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Senate Confirms Several Obama Nominees on Inauguration Day

January 20, 2009 at 6:50 PM EDT
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JIM LEHRER: And in the other news of this day, the Senate did confirm the first seven nominees for the Obama administration. They included: Janet Napolitano as secretary of homeland security; Peter Orszag as director of the budget; Steven Chu as secretary of energy.

The others: Arne Duncan, secretary of education; Eric Shinseki, secretary of veterans affairs; Ken Salazar, secretary of the interior; and Tom Vilsack, agriculture secretary.

A vote on Hillary Clinton to be secretary of state was delayed until tomorrow. Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas asked for time to discuss foreign donations to former President Clinton’s foundation.

Wall Street took little heart from the change of governments today. Instead, stocks had their worst day in two months on new worries about banks and high-tech firms.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 332 points to close at 7,949, a loss of 4 percent. The Nasdaq fell 88 points to close at 1,440, down nearly 6 percent.

Israel began pulling the last of its forces from Gaza today in the aftermath of a weekend cease-fire. Meanwhile, thousands of Hamas supporters took part in victory rallies. With signs and slogans, they claimed Israel had been defeated.

And U.N. Secretary-General Ban inspected the damage at a U.N. headquarters blasted by Israeli forces. He condemned the attacks and demanded an investigation.

Ban also criticized Hamas rocket attacks on Israel. He called them “appalling and unacceptable.”