Lawmakers soften part of financial regulation bill

House and Senate negotiators assembling a giant financial regulation bill diluted a measure Tuesday that would have upended how Wall Street assesses risk.

Lawmakers agreed to remove a proposal that would have ended the ability of financial institutions to choose the firms that rate the risk of their investment products.

Instead, negotiators altered the bill to require that the Securities and Exchange Commission, after a two-year study, set up a system for assigning credit rating agencies in a way that avoids conflicts of interest with issuers or underwriters of financial products.

Critics of the current system argue that the relationship between financial firms and the credit agencies creates conflicts of interest and that the agencies overrate risky investments that fueled the financial crisis.


Lawmaker seeks to repeal birthright citizenship

Emboldened by passage of the nation’s toughest law against illegal immigration, the Arizona politician who sponsored the measure now wants to deny U.S. citizenship to children born in this country to undocumented parents.

Legal scholars scoff at Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce’s proposal and warn that it would be unconstitutional, since the 14th Amendment guarantees citizenship to anyone born in the U.S.

But Pearce brushes aside such concerns. And given the public anger over what many regard as a failure by the federal government to secure the border, some think it has a chance of passage.

LONDONDERRY, Northern Ireland

British soldiers blamed in 1972 ‘Bloody Sunday’ deaths

Relatives of 13 Catholic demonstrators shot to death in 1972 by British troops on Northern Ireland’s Bloody Sunday cried tears of joy Tuesday as an epic fact-finding probe ruled that their loved ones were innocent and the soldiers entirely to blame.

The investigation took 12 years and nearly 200 million pounds ($290 million), but the victims’ families and the British, Irish and U.S. governments welcomed the findings as priceless to heal one of the gaping wounds left from Northern Ireland’s four-decade conflict that left 3,700 dead.

The probe found that soldiers opened fire without justification at unarmed, fleeing civilians and lied about it for decades, refuting an initial British investigation that branded the demonstrators as Irish Republican Army bombers and gunmen.

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan

Last shuttle launches, will reach space station Friday

Two U.S. astronauts and a Russian crewmate blasted off successfully Wednesday on a mission to the international space station that will see the last ever shuttle visit to the orbiting lab.

U.S. astronauts Douglas Wheelock and Shannon Walker and Russia’s Fyodor Yurchikhin lifted off in a Russian Soyuz rocket, its boosters lighting up the the starry nighttime sky over Central Asian steppe. Their Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft is set to reach the station Friday.


U.N. will transport flotilla cargo from Israel to Gaza

The United Nations will take to Gaza tons of aid supplies languishing in an Israeli port for two weeks since they were seized in a bloody sea confrontation, the Israeli military said Tuesday.

A U.N. spokesman confirmed the deal. The military said the aid, taken from a six-ship Gaza-bound flotilla after nine people died in clashes, would fill 70 trucks.

Up to now, the Hamas rulers of Gaza have refused to accept the aid as a protest against Israel’s three-year blockade of the territory.