NY TIMES article: U.S. Expands Plan to Buy Banks’ Troubled Assets. I have some confusion over the terms -help?

Taken together, the three programs unveiled on Monday by the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, could buy up to $ 2 trillion in ****real estate assets**** that have been weighing down banks, paralyzing credit markets and delaying the economic recovery.

he Dow Jones industrial average ended the day up nearly 500 points, or 6.84 percent, to 7,775.86. <<<< What's toxic-asset? Can someone explain this article for me? I have an assignment due for this, but, the terminology and the implied information (which I am not clear about) are confusing me. Thanks in advance!

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