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News Wrap: United, Continental Closer to Creating World’s Biggest Airline

September 17, 2010 at 4:46 PM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Wall Street managed to keep its September rally going, as stocks eked out small gains.The Dow Jones industrial average added 13 points to close above 10607.

The Nasdaq rose 12 points to close at 2315. For the week, the Dow gained nearly 1.5 percent; the Nasdaq rose more than 3 percent.

United and Continental Airlines have moved a giant step closer to creating the world’s largest air carrier. Shareholders of both companies voted today to merge.The $3 billion stock deal could be finalized within two weeks.The new airline will be called United and will eventually be based in Chicago. It will be run by Continental CEO Jeff Smisek.

Hurricane Karl plowed into Central Mexico’s Gulf Coast today near Veracruz, with winds of 115 miles an hour. Officials reported widespread damage.The storm’s track took it past Laguna Verde, home to Mexico’s only nuclear power plant.The site was shut down as a precaution. The government also ordered the closure of 14 oil production wells. And the heavy seas and high winds forced evacuations of oil platforms.

In London, British police made a series of arrests in a possible plot against Pope Benedict XVI. Acting on a tip, they arrested six men on day two of the papal visit. We have a report from Simon Israel of Independent Television News.

SIMON ISRAEL:Out of the blue was how one security source described it. They had no warning, no surveillance, and no knowledge of any direct threat to the pope before yesterday.

Today’s arrests may simply have been a precaution, but no one is taking any risks.The raid on a street-cleaning depot behind this car park took place at quarter to 6:00 this morning as five men, some Algerian Muslims, were finishing their shift.

Armed officers were present.The arrests were carried out by the counterterrorism command on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. Detailed forensic searches have been going on for most of the day.The suspects are aged between 26 and 50, and worked for a company called Veolia, an environmental services contractor to Westminster City Council.

One of its senior officers insisted that the council and the company worked closely to ensure that all 650 street-cleaners underwent Home Office checks.Scotland Yard announced that a sixth man has been arrested at a house in North London.

Given the past history of threats to the pope’s life, the speed with which the arrests took place today underlines the fear surrounding the security.The last serious attempt was in 1981, when a Turkish national fired four shots at Pope John Paul in Rome’s Saint Peter’s Square.

REVEREND FEDERICO LOMBARDI, Vatican spokesman:We are totally confident in the work of the police, of Scotland Yard.

SIMON ISRAEL:In fact, Channel 4 News understands that immigration checks are now being carried out and MI5 is looking at whether any have links to al-Qaida-affiliated groups abroad.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Vatican officials said the pope’s visit will go ahead, with no changes in the schedule.

An explosion in Sri Lanka’s capital killed 25 people today, most of them police officers. Three containers filled with explosives blew up outside a police station. The explosives had been meant for road construction.Government officials ruled the blast an accident. The area was once controlled by the Tamil Tiger rebels.They routinely carried out bombings during a 25-year insurgency.

An American scientist and his wife are now accused of plotting to help Venezuela develop a nuclear weapon. The pair once worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. They were arrested today. A federal indictment said they tried to pass nuclear secrets to an FBI undercover man posing as a Venezuelan agent.