In other news, the Senate narrowly rejected a measure that would have allowed gun owners to more easily travel across state lines with a concealed firearm, and the prime minister of Iraq visited the White House.
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In other news today, gun control advocates won a rare victory in the U.S. Senate. They defeated a proposal allowing people with concealed weapon permits to carry their guns across state lines.
Republican John Thune of South Dakota offered the amendment to a defense spending bill, but it fell two votes short of the 60 needed after the floor debate.
SEN. JOHN THUNE, R-S.D:
So it respects the rights of the individual states, but it does allow law-abiding citizens in this country to exercise their constitutional right under the Second Amendment, and that right should not end at state lines. State borders should not be a barrier to an individual's right to defend themselves.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-Calif.:
This isn't just bad policy; it's extremely dangerous policy. The Thune amendment is designed to undermine the rights of states to determine their own rules and regulations for concealed weapons permits. Here we have people who believe in states' rights, but when it comes to something they really want are willing to pounce on states' rights and destroy them.
Gun rights advocates had won a series of victories until today. Earlier this year, Congress restored the right to carry loaded weapons in national parks, and the Senate voted to erase tough gun control laws in the District of Columbia.
On Wall Street today, the rally in blue chip stocks came to an end. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 34 points to close at 8,881, but the Nasdaq rose 10 points to close at 1,926.
The U.S. will keep to its commitment to withdraw from Iraq within the next two years; President Obama made that pledge to visiting Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki at the White House this afternoon. Later, in the Rose Garden, Mr. Obama said the success of the U.S. transition out of Iraq remains a top priority.
BARACK OBAMA, U.S., President:
This transition was part of our security agreement and should send an unmistakable signal that we will keep our commitments with the sovereign Iraqi government. We'll move forward with our strategy to responsibly remove all American combat brigades from Iraq by the end of next August and to fulfill our commitment to remove all American troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, bomb attacks killed two U.S. troops and one British soldier in the south. At least 33 Americans and 19 Britons have died in Afghanistan this month, the most since the war there began in 2001.
The longest solar eclipse expected this century sent much of Asia into daytime darkness today. It began in India just after dawn and from there became visible eastward across China and Japan.
Hundreds of millions of people turned out to witness the event. Many used special safety glasses to view it; others prayed or stayed indoors fearing a bad omen. In some places, the eclipse lasted more than six-and-a-half minutes.