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Other News: Iraqi Bombings Kill at Least 17; Maine OKs Same-sex Marriage

May 6, 2009 at 6:20 PM EST
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In other news, at least 17 civilians were killed in two separate bombings in Iraq, and the Justice Department is expected to recommend against prosecuting lawyers who authorized harsh interrogations.
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GWEN IFILL: Also today, the World Health Organization cautioned against eating pork from animals infected with the virus.

At least 17 Iraqis were killed today in a pair of car bombings in Baghdad. The deadliest blast hit a fruit and vegetable market in the southern section of the capital. Fifteen people died, and scores more were wounded there.

Hours later, a second car bomb killed two more people, this time in Baghdad’s Karradah district. The apparent target was a police patrol.

A draft report by the Justice Department recommends against prosecuting lawyers who authorized harsh interrogations; the New York Times and other media outlets reported that today. The accounts said the Bush administration lawyers could face other sanctions, including disbarment.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Gates said the U.S. is nearing a deal to transfer 100 detainees from Yemen out of Guantanamo Bay. They’d be sent to rehabilitation centers in Saudi Arabia.

In economic news, Ford announced it’s investing more than $500 million in a Michigan auto plant to switch from building sport utility vehicles to small cars. The move will add 3,200 jobs at a time of sweeping layoffs in the industry. Ford’s chief of American operations said it also marks a sea change from the direction of the last decade.

MARK FIELDS, president, The Americas, Ford: If you think about back in those days, about 70 percent of our sales were trucks and SUVs and about 30 percent were cars and crossovers. Fast forward to today: It’s about 60 percent cars and crossovers, like some of the vehicles you see here behind me.

GWEN IFILL: Ford is the only one of the big three U.S. automakers which chose not to seek federal loans.

The nation’s largest bank will have to raise billions of dollars in new capital as a result of government stress testing. The Wall Street Journal reported regulators want Bank of America to add $35 billion to its reserves. Other reports said Wells Fargo and Citigroup will also have to raise billions. They’ll have 30 days to show how they’ll come up with the funds.

Overall, the bank news eased fears on Wall Street, and bank stocks led the way to a new rally. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 101 points to close at 8,512. The Nasdaq rose nearly 5 points to close at 1,759.

The U.S. Senate has voted to try again to help homeowners refinance into lower-cost mortgages. They’d be backed by the government. An existing program has been stymied by tough rules on eligibility and other problems, so the Senate bill makes it easier to qualify. It now has to be reconciled with a House version.

The governor of Maine signed legislation today legalizing gay marriage in the state. Democrat John Baldacci acted shortly after lawmakers passed the measure. It authorizes marriage between any two people, not just a man and a woman. Baldacci initially opposed gay marriage, but he said it became a question of fairness.

GOV. JOHN BALDACCI, D-Maine: I did not come to this decision lightly or in haste. I appreciate the tone brought to this debate by both sides on the issue. This is an emotional issue. This is an issue that touches deeply many of our most important ideals and traditions.

GWEN IFILL: The law is set to take effect in September, making Maine the fifth state to legalize same-sex unions, but it could still be overturned through a public veto process.

Fire crews in Southern California spent this day fighting to keep a wildfire away from 2,000 homes. The blaze erupted Tuesday in the foothills above Santa Barbara. It was quickly fanned by high winds and forced mandatory evacuations. But helicopters dumping water helped slow the advance. Forecasters warned hot, dry conditions could get the fire moving again.

Pro basketball Hall of Famer Dave Bing will be Detroit’s new mayor for the rest of the year. Last night, the former Detroit Pistons great celebrated his victory in the special election. He’ll serve out the term of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who resigned last year in a sex scandal, and ultimately did jail time. Bing must run again this fall to win a full four-year term.