JEFFREY BROWN: In other news today, a security checkpoint in Pakistan was hit by a suicide bomber, killing at least 19 border guards. The attack happened in the northwest tribal region at the main border crossing used to ferry supplies to U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. It was the first major attack inside Pakistan since the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a U.S. air strike earlier this month.
Meanwhile in Afghanistan, an American service member died in an attack involving a roadside bomb and gunfire. The death occurred in the southern part of the country and raised this month’s U.S. death toll in Afghanistan to 44 soldiers. August is now tied with July as the deadliest month for U.S. troops in the eight-year Afghan war.
The top U.N. military commander in Sudan declared the Darfur region is no longer in a state of war. General Martin Luther Agwai told reporters, “What you have is security issues more now, banditry. But real war as such, I think we’re over that.”
The statement was quickly dismissed by the head of one insurgent group, who warned of new attacks. The six-year conflict in Darfur is between pro-government troops and mostly non-Arab rebels. U.N. estimates put the death toll at up to 300,000.
Still down, but better than expected; that was the news in today’s Commerce Department report that the gross domestic product — the broadest measurement of the nation’s economic activity — fell 1 percent from April to June.
Separately, Labor Department figures showed first-time claims for jobless benefits at 570,000, an improvement from the week before. The overall number of people receiving aid is at its lowest level since early April.
On Wall Street today, U.S. stocks overcame early losses to close with modest gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 37 points to close at 9,580. The Nasdaq rose 3 points to close near 2,028.
And an adventure story of sorts for this late August day: A 17-year-old from Britain set the new record as the youngest person to sail solo around the world. He crossed the finish line off the coast of southern England today, nine months and 28,000 miles after setting out.
We have a report from Natalie Pirks of Independent Television News.
NATALIE PIRKS: A misty morning off the Cornish coast, not the stuff of dreams, but for one teenager, a day he’d never forget.
NAVAL OFFICER: Yes, the Royal Navy officer sends sincere congratulations to Michael Perham. This is a remarkable and inspirational achievement in one so young.
NATALIE PIRKS: High praise, indeed. Because after 157 days at sea, this was what he’d been waiting for.
So this is it. This is the moment it’s all been leading up to. For the past five months, Mike Perham has fought 50-foot waves in the Southern Ocean, he’s dodged pirates in the Caribbean, and suffered severe sleep deprivation, but it’s all been for this, the moment he crossed the finishing line to become the youngest person ever to sail solo around the world.
We exclusively caught up with Mike as he crossed the line, his first face-to-face contact in over a month.
MIKE PERHAM: It feels brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Sometimes you will be — the calm, and there’s no wind, or other times there will be storms, and you’ll be out of control, and you’ll be asking yourself, why on Earth are you there? What the hell are you doing? But once you get through something like that, you’re on such a high that you’re like, “Oh, that’s why I did it.”
NATALIE PIRKS: Throughout his epic journey, Mike’s updated his Web site followers with a daily video blog, giving an insight into the drama of life onboard.
MIKE PERHAM: That there is a problem.
NATALIE PIRKS: The high seas, seen through a teenager’s eyes.
MIKE PERHAM: Hey, dolphins!
NATALIE PIRKS: But it’s his family he’s really missed. His former navy officer dad, Peter, couldn’t wait to get on board and get a hug from his record-breaking son.
His next big adventure is not far off, but for now he’s just looking forward to catching up with Dad and no doubt sharing some stories of this remarkable voyage.
JEFFREY BROWN: Perham is just a few months younger than an American who held the previous world record. In July, Zac Sunderland from Thousand Oaks, California, completed a similar trip in 13 months.