In other news Wednesday, a taxi driver in northwest England went on a shooting spree that killed 12 people. Also, Taliban militants carried out a suicide attack during President Hamid Karzai's address at a peace jirga in Afghanistan.
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Still to come on the "NewsHour": a legal debate about the the high seas raid and the Gaza blockade; the World Trade Expo in Shanghai; and a conversation about happiness.
But, first, with the other news of the day, here is Hari Sreenivasan in our newsroom.
A gunman rampaged across Northwest England today, killing 12 people and wounding 25. The shootings happened at 30 separate locations across rural Cumbria. It was the worst such incident in Britain since 1996. The gunman, a 52-year-old taxi driver named Derrick Bird, was found dead later. Police said he had shot himself, but his motive remained a mystery.
DETECTIVE CHIEF CONSTABLE STUART HYDE, Cumbria police: We are at the early stage of this investigation. We're not able to understand at this stage the real motivation behind it or establish whether this was a premeditated or a random attack.
Multiple shooting incidents are rare in Britain, where gun control laws are strict and handguns are banned. Witnesses said today's attacker used a shotgun.
The U.S. stock market rebounded sharply today on news of a surge in Americans buying homes. Energy stocks also recouped some of Tuesday's losses. The Dow Jones industrials gained 225 — 225 points to close above 10249. The Nasdaq rose more than 58 points to close at 2281.
U.S. auto sales jumped by double digits last month for most companies. Chrysler led the way with a gain of 33 percent. Ford's sales were up 22 percent, and GM rose 17 percent. At the same time, Ford announced it will stop making Mercurys by the end of this year. The brand has been around for 72 years.
In Afghanistan today, a national conference, the peace jirga, opened, and Taliban militants carried out a suicide attack nearby. None of the 1,600 delegates were hurt, but at least two of the attackers were killed.
Hamid Karzai spoke with rockets and gunfire in the background. He told his audience, "We have heard this kind of thing before," and he appealed directly to the militants.
HAMID KARZAI, president of Afghanistan (through translator): My dear Taliban, you are welcome on your own soil. Do not hurt this country, and don't destroy or kill yourselves. Whoever is killed in this country is a son of this country.
If it is you, you are from this country. If it is me, I am also from this country. We are brothers. Let's free ourselves from killing each other and build this country.
Taliban representatives were not invited to attend the conference.
The prime minister of Japan, Yukio Hatoyama, has stepped down. He was in office just eight months, but his support had plunged after he failed to live up to a campaign promise to move a U.S. Marine base off Okinawa. The current finance minister, Naoto Kan, emerged as a potential successor. Japan has had four prime ministers in four years.
An international team began final preparations today for a simulated mission to Mars. The six volunteers and one backup are from Russia, China, France, and Italy. They will be locked inside a windowless capsule for 520 days, the time needed for a round trip to Mars, and they will follow a strict regimen of experiments and exercise.
Scientists and doctors will monitor the men to see how an actual space voyage would affect a crew.
MIKHAIL BARYSHEV, psychotherapist (through translator):
Some people have a fear of being locked in. Some people enjoy the change of scenery, circumstances and people. But, when everybody interacts with the same people in the same space, habits and behavior become apparent very quickly. These habits may irritate and cause indignation and even fits of aggression.
The Mars500 experiment is set to launch on Thursday.
Those are some of the day's major stories — now back to Jim.