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News Wrap: Obama Plans Prime-Time Jobs Speech Before Congress

August 31, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: President Obama now plans to lay out his jobs plan next Wednesday night in a prime-time speech. An announcement today said he is asking to address a joint session of Congress at 8:00 p.m. It would overlap with a Republican presidential candidates’ debate the same evening.

But White House spokesman Jay Carney said today that is not why the president chose the time slot.

JAY CARNEY, White House press secretary: Once you decide you want to do a speech to Congress and you have to deal with congressional schedules and other — there are other — there are many other factors here. And, obviously, one debate of many that’s on one channel of many wasn’t enough reason not to have the speech at the time that we decided to have it.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In response, Republican House Speaker John Boehner sent the president a letter asking him not to speak on Wednesday. He said the House will have just returned to work that same day and already has a late vote scheduled. Instead, he invited Mr. Obama to address Congress the next night, Sept. 8.

Wall Street marked a relatively quiet end to a topsy-turvy month. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 53 points to close at 11,613. It is now back in positive territory for the year. The Nasdaq rose three points to close at 2,579.

Waste and fraud have cost the U.S. up to $60 billion during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The independent Commission on Wartime Contracting reached that conclusion in a final report today. It cited lack of oversight, poor planning and corruption in contracts for battlefield support and reconstruction. Much of the money was lost to profiteering, bribery and extortion.

The panel recommended, among other things, creating a new inspector general position.

Gen. David Petraeus said a final farewell to the U.S. Army today, after a 37-year career. He begins in his new position, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, next week. Petraeus has served as overall commander of U.S. and NATO troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

At a farewell ceremony today outside the Pentagon, he argued that cuts in defense spending must not undermine the war effort.

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, U.S. Army: As our nation contemplates difficult budget decisions, I know that our leaders will remember that our people, our men and women in uniform, are our military, and that taking care of them and their families must be our paramount objective.

Beyond that, it will be imperative to maintain a force that not only capitalizes on the extraordinary experience and expertise in our ranks today, but also maintains the versatility and flexibility that have been developed over the past decade in particular.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Pentagon officials are already under orders to cut defense spending by upwards of $400 billion over the next 10 years, and Congress may demand even larger cuts.

The investigation of a suicide car bombing at U.N. headquarters in Nigeria took a new twist today. The country’s secret police acknowledged they arrested two alleged organizers of the plot six days before the bombing. It wasn’t enough to stop last Friday’s attack in the capital city of Abuja. In all, 23 people were killed and more than 80 were wounded. The security chief for the United Nations has said he had no warning about a coming attack.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.