Congressional leaders and the White House have slightly revised the $700 billion Wall Street bailout before a Senate vote expected later today. The measure is said to include new tax breaks for businesses and higher government insurance on bank deposits. The ongoing talks helped the nation’s financial markets recover one day after stocks plummeted on Wall Street with the House rejection of the bailout. The Dow was up 4.7 percent, following Monday’s historic seven-percent drop. Senators Barack Obama, John McCain and Joe Biden say they’ll return to Washington for today’s vote. In Iowa, McCain called on both parties to overcome popular opposition to the bailout.
Sen. John McCain: “I am disappointed at the lack of resolve and bipartisan good will among members of both parties to fix this problem. Bipartisanship is a tough thing, never more so when you’re trying to take necessary but publicly unpopular action. But inaction is not an option.”
Meanwhile, campaigning in Nevada, Senator Obama called on lawmakers to avoid partisanship and act quickly.
Sen. Barack Obama: “This is one of those defining moments when the American people are looking to Washington for leadership, so it’s not a time for politics. It’s not a time for partisanship. There’s going to be a lot of time left and a lot of topics and issues to debate in the next five weeks. But it’s not a time to figure out how to take credit or where to lay blame. It’s not a time for politicians to concern themselves with the next election. It’s a time for all of us to concern ourselves with the future of the country that we love. This is a time for action.”
The crisis on Wall Street continues to have global repercussions. On Tuesday, Ireland said it would guarantee more than $500 billion in debt held by its largest financial institutions. And France and Belgium announced they would collectively inject more than $9 billion into the French-Belgian bank Dexia. More on the financial crisis after headlines.
In Pakistan, at least six people have been killed in the latest attack from a US drone. The bombing took place in the tribal region of North Waziristan near the Afghan border.
Today marks the launch of the Pentagon’s new African-focused military operations center, the US Africa Command. AFRICOM is based out of Germany, following refusals from several African nations to host it.
Back in Washington, congressional Democrats say they’ve effectively shelved a resolution widely decried as a possible green light for a war with Iran. H.R. 362 calls for isolating Iran with a naval blockade and a ban on oil shipments. The measure was heavily pushed by the lobbying group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. Congress member Gary Ackerman says he plans to revise the measure when Congress reconvenes after the November elections.
In Colombia, human rights groups say newly formed right-wing paramilitary groups are fueling a rise in internal displacements this year. A new report says some 1,500 Colombians are fleeing their homes every day. That marks a 41 percent increase over the same period last year. Jorger Rojas of the Council for Human Rights and the Displaced says it’s the most displacements in twenty years.
Jorger Rojas: “We are amazed at the number of people leaving various regions of the country as a consequence of the violence and armed conflict. There are 270,000 people, the highest number in the last twenty years, many of them in massive displacements that have disappeared and not returned.”
The Colombian government is the highest recipient of US aid in the Western Hemisphere, most of it in military assistance.
Tuesday marked the tenth anniversary of the US arrest of the Cuban Five. The five Cubans are serving prison terms of up to twenty-five years for allegedly spying for the Cuban government. The men say they weren’t spying on the US, but trying to monitor right-wing Cuban groups that have organized violent attacks on Cuba. Supporters marked the anniversary with full-page ads in several newspapers calling for the Cuban Five’s release. Signatories included nine Nobel laureates, among them the South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the German novelist Günter Grass.
Here in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to announce today he plans to run for a third term. Bloomberg will propose City Council do away with its fifteen-year rule limiting elected leaders to two four-year terms. He’s expected to argue the current financial crisis on Wall Street requires his continued leadership in City Hall. Bloomberg once decried efforts to undo term limits, at one point calling them “disgusting.”
In Washington State, a private contractor has been accused of failing to vet applicants hired to work as security guards in an immigration jail. Prosecutors say GEO Group generated false documents to cover up a lack of background checks on their guards. The company runs the Northwest Detention Center, which has been accused of mistreating prisoners.
And new questions are being raised about the Bush administration’s controversial satellite surveillance program, known as the National Applications Office. The Department of Homeland Security says it will proceed with the first phase of the program despite objections it doesn’t comply with privacy laws. The satellite program is designed to provide federal, state and local officials with extensive access to spy satellite imagery to assist with emergency response and other domestic security needs. But critics say the Bush administration hasn’t created legal safeguards to ensure the program won’t be used for domestic spying. According to the Wall Street Journal, a new report from the Government Accountability Office says the Homeland Security Department has failed to address the privacy and civil liberties concerns.