Democrats Split on A.G. Nominee

Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein say they'll back attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey, but Sen. Patrick Leahy says he'll oppose him because of his answer about waterboarding.

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BILL WOLFF (Announcer): This is NPR.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Hey, good morning everyone.

Chaos continues in Pakistan today. Legions of police clash with protestors on the streets two days after President Pervez Musharraf called a state of emergency. More the 1,500 people have been arrested since Musharraf took emergency powers of the country. The Pakistani president suspended the country's constitution Saturday, ahead of a Supreme Court decision that could have denied him reelection. He ousted independent-minded judges and granted sweeping powers to authorities to crush any dissent. International pressure is mounting on Musharraf.

Today, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Pakistani president should leave his military post as chief of the army and he should return the country to constitutional law and order. But the Bush administration signaled yesterday that Musharraf's anti-democratic moves would not jeopardize billions of dollars of U.S. aid to Pakistan.

Meanwhile, lines are being drawn in the upcoming nomination vote for Michael Mukasey, the retired New York judge nominated by President Bush to be the next U.S. attorney general. Yesterday the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, said he's bothered by the fact that Mukasey wouldn't define waterboarding as torture during his confirmation hearing last month. But Specter says he's decided to support Mukasey's confirmation. Last Friday, Democratic Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California also turned in support of Mukasey. But the chair in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, has pledge to vote against Mukasey over the waterboarding question. The vote is scheduled for tomorrow.

Citigroup has a new man at the home. Yesterday, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin was named Citigroup's chairman. Rubin replaces embattled chairman and CEO Charles Prince who resigned in the wake of a six-and-a-half-billion-dollar write-down for the third quarter. After an emergency board meeting yesterday, the nation's biggest banking company estimated it would take additional write-downs from eight to eleven billion dollars, citing sharp declines in the value of subprime related securities in the past month. Win Bischoff, who heads up Citigroup's European operations, has been named interim CEO while a special committee looks for a permanent replacement.

Finally today, there really is nothing like a little Bob Seger to get you going on your last day in space.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: That was the wake-up music this morning for astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery today as they wrap up their week and a half journey in space. Discovery's crew has been docked at the International Space Station, doing critical repair and construction work in the outpost. Their work included a history making spacewalk, Saturday, to repair a generator. Their work means NASA can push forward with plans to launch the shuttle Atlantis in December. It was a tearful goodbye when colleague said goodbye - said goodbye to their co-workers at the International Space Station.

Here's shuttle pilot George Zamka summing it all up.

Mr. GEORGE ZAMKA (Pilot, Space Shuttle Discovery): Yes, we've had a great one but it's time to turn around and head for home.

MARTIN: Discovery is expected to return back to Earth Wednesday afternoon.

That's the news and it's always online at npr.org.

WOLF: This is NPR.

LUKE BURBANK, host:

Thank you so much, Rachel.

I think we're going to play some more of that tape later on in the show. And the astronauts, literally, started crying when they're saying goodbye.

MARTIN: Yeah.

BURBANK: Like they're signing each other's yearbooks and...

MARTIN: Yeah. It's kind of intense to be locked away with people in the International Space Station.

BURBANK: It kind of makes sense. I guess I'm surprise it doesn't happen more.

MARTIN: And there's one guy who's going home. He's been there for five months.

BURBANK: Wow.

MARTIN: Yeah, long time.

BURBANK: Thank you, Rache.

MARTIN: You're welcome.

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