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News Wrap: Israel Says Iran About to Send Warships to Syria

February 16, 2011 at 6:00 PM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Israel warned today that Iran is about to send two warships through the Suez Canal to Syria. It is the first time that has happened since Iran’s revolution in 1979. The Israeli foreign minister called it a provocation, and he said Israel cannot ignore such acts forever. The Egyptian body that oversees the Suez Canal denied the Israeli claim.

Republicans in the U.S. House forged ahead with plans for major spending cuts today in the wake of a veto threat. They have proposed a reduction of $61 billion in the current fiscal year from law enforcement to education programs.

At the White House, the new press secretary, Jay Carney, stopped short of repeating yesterday’s veto warning.

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: The president has made clear that he doesn’t — you know, we cannot support arbitrary or irresponsible or deep cuts that undermine our ability to grow the economy, or create jobs, or win the future, or harm our national security, or — or other essential functions of government.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The House is expected to vote on the spending cuts tomorrow, but the bill will face tough going in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Thousands of state workers in Wisconsin braved the cold for another day, protesting a move to strip their collective bargaining rights. Republican Governor Scott Walker has called for an end to collective bargaining for most state, county and municipal employees.

The workers camped out all night in Madison while a legislative committee meeting convened. Many of the protesters gathered in the capitol rotunda as the meeting stretched into the night. Republican leaders said later they would make significant changes in the bill.

And in Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott canceled plans for a high-speed rail line between Orlando and Tampa. He said the state could not afford the multibillion-dollar transit line. The project had been supported by President Obama.

In economic news, new data raised the possibility of rising inflation. The Labor Department reported wholesale prices rose half-a-percent in January, the most in more than two years. And the Commerce Department said home construction rose last month at the fastest rate in 20 months. It was due mainly to more apartments being built.

The housing news and strong reports on corporate earnings helped Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 61 points to close at 12,288. The Nasdaq rose 21 points to close at 2,825.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.