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Other News: Obama Expands Hate Crimes Law

October 28, 2009 at 6:15 PM EDT
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In other news, President Obama signed an expansion of the federal hate crimes law, and new home sales fell unexpectedly by 3.6 percent in September.
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today: President Obama signed an expansion of federal hate crimes law to include sexual orientation. Gay and lesbian groups had tried for years to get the government to take that step. The expansion was attached to a defense policy bill worth $680 billion.

Wall Street had a rough day, driven by new worries over the housing market. According to the Commerce Department, new home sales dropped unexpectedly last month by more than 3.5 percent. In response, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 119 points, to close above 9762. The Nasdaq fell 56 points, to close at 2059.

Congress has stepped up the pressure on pro football over head injuries and brain ailments later in life. That issue was aired at a House hearing today. The commissioner of the National Football League, Roger Goodell, would not acknowledge a link between head injuries and brain disease. But, still, he said, the league is doing more to protect players.

ROGER GOODELL: Let’s start with fact that we have made significant rule changes to our game. Five rule changes this year alone have been made that I think are improving the safety and welfare of our players. They have had a positive impact in the short term that they have been in place. And we will continue, as we have done every year, to evaluate rule changes to make our game safer.

JIM LEHRER: A former president of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dr. Gay Culverhouse, testified players feel pressured to hide any symptoms and keep playing.

GAY CULVERHOUSE: I can tell you that owners are like a bunch of mavericks. And it would be very difficult to mandate to them how to have their players play, because incentives, bonuses, are the way you get players back in the game and you win. They don’t mollycoddle. This is a business. It’s a “blanking” cutthroat business. The bottom line is making money.

JIM LEHRER: Committee Chairman John Conyers called it a life-and-death problem. He said he wants to see medical records on head injuries from the pro ranks down to high school.

But the top Republican on the panel, Lamar Smith of Texas, said there’s no way to legislate an end to football injuries.

Federal health officials promised action today to increase output of swine flu vaccine. They acknowledged supply has been slow to reach the public, even as cases of the flu surge.

The secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, said there were startup glitches at vaccine plants.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: Like a rollout of a new restaurant, it didn’t go very well. Those have been fixed, and the growth rate is now much more robust, as the companies change to other strains that were growing at a faster pace. So, both of those problems have been now — those challenges have been met.

JIM LEHRER: Sebelius urged people to try again if they already waited in line and failed to get a vaccination.

There was word late today of an FBI raid in Detroit that turned deadly. Officials said a leader of a radical Sunni Islamic group was shot and killed. They said he refused to surrender, and gunfire broke out. Eleven members of the group were charged with — with illegal possession of weapons and stealing from interstate cargo shipments.

NASA has test-launched a new type of rocket for the first time in nearly 30 years. The Ares I-X blasted off from Cape Canaveral and completed a brief flight. It carried no payload or passengers. The test was the first step in a possible back-to-the-moon program.