News Wrap: White House Disputes Reports of Afghan Troop Surge
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, White House officials insisted President Obama has not decided how many more troops to send to Afghanistan. They disputed reports he will add four combat brigades, plus support units, totaling close to 40,000 troops.
In Afghanistan, an American soldier was killed today by a roadside bomb. And NATO said troops in Kandahar seized 250 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer on Sunday, enough to make hundreds of bombs.
Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera television showed insurgents with U.S. ammunition and mines. They said they found the material at abandoned outposts in the east.
A suicide car bomber in Pakistan killed at least 24 people at a crowded market today. It went off just outside Peshawar, capital of the Northwest Frontier Province. Police said 90 pounds of explosives were stuffed into a van. The powerful blast left more than 60 people wounded. The bombing was the area’s third in three days.
North and South Korea fought a duel at sea today for the first time in seven years. It happened in the Yellow Sea along the disputed maritime border between the two countries. South Korea said a patrol boat from the North crossed the line and was heavily damaged before retreating. North Korea accused the south of violating its territory.
A push for a powerful new financial regulator began in the Senate today. Banking Committee Chairman Democrat Chris Dodd introduced the plan. It would strip the Federal Reserve of its authority over banks.
SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD, D-Conn.: We saw, over the last number of years, when they took on consumer protection responsibilities and — and regulation of bank holding companies, it was — it was an abysmal failure. And, so, the idea that we’re going to go back and expand those roles and functions, at the expense of losing the vitality in the core functions that they’re designed to perform, I think, is going in the wrong direction.
JIM LEHRER: Under Dodd’s bill, the new agency would have oversight of home loans and credit cards. Democrats generally support the idea, but Republicans have objected to creating another bureaucracy. A similar move is under way in the House.
It was a calmer day on Wall Street, after the big gains of late. The Dow Jones industrial average added 20 points, to close near 10,247. The Nasdaq fell three points, to close at 2,151.
The Gulf Coast escaped mostly unscathed today when Tropical Storm Ida came ashore in Alabama. The storm brought heavy rain and high surf around Mobile Bay. But it quickly petered out, and no major damage was reported. Ida’s approach also led to the shutdown of nearly one-third of oil and gas production in the Gulf.
Former astronaut Lisa Nowak pleaded guilty today to attacking another woman in 2007. They had been dating the same man, a former space shuttle pilot. Nowak, a Navy captain, drove from Texas to Florida, and assaulted the woman with pepper spray. She also carried a steel mallet, a knife and other articles. Under a plea bargain, Nowak was sentenced to one year’s probation.