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Other News: General Motors Strikes Tentative Saturn Deal

June 5, 2009 at 6:10 PM EDT
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In other news, General Motors Struck a tentative deal to sell its Saturn brand, and Brazilian investigators said the debris they discovered in the Atlantic Ocean was not from Air France Flight 447.
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, General Motors struck a tentative deal to sell its Saturn brand. The buyer is Roger Penske, a former race car driver and owner of a dealership group. He said he expects to keep all 350 Saturn dealerships, plus their 13,000 employees.

And in New York, a federal appeals court approved Chrysler’s sale to Italian automaker Fiat. That deal is on hold until Monday, pending further appeals.

There was word today debris found near the suspected crash site of Air France Flight 447 did not come from the plane. France’s transportation minister said investigators have found no signs of the jet.

We have a report narrated by Sue Turton of Independent Television News.

SUE TURTON: Below the surface of the Atlantic, the search teams have just 30 days to find the black box recorders before they stop emitting a signal. Without them, investigators have a difficult job establishing just what brought this Airbus 330 down with the loss of all 228 people on board.

Above the sea, spotters continue to comb hundreds of square miles for debris that could give them clues that would at least rule out that the aircraft was attacked.

The discovery of a fuel slick and a wooden pallet had been hailed as a breakthrough, but today the Brazilian navy admitted they were nothing to do with the downed plane.

EDSON LAWRENCE, Brazilian Navy (through translator): There’s a lot of trash in the ocean. Sometimes trash that is spotted could be confused for something else, but in reality it’s only trash.

SUE TURTON: Another possible trail of wreckage has since been spotted. If reports of an orange life vest, an airliner seat, and chunks of metal in the sea are true, then the crash site could still have been found.

But last night, Airbus gave a clue as to one theory the investigators are considering. It sent out a telex to the airlines who use the same aircraft warning crews about a possible fault with the speed indicators. Airbus uses what are known as pilot tubes to measure speed, tubes that can become blocked.

And tonight, Air France has sent a memo to all its pilots saying it will replace all speed sensors on its medium- and long-haul Airbus jets.

JIM LEHRER: France is dispatching a nuclear-powered submarine with advanced sonar equipment to help locate the plane’s black box.

A suicide bombing in Pakistan has killed at least 30 people and wounded scores more. The explosion hit a Sunni Muslim mosque in a region near the Swat Valley. Government forces have been battling Taliban militants there.

The bombing happened as Pakistan’s prime minister met with U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke in Islamabad. The Pakistanis asked for more help in their fight.

In Iraq, the U.S. military announced an American soldier died in a grenade attack on Thursday. He was on patrol north of Baghdad. Another U.S. soldier was killed in a separate grenade attack yesterday, near Kirkuk.

President Obama made a new push for progress in the Middle East today. He returned to the subject during a visit to Germany, fresh off stops in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

In Dresden, Mr. Obama met with German Chancellor Merkel, and he repeated his call for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, [But he said they have to be willing.

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: The moment is now for us to act on what we all know to be the truth, which is that each side is going to have to make some difficult compromises. We have to reject violence.

Ultimately, the United States can’t force peace upon the parties, but what we’ve tried to do is to clear away some of the misunderstandings so that we can at least begin to have frank dialogue.

JIM LEHRER: On another subject, the president and Chancellor Merkel also discussed plans to transfer terror suspects from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo. But he said he did not ask for Germany to commit to taking any of the prisoners.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown refused to resign today. He defied calls to quit after his Labour Party suffered major losses in local elections on Thursday. Brown’s government has been rocked by a scandal over expense claims by lawmakers, but the prime minister insisted he’s staying on.

GORDON BROWN, Prime Minister of Britain: Our party cannot lead or succeed by heeding the empty and expedient reactions of the hour. I’m certain of what is at stake not just for Labour, but for Britain. Yes, it was a tough night, but we fight on for what we believe. I will not waiver; I will not walk away. I will get on with the job, and I will finish the work.

JIM LEHRER: Six of Brown’s cabinet ministers resigned this week, but he said he’s appointing new people who will stay on the job, even “when the going gets tough.”

A retired U.S. State Department official and his wife were indicted today on charges of spying for Cuba. The indictment says Walter Myers and his wife, Gwendolyn, were secret agents for Cuba for 30 years. The couple allegedly met with Fidel Castro in Cuba in 1995. And according to the indictment, they traveled throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to meet with Cuban agents.

A convicted arsonist now faces the death penalty for the murder of five firefighters in California. Raymond Lee Oyler was sentenced today; he’d been found guilty of setting a 2006 wildfire that overran a federal fire crew. They were killed as they battled the blaze about 90 miles east of Los Angeles.