U.S. Economy Added Fewer Jobs than Expected
The U.S. economy added 96,000 jobs in August, the Labor Department said today, fewer than forecast by various economist surveys. The unemployment rate surprisingly fell to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent, after millions of long-term jobless people gave up looking for work. Factory payrolls alone fell by 15,000, the biggest decline in two years. These numbers came a day after President Barack Obama accepted the nomination from the Democratic Party for a second term in the White House. His Republican opponent Mitt Romney described the news as “more of the same for middle class families who are suffering through the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression.” A stagnating job market may also add more incentive for the U.S. Federal Reserve to announce new stimulus measures at its next meeting on September 11-12, something Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has been hinting at for the past month.
Backlash in Europe Against ECB Bond-Buying Plan
The European Central Bank’s plan to lower borrowing costs for struggling nations like Spain and Italy, outlined yesterday by the central bank’s President Mario Draghi, may run into political obstacles across the euro area. Germany’s politicians and the press reacted negatively to the announcement, fearing inflation and the depreciation of the euro. Germany’s top Central Banker Jens Weidmann was the only one in the ECB Governing Council to vote against the program, called Outright Monetary Transactions (OMTs). Spain and Italy, whose fragile finances have deterred investors from lending them at low borrowing costs, showed no enthusiasm for the strict policy conditions Draghi said will be required to receive ECB help. Spain’s government already implemented a series of austerity measures that have all but hindered economic growth, and some Spaniards have been leaving the country to look for better opportunities elsewhere. Draghi said the conditions would differ for the countries that ask for help, adapting to their specific circumstances, but there aren’t many details yet.
Haqqani Is a Terrorist Group, U.S. Says
Haqqani, a network that operates in Pakistan and Afghanistan and has been accused of attacks on U.S. and NATO forces, “meets the statutory criteria for designation as a foreign terrorist organization,” a U.S. official said today. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a report addressed to Congress that designates the group as terrorist. The Haqqani network exists in both countries and is affiliated to the Taliban in Afghanistan, but finds its roots in the tribal area of Waziristan in Pakistan. It also has links to Al Qaeda, and has been blamed for attacks on the Indian embassy in Kabul, as well as military bases controlled by the U.S. and NATO. For a long time, Washington hesitated to qualify it as a terrorist group for fear of hampering diplomatic efforts with Pakistan, which has been using the organization to gain influence against India. Haqqani finances itself both illegally and legally, and its blacklisting could lower its revenues, as the U.S. imposes penalties on those who deal with terrorists.
Bahrain Continues Crackdown on Protesters
The Bahraini police threw tear gas and arrested protesters today as they demonstrated to ask for political reforms and the release of eight opposition leaders. This came three days after a court of appeal upheld the death sentence against the prisoners, including Bahrain Center for Human Rights Founder Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. The eight of them were convicted last year of plotting to overthrow the Sunni monarchy. Bahrain was one of the countries that saw an uprising last year during the Arab spring, and it has been in turmoil for the last 19 months. The Kingdom of Bahrain, an island-nation linked to Saudi Arabia by a 16-mile (25 km) causeway, is an ally of the U.S. and hosts a Navy base that is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet.
Canada Ends Diplomatic Relations with Iran
Today, Canadian authorities called back the country’s 10 Iran-based diplomats and gave Iranian envoys five days to leave Canada as Foreign Minister John Baird called Iran “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today.” This prompted speculation that Canada has information about a possible strike by the Israeli government on Iran’s nuclear facilities, something Baird’s spokesman quickly denied. Israel has been threatening to attack Iran’s nuclear site for weeks, warning that the Iranian government has been expanding its nuclear program. Baird cited these concerns as one of the reasons to end diplomatic relations with the Islamic nation, as well as its hostility towards Israel and its political and logistical support of Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Canada’s government for the move.
Weekend Read: Did Barack Obama Save Ohio?
The economy in Ohio, a so-called “battleground state,” is doing better than the economy of the U.S. as a whole. Whoever gets credit for it, U.S. Democratic President Barack Obama or Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich, could help determine the result of the national elections in November. In the New York Times Magazine.