Morning Briefing: August 10, 2011

President Obama paid his respects to the 30 U.S. military troops who were killed Saturday as they arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware yesterday. Obama spent time on the transport planes that carried the remains and later “spent about 70 minutes in private with grieving family members.”

The unprecedented recall effort in Wisconsin culminated in a victory for Republicans last night as the GOP maintained a slim majority in the State Senate. Two Republican senators — Dan Kapanke and Randy Hopper — lost their seats to Democratic challengers in the recall election, but the outcome was seen as a victory for Gov. Scott Walker (R) and a disappointment to labor groups who spent months and millions of dollars on the effort.

British Prime Minister David Cameron promised police will “fightback” with “the possible use of water cannons to curb the looting and arson” occurring across Britain for four consecutive days. Cameron said the violence is “as much a moral problem as a political problem” for “our society and something we have to deal with.”

In a clear sign that it does not expect much economic growth in the near future, yesterday the Federal Reserve made a rare promise that it will keep short-term interest rates near zero through the middle of 2013. By assuring markets that the cost of borrowing will not rise, the Fed hopes to spur investment. But it is also conceding that unemployment will likely remain high and wage growth minimal through the end of President Obama’s first term.


The Obama administration is reportedly soon going to announce a much tougher stance on Syria, as the president is expected to call for the first time for the Syrian leader to step down. The Treasury Department will also increase its sanctions on the country.

Standard & Poor’s is balking at the Security and Exchange Commission’s request that it disclose the “significant errors” assessing U.S. debt how they calculate their ratings more generally. “The SEC is weighing sweeping new rules designed to improve the quality of ratings after their poor performance in the financial crisis.”

South Korea “exchanged artillery fire with North Korea on Wednesday near a sea border and an island that Pyongyang attacked last year.” Although no injuries were reported, the skirmish marks a long series of events marking increased tensions between the two countries. The head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison yesterday on child-sex charges. Jeffs, who led a breakaway polygamist Mormon cult in Texas, fathered children with girls as young as 15 and sexually assaulted girls as young as 12.

And finally: “30 Rock” star Alec Baldwin seems to be seriously considering a bid for mayor of New York City, and is “talking with two top universities about enrolling in a master’s program in politics and government ‘to help me better understand what the fiscal imperatives of that job are,’ he said.” Meanwhile, activist filmmaker Michael Moore is calling on actor Matt Damon to run for president. Acting is soo 2010.