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News Wrap: Congolese Soldiers and Policemen Defect to Rebels Side

November 21, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: Thousands of soldiers and policemen in Eastern Congo defected to the rebels’ side today. They could be seen laying down their weapons in Goma a day after rebels captured that city. Rebel leaders have vowed to take control of the entire country, including its capital, Kinshasa. Meanwhile, a new United Nations report concluded that Rwanda and Uganda are providing direct military support to the rebels. Both countries have denied those claims.

General John Allen, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, is back in Kabul today to resume his duties. He’d been in Washington to testify before Congress when he became embroiled in the scandal of David Petraeus. Allen is now under investigation by the Pentagon for potentially inappropriate e-mails with a woman linked to the scandal. Allen will continue his duties in Afghanistan during the probe, while his nomination for commander of U.S.-European command and top NATO general remains on hold.

India has executed the last surviving attacker from the 2008 terror attack that killed 166 people. Mohammed Ajmal Kasab was hanged in secret early today at a jail in Pune. Public celebrations broke out across the country as news spread of his execution. Kasab was part of a Pakistani- based squad of militants who carried out the three-day-long siege on India’s financial capital. They targeted key sites like luxury hotels and a Jewish center.

Newly released documents show a government agency took 684 days to warn of earlier problems at a pharmacy linked to the meningitis outbreak. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter over the Massachusetts lab in 2007, but it took nearly 18 months longer than an average response. The FDA acknowledged there had been a delay, but said it was because of the agency’s limited, unclear authority; 34 people in the U.S. have died after receiving tainted painkilling injections from the Massachusetts-based lab.

Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., a Democrat from Illinois, resigned from the House of Representatives today. He had been on medical leave for treatment of bipolar disorder since June. Jackson has also been under investigation for misuse of campaign funds and was facing a congressional ethics probe. He won reelection to the House in November. Jackson’s seat is now expected to be filled through a special election.

Mortgage rates in the U.S. fell to record lows this week, helping to boost home sales. The average 30-year loan rate dropped to 3.3 percent, the lowest on record since records began in 1971. On Wall Street today, stocks moved slightly higher ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 48 points to close under 12,837. The Nasdaq rose nearly 10 points to close above 2,926.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.