Other News: IMF Warns on Health of Global Economy
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GWEN IFILL: In that other news, the International Monetary Fund warned the world economy will lose ground this year for the first time in nearly six decades. The agency forecast global economic activity will fall more than 1 percent.
And the outlook for the U.S. was worse still, a drop of nearly 3 percent.
In Washington, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner acknowledged the global crisis has American roots.
TIMOTHY GEITHNER, Treasury secretary: We bear in the United States a substantial responsibility, a substantial share of the responsibility for what has happened. But the factors that have made this crisis so acute and so difficult to contain lie in a broader set of global forces that built up in the years before the start of the present downturn.
GWEN IFILL: Geithner also said there are signs the recession may be starting to moderate.
But on Wall Street, worries about banks resurfaced after Morgan Stanley reported first-quarter losses that were larger than expected. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 83 points to close at 7,886. The Nasdaq rose 2 points to close at 1,646.
The acting chief financial officer of mortgage giant Freddie Mac was found dead today. Police said David Kellerman apparently committed suicide. His body was discovered in the basement of his home in suburban Virginia. Investigators did not say if he left a note of explanation. Kellerman had worked at Freddie Mac for 16 years. He was promoted to CFO last September after the government seized control of the troubled lender.
In Afghanistan, a top U.S. commander reported coalition forces in the south are stymied for now by the Taliban. Army Major General Michael Tucker said the militants in that region are holding U.S. and Afghan government forces at bay, at least until 17,000 more U.S. troops get there.
MAJ. GEN. MICHAEL TUCKER, NATO, International Security Assistance Force: We’re at a stalemate. We just simply do not have enough forces to address the needs of the people down there to set the conditions for governments to take hold. And so the enemy, obviously, is taking advantage of that posture that we’re certainly going to be addressing here very shortly.
GWEN IFILL: Tucker also voiced concern about rising Taliban influence in Pakistan. The Associated Press reported today the militants are now spreading their control beyond the northwestern Swat Valley.
In Washington, Secretary of State Clinton criticized a decision to let the Taliban impose Islamic law in that region, saying, “The Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban.”
The world today marked the 39th celebration of Earth Day. Cities across the U.S. held events to clean parks, plant gardens, and promote public transit.
In Newton, Iowa, President Obama visited a former Maytag plant that now makes towers to support wind turbines. He also pledged a greater U.S. role in global climate talks.
The Food and Drug Administration will let 17-year-old girls get the morning-after pill without a prescription. Until now, over-the-counter sales of the birth control pill were limited to those 18 and older. The FDA announcement cited a federal judge’s ruling that the Bush administration relied on political considerations, not science, to craft the old policy.