Morning Briefing: August 25, 2011

Bloomberg reports that the percentage of American men working “fell to 63.5 percent in July, hovering stubbornly near the low point of 63.3 percent it reached in December 2009. These are the lowest numbers in statistics going back to 1948.”

Looking to strengthen the housing market, the Obama administration may allow homeowners with government-backed mortgages to refinance them at today’s lower interest rates, which “could be a strong stimulus to the economy.” This proposal is one of many ideas Obama is pursuing with the demand that they “help a broad swath of homeowners, stimulate the economy and cost next to nothing.”

Though Republicans “have pushed to cast the sputtering economy as Obama’s fault,” a new poll finds that 51 percent of Americans say “George W. Bush is most to blame for the down economy.” Forty-four percent say “a lot” or “most” of the blame should fall on congressional Republicans, while 36 percent say the same of Democrats.

The French government will add an extra tax of 3 percent on annual income above 500,000 euros ($721,000). Prime Minister said the increase will remain in place until France’s deficit is back under 3 percent of its GDP, and the tax increase comes after some of France’s wealthiest citizens asked for a tax increase in a spirit of “solidarity.”


The federal budget deficit for fiscal year 2011 has shrunk slightly, dropping from $1.29 trillion last year to $1.28 trillion this year, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office. “The deficit that CBO projects for 2011 is lower than what the agency estimated in March,” the office noted.

In his new memoir, former Vice President Dick Cheney says he urged President George W. Bush to bomb a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in June 2007. Cheney writes that he was the only person pushing to attack militarily, and Bush took the advice of other advisers to take a diplomatic approach because of “the bad intelligence we had received about Iraq’s stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.”

A truce struck between Gaza militants and Israel appeared to be falling apart as Israeli bombings left 6 Palestinians dead and an additional 30 injured. The latest round of violence started following a terrorist attack in Israel that may’ve not even been committed by Gaza-based militants.

And finally: Libyan rebels ransacking Moammar Qaddafi’s compound in Tripoli found a photo album “filled with page after page of pictures of Condoleezza Rice.” In a 2007 interview with Al-Jazeera, Qaddafi was effusive about his “love” for Rice, saying, “I support my darling black African woman.” “Leezza, Leezza, Leezza. … I love her very much. I admire her and I’m proud of her because she’s a black woman of African origin.”

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