In Other News, Stocks Rise on Wall Street, Calif. Budget Crisis Deepens
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JIM LEHRER: In other economic news, Wall Street rallied despite the jobs report. Stocks rose on hopes for a stimulus bill and a new bank rescue plan. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 217 points to close at 8,280. The Nasdaq rose 45 points to close above 1,591. For the week, the Dow gained 3.5 percent; the Nasdaq rose nearly 8 percent.
The state of California closed most government offices today with an unpaid furlough. More than 200,000 state workers stayed home to help cover a huge budget shortfall, $42 billion. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered the furloughs twice a month until next summer.
The Securities and Exchange Commission moved today towards speeding up investigations of fraud. In one change, agency lawyers no longer need commission approval to negotiate fines and penalties. The SEC’s new head, Mary Schapiro, said the old practice slowed things down and sent the wrong message.
And in more news of this day, President Obama met privately with families of terror victims from 9/11 and the USS Cole. They aired concerns over delayed prosecutions.
Just yesterday, charges were dropped against an al-Qaida suspect at Guantanamo. He was accused in the bombing of the Cole off Yemen in the year 2000. The charges could be re-filed at a later date. Last month, the president halted all such trials at Guantanamo.
The U.S. will keep sending terror suspects to other countries for questioning, so long as they’re not tortured. The nominee to lead the CIA spelled out the policy today. Leon Panetta told a Senate confirmation hearing it’s in keeping with the longstanding practice of extraordinary rendition.
LEON PANETTA, CIA director-designate: We may very well direct individuals to third countries. I will seek the same kind of assurances that they will be not treated inhumanly. I intend to use the State Department to assure that those assurances are, in fact, implemented and stood by, by those countries.
JIM LEHRER: Yesterday, Panetta said the Bush administration transferred prisoners for the purpose of torture as former detainees have claimed. But today, he retracted that statement. He said, “I am not aware of the validity of those claims.” The Senate Intelligence Committee could vote next week on Panetta.
The government of Kyrgyzstan said today the decision to close a key U.S. air base is final. That base has been a major link in re-supplying U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Russia has denied it bribed its smaller neighbor to close the site. And today, the Russians offered to allow non-lethal U.S. military cargo to pass through its territory.
Pakistani forces reported a fierce fight today near another supply route into Afghanistan. They said 52 militants were killed in the Khyber Pass region, where a bridge was blown up this week.
Also today, a Pakistani court freed a nuclear scientist who allegedly leaked secrets to North Korea and Iran. He had been under house arrest since 2004. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was “very much concerned” by the court’s ruling.