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Other News: Chrysler to Reopen 7 Plants

June 17, 2009 at 6:15 PM EST
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, the new Chrysler Group said it plans to reopen seven auto plants as of June 29th. The announcement included factories in Michigan, Ohio, Canada and Mexico. An eighth plant restarted this week. Together, the sites employ about 15,000 workers. The company emerged from federal bankruptcy protection last week.

Wall Street was unsettled for a third straight day. It was partly due to uncertainty about the government’s regulatory plan, and a number of major banks had their credit ratings cut. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 7 points to close at 8,497, but the Nasdaq rose more than 11 points to close at 1,808, helped by technology stocks.

The National Security Agency now faces new questions about its domestic surveillance program. The New York Times reported today the agency’s intercepts of e-mail and phone calls inside the U.S. were broader than first acknowledged.

But at a hearing today, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, disputed that account.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-Calif.: I’m surprised by this article, because they’re two very good journalists that have written it, and yet everything that I know so far indicates that the thrust of the story — that there are flagrant actions, essentially, to collect content of this collection — just simply is not true, to the best of my knowledge.

JIM LEHRER: The reported monitoring of e-mail and calls happened in 2008 and early 2009. Last April, the Justice Department said it had moved to curtail that surveillance.

Same-sex partners of federal workers will now be eligible for certain benefits; the president made that announcement late this afternoon. The new policy allows access to diplomatic housing and some medical benefits. It stops short of providing full health insurance. Existing law bars many federal benefits from being extended to gay and lesbian domestic partners.