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Other News: Obama Touts Stimulus, Ruling Party Wins in Lebanon

June 8, 2009 at 6:10 PM EDT
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In other news, President Barack Obama predicted stimulus funds will help create or save 600,000 jobs this summer and Lebanese election results show the ruling, pro-Western bloc beat back a political challenge from Hezbollah.
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, President Obama promised quick action to funnel federal stimulus money into public works programs this summer. He said the effort would save or create 600,000 jobs. He also rejected talk that growing job losses show the stimulus is not working.

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: I know that there are some who, despite all evidence to the contrary, still don’t believe in the necessity and promise of this recovery act. And I would suggest to them that they talk to the companies who, because of this plan, scrapped the idea of laying off employees and, in fact, decided to hire employees. Tell that to the Americans who received that unexpected call saying, “Come back to work.”

JIM LEHRER: The nation’s unemployment rate is now higher than the administration had projected, but White House economic advisers today rejected charges their economic models were overly optimistic.

Wall Street was down for much of the day, but came back in the final hour. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended with a gain of 1 point to close at 8,764. The Nasdaq fell 7 points to close at 1,842.

In Lebanon, election results showed the ruling pro-Western bloc beat back a challenge from Hezbollah. The outcome in Sunday’s vote was a blow to the militant group and its main backers, Iran and Syria.

In Beirut, the Lebanese prime minister hailed his coalition’s victory.

FOUAD SINIORA, Prime Minister of Lebanon (through translator): We are now on the cusp of a new era. We need to be prepared for it and try to understand the changes that are taking place within our country and in the region as a whole and ensure that we are ready to deal with them.

JIM LEHRER: The division of seats in the Lebanese parliament will be much the same as it was before, but the ruling moderates said Hezbollah will no longer have veto power in the new government.

In Washington, President Obama welcomed the outcome as a show of courage and a commitment to democracy.

Voters across Europe moved right in elections for the European Parliament that concluded on Sunday. The critical issues were discontent with stimulus spending and corporate bailouts. Winners included the far-right British National Party. That all-white group claimed its first two seats in the E.U. Parliament to widely different reactions.

NICK GRIFFIN, British National Party Leader: Hundreds of thousands of voters have given their verdict on the dam of lies of the old party. And tonight, the British National Party has breached those dams of lies. The wardens of truth and justice and freedom are once again flowing over this country. It’s a great victory; we go on from here.

DAVID MILIBAND, Foreign Secretary, United Kingdom: It’s quite damaging for Britain, a country that’s stood up for democracy over the last century, to see the BNP elected to the European Parliament. We have to make sure that we take very, very seriously the challenge to democratic politics that they pose, but also understand the anger that exists among people around the country.

JIM LEHRER: Far-right, anti-immigrant parties also advanced in the Netherlands, Hungary and Austria. And the conservative governments of French President Sarkozy and German Chancellor Merkel ran ahead of center-left rivals.

British Prime Minister Brown’s Labour Party suffered its worst showing in almost 100 years. But hours later, he won a show of support from Labour Party lawmakers.

Search crews from Brazil have found more large wreckage from an Air France jetliner in the Atlantic Ocean. Divers located a chunk of the tail section today. The Brazilian and French navies found other debris over the weekend, plus 16 bodies.

The U.S. Navy plans to send in two high-tech listening devices to help locate the plane’s black box recorders. The plane crashed on May 31st with 228 people on board.

The U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor fractured her ankle today. She tripped at La Guardia Airport in New York City as she was on her way to Washington. Later, the nominee arrived at the Capitol in a cast and on crutches. She met with Republican Charles Grassley and other senators and said she feels fine.