Compounding terrible economic news, budget officials announced Tuesday that the federal deficit has soared to a record $455 billion.
The final accounting for fiscal 2008 produced a larger shortfall than had been projected.
“The reality is that the next president will be inheriting a fiscal and economic mess of historic proportions – the legacy of President Bush’s failed policies,” said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. “It will take years to dig our way out.”
The deficit figures to be even bigger next year as the country copes with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
High court rejects death row appeal
The Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for the execution of a Georgia man who says he was wrongly convicted of shooting a police officer in a dark parking lot in Savannah nearly 20 years ago.
In recent years, seven of the nine witnesses who pointed to Troy Davis at his trial have recanted their testimony. His lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court and argued the Constitution prohibited an execution “when substantial evidence of innocence is discovered.”
But Tuesday, the court turned down his final appeal in a one-line order without a comment or a recorded dissent.
NASA will try to restart Hubble
NASA engineers will try today to bring the out-of-commission Hubble Space Telescope back on line by switching to a backup system on a piece of equipment that relays science data from the telescope to Earth.
The science data formatter, which gathers information from the various instruments aboard the space telescope and packages it for delivery, broke down late last month.
The failure forced the postponement of a repair mission to the 18-year-old space telescope, which was already suffering from technical problems that limited its ability to gather new data.
Engineers are uncertain whether the backup formatter, which has sat dormant in space for almost two decades, will work. If it doesn’t, the telescope will be out of commission at least until the rescheduled repair mission launches, which could be in February.