HARI SREENIVASAN: A suicide bomber in Baghdad killed at least 54 Iraqis today during a religious procession. At least 117 others were wounded. Many of the victims were Shiite pilgrims on their way to Karbala. Authorities said the bomber was a woman who set off explosives hidden under her cloak. It was the first major strike this year against pilgrims ahead of a major Shiite holy day.
The U.S. government is now investigating whether Blackwater Worldwide tried to bribe Iraqi officials with $1 million. Guards with the security firm were involved in a Baghdad shooting in 2007 that killed 17 Iraqis. The New York Times reported today, the Justice Department has focused on whether Blackwater authorized bribes to continue operating in Iraq. The company had no immediate response today.
A U.S. soldier and three other NATO troops were killed in Afghanistan today. The American died in a roadside bombing in the south. A total of 31 Americans died in Afghanistan last month. That’s double the number in January of last year. In all, 978 U.S. service members have been killed since the Afghan war began in 2001.
In U.S. economic news, the Commerce Department reported, consumer spending increased in December, for the third month in a row. And a private survey showed an increase in manufacturing in January.
The new numbers sent stocks climbing on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 118 points to close above 10185. The Nasdaq rose nearly 24 points to close at 2171.
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.