From NPR News in Washington, I’m Lakshmi Singh.
In a major setback for gay rights advocates, Senate Democrats were unable today to get the 60 votes they needed to move forward a measure to repeal “Don’t ask, don’t tell”, the policy that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. NPR’s Audie Cornish says it was part of a broader defense spending bill.
In addition to the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” provision, Senate Democrats wanted to add an amendment, called the “DREAM Act” providing a pass to citizenship for undocumented young people brought to the US as children, if they serve in the military or go to college. But Senate Republicans were unified in their opposition to the add-ons. Ohio Senator George Voinovich says Senate Majority leader Harry Reid is taking the wrong approach.
To me, this is cynical now. Take care of the “DREAM Act”; take care of, you know, some of the other issues, handling these issues the way he's doing it is frankly gonna do more harm than good to the issues that you care about.
The defense bill includes some 725 billion dollars for military and national security spending. Audie Cornish, NPR News, the Capital.
There is better-than-expected data out today on the housing market. The Commerce Department says the number of homes builders broke ground on rose 10% last month. More on this from NPR’s Chris Arnold.
The latest numbers on housing starts are somewhat encouraging. Analysts are looking for any signs of life in the market. That’s because after the expiration of a federal home buyer tax credit, sales fell sharply. But even with the ten percent jump in construction, “this is not the direct home about”. Karol Case is a housing economist in Wesley College, he says at the start of the year, more than 600,000 homes were getting built every month. That number then dropped off close to 500,000 and now it’s edged up a bit to 598,000. But “traditionally this stage in a recovery will push applicants toa million five, a million six, a million seven on the way to more than two million. That’s not happening this time; it’s not going that.”
Case says home construction still remains at around a fifty-year low. Chris Arnold, NPR News, Basta.
A major political shake up in the Los Angeles’s suburb of Bell today, eight people, including the mayor, the former city manager and city council members, are under arrest for corruption. District Attorney Steve Cooley says the defendants misused public funds and defrauded voters.
"This was calculated greed and theft, accomplished by deceit and secrecy."
The case came to light after residents of the small working class city found out officials were paying themselves salaries as high as 800,000 dollars.
The Federal Reserve won’t be taking any drastic steps to revitalize the economy after all. Policy makers decided today to take a “wait and see” approach on howthe economy manages on its own. On news of this, Dow is up 8 points at 10,761 at last check.
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NATO is investigating the deadliest helicopter crash involving coalition troops in Afghanistan in several years. Nine service members died in the southern province of Zabul. It’s unclear if Americans were among the dead. The Taliban says it shot the chopper down but NATO says there is no evidence of that.
Italian magistrates have frozen thirty million dollars of a Vatican bank and put its director under investigation for alleged money laundering. NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome that the Vatican saidit is perplexed and surprised.
Vatican bank director Ettore Gotti Tedeschi is a devout Catholic who has taught financial ethics at Milan’s Catholic University. He is under investigation for alleged violations of European Union money laundering regulations. Italian financial police made the seizure following two recent suspicious transfers. Officially known as the Institute for Religious Works, the bank manages funds for the Vatican and religious institutions around the world. It was involved in a major scandalin 1982 when it got involved in a fraudulent bankruptcy of Banco Ambrosiano whose president, Roberto Calvi, was found hanged under a London Birdge. Today a Holy See statement said the Vatican has been working for some time to make its finances more transparent and it expressed full trust indirector Gotti Tedeschi. Sylvia Poggioli, NPR news, Rome.
Thousands of Greek truckers marched to parliament today in Athens, railing against politicians who want to see more competition in the trucking industry. Lawmakers are expected to vote tomorrow on a measure that would make it cheaper for people to own and operate their trucks.
I’m Lakshmi Singh, NPR news, in Washington.