GM pays back its government bailout, Geithner talks finance regulatory reform and the search for missing oil rig workers continues in the Gulf of Mexico…I'm Marisa Bramwell and here's the latest from the ABC News desk:
GENERAL MOTORS: Automaker General Motors announced Wednesday it had repaid its $8.1 billion in government loans from the U.S. and Canada five years ahead of schedule. “And after wiring $5.8 billion back to the Treasury,” Bill Weir reported on WORLD NEWS, “GM announced they will ramp up production of the Chevy Malibu at this plant in Kansas City and another in Detroit. They’re adding third shift in Lordstown, Ohio..bringing more than 1,000 new jobs to a town in economic ruins.”
So how much do companies that were bailed out owed taxpayers? Chrysler owes $12.2 billion, Citigroup $25 billion and “insurance giant AIG…a full $70 billion from tax payers…we’re still waiting – for any of it back,” David Muir reported on WORLD NEWS.
GEITHNER ON FINANCE REGULATORY REFORM: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos he believed financial regulatory reform would “absolutely” prevent future tax-payer bailouts of failed banks: “That’s very important for people to understand, because you can’t run a system in which private investors or their executives can take risk on the expectation the government is going to come in and protect them. That’s the recipe for disaster,” he said.
Senator Charles Grassley became the first Republican to support regulations on the derivatives market Wednesday. “I voted for the Chairman’s derivatives bill today because I think transparency is the right policy,” said Grassley, with an added caveat: “My vote for this important reform of the derivatives market doesn’t mean I’ll be able to support the larger financial reform bill on the Senate floor. The derivatives piece is significant, but that larger bill has a number of flaws that need to be resolved before I’d support it. Again, I hope the majority leadership of the Senate allows the kind of debate, negotiation and amendment process needed to make those kinds of changes so that representative government can work as it should.”
RIG EXPLOSION: The Coast Guard is searching the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana for 11 workers who went missing after the oil rig they were working on exploded late Tuesday night. “The explosion was spectacular and catastrophic. The Deepwater Horizon was under contract with BP, drilling a new well in the Gulf of Mexico. Around 10pm last night as the drill pierced deep into the ocean floor…there was some abnormal pressure build up…then the night sky lit up,” Jeffrey Kofman reported on WORLD NEWS. Of the 126 crew, 17 were injured, four critically. The Coast Guard will continue searching for the missing crew through the night.
SCOTUS: President Obama said Wednesday that he expects to name a Supreme Court nominee by the end of May. “I think it's important, particularly given the important cases that may be coming before the Supreme Court, that we get this process wrapped up, so that a new justice can be seated and staffed and can work effectively with his or her colleagues in time for the fall session,” President Obama said.
“The president spoke to 13 Senators today – including 5 Republicans – to talk about his pending Supreme Court pick,” Jake Tapper reported on WORLD NEWS. “He’s also spoken to several potential nominees,” Tapper said, “and he’s reviewing their legal writings, their speeches, their briefs – among any number of other considerations….the main things he’s looking for are fidelity to the law and the constitution” and “somebody who has the kind of life experience so they understand how their decisions impact ordinary people,” Obama said in an interview with CNBC.
VOLCANO AFTERMATH: Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano remains active today, shooting chunks of magma the size of cars into the air, along with tremors and the usual bubbling lava. But scientists say there is much less ash production and that has allowed the authorities to declare most of the air space over Europe safe. Bright blue skies replaced the ashen cloud that hovered over much of Europe for the past week – and it was a sight to behold. The electronic boards at some of Europe’s busiest commercial airports indicate roughly 80 percent of flights on schedule, though some restrictions remain over parts of Britain, Ireland, France and the Scandinavian countries. Some military flights have resumed at Italy’s Aviano Air Base but most fighter jets, which have highly sensitive engines, remain grounded across much of Europe. All-in-all it’s been a costly affair for travelers and the airlines alike. The airlines estimate their losses at over $2-billion, worse than the shutdown after the September 11 terrorist attacks. (thanks to Ed Bailey for this entry)
SOMALIA PIRATES TO US: Kirit Radia reports: “A US official confirmed on the record for the first time today that a number of captured Somali pirates are headed to the US on board American military vessels and will be transferred to the Department of Justice for prosecution.” Luis Martinez reports that five pirates are en route to the U.S., and that they were the ones involved in the USS Nicholas incident. Pierre Thomas/Rich Esposito report the U.S. Attorney’s office in Norfolk will handle the prosecution, and legal proceeding will also take place there. Dana Hughes notes that “It's significant in the fight against piracy that Kenya is no longer taking any more suspected pirates. It means that only pirates who attack ships from countries with the means and justice system to handle transporting and trying them will face justice – namely the U.S. and European countries.”
ROETHLISBERGER SUSPENDED: The NFL has suspended Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Roethlisberger for six games without pay, and ordered the quarterback to undergo a comprehensive behavioral evaluation. “The NFL has been at the forefront of sports trying to clean-up a ‘men behaving badly’ image. Goodell instituted a personal code of conduct, telling players ‘you are held to a higher standard’ than the law,” John Berman reported on WORLD NEWS. Goodell said he would review Roethlisberger’s progress to determine whether his suspension could be shortened to four games.
PALIN HACKER TRIAL: Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol took the stand Wednesday in the trial against a former college student who hacked into her mother’s Yahoo email account. Bristol testified that she received several phone calls and text messages because a screenshot of her mother’s email account posted online showed her email address. Bristol said as a result of the breach, she was without phone service for months.