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Other News: Jobless Claims Rise, Bombings Strike Iraq

April 23, 2009 at 6:15 PM EDT
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, the latest economic data pointed to continuing weakness. The Labor Department reported more than 6 million Americans are now on jobless benefits. And home sales and home prices fell sharply in March.

Even so, Wall Street managed modest gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 70 points to close at 7,957. The Nasdaq rose 6 points to close at 1,652.

The World Bank will put up $45 billion for public works in poor nations over the next three years. The bank’s president, Robert Zoellick, said the money is intended to help jump-start worldwide recovery. It would pay for new roads and bridges and similar projects. Finance ministers from the major economic powers meet in Washington tomorrow.

There was more today on CIA interrogations of terror suspects. A White House spokesman said President Obama has rejected creating a 9/11-style commission on the issue. And Defense Secretary Gates said he went along with releasing memos from the Bush era.

Speaking at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, he acknowledged a downside.

ROBERT GATES, secretary of Defense: Some of these disclosures could be used by al-Qaida and our adversaries. But as I say, pretending that we could hold all of this and keep it all a secret, even if we wanted to, I think was probably unrealistic, so we’ll just have to deal with it.

JIM LEHRER: At a House hearing, Republicans said other memos show the interrogations worked and called for their release. Attorney General Eric Holder promised he won’t play hide-and-seek with the information.

In Iraq, at least 78 people died in two separate suicide bombings. The worst was in Diyala province: An attacker killed nearly 50 Iraqis in a crowded restaurant. A second bomber struck in Baghdad, as police handed out humanitarian aid packages. More than 30 Iraqis were killed there.

Also today, Iraqi security officials said they’ve captured Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. He leads an umbrella group of Sunni militants dominated by al-Qaida. U.S. military officials said they’re trying to confirm the man’s identity.

More than 87,000 Iraqis have died in violence since 2005. The Associated Press reported that today, based on a count by the Iraqi government. It said the number does not account for thousands still missing. The A.P.’s own count showed more than 110,000 Iraqis have been killed since the war began in 2003.

South Africa’s dominant political party appeared close today to keeping its unchallenged grip on power. The African National Congress Party needed two-thirds of the votes in Wednesday’s election to maintain control. And it was near that mark, with more than half of the ballots counted. The ANC’s leader, Jacob Zuma, was in line to become the country’s next president.