In other news Thursday, a Somali militant group with links to al-Qaida called al-Shabab announced they had executed Denis Allex, a French national and intelligence agent who had been held by the militants since mid-2009. Meanwhile, another bomb attack in Iraq killed at least 26 people, the majority of which were Shiite pilgrims.
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The U.S. House of Representatives will vote next week on lifting the debt ceiling. Majority Leader Eric Cantor said today Republicans want an interim measure to provide about three more months of borrowing authority. The bill wouldn't mandate immediate spending cuts, as House Speaker John Boehner earlier promised. Instead, it would force Congress to pass a budget or go without being paid.
The government could reach the current debt ceiling by mid-February.
Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, has been indicted on charges for corruption. A federal grand jury accused him today of bribery, wire fraud, and money laundering while in office. Nagin was the city's mayor from 2002 until 2010. Two former New Orleans officials and two businessmen have already pleaded guilty in the case.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today defended President Obama's moves to curb gun violence. The president signed 23 executive orders this week, calling for such things as more research into gun violence. Today, in Washington, Holder told the U.S. Conference of Mayors that there's no question the orders are legal.
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. Attorney General:
Now, let me be very clear. Let me be very clear. Not one of these executive orders, contrary to what a few have said, impinges upon anyone's Second Amendment rights or are inconsistent with the historical use of executive power.
Some Republicans have charged the president's executive action improperly bypassed Congress.
An especially deadly week in Syria's civil war neared an end today with reports of a new massacre. Opposition activists accused a pro-government militia of killing more than 100 people on Thursday in central Syria. Earlier in the week, nearly 90 people died in explosions at a university in Aleppo. And, today, a rocket struck another building in Aleppo, reducing it to rubble, while suicide car bombers struck elsewhere. Reports told of numerous casualties, but gave no numbers.
Indonesia's capital city, Jakarta, struggled to recover today from heavy flooding. The downtown was swamped after a dike collapsed under the pressure of monsoon rains. Thousands of people were forced to flee their homes as the water crept higher. And the death toll was 11, mostly from drowning or electrocution. The low-lying city has long been prone to flooding, but this year's is the worst since 2007.
The flu is now widespread in nearly all of the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control said today that all but two states, Tennessee and Hawaii, show widespread flu activity. The number of older people hospitalized with the illness rose sharply in the last week, and the number of children who've died increased again to 29.
Honda is recalling nearly 750,000 vehicles for a possible air bag problem. The automaker said today the affected vehicles are Pilot SUV and Odyssey minivans spanning the model years 2009 to 2013. The driver's-side air bags may not have all the rivets they need, and that could stop them from deploying. No crashes or injuries have been reported.
Wall Street rounded out the week on a mixed note. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 53 points to close at 13649. The Nasdaq fell one point to close at 3134. For the week, the Dow gained more than a percent; the Nasdaq rose three-tenths-of-a-percent.
Those are some of the day's major stories — now back to Ray.