Other News: Wall Street Rallies on New Economic Data
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, Wall Street managed another rally on the latest economic news. The Commerce Department reported orders for durable goods, especially military aircraft, rose well over 3 percent in February. And new home sales were up more than 4.5 percent in February.
In response, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained more than 89 points to close above 7,749. The Nasdaq rose 12 points to close at nearly 1,529.
One of Mexico’s top drug traffickers has been captured. Mexican authorities announced the arrest of Hector Huerta. He was taken yesterday in suburban Monterrey, where he allegedly helped run a drug cartel.
The announcement came as Secretary of State Clinton began a two-day trip to Mexico. She told reporters the U.S. shares responsibility with Mexico for dealing with drug violence.
The Obama administration now plans to send hundreds of federal agents and high-tech gear to the border. And today at a Senate hearing, the homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, said again she is not seeking more money for the effort, but she was challenged by Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
JANET NAPOLITANO, secretary of Homeland Security: Right now, we have, in light of the other demands on the budget and the economic exigencies of the situation, I viewed it as my responsibility to find a way to pay for this with the money that Congress has appropriated.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Well, that gets us to a point. I think we’re missing the boat here. I think this is an opportunity to get the Congress and the White House together and really go after this problem.
So it’s, quite frankly, not appropriate, in my opinion, to say that we’ve got budget problems when it comes to this. We’ve got a lot of conflict about the budget, but this is one area where I think most Americans would cheer us if we spent some money wisely.
JIM LEHRER: The president said last night, if the new effort does not stop the border violence, he’ll revisit the issue.
Congress has given final approval to setting aside 2 million acres of wilderness, mostly in the West. The House adopted the bill today after getting past a dispute over gun rights. The Senate approved the bill last week, so it now goes to the president. He’s expected to sign it.
In Iraq, the U.S. military reported attacks nationwide have reached the lowest levels since the war began in 2003, but officials said there’s been an increase lately in violence just south of Baghdad.
And in Washington, Christopher Hill, the nominee to be ambassador to Iraq, told a Senate committee it’s crucial to get the U.S. withdrawal right.
CHRISTOPHER HILL, ambassador to Iraq-designate: What we need to do as our forces leave is that some things we want them to take with them, that is, a sense of the mission accomplished, and that’s very important. But some things we want them to leave behind, as well, and that is a sense of security within the country.
JIM LEHRER: The Senate committee is expected to approve Hill’s nomination next week. He could face a fight in the full Senate, thought. Several Republicans have questioned his lack of experience in the Middle East.
The U.S. may have struck again at militant leaders hiding in Pakistan. Authorities there say a missile fired by an unmanned American aircraft killed eight militants, including several foreigners. They were hit near a town that’s headquarters for a Taliban leader in a region bordering Afghanistan. The area is also considered a possible hiding place for al-Quaida leader Osama bin Laden.