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U.S. Pledges More Aid to Pakistan for Flood Crisis

August 25, 2010 at 6:29 PM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The head of the U.S. Agency for International Development was in Pakistan today to see flood devastation firsthand. Rajiv Shah pledged an additional $50 million from the U.S. for the eight million people who need help. And he said the bulk of a $7.5 billion aid package pledged to Pakistan before the flooding will now go toward reconstruction. But Shah also warned that assistance is conditional, as long as Pakistan’s leadership shows how the money is spent.

DR. RAJIV SHAH, administrator, United States Agency for International Development: And the people of Pakistan need to know that efforts spent on the relief are generating real results.

So, I am thankful that Minister Qureshi and others have validated that and have also indicated their full commitment to making sure that relief efforts are transparent, resources that go in are accounted for, and there’s real verification, so that we can all continue to stand by the people of Pakistan during this hour of humanitarian need.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Also today, the U.S. military official in charge of the flood relief mission said Pakistan is still committed to fighting insurgents, in spite of the flooding.

Former President Jimmy Carter began a humanitarian mission in North Korea today as a private citizen to secure the release of an American prisoner. Aijalon Mahli Gomes was sentenced to eight years in prison for illegally trespassing in the country. Today, North Korean officials welcomed the former president at the airport in Pyongyang. Later, he held talks with North Korea’s second-in-command.

New safety questions were raised today about an airport in China where a plane crashed last night. Forty-two people were killed, but more than half the passengers survived. When the crash happened, visibility was less than 2,000 feet and fog shrouded the airport that is tucked into a valley.

One major airline, China Southern Airlines, had already judged the runway unsafe for night landings. Investigators recovered two black boxes from the wreckage and were waiting to question the pilot, who was badly injured.

In U.S. economic news, new home sales declined sharply and more than expected in July. The Commerce Department reported July sales fell by more than 12 percent over June. That was the slowest pace on record, dating back to 1963.

And it followed yesterday’s worse-than-expected news on existing home sales. But, still, stocks on Wall Street today managed a slight gain, after a late afternoon rally. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 19 points, to close at 10060. The Nasdaq rose more than 17 points to close at 2141.

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