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News Wrap: Mass. Votes to Fill Senate Seat Long Held by Kennedys

January 19, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT
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GWEN IFILL: And still to come on the “NewsHour”: the race for federal education dollars; and a look back at year one for President Obama.

JIM LEHRER: That follows the other news of the day. Here’s Hari Sreenivasan in our newsroom.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The stakes were high today in a special U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts. The seat was held by Democrat Edward Kennedy for 47 years, until he died last August. Republican Scott Brown faced Democrat Martha Coakley. He vowed to deny Democrats the 60th vote they need to pass health care reform.

The candidates voted this morning, as a light snow fell across much of the state. But election officials said turnout appeared to be strong. Democratic leaders insisted today their push to pass health care reform will stay on course regardless.

The election in Massachusetts sent Wall Street sharply higher. It was driven by speculation that the outcome will undercut health care reform. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 115 points to close at 10725. The Nasdaq rose 32 points to close at 2320.

The Federal Reserve has asked for a full review of its role in rescuing insurance giant AIG. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke made the request to the Government Accountability Office. The AIG rescue cost more than $180 billion. The bailout has drawn fire over disclosures about bonuses and payments made to Goldman Sachs and other big banks. A congressional probe is already under way.

In Afghanistan, two U.S. troops were killed today by a roadside bomb in the south, pushing January’s total to 18 so far. And the security grip tightened in Kabul, one day after a Taliban attack killed five Afghans in the heart of the city. The assault left a shopping center in ruins today. People there called for action to stop the attacks.

NOOR MOHAMMAD (through translator): We are not scared of any explosion, suicide bombings, rockets, or bullets. We support our government, and we will continue to live in Kabul.

MOHAMMAD AMIN (through translator): We want the government to stop those people entering our country. The government should keep security tight at Kabul’s four main entrances and not allow suicide attackers to come to our land to kill innocent people. We want the government to make the country safe and eliminate the terrorists.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In response, Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered a review of security, but he also praised Afghan troops for preventing an even larger disaster.

There was word today the FBI illegally collected some 2,000 U.S. telephone records during the Bush administration. The Washington Post reported, it took place between 2002 and 2006. It said the FBI sometimes invoked emergencies that didn’t exist. The agency said again today the practice involved records of incoming and outgoing calls, and not their actual content.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to close two shipping locks near Chicago to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The state of Michigan asked for an injunction. It warned the carp will wipe out native fish if they reach the lakes from the Mississippi River watershed. Illinois and the federal government warned an injunction would damage the shipping business. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering long-term action, and the case may yet return to the high court.

The Los Angeles City Council gave initial approval today to close hundreds of dispensaries for medical marijuana. There are now more than 1,000 places where marijuana is available in Los Angeles. That is more than all the Starbucks coffee shops and public schools in the city. The ordinance voted on today would limit the marijuana shops to 70. A final vote comes next week.

Those are some of the day’s main stories. I will be back at the end of the program with a preview of what you will find tonight on the NewsHour’s Web site but, for now, back to Gwen.