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News Wrap: Obama Calls for Small Business Assistance

August 30, 2010 at 4:20 PM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: President Obama promised new measures today to boost the sluggish economic recovery. He spoke briefly at the White House Rose Garden a day after returning from vacation.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My economic team is hard at work in identifying additional measures that could make a difference in both promoting growth and hiring in the short-term, and increasing our economy’s competitiveness in the long term, steps like extending the tax cuts for the middle class that are set to expire this year.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The president also urged action on new assistance for small business through a pending jobs bill. Senate Republicans have blocked the bill. They say the real problem is that businesses are worried about possible tax increases. The president’s remarks did little to ease Wall Street’s concerns about the recovery. Stocks were down before he spoke, and fell further afterward. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 141 points to close at 10009. The Nasdaq fell more than 33 points to close below 2120.

The floodwaters in parts of Pakistan receded further today, and thousands more refugees began heading home. In some places, people crowded into any boat available to begin the journey back or just to get to safer ground. Boats also brought food and water to hungry survivors, but there were widespread shortages and some had to fish to feed themselves.

FIAZ AHMID, Pakistan (through translator): Sometimes, we get food, sometimes not. All the leaders of the area have all the food and control it and distribute it as they want. So, it depends on them if you get one or three meals a day.

HARI SREENIVASAN: More than 1,600 people have died in the floods, but officials say they expect to find many more bodies as the water levels drop.

Rescuers in Chile planned to begin drilling a shaft today to reach 33 miners. They have been trapped underground since early August.

We have a report narrated by Rohit Kachroo Of Independent Television News.

ROHIT KACHROO: Some of the men appear thinner in the latest images to emerge from underground. They deliver messages home once again, and some show us the items they have received from ground level.

One reads a message from a colleague who isn’t seen in the video. He says his family will understand why he hasn’t appeared. Plan B is to widen the bore hole created for emergency supplies, which could free the men by October. On plan A, drilling is about to begin, the half-mile hole being bored at a rate of 20 meters a day. Phone lines were dropped through to allow relatives a precious 20 seconds to speak directly with the men for the first time. Today, the prayers are to the patron saint of miners for their loved ones’ escape from half-a-mile beneath them.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The trapped miners will have to aid in their own rescue by clearing up to 4,000 tons of rock as the new shaft is drilled from above.

The U.S. will expand sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear program. The Treasury Department announced the move today, under an executive order by President Obama. It freezes the assets of four North Korean individuals, plus several state-run companies and government agencies.

The Indian government has delayed a possible ban on BlackBerry services for at least 60 days. That came after the device’s maker, Research In Motion, agreed to allow access to heavily encrypted data. A number of governments in the Middle East and Asia have demanded access to secure corporate e-mails and instant messages on BlackBerrys. They say militants could use the service to escape detection.

Former Major League Baseball star Roger Clemens pleaded not guilty today to lying to Congress about steroids. Clemens left the federal courthouse in Washington amid a crowd of photographers. He was arraigned on multiple counts of making false statements, perjury, and obstruction of Congress. At a House hearing in 2008, Clemens insisted he never took steroids or human growth hormone in 23 years as a pitcher. If convicted, he could face 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.

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