JUDY WOODRUFF: In other news today, a senior cleric in Iran called for extreme punishment for protesters and said their leaders are “worthy of execution.” That came as the ruling clergy widened a crackdown.
Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami made his call at a Friday sermon.
AYATOLLAH AHMED KHATAMI, Assembly of Experts (through translator): I demand the judiciary punish the leaders of the protest, who are backed by the United States and Israel, strongly and with cruelty so that it will be a lesson for everyone.
JUDY WOODRUFF: At the same time, the opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, appeared to back down somewhat. He said he would ask permission for any future protests.
In Italy, foreign ministers from the Group of 8 industrial powers urged an end to the violence against protestors in Iran. And President Obama echoed that call as he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington. He refused to apologize for his criticism, something the Iranian president demanded yesterday.
BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: I would suggest that Mr. Ahmadinejad think carefully about the obligations he owes to his own people. And he might want to consider looking at the families of those who’ve been beaten or shot or detained. And, you know, that’s where I think Mr. Ahmadinejad and others need to answer their questions.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Elsewhere, protesters broke into the Iranian embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, injuring one employee. More than 150 people gathered to protest the Iranian government’s actions.
In Kabul, Afghanistan, thousands gathered to show support for President Hamid Karzai. It was the first big rally before national elections on August 20th. Karzai has ruled Afghanistan since the Taliban was ousted in 2001. He has recently appeared to gain support in his re-election bid.
And in Iraq, nearly 20 people died today when an explosion tore through a crowded motorbike market in Baghdad. Scores of people were wounded. The bomb was packed with nails and ball bearings and planted in a motorcycle. Baghdad has suffered a series of attacks as U.S. combat troops make ready to leave Iraq’s major cities.
On the U.S. economy, the Commerce Department reported that Americans socked more money away last month. The household savings rate was the highest in more than 15 years.
On Wall Street, stocks were mixed in choppy trading. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 34 points to close at 8,438. The Nasdaq rose 8 points to close at 1,838.
Michigan’s struggling auto economy finally has good news. General Motors announced today that it will build a new fuel-efficient small car in the state. They’ll be manufactured at an assembly plant in Orion Township, not far from Detroit. The move is expected to save some 1,200 jobs.