JIM LEHRER: In other news today, a bombing in Baghdad killed at least 69 Iraqis. The blast tore through a market in Sadr City, the capital’s main Shiite district.
In addition to the dead, more than 100 people were wounded. It was one of the deadliest attacks this year, and it came just six days before U.S. combat troops pull back from Iraq’s cities.
In economic news, the Federal Reserve offered cautious hope. Policymakers left interest rates unchanged after a two-day meeting and, in a statement, said, “The pace of economic contraction is slowing. Conditions in financial markets have generally improved in recent months.” The statement also said inflation will stay in check for some time.
Wall Street had a mixed reaction to the Fed’s announcement. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 23 points to close below 8,300. The Nasdaq rose 27 points to close at 1,792.
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford today admitted having an affair with a woman in Argentina. He acknowledged it after returning from a secret weeklong trip there. His absence had led to a flurry of speculation about his whereabouts and activities.
In Columbia, South Carolina, the Republican governor said he’d known the woman for years as just a friend.
GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), South Carolina: Recently, over this last year, it developed into something much more than that. And, as a consequence, I hurt her, I hurt you all, I hurt my wife, I hurt my boys, I hurt a lot of different folks. And all I can say is that I apologize.
JIM LEHRER: Sanford is barred from running again for governor, but he’s been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2012. He did not address his future today, but he did step down as head of the Republican Governors Association.
The U.N. today reported sharp declines in some drug markets. The report found a 19 percent drop in opium cultivation in Afghanistan, and cocaine production fell 28 percent in Colombia, a country that produces half the world supply. At the same time, the U.N. said 28 million people worldwide are still heavy drug users.