Morning Briefing: September 2, 2011


A new Labor Department report released moments ago finds that zero jobs were created last month. The unemployment rate held at 9.1 percent. The jobs numbers for June and July were both revised downwards.

Sens. Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) sent a letter to their Senate colleagues warning that if the transportation bill isn’t approved by Sept. 30, as many as 1.8 million jobs could be lost. The senators say the number is based on job models from the Department of Transportation.

President Obama slashed estimates for U.S. economic growth Thursday, predicting an annual unemployment of 9 percent in 2012 and revising estimated GDP growth down a full percentage point. As Obama prepares to deliver a jobs speech on Sept. 8, White House budget director Jack Lew said “there is a real need in the short term to kick-start economic growth and get on a sustained higher growth path.”

Bloomberg reports that the construction of the so-called super committee has left “Washington lobbying firms in a quandary, seeing their clients pitted against one another in a competition for government cash.” Many of the lobbying firms are having to “finesse” their conflicts of interest policies.

In a Washington Post op-ed, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) slammed Senate Republicans for their intransigence on confirming Obama’s nominations, calling it “the legislative equivalent to an arsonist having set a fire and objecting to a building’s inhabitants using the fire exit.” Listing numerous nominees that Republicans blocked, Frank decried the GOP for blocking a constitutionally mandated process because “they simply do no have the votes to accomplish what they want.”

The U.S. government is set to file lawsuits against more than a dozen big banks as it seeks billions of dollars in compensation for the banks’ alleged misrepresentation of mortgage-backed securities at the height of the housing bubble. Among the banks it will reportedly sue are Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, and Goldman Sachs.

Turkey announced that it will expel Israel’s ambassador and downgrade military and diplomatic ties with the country after it refused to apologize for a military raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla that killed several Turks. “Our aim here is not to hurt our friendship but to return this friendship to its right track,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, saying that relations could be normalized with an Israeli apology.

Manufacturers have lost track of more than 16,000 guns since 2009, according to a report by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The report said some guns may have never had a serial number, making them impossible to trace, and that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives only conducts compliance examinations at about 20 percent of dealers and manufacturers. As a result, the report says, the 16,485 guns missing could be a “vast undercount.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) blasted President Obama’s new counterterrorism strategy because it continues to call terrorism “violent extremism” instead of “violent Islamist extremism.” By refusing “to call our enemy in this war by its proper name,” Lieberman said Obama’s failure “to speak honestly about the enemy is based on its desire not to do anything” that might indicate “we’re engaged in a cold war against Islam.”

And finally: The novelty of a bizarrely intrepid young UCLA math major attempting to spend his summer fighting with the Libyan rebels is apparently wearing off. Al Jazeera English reports that the Libyan rebels are now “fed up with Chris Jeon, US kid who tried to join” and told him to go home. He was “last seen on a pickup going 2 Benghazi,” said Al Jazeera. This, incidentally, may be the shortest internship on record.

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