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Other News: California Fails to Resolve Budget Crisis, Burris Denies Dishonesty

February 16, 2009 at 6:20 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In other news today, the California legislature went back to work on a $42 billion deficit after a marathon weekend. Democrats have struggled to win over enough Republicans for spending cuts, tax increases, and new borrowing. The state has already delayed tax refund checks and furloughed state employees.

Illinois Democratic Sen. Roland Burris denied today that he covered up his contacts with ousted Governor Rod Blagojevich. Over the weekend, Burris released an affidavit. In it, he acknowledged that Robert Blagojevich, the governor’s brother, asked for campaign fundraising help. That was before Burris was named to the Senate.

Today, Burris said he was never directly asked about Robert Blagojevich during the governor’s impeachment.

SEN. ROLAND BURRIS (D), Illinois: When we got the transcript, it was determined that I had said yes in the transcript to all those names, but we had not addressed those names.

So that’s what’s prompted me then to make the decision to file a separate affidavit that would show who we talked to and what we said. There was no change of any of our testimony. We followed up as we promised the impeachment committee. We have done everything here that we said that we were going to do.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Burris said on Sunday he declined to raise money for the governor to avoid any appearance of influencing the Senate appointment.

North Korea today rejected pressure not to conduct a long-range missile test. Instead, the state-run news agency said any launch would be part of what it called, quote, “space development,” involving satellites. The U.S., Japan and South Korea have repeatedly urged North Korea not to launch any missiles.

The British Navy confirmed today that British and French nuclear missile submarines collided earlier this month. We have a report from Jane Dodge of Independent Television News.

JANE DODGE: HMS Vanguard and Le Triomphant were on patrol in the Atlantic. Their exact location remains a military secret. Once they’d arrived at their destination, their sonar equipment would have been switched off to avoid detection. Their crews would have been relying on microphones to avoid a collision. On this occasion, that system for some reason didn’t work.

These two submarines had more than 100 nuclear warheads on board between them, each one six times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. The navy’s top man came clean today acknowledging there had been a collision, but it came nearly two weeks after the event and following a front-page story in today’s Sun newspaper.

ADM. JONATHON BAND, First Sea Lord, Royal Navy: Two submerged strategic submarines, one French and one United Kingdom, were conducting routine national patrols in the Atlantic Ocean. A few days ago, the submarines came into contact at very slow speed.

Both submarines remained safe and no injuries occurred. We can confirm the capability remained unaffected and there was no compromise to nuclear safety.

JANE DODGE: HMS Vanguard is now back at Faslane Naval Base, the extent of the damage a closely guarded secret. But tonight, revelations from the French are likely to cause even more embarrassment. They say neither side realized that they had collided with another submarine until they’d got home.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Both countries said their submarines were on routine patrol missions when the accident happened.

Pakistan today agreed to impose Islamic law in part of the country, in a bid to pacify Taliban insurgents. The government will also halt a military offensive in the region, including the Swat Valley in the North-West Frontier province.

Officials settled on the concession during meetings with a pro-Taliban group. Militants welcomed the deal and announced a 10-day cease-fire to start. U.S. officials have complained that similar agreements in the past let the Taliban rearm.

Apparent U.S. missile strikes targeted Taliban leaders today. One in Pakistan killed up to 30 people near the Afghan border. The other was in Afghanistan, near the border with Turkmenistan. Afghan officials said it killed a top Taliban commander.

Also today, a NATO soldier died of wounds in eastern Afghanistan. Most of the troops deployed there are Americans.

To Iraq, where roadside bombs killed eight Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad. It was the latest in a series of attacks on Shiites who attended a major religious festival in Karbala. Sixty pilgrims were killed last week.