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News Wrap: General Motors Back in the Black Following Bankruptcy

May 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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JIM LEHRER: And still to come on the NewsHour tonight: big decisions at the U.S. Supreme Court; the Republican battle for a Kentucky Senate seat; and Tehran’s nuclear deal — but, first, the other news of the day.

Here’s Hari Sreenivasan in our newsroom.

HARI SREENIVASAN: General Motors has posted its first quarterly profit in nearly three years, thanks to strong sales of new models and expense cuts made during bankruptcy. The automaker said today it earned $865 million from January through March. GM hopes to make a public stock offering later this year to repay the government loan of $50 billion that kept it alive in 2008.

Meanwhile, Chrysler repaid $1.9 billion out of a $4 billion federal loan. The rest was erased in bankruptcy proceedings.

Wall Street went down hard today, then came back swinging. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 180 points over concerns about the falling value of the euro. Later, as the euro rallied, so did the Dow. It ended up gaining five points to close above 10625. The Nasdaq rose seven points to close at 2354.

And the price of oil kept falling to $70 a barrel. It’s down 20 percent in two weeks.

Protesters in Bangkok, Thailand, offered a cease-fire today, after five days of violence and 37 deaths. The government said it would accept, but only if street battles end. In the meantime, the protesters defied an ultimatum to go home.

We have a report from Nick Paton Walsh of Independent Television News.

NICK PATON WALSH: These men, dubbed democratic gladiators, seemed to have guts, if little else, in the face of what could be an advancing army.

But, inside civilians, grieved the death this morning of one of their more combative leaders, praying to wish his soul a safe journey. This shows the moments when Major General Khattiya Sawasdipol, or Colonel Red, was shot in the head on Thursday. He died from his injuries this morning and was carried to a temple. To some, he was an eccentric, to others, their protector.

Today, on the roads near the protests, soldier and demonstrator continued their high-octane game, this fuel tanker set alight., these homemade rocket launchers fired towards the army. And inside the protest zone, there was evidence of the first looting, this 7/Eleven robbed of alcohol and cigarettes last night.

Tonight, the protest civilian corps was smaller, but still wouldn’t budge, some wanting power in politics here to shift from the old elite to the new rich and their supporters in the rural poor.

WOMAN (through translator): I want a new prime minister. The current one, Abhisit, is just a puppet.

NICK PATON WALSH: Some wanting broader social change in Thailand altogether.

MAN (through translator): I want all Thai people to have equal rights, and then change will come.

NICK PATON WALSH: But as their divided leadership fails so far to negotiate an end to the standoff, one thing unites these people: Despite the Army’s threats and deadlines, they remain defiantly here.

HARI SREENIVASAN: More than a quarter of Thailand is now under a state of emergency.

In central India, Maoist rebels set off a land mine under a bus, killing at least 35 people, most of them civilians. It was the second deadly attack in the region in as many months. The rebels have stepped up attacks in response to a government offensive. They often attack railways and mining operations to cripple economic activity.

A passenger plane crashed in Northern Afghanistan today with 44 people on board. Their fate remained unknown, as heavy fog hampered search efforts. The plane was en route to Kabul when it went down in the Salang Pass region, about 50 miles north of the capital. Six of the passengers were foreigners, including at least one American and three Britons.

Volcanic ash from Iceland disrupted more flights across parts of Europe today. London’s two major international airports reopened after overnight closures, as did Amsterdam’s main airport. But passengers still faced long delays and cancellations of 1,000 flights.

Meanwhile, travel experts in Britain warn, the ash could snarl travel plans for months to come.

BOB ATKINSON, travel expert, TravelSupermarket.com: This ash is — is going to keep coming back through the summer. And the volcanologists are telling us that this may not be the only volcano that there is to potentially explode up there in Iceland.

So, I think the whole of the travel industry and the traveling public are looking at this, thinking, now, how is this going to affect us going on? I think is without doubt, though, everybody is now gearing up for the fact that there will be potentially a summer of disruption.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Forecasters said they expect winds to push the ash cloud northward tomorrow, away from British and Northern European airspace.

Nearly 90 teachers at a Rhode Island ratified an agreement today that restores their jobs. The entire staff had been fired in February. The action was even supported by President Obama as an example of accountability for poor performance. The new agreement requires the teachers to work longer days and provide more after-school tutoring.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now, back to Gwen.