Other News: House Reprimands Rep. Wilson for ‘You Lie’
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GWEN IFILL: On Wall Street today, the major indexes reached new highs for the year. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 56 points to close at 9,683. And the Nasdaq rose more than 10 points to close above 2,102.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution of disapproval today against Republican Joe Wilson. Last week, the South Carolina congressman touched off a furor when he shouted, “You lie!” during President Obama’s health care speech to a joint session of Congress. Wilson later apologized to the president’s chief of staff, but he refused Democrats’ demands to apologize to colleagues on the House floor. That, in turn, triggered today’s debate.
REP. JOE WILSON, R-S.C.: I think it is clear to the American people that there are far more important issues facing this nation than what we’re addressing right now. The president said the time for games is over. I agree with the president. He graciously accepted my apology, and the issue is over.
REP. JAMES CLYBURN, D-S.C.: This is not a partisan stunt. I do not participate in partisan stunts. And I think every member here knows that. This is about the proper decorum that should take place on the floor of the United States House of Representatives.
GWEN IFILL: The final vote of disapproval was 240 to 179, almost entirely along party lines.
The Obama administration has unveiled new fuel economy standards for cars and trucks. They call for an average of 35.5 miles a gallon by 2016. The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, said it would cost $1,300 per vehicle. But fuel savings, she said, would cover those costs within three years and would have the effect of taking 42 million cars off the road.
In Iraq, Vice President Biden made an unannounced visit to Baghdad, his third trip there this year. It came as mortar shells fell in the heavily secured Green Zone, killing two Iraqis.
Shortly before the attack, Mr. Biden was briefed by U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill and General Ray Odierno at the U.S. embassy compound. Aides said the vice president was safe at an undisclosed location.
The Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at former President Bush was released from prison today. We have a report narrated by Chris Rogers of Independent Television News.
CHRIS ROGERS: Muntadhar al-Zaidi has been in custody since this protest in December last year. His shoes were aimed at an outgoing President Bush, who managed to duck the size-10 missiles, but not the local reporter’s outbursts and insults. While he laughed it off, Zaidi was handed a three-year jail term for assaulting a foreign leader.
And with his early release after an appeal, more embarrassment for the Iraqi government. Zaidi said he plans to tell his story on television, claiming he was tortured by government officials shortly after his arrest, an accusation the Iraqi authorities deny.
“While the Iraqi prime minister continued talking at the news conference, I was severely tortured with various kinds of torture,” he said. “I was exposed to electric shocks and beaten with cables and iron bars.”
His release has reignited the divide over his actions. While many Iraqis brand him a disgrace, a ban on celebrations by supporters has been ignored. The previously little-known journalist worked for local television, reporting on the 2003 Iraqi invasion, but it was his shoe-throwing protest that made him a hero in large parts of the Arab world, where the throwing of shoes is seen as a huge insult.
GWEN IFILL: Al-Zaidi also said today he fears for his life before U.S. agents want to kill him. In Washington, a spokesman for the CIA said, “That’s so foolish as to warrant no further comment.”
A vaccine for the H1N1 swine flu virus won U.S. government approval today. The Food and Drug Administration cleared the vaccine for distribution starting next month. Ultimately, it’s expected to be available at 90,000 sites around the country.
Actor Patrick Swayze has died in Los Angeles after a 20-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He rose to fame with his 1987 performance as the misunderstood dance instructor in “Dirty Dancing.” In 1990, he starred in the hit film “Ghost” alongside Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. After his diagnosis in 2008, Swayze lobbied Congress for more cancer research funding. Patrick Swayze was 57 years old.