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Other News: Dow Closes Over the 9,000 Mark

July 23, 2009 at 6:20 PM EST
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed over 9,000 for the first time since January. It followed upbeat earnings reports and news that sales of existing homes were up in June for a third straight month.

In the end, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 188 points to finish at 9,069. And the Nasdaq index rose 47 points to close at 1,973.

Ford Motor Company announced a surprise profit, $2.3 billion in the second quarter. Much of it came from cost-cutting measures, not from car sales. Still, Ford’s chief financial officer said the results show the company’s plans are working.

Three mayors in New Jersey were arrested today in a sweeping federal corruption investigation. In all, more than 40 people were charged. They included the mayors of Hoboken, Secaucus and Ridgefield, as well as two state legislators and several rabbis. Federal officials said they found everything from money laundering to trafficking in human organs and designer handbags.

In Newark, acting U.S. attorney Ralph Marra described how a cooperating witness, or C.W., helped uncover the schemes.

RALPH MARRA, acting U.S. attorney: “I don’t donate, I invest,” the C.W. would say in meetings, in parking lots, at restaurants, luncheonettes, diners, offices, basement boiler rooms, and bathrooms. And the politicians willingly put themselves up for sale. Hundreds of thousands in bribes were paid in those places. The complaints show that, for these defendants, corruption was a way of life. They existed in an ethics-free zone.

JIM LEHRER: Later, the New Jersey commissioner of community affairs resigned his post after FBI agents seized documents at his home. It was unclear if he would be charged, but Governor Jon Corzine said the official could no longer be effective.

In Afghanistan, another American was killed in the south. The U.S. military announcement offered no details. At least 35 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan so far this month.

North Korea has refused again to resume talks on ending its nuclear weapons; the announcement came at a meeting of Asian nations in Thailand. Secretary of State Clinton was there, as well. She warned North Korea has “no friends left” to guard it from further U.N. sanctions, but she said that does not include a military response.

HILLARY CLINTON, secretary of state: The United States does not seek any kind of offensive action against North Korea; we have said that over and over again. The North Koreans said in the meeting today that they’ve been subjected to nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula aimed at them. That hasn’t happened for decades. So I think they are living in a historical time period that doesn’t reflect today’s realities.

JIM LEHRER: In turn, North Korea charged Clinton has made “vulgar remarks” that “suggest she is by no means intelligent.”

Vice President Biden assured officials in the Republic of Georgia today the U.S. will continue to stand by their country. He made the pledge toward the end of his two-day visit. It came nearly a year after Georgia’s war with neighboring Russia.

Mr. Biden addressed the Georgian parliament. He tried to allay fears about U.S. efforts to improve relations with Moscow.

JOSEPH BIDEN, vice president, United States: Ladies and gentlemen, I know that some are concerned — and I understand it — that our efforts to reset relations with Russia will come at the expense of Georgia. Let me be clear: They have not, they will not, and they can not.

JIM LEHRER: In Moscow, a Russian government spokesman accused Georgia of rearming. He said Russia will take “concrete measures” to prevent that.