law. It lets Americans list Israel as their birthplace if they were born in Jerusalem. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as their capital.

The court also let stand a verdict of $28 million against R.J. Reynolds. It came in the first of 8,000 lawsuits filed against cigarette makers in Florida.

Stocks on Wall Street started the week positive, after remarks by the chairman of the Federal Reserve. In a speech, Ben Bernanke reinforced previous statements that the Fed will keep interest rates low through 2014. That sent the Dow Jones industrial average up by nearly 161 points to close at 13,241. The Nasdaq rose 54 points to close at 3,122.

There were two new incidents of security forces in Afghanistan turning on NATO soldiers, killing three of them. In the south, an Afghan soldier gunned down two British service members at a NATO base in Lashkar Gah. An American soldier was shot and killed near a checkpoint in the east.

In Washington, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Marine General John Allen, warned there may be more to come.

LT. GEN. JOHN ALLEN, commander, International Security Assistance Forces: The enemy is going to do all that they can to disrupt both the counterinsurgency operations, but also disrupt the integrity of the indigenous forces that developed.

So, we should be — we should expect that this will occur in counterinsurgency operations, and as we saw it in Iraq and as we have seen it in — historically in counterinsurgencies, but also in Vietnam. It is a characteristic of this kind of warfare.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The Taliban urged Afghan troops to carry out revenge attacks after 17 Afghan civilians were killed two weeks ago.

There were new details today about U.S. Army Staff Sg.t Robert Bales, accused in the murders. An internal military document said that, after the killings, Bales returned to base with blood on his hands, uniform and equipment. The document also said investigators found suspected steroids hidden in Bales’ living quarters.

Lawmakers in Iraq are demanding a thorough investigation after an Iraqi-American woman was killed in San Diego. Shaima Alawadi died Saturday, three days after she was found brutally beaten in her home. Police also found two notes. One read, “Go back to your country, you terrorist.”

The Iraqi foreign minister said today the body will be flown back to Baghdad for burial.

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba this afternoon, beginning a three-day stay. Cuban President Raul Castro was on hand to greet the pontiff in Santiago, the country’s second largest city. Benedict plans to celebrate an open-air mass there tonight before traveling to Havana tomorrow. This is the first papal trip to the communist-led island nation since Pope John Paul II visited in 1998.

A trial began today in Philadelphia for the first U.S. Catholic Church official charged with covering up sexual abuse of children. Monsignor William Lynn pleaded not guilty to moving suspect priests to other parishes in the city. The defense argued Lynn may be the only person in the Philadelphia Archdiocese who tried to address the scandal.

In the presidential campaign, Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney picked up new endorsements from conservative leaders. They included Utah Sen. Mike Lee and California Congressman Kevin McCarthy. They urged the party to unite behind Romney. But Rick Santorum insisted he had no plans to step aside after winning Saturday’s primary in Louisiana.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.