In other news Thursday, more than 3,000 Iraqis protested prisoner abuse and court-system corruption in the streets of Baghdad. The demonstrations were one of the biggest since political unrest began in Egypt and Tunisia. In northwestern Pakistan, a suicide bomber killed at least 31 troops at an army training camp.
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Some 3,000 Iraqis demonstrated in Baghdad today, demanding an end to corruption in the courts and abuse of prisoners. They were led by lawyers in one of the biggest protests in Iraq since the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Smaller rallies also were held in Basra and Mosul.
In Pakistan, a suicide bomber attacked soldiers at an army training camp, killing 31 troops. It happened in Mardan in the northwest during morning exercises. In addition to the dead, more than 40 soldiers were wounded. The attack was one of the worst aimed at security forces in recent months.
The governments of India and Pakistan will resume peace talks for the first time since the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India. Negotiations were put on hold after Pakistani-based militants killed 166 people there. A statement today said the new talks will discuss terrorism and the disputed Kashmir region, among other issues. There was no immediate word on when the sessions will begin.
The number-two Republican in the U.S. Senate is retiring. Arizona's Jon Kyl announced today he won't seek reelection in 2012. His departure, after three terms, leaves Republicans with a second open seat to defend as they try to take back control of the Senate. Still, Kyl said it's time to give the job to someone else.
SEN. JON KYL (R-Ariz.), minority whip: There are people who say, well, there are so many unmet challenges. Well, that will always be the case.
I guarantee you there will — we will have as many problems and unfinished business six years from now as we do right now. And other people say, but you could win reelection. And I think I could. But I think it is better to — to leave when, in effect, people have a fairly good attitude about you than having to be hounded out of office, like, unfortunately, some of my colleagues, I think, are experiencing.
Also today, House Speaker John Boehner said he approved of Congressman Christopher Lee's decision to resign on Wednesday*. The New York Republican quit after reports he sent a photo of himself shirtless to a woman he met online. The married congressman told the woman he was a divorced lobbyist. In a statement, Lee said he regretted any harm to his family, staff or constituents.
In economic news, first-time jobless claims fell last week to the lowest level in nearly three years. And Wall Street had a mixed day. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 10 points to close at 12,229. The Nasdaq rose a point to close at 2,790.
Parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma shivered in rare subzero cold today after a winter storm dumped two feet of snow. The storm hit Wednesday as the region still was trying to recover from last week's blizzard. In Little Rock, snow backed up traffic for miles on Interstate 40, and three people died in accidents. Farmers and ranchers also labored around the clock to protect livestock from freezing to death. Newborn calves and poultry were especially at risk.
Those are some of the day's major stories.