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U.S. Consumers Still Worried About Economy

August 14, 2009 at 1:49 PM EST
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A new survey shows that despite positive economic forecasts, Americans are still concerned about scarce jobs and falling income.
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JIM LEHRER: Talk of the recession running its course ran into new doubts today. A new survey found consumer sentiment fell in early August for the second month in a row. Reuters and the University of Michigan reported the findings; they cited worries about scarce jobs and falling income.

That news followed yesterday’s government report that retail sales fell in July. It all raised fresh fears on Wall Street, since consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 76 points today to close at 9,321. The Nasdaq fell more than 23 points to close at 1,985. That put an end to a four-week string of gains. The Dow was off 0.5 percent this week; the Nasdaq fell .7 percent.

In other news today, two high-profile funerals drew thousands of mourners and onlookers. Eunice Kennedy Shriver was remembered in Hyannis, Mass. The sister of President Kennedy and founder of the Special Olympics died Tuesday at the age of 88.

Today her casket was carried in a procession led by Special Olympians, as well-wishers lined the streets. Inside, family and friends packed the church, including Shriver’s daughter, Maria.

MARIA SHRIVER: At the end of her life, she was strong and vulnerable. She was tired and tireless, determined and also ready to surrender to God. She did it all, she lived it all, and she loved us all.

I think if I said to my mother — which I often did — “I can’t go on without you. I don’t know how to live without you,” she’d say, “You’re fine. I’ve raised you well. Now get out there. I don’t want to hear one more yip. Get going. Your brothers will be nice to you.”

(LAUGHTER)

JIM LEHRER: Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s last living brother, Senator Edward Kennedy, is battling brain cancer, and he did not attend the funeral.

And in Jacksonville, Fla., U.S. Navy pilot Michael “Scott” Speicher was laid to rest, 18 years after he was shot down over Iraq. Thousands of people turned out in Speicher’s adopted hometown to watch the funeral procession. It followed a 30-mile route past his former school, church, and military base. The 33-year-old pilot disappeared at te start of the first Gulf War. His remains weren’t found until just recently.

A Charles Manson follower who once tried to kill President Ford is now free. Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme was released from a federal prison in Texas today. In September 1975, Fromme aimed a pistol at Mr. Ford as he visited Sacramento, Calif. Secret Service agents grabbed her before any shots were fired. Fromme was never implicated in a series of brutal killings by Manson’s gang in Los Angeles in 1969. Manson is doing life in prison.

Michael Vick was formally re-introduced to professional football today after doing prison time. The Philadelphia Eagles signed the quarterback to a one-year deal last night. Vick served 18 months in federal prison for his role in running a dog-fighting ring.

Today, he said the Eagles owner and coach have given him a second chance.

MICHAEL VICK: I would like to express my gratification to Jeff Lurie and Coach Reid, Andy Reid, for making me a part of this organization and giving me the opportunity. I know, as we all know in the past, I made some mistakes. I have done some terrible things, made a horrible mistake, and now want to be part of the solution and not the problem.

JIM LEHRER: Vick pledged to be an ambassador for the National Football League and to work for animal rights. The NFL will let Vick practice and play in the last two preseason games. He’ll be considered for full reinstatement in mid-October.

The death toll from last week’s typhoon in Taiwan has increased sharply to more than 500, and damage is now estimated at $1.5 billion. The country’s president announced those figures today. He said most of the deaths were in a single village that was buried under a mudslide. The Taiwanese leader has come under heavy criticism for his handling of the disaster.