HARI SREENIVASAN: A bus packed with passengers hit a roadside bomb in
Southern Afghanistan today, killing 25 people. Twenty others were wounded. The bus was blown up as it drove through Nimruz Province on a main highway to Kabul.
Meanwhile, NATO reported a U.S. service member was killed yesterday in the south. Fifty-nine Americans have died this month. A record 60 were killed in June.
The budget crunch in California is going to hit state workers again.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today ordered a new round of furloughs starting August 1. He said state employees will have to take three unpaid days off every month until the legislature adopts a budget. Last year, they piled up 46 days in furloughs, in effect a 14 percent pay cut.
The Justice Department is investigating whether FBI agents cheated on a test about surveillance rules. The Associated Press reported that the department’s inspector general has received allegations that hundreds of agents were involved.
But, at a Senate hearing, FBI Director Robert Mueller said the number is unclear.
ROBERT MUELLER, FBI director: I do not know how many. And I’m not certain the I.G. knows how many either. He’s put out instances — or pointed out instances orally to me where they may be persons in particular office where it was widespread, and it may be attributable to a lack of understanding and confusion about the procedures.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The allegations include claims that agents took the test in groups, instead of alone, in violation of the rules. Others may have printed copies of the test ahead of time.
Congress will narrow the huge gap between jail time for crack cocaine and powdered cocaine. The current law enacted in 1986 gives someone with five grams of crack the same punishment as someone carrying 100 times that amount in powdered form. The House voted today to cut the ratio to 18-to-1. The Senate had already done so. Over the years, black defendants have accounted for most crack convictions and ended up serving far more time than whites.
Wall Street ended its four-day winning streak, after new reports showing the economy has slowed. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 39 points to close under 10498. The Nasdaq fell 23 points to close at 2264.
Parts of China braced for more rain today, adding to a national flood disaster. Nearly 1,000 people have died in the floods this year. Today, thousands more were trapped by rivers in the northeast. In the south, recent downpours caused the Yangtze River to rise ever higher. The water submerged much of the shoreline. The huge Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze was near its capacity. It was designed to end centuries of devastating floods.
Catalonia has become the first major region in Spain to outlaw bull fighting, effective 2012. The local legislature in Barcelona approved the ban today. It followed an emotional debate between animal rights advocates and those wanting to preserve the centuries-old tradition. The ban in this region is largely symbolic. Catalonia has just one functioning bullring. It stages 15 fights a year, compared with nearly 1,000 across Spain as a whole.
Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Jim.