Other News: Markets Rise, Bombing Targets U.S. Air Base in Afghanistan
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JIM LEHRER: Stocks also rallied around the world today. Markets in Europe and Asia reacted in part to expectations that China is ready to roll out a large stimulus plan. The major indexes in Europe gained 4 percent to 5 percent; Asian indexes were up as much as 3 percent.
The global economy figured prominently in British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s address to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress. He said an economic hurricane has swept the world and the U.S. and Britain should work together. And he warned against setting up new barriers.
GORDON BROWN, Prime Minister of Britain: Today’s financial institutions, they’re so interwoven that a bad bank anywhere is a threat to good banks everywhere.
But should we succumb to a race to the bottom and to a protectionism that history tells us that in the end protects no one? No, we should have the confidence, America and Britain most of all, that we can seize the global opportunities ahead and make the future work for us.
JIM LEHRER: Brown called for joint efforts to cut interest rates and set new standards for the banking system.
He also announced Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts has been awarded an honorary knighthood. The prime minister said Kennedy helped bring peace to Northern Ireland and he improved education for children around the world. Kennedy is battling brain cancer now and did not attend the session.
Afghan President Karzai has lost his bid to hold presidential elections this spring. He wanted the voting moved up from August, but the national election commission said that’s too soon. It cited concerns about security and money.
The ruling came as a suicide bomber struck just outside the main U.S. military base at Bagram, north of Kabul. We have a report from Margaret Warner, who was at the base when the attack took place.
MARGARET WARNER: The bombing occurred on a two-lane commercial road just south of the main vehicle entrance to Bagram at an outer entry point manned by Afghan security forces. Details are still unclear, but U.S. authorities told us that, as one particular vehicle approached this entry point, Afghan forces became suspicious.
The car slowed, then stopped. The driver jumped out and began to run away. At that point, his vehicle exploded and, seconds later, the driver himself exploded.
Three people who worked, actually, for a civilian contractor at Bagram were lightly wounded, but no one except the bomber himself was killed.
A U.S. security camera caught images of the burning car immediately after the explosion. We got to the entry point just as a special explosives team was heading out to secure the site and begin analyzing the debris.
Bagram base went into total lockdown for hours. The Associated Press reported that a Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility.
The area around Bagram has been fairly peaceful. The last suicide bombing like this one outside the gates occurred years ago, when Vice President Cheney was visiting here. But U.S. Army officials told us late today that they fully expect violent incidents to increase as warm weather approaches, as more U.S. troops arrive, and as the country prepares for a presidential election.
JIM LEHRER: Bombings targeted policemen across Iraq today. A suicide attack in central Baghdad killed at least three people in a police intelligence unit. To the north, two more Iraqi police died when a blast hit their checkpoint in Mosul.
The head of emergency operations in Florida has been tapped to do the job on a national level. President Obama nominated Craig Fugate to head FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In a reference to Hurricane Katrina, the president said he wants to ensure the failures of the past are never repeated.
Playwright and screenwriter Horton Foote died today in Hartford, Connecticut. His career spanned more than six decades. He twice won Academy Awards, once for “To Kill a Mockingbird” in 1962 and again for “Tender Mercies” in 1983. His many stage plays, mostly set in south Texas, included “The Trip to Bountiful.” It was made into a movie in 1985. Gordon Foote was 92 years old.