News Wrap: Lieberman Confirms Departure From Senate
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KWAME HOLMAN: Former Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Lieberman is leaving the U.S. Senate. He announced today in Stamford, Conn., he will not run for a fifth term in 2012. Lieberman won as an independent five years ago, after losing in the Democratic primary, and he faced another primary challenge next year.
Today, he said it’s time to move on.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I-Conn.): At end of this term, I will have served 24 years in the U.S. Senate and 40 years in elective office. By my count, I have run at least 15 full-fledged campaigns.
And that’s just in Connecticut, not counting the national campaigns I was involved in.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: So, for me, it is time for another season and another purpose under heaven.
KWAME HOLMAN: Lieberman was Al Gore’s Democratic running mate in 2000, the first Jewish candidate on a major party’s presidential ticket. But, in 2008, he endorsed Republican John McCain for president.
In Tunisia, there were more antigovernment demonstrations, but, this time, they were mostly peaceful. Protesters demanded allies of ousted president Ben Ali give up power. They chanted and sang nationalist songs amid a heavy police presence. Meanwhile, the new government began releasing political prisoners. It also moved to track down assets of Ben Ali and his family.
The U.N. Security Council voted today to send another 2,000 peacekeepers to Ivory Coast, bringing the total to 12,000. The U.N. has been at odds with President Laurent Gbagbo since he apparently lost reelection in November, but refused to step down. U.N. officials estimate more than 200 people have died in post-election violence.
At least 13 civilians were killed in Afghanistan today when their motorized rickshaw hit a roadside bomb. It happened in Paktika Province in the east, near the border with Pakistan.
Separately, President Hamid Karzai delayed opening parliament by a
month. That gives a tribunal more time to investigate alleged election
fraud. Karzai has been accused of using the probe to undermine the vote results.
Suicides among U.S. soldiers in the Army National Guard and Reserve doubled last year. But among active-duty soldiers, suicides dropped after five years of increases.
The Army’s vice chief of staff, General Peter Chiarelli, said today the military is working to lessen the stigma attached to mental-health issues.
GENERAL PETER CHIARELLI, U.S. Army vice chief of staff: I really believe we are leading an effort to destigmatize soldiers, family members and D.A. civilians seeking help when they have these behavioral-health issues. There’s — they are injuries that must be taken care of.
KWAME HOLMAN: Chiarelli said the Army still is working to improve training and health care and to educate soldiers on the abuse of prescription drugs.
In U.S. economic news, homebuilding stayed near record lows last year, and starts on new construction fell in December. That news did little to help Wall Street. Instead, stocks fell, as major financial and technology companies reported drops in earnings. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 12 points to close at 11,825. The Nasdaq fell 40 points to close at 2,725.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.