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News Wrap: Bastrop Co. Blaze Destroys Nearly 1,400 Homes

September 8, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The cost of those Texas wildfires rose sharply higher today. State officials raised the count of destroyed homes to nearly 1,400, all of them in Bastrop County, just east of Austin. As of today, the Bastrop fire was about 30 percent contained. At least 5,000 people have been forced to flee that area, but some could be allowed back in tomorrow.

Two more NATO troops have been killed in a roadside bombing in Southern Afghanistan. There was no immediate word today on their nationalities or the precise location of the attack. Meanwhile, the Afghan Defense Ministry said five Afghan soldiers were killed yesterday in the east.

In economic news, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said today the Fed will consider a number of stimulus steps at a meeting later this month, but he gave no specifics. That disappointed Wall Street, and stocks fell in the closing hours of the session. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 119 points to finish at 11,295. The Nasdaq was down more than 19 points to close at 2,529.

The watchword was compromise as a congressional super committee on the deficit met for the first time today. The panel was created as part of a deal struck in August to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. The six Republicans and six Democrats have until Thanksgiving to find at least $1.3 trillion in budget savings over the next decade. Members pledged today to put aside partisan differences.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY, D-Wash.: A successful final product from this committee will not be one that any one of us would have written on our own if — it will have to include compromises on all sides.

REP. JEB HENSARLING, R-Texas: I do not believe this committee alone will solve our nation’s debt crisis, but a bipartisan negotiated reduction in the growth of our nation’s debt would be a wonderful, needed, hopeful step in the right direction.

HARI SREENIVASAN: A failure to reach consensus would trigger automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion dollars over the next 10 years in both defense and domestic spending. But Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona said today he would quit the committee if it considers additional defense cuts. The committee resumes its meetings next week.

A federal appeals court in Virginia has thrown out two lawsuits that challenged the president’s health care overhaul. The suits, including one by Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, charged the federal government has no power to make people buy insurance. The court didn’t rule on the merits of the case. Instead, it said the plaintiffs have no legal standing to sue in the first place. Similar challenges are working their way toward the U.S. Supreme Court.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.