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News Wrap: Markets Drop on Mix of Weak Reports

October 1, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, there were troubling new reports on the U.S. economy. Claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, factory activity dropped in September, and most automakers reported sales fell last month, as well.

It was all too much for Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 203 points, or 2 percent, to close at 9,509. The Nasdaq fell nearly 65 points to close at 2,057, a loss of 3 percent.

A key Senate committee neared the end of its work on health care reform today after a battle over taxes. Republicans tried to kill a mandate that most Americans buy health insurance; they said it amounts to taxing the middle class. Democrats answered the real goal was to gut the bill, and the debate went back and forth.

SEN. MIKE CRAPO, R-Idaho: All I’ve done is provide that, if that bill results in an increase in taxes on those making less than $250,000 per year, then the taxes will not have to be paid by them. That is the promise and the pledge that the president has made to the American people about the tax impact of the legislation that he has said should come before him.

SEN. MAX BAUCUS, D-Mont.: We have to have shared responsibility, and that shared responsibility is all Americans are in this, we all have to participate, which means there has to be a shared responsibility for individuals to buy health insurance. Essentially, what you’re saying is you want to take away the personal responsibility; that’s basically what you’re saying.

JIM LEHRER: Democrats also claimed the bill amounts to a $40 billion tax cut over the next decade. A final committee vote could come next week.

The U.S. House is now on record against releasing new photographs of U.S. personnel abusing detainees in Iraq and elsewhere. The vote today backed a decision by President Obama not to release the photos. As part of that same vote, the House opposed transferring any detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison to the U.S.

It now appears some shipments of the seasonal flu vaccine will be delayed. The largest suppliers to the U.S. said today they have delayed or cut the number of doses being shipped. They said it’s partly because of the rush to make millions of doses of the swine flu vaccine.

China celebrated its 60th anniversary of communist rule today. The regime marked the occasion in Beijing with a massive show of patriotic fervor and military might.

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

NICK PATON WALSH: It was a party for the party, an unprecedented display of military might, paralyzing central Beijing, meant to show the world — and, moreover, the Chinese people — that 60 years of communism has built a new superpower and to show that the upheaval, the sacrifice, and the change has been worth it.

President Hu Jintao dressed to echo the past. In 1949, Mao Zedong stood here and declared China a people’s republic, and today’s show was a backdrop for Hu to declare that China “towers majestically in the east.”

HU JINTAO, president, of China: China will be in control of its own fate, and the people will be united and overcome all obstacles and will continue to create miracles. China’s future is bright.

NICK PATON WALSH: Intercontinental nuclear missiles and ranks of armed female militia, all clearly pleasing the party’s secretary. This was authoritarianism saying that it works, a day to ignore that China’s economic miracle has made both poor and rich.

Police and their civilian helpers swamping a city where everything from pigeons to kites were banned.

While live images of the parade on Tiananmen Square are being beamed to crowds across Beijing and people across the country, but at the same time in the capital we’re seeing a real lockdown, intense security over the past few days.

A display heavily choreographed, controlled down to the last detail, and obsessed with proving that whatever pain China’s people have seen in the last 60 years, and continue to endure, the result has been worth it.

JIM LEHRER: The anniversary also brought small demonstrations in Hong Kong. Two hundred people marched there, condemning China’s record on human rights.

A federal judge has ordered the FBI to release notes from an interview with Vice President Cheney in 2004. That interview focused on who leaked the name of an operative at the CIA. Both the Bush and Obama administrations argued against releasing the notes. Instead, the judge ruled today the investigation is over, so most of the material must be made public. There was no word on a possible appeal.

The toll of civilians killed in Iraq was the lowest last month since the U.S. invasion six years ago. The Iraqi health ministry reported today 125 Iraqis were killed in September; that was down by two-thirds from August when nearly 400 people were killed. Roadside bombings and shootings still occur in Iraq, but the U.S. military said attacks have fallen by 85 percent in the last two years.