JIM LEHRER: In other news today, the Treasury Department called for a central electronic system to track risky financial instruments. Those include the credit default swaps that brought down insurance giant AIG. Secretary Geithner wrote to Congress asking for the new system.
On another issue, the Wall Street Journal reported the administration is considering how to regulate compensation across the financial industry. The goal would be to tie pay to long-term corporate performance.
Disappointing economic news triggered a sell-off on Wall Street. The Commerce Department reported retail sales fell 0.4 percent in April for the second month in a row.
In response, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 184 points to close at 8,284, down more than 2 percent. The Nasdaq fell 3 percent, 51 points, to close at 1,664.
The European Union has fined the world’s largest computer chip manufacturer, Intel, nearly $1.5 billion. The record penalty was for alleged monopoly practices. The E.U. charged Intel deliberately kept its rival, Advanced Micro Devices, out of the European market for more than five years. The company was accused of paying computer-makers and a retailer to use Intel products.
NEELIE KROES, E.U. Competition Commissioner: The commission has ordered Intel to cease the illegal practices immediately to the extent that they are still ongoing and to refrain from these and any equivalent practices in the future. The commission, of course, will be monitoring Intel’s compliance closely.
JIM LEHRER: In response, Intel’s general counsel called the E.U. allegations “false.” He insisted Intel never acted illegally to intimidate AMD.
BRUCE SEWELL, Intel general counsel: Intel has never required a customer to agree not to buy from AMD in order to obtain a discount nor raised a customer’s prices when it decided to purchase from AMD.
Like every company, Intel competes to win as much business as it can. And every time Intel wins a sale or secures preferential marketing terms, one of our competitors loses out on that sale or marketing relationship.
JIM LEHRER: Intel now has about 80 percent of the global market for microprocessing chips in personal computers. For the record, it is also an underwriter of the NewsHour. The company plans to appeal the fine to an E.U. court within 60 days.
In northwestern Pakistan, the government reported its forces gained more ground in the offensive against the Taliban, but the waves of refugees kept coming, and casualties kept rising.
We have a report from Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: “God is great,” cry these Pakistani commandos, as they steel themselves for battle. They’re flying into the northernmost reaches of the Swat Valley, over remote hillsides dotted with what are said to be Taliban hideouts.
Their most senior commander, General Kiyani, today ordering them to use precision air strikes wherever possible to avoid civilian casualties.
Casualties like Shaista, who is just 11. A few days ago, her home was hit by mortar shells, though it’s not clear which side fired them. Her mother, two sisters, and her brother are now dead, and her father is missing.
And what’s perhaps most worrying is that Pakistan’s ground war has barely begun.
These are elite airborne troops, but much of Pakistan’s army is woefully unprepared for counterinsurgency, British and American military training largely confined to the Frontier Corps along the Afghan border.
North of these army checkpoints, the Taliban is still patrolling Swat’s main town, Mingora. Medecins Sans Frontieres, the only foreign aid agency left, says unknown thousands are still trapped by the fighting, with both sides denying ambulances safe passage.
In these refugee camps, many Pakistanis fear the militants. Yet if more civilians are killed or injured in the crossfire, they could turn against their own government.
JIM LEHRER: The Pakistani army claimed it’s killed more than 750 Taliban militants since the offensive began last week. But elsewhere, dozens of attackers burned a depot that moves supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Pope Benedict XVI has offered his strongest support yet for a Palestinian state. He met today with Palestinian President Abbas in Bethlehem. The pontiff said he hopes the separation barrier erected by Israel can come down, and he called for “permanent homes” for the Palestinians.
POPE BENEDICT XVI: Mr. President, the holy see supports the right of your people to a sovereign Palestinian homeland in the land of your forefathers, secure and at peace with its neighbors, with an internationally recognized borders. Even at present that goal seems far from being realized, I urge you and all your people to keep alive the flame of hope.
JIM LEHRER: So far, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has declined to endorse a two-state solution. He meets with the pope tomorrow.
The fight over U.S. health care reform will come to the House floor before the August recess; Speaker Pelosi made that pledge today after meeting with the president.
And Mr. Obama pushed the Senate to finish the legislation by the end of the year. He said, “We don’t have any excuses. The stars are aligned.” There were no details of what will be in the legislation.