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News Wrap: Weekly Jobless Claims Highest Since November

August 19, 2010 at 2:05 PM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Wall Street traders reacted badly to a disappointing jobs report today. The Labor Department announced initial claims for unemployment rose last week to half-a-million. That’s the first time since November they have reached that level.

That news helped send the Dow Jones industrial average down 144 points to close at 10271. The Nasdaq fell more than 36 points to close at 2179.

In Washington, President Obama said the new jobless data underscores the critical need for Congress to pass a stalled jobs bill. He urged Republican leaders to stop trying to block it.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There will be plenty of time between now and November to play politics. But the small-business owners I met with this week, the ones that I have met with across the country this year — they don’t have time for political games. They’re not interested in what’s best for a political party. They’re interested in what’s best for the country.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Also today, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated this year’s federal deficit will exceed $1.3 trillion. That makes it the second highest dollar amount ever, behind last year’s $1.4 trillion deficit.

A White House spokesman insisted today, President Obama is a Christian who prays on a daily basis. That came on the heels of a Pew Research Center survey that found nearly one in five Americans, or 18 percent, believe the president is a Muslim. That was up from 11 percent who believed that in March of 2009. The survey was conducted before the controversy over the building of a mosque near the World Trade Center site in New York.

A salmonella outbreak in eggs has sickened hundreds and prompted a recall of more than 380 million eggs. Cases have been confirmed in California, Colorado, and Minnesota. And investigations are under way in at least 10 other states, as well as at the farm that’s believed to be the source. The eggs come from Wright County Egg farm in Iowa, but are sold under more than a dozen brand names around the country.

We have a list of the brands and carton numbers to look for on the NewsHour Web site.

A federal grand jury indicted former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens today for lying to Congress.

The indictment stems from Clemens’ testimony two-and-a-half years ago, before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

MAN: Someone isn’t telling the truth.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The 23-year veteran of the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, and Astros came before Congress, accused by his former friend and athletic trainer of using performance-enhancing drugs. It was an allegation the hard-charging Texan, who last pitched in 2007, forcefully denied.

ROGER CLEMENS, former Major League baseball pitcher: I have been accused of something I’m not guilty of. How do you prove a negative? Let me be clear. I have never taken steroids or HGH.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Clemens was prominently named in a 2007 report on drug use in baseball authored by former Senator George Mitchell. That report named nearly 100 Major League players. A federal grand jury in Washington handed down the charges of perjury, making false statements, and obstruction. If convicted, Clemens faces a maximum 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.

Clemens now joins another once-sure bet for the Hall of Fame, Barry Bonds. Baseball’s all-time home run leader faces trial in March on similar perjury charges, which allege that he, too, lied about his steroid use to federal investigators.

No date has been set for Clemens’ initial court appearance. His lawyer said today that he hopes his client’s case will be tried fairly.

In Afghanistan, the U.S. military announced, another American soldier died in the south yesterday. At least 16 U.S. service members have been killed so far this month. And also in the south, Taliban militants attacked a road construction crew in Sangin district. It was unclear how many people were

killed, because the fighting was ongoing.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Jim.