JIM LEHRER: This was another big day in the 2008 presidential campaign, the Republican primary in Michigan.
Final polls showed a dead heat between John McCain and Mitt Romney. McCain hoped for another first-place finish after winning New Hampshire; Romney needed a victory after finishing second in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, the Democratic contenders made ready to debate tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada. The state holds presidential caucuses there on Saturday. We'll have more on the Michigan primary later in the program tonight.
More tough economic news rattled financial markets today. The Commerce Department reported retail sales in December dropped by the most in six months. And a Labor Department report said wholesale inflation last year rose more than 6 percent, the most in 26 years.
In another development, Citigroup announced huge, new losses from bad home loans, nearly $10 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007. It was the worst showing in the bank's 196 years in business.
The negative news took a toll on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 277 points to close at 12,501. The Nasdaq fell more than 60 points to close at 2,417.
Secretary of State Rice congratulated Iraqi leaders today. She said the process of reconciliation is coming along "quite remarkably." Rice took a detour to Baghdad from a Middle East trip with President Bush.
At a news conference, she welcomed a decision to let Saddam Hussein supporters return to government jobs.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. Secretary of State: A democratic and unified Iraq is here to stay. And while it may have challenges, it has passed through some very difficult times and is now moving forward in a way that is promising, yet still fragile.
JIM LEHRER: The Rice visit came as Iraq's defense minister told the New York Times he envisions U.S. security help until 2018 or later. We'll have more on Iraq's political situation right after this news summary.
An additional 3,200 U.S. Marines will be deployed to Afghanistan this year. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell confirmed that today. He said it's a one-time, seven-month deployment. Many of the Marines will work in southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban's power has surged.
Gaza erupted today in the worst fighting since Hamas took control there last summer. Israeli troops, tanks, and helicopters launched a raid after militants fired rockets into Israel. The resulting battles left 19 Palestinians dead.
One of them was the son of Mahmoud Zahar, the most powerful Hamas official in Gaza. He vowed to respond "in the appropriate way."
In Lebanon today, a U.S. embassy car was the target of a bombing in Beirut. No Americans were in the car, but at least three Lebanese civilians were killed, and an American bystander was injured. The U.S. State Department called it a "terrorist attack." It was the first strike at U.S. diplomatic interests in Lebanon since the 1980s.
U.S. safety investigators cited a key design flaw today in a bridge disaster last August. Thirteen people were killed when the Interstate 35-W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis; 100 others were hurt.
Today, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Mark Rosenker, said the steel gusset plates were too thing.
MARK ROSENKER, Chair, NTSB: The bridge was designed with gusset plates that were undersized, and the design firm did not detect the design error when the plans were created. Because of this design error, the riveted gusset plates became the weakest members of this fractured critical bridge, whereas normally gusset plates are expected to be stronger than the beams they connect.
JIM LEHRER: The safety board said there was no evidence the flaws go beyond the Minneapolis bridge.
Also today, a National Transportation Study Commission called for raising the federal gas tax by up to 40 cents a gallon. The money would go to fixing aging bridges and roads. We'll talk to NTSB Chairman Rosenker about the bridge collapse later in the program tonight.
The leaders of Major League Baseball and the players union faced questions from Congress today on steroid use. At a House hearing, Commissioner Bud Selig and union chief Donald Fehr acknowledged they failed to deal with the problem.
Last month, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell reported steroids were widely used in baseball for years. We'll have more on this story later in the program tonight.
Meat and milk from cloned animals were pronounced safe to consume today. The Food and Drug Administration issued its findings after a seven-year study. It said cloned foods from livestock are just as safe as those produced by conventional means.
The agency's food safety chief, Dr. Stephen Sundlof, spoke at a briefing in Washington.
DR. STEPHEN SUNDLOF, Food Safety Chief, Food and Drug Administration: We understand that members of the public may have strong opinions about animal cloning for agricultural purposes. FDA's mandate is to make scientific, science-based decisions based on data, and the American public counts on that.
We take our commitment to ensure food safety very seriously and will not stop our review of animal cloning with the release of these documents.
JIM LEHRER: The FDA said cloned foods will not have to have labels to indicate their origin. But the agency asked companies to hold off selling cloned foods for a while longer to allow "market acceptance." Several large U.S. companies have already said they won't sell cloned products.
President Bush urged Saudi Arabia's leaders today to put more oil on the world market. He met with King Abdullah and other leaders in Riyadh. But later, the Saudi oil minister said world inventories appear "normal." He went on to say, "We will raise production when the market justifies it." The Saudi kingdom supplies almost one-third of OPEC's total output.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today against investors in a key securities fraud case. It blocked lawsuits against the banks, suppliers, and law firms linked to companies engaged in securities fraud. The 5-3 ruling may also affect a pending case involving Enron, the energy trading company that collapsed in 2001. Shareholders in Enron have mounted a class-action suit against Wall Street investment banks.
And that's it for the news summary tonight. Now: good political news from Iraq; what caused the Minnesota bridge collapse; steroid use in pro baseball; a museum comeback in Detroit; and the primary in Michigan.