Marisa’s Musings: Volcano Flight Delays/Financial Regulatory Reform/Dorothy Height/Salt and FDA

By Marisa Bramwell

Apr 20, 2010 10:22pm

The ash cloud has dissipated and air travelers in Europe are finally on the move…the White House and banks continue their face-off on financial regulatory reform…and a civil rights pioneer passes away.  I'm Marisa Bramwell and here's the latest from the ABC News desk:

VOLCANO RELIEF:  Nearly a week after that volcano in Iceland blew its top, the danger from the plume of ash has eased and some air travel has resumed.  “It’s all about the wind, ” according to Neal Karlinsky:  “Until today the ash was blowing straight out the top of this volcano over this valley and south to Europe but for now the wind has shifted and the ash is moving elsewhere.”  Planes are flying again at London's Heathrow Airport, Europe's busiest hub, and in France, our Miguel Marquez   reports: “Today Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport…packed to the gills…travelers stuck for nearly a week, flooded the airport…just 24 hours ago, the same terminal a ghost town.”  Of course, there are still thousands of stranded travelers for some it could be weeks before they get to their final destinations.  But the outlook has improved. The Eurocontrol air traffic agency predicted just under half of the 27,500 scheduled flights over Europe would be back in the air today – and by Friday, they say air traffic should be nearly normal.  (thanks to Ed Bailey for this)

FINANCIAL REGULATORY REFORM:  The Obama administration continued its call for financial regulatory reform Tuesday: “To us the choices are clear – common-sense rules and regulations in financial markets that protect consumers, taxpayers, and I might add, the overall economy,” Vice President Joe Biden said in a speech in Washington.  “The Obama administration argues it’s crucial for the economy that the derivatives market to become regulated and transparent,” Jake Tapper reported on WORLD NEWS.  The derivatives market is currently unregulated –“the details of these trades are mostly secret and experts say that’s one of the factors that led to the financial crisis,” Tapper said.  It could be weeks before an agreement on the bill is reached. 

WALL STREET RESPONSE:  Wall Street is fighting back against increased regulation, claiming their profits are what have helped the recent boost in the American economy. “The banks will say those derivatives have turned enormous profits in the last two decades that have fueled this economy…the banks know there is outrage across this country and the globe…but they argue heavily regulating the way they do business could bring us back to the brink…they argue where’s the proof more government regulation will work,” David Muir reported on WORLD NEWS.  Securities and Exchange Chairman Mary Schapiro said Wednesday the agency’s probe against Goldman Sachs was "absolutely not" timed to aid the administration’s push for a financial regulatory reform bill.

DOROTHY HEIGHT OBIT:  Civil rights activist and icon Dorothy Height died Tuesday at Howard University Hospital. “Never underestimate the power of a gladiator in a picture hat,” Diane Sawyer noted on WORLD NEWS, “We first saw Dorothy Height in the 1940s, lobbying Eleanor Roosevelt for Civil Rights.  1963, she helped organize the March on Washington…Then 2009, flash forward to another podium. It was Heights said, one of the proudest moments of her life, when an African American took the oath of office.”  Height was 98.

SCOTUS-OBAMA:  President Obama has started meeting with potential nominees to replace Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court.  Senior White House officials stress to ABC News that it is “early in the process” and that results will not be seen for a few weeks.

SCOTUS-ANIMAL CRUELTY:  Animal-rights groups are protesting the Supreme Court’s 8-1 ruling against a law that would prohibit the sale of videos and pictures depicting cruelty to animals.  “The court said there is no evidence that animal cruelty should be treated like obscenity which is not protected free speech,” Pierre Thomas reported on WORLD NEWS.  “Justice Samuel Alito was the lone dissenter – suggesting animals will suffer because of his colleagues’ decision.  He said the law was passed ‘to prevent horrific acts of animal cruelty.’  Now members of Congress are vowing to craft a law that will ban the selling of videos depicting only the most horrific of acts,” Thomas says.

SALT ON FOOD:  The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing possible steps the agency and food industry can take to lower the amount of salt Americans consume.  “Cutting back, the FDA says, could eliminate thousands of deaths from hypertension and heart disease.  But some say the science doesn’t support that,” Sharyn Alfonsi reported on WORLD NEWS.  “The countries in the world who consume the most salt have the longest life spans…so salt does not affect us that negatively,” Morton Satin with the Salt Institute told ABC News.  The FDA said Tuesday it was “encouraged by the fact that some food manufacturers have already begun or announced their commitment to reduce sodium levels in their products.”

CHILD HEROIN USE IN AFGHANISTAN:  Brian Ross reports on NIGHTLINE Tuesday night on a frightening trend in Afghanistan – children increasingly becoming addicted to heroin and opium: “In the US State Department report to be made public in the next week, researchers found Afghan children as young as only fourteen months old with what were termed alarming levels of opium in their hair, urine and saliva…similar to levels found in American street junkies.”  More of Ross’ report will air tonight on NIGHLINE.

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