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Other News: Troops Killed in Iraq, Summers Says Economic Catastrophe Avoided

July 17, 2009 at 6:15 PM EST
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In other news, three American soldiers were killed when their base was attacked, and reports showed that unemployment climbed to double digits in 15 states last month.
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, the U.S. military announced three American soldiers were killed at their base in southern Iraq. It happened last night just outside Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city. Officials said the base came under rocket or mortar fire.

And another British soldier was killed in Afghanistan, the 16th this month.

Unemployment in the U.S. reached double digits in 15 states last month. That’s up from 13 states in May, according to new federal data released today. It was the worst in Michigan, where the jobless rate topped 15 percent. The last time any state hit that mark was in 1984.

President Obama’s top economic adviser said today the U.S. has avoided an economic catastrophe. In a speech, Lawrence Summers said there’s been significant progress in pulling “back from the abyss.” And he defended the administration’s economic stimulus, despite worsening unemployment.

LARRY SUMMERS, white house economic adviser: Job loss has been greater than most observers predicted last winter, and unemployment is likely to rise in the coming months. This is, obviously, a major area of concern. But contrary to a significant amount of commentary, this does not provide a basis for concluding that the Recovery Act is falling short of its goals.

JIM LEHRER: Summers also said federal aid has been vital to major banks. Two more of those, Bank of America and Citigroup, reported better-than-expected profits today.

Wall Street also closed out the week with more gains. The Dow Jones industrial average added 32 points to close above 8,743. The Nasdaq rose 1 point to close at 1,886. For the week, both the Dow and the Nasdaq gained more than 7 percent.

It now appears Senate Democrats have abandoned part of a bill to make it easier for unions to organize. The New York Times and others reported today the so-called card check provision will be dropped. It would have established a union once a majority of workers in a business signed up. Instead, Republicans and some moderate Democrats favored keeping secret ballot elections.

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor gained some Republican votes a day after her confirmation hearings ended. Three Senate Republicans announced they would vote to confirm: Richard Lugar of Indiana, Mel Martinez of Florida, and Olympia Snowe of Maine.

Two other Republicans, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Robert Bennett of Utah, said they would vote no. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on Sotomayor next week; the full Senate could vote in early August.

Pope Benedict XVI had surgery today after he fell and broke his right wrist. After the brief operation, he emerged from a hospital in northern Italy smiling and waving to crowds who had gathered. He’d been injured while vacationing at his alpine retreat. Doctors said the arm would be in a cast for a month. The pope is 82 years old.