By Mark Memmott
On this sultry summer Friday there are some things to keep an eye on.
At 10 a.m. ET, the National Association of Realtors releases its figures on July sales of so-called existing homes. Those numbers are closely watched because home sales are good indicators of how the economy's doing and how healthy it will or won't be in coming months.
Sticking with the economy for a minute, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to speak at the Kansas City Fed's annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo. His appearance is also set for 10 a.m. ET, and his words will be parsed for clues to whether the Fed thinks the economy has indeed begun to strengthen. Steve Beckner of Market News International reports:
In Washington this morning, friends and family will gather for the funeral of conservative commentator and journalist Robert Novak.
Out in the Atlantic near Bermuda, meanwhile, Hurricane Bill has weakened slightly -- but still threatens to flood the island's coastlines and bring dangerous waves and riptides to the eastern coast of the USA.
Finally, Muslims around the world are preparing for the start of their religion's holiest month. NPR's Jamie Tarabay filed this report about Ramadan:
As for stories making headlines, they include:
-- The Associated Press -- "Karzai, Abdullah Teams Claim Wins In Afghan Vote": "Campaign teams for President Hamid Karzai and top challenger Abdullah Abdullah each positioned themselves Friday as the winner of Afghanistan's presidential election, one day after millions of Afghans braved dozens of militant attacks to cast ballots. Partial preliminary results won't be made public before Saturday, as Afghanistan and the dozens of countries with troops and aid organizations in the country wait to see who will lead the troubled nation for the next five years."
Related story on Morning Edition -- "U.S., Candidates Call Afghan Election A Success":
Related story in the Los Angeles Times-- "In Afghanistan Election, Deciding Who Won Is The Hard Part."
-- ABC News -- "Opposition To Health Care Reform Is On The Rise": "Public doubt about health care reform has grown as the debate's raged this summer, with a rise in views it would do more harm than good, increasing opposition to a public option -- and President Obama's rating on the issue at a new low in ABC News/Washington Post polls."
-- The New York Times -- "CIA Said To Use Outsiders To Put Bombs On Drones": "From a secret division at its North Carolina headquarters, the company formerly known as Blackwater has assumed a role in Washington's most important counterterrorism program: the use of remotely piloted drones to kill al-Qaida's leaders, according to government officials and current and former employees."
-- The Washington Post -- "Detainees Shown CIA Officers' Photos; Justice Dept. Looking Into Whether Attorneys Broke Law At Guantanamo": "The Justice Department recently questioned military defense attorneys at Guantanamo Bay about whether photographs of CIA personnel, including covert officers, were unlawfully provided to detainees charged with organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to sources familiar with the investigation."
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