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News Wrap: Stocks Slide on Weak Consumer Spending

October 30, 2009 at 6:06 PM EDT
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In other news, stocks dropped on Friday on news of weak consumer spending, and the White House said it was unhappy with the output of swine flu vaccine.

In other news today: Wall Street lost all of yesterday’s gains, and then some, after news that consumer spending fell last month. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped nearly 250 points, to close at 9712. The Nasdaq fell 52 points, to close at 2045. For the week, the Dow lost more than 2.5 percent. The Nasdaq fell 5 percent.

White House officials let it be known today they’re unhappy with the output of swine flu vaccine. Around the country, people have waited in vain for vaccinations. A White House spokesman said today the president has been and is frustrated. And the Centers for Disease Control reported, another 19 children have died from the flu, the most yet in a single week.

Rescue teams looked for survivors today off Southern California, after a Coast Guard plane collided with a Marine Corps helicopter. Nine people from the two aircraft were missing off San Clemente Island, west of San Diego. There was no immediate word on a possible cause of the collision.

The political stalemate in Honduras may be over. There was word overnight the U.S. has brokered a deal between the ousted president, Manuel Zelaya, and the leaders who forced him from office.

NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman narrates our report.

KWAME HOLMAN: As news of the deal spread last night, supporters of Zelaya flocked into the streets of Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital.

Cheering, “Out with the junta,” they celebrated word of a unity government, allowing Zelaya to serve the final three months of his term. The deposed president said he expects a quick restoration, even though the Honduran congress must approve first.

MANUEL ZELAYA, president, Honduras (through translator): This is a plan that has been developed. I think that my reinstitution is imminent. It’s not going to happen in two days, but it will over the next few days.

KWAME HOLMAN: Zelaya was forced into exile last June, after three years as president. Opponents said he meant to rewrite the constitution to stay in office.

He slipped back into the country last month and took refuge at the Brazilian Embassy. The standoff continued, until last night, when interim President Roberto Micheletti confirmed what he called a significant concession, making peace with Zelaya.

ROBERTO MICHELETTI, interim president, Honduras (through translator): We are pleased to announce that, a few minutes ago, I authorized my negotiating team to sign an agreement that marks the beginning of the end of the political situation in the country.

KWAME HOLMAN: The agreement binds both sides to recognize the outcome of next month’s presidential election. Neither Zelaya nor Micheletti is running.

The settlement came under heavy U.S. and international pressure. Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon arrived in Honduras on Wednesday.

THOMAS SHANNON, assistant secretary of state: This is a great victory for Honduran democracy and a great victory for the Honduran people.

KWAME HOLMAN: Shannon cautioned, details of the agreement still have to be worked out.

JIM LEHRER: The U.S. military will soon have more access to military bases in Colombia. The two countries signed a 10-year deal today. U.S. officials said the bases will be used to target drug operations and rebel forces. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and other leftist leaders had opposed the move. They said the U.S. might use the bases to try to undermine their governments.

More than 30 members of the U.S. House and several aides are now under scrutiny by ethics investigators. That came out in a confidential House document that was accidentally leaked. “The Washington Post” and others reported today, seven of the lawmakers are from the same subcommittee on military spending. The Ethics Committee cautioned against jumping to any conclusions.

British oil giant BP has been slapped with a record $87 million fine after a huge fire at a Texas refinery. Fifteen workers died, another 170 were injured, in that explosion and fire in 2005. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the company failed to correct problems after the blaze. BP formally contested the fine.

The Internet will soon become more accessible to users around the world. The non-profit corporation that manages Web site addresses made that possible today. It formally voted to allow domain names that are not based on the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, A through Z. Now Chinese, Arabic and other scripts will also be used.