Washington Extra – swimming with the fishes

August 19, 2010

The U.S. economy continues to swim with the fishes – weekly unemployment claims are at a nine-month high and the director of the Congressional Budget Office says the unemployment rate won’t fall to around 5 percent until 2014. Not much in the way of economic sunshine today.

USA/President Barack Obama commented on the economic cloud before heading to Martha’s Vineyard where his family is taking their end-of-summer vacation.  

We’re wondering if the Secret Service will allow the First Family to frolic in the waters off the Massachusetts island given that several great white sharks were spotted close to the Cape Cod shore at the end of July. Remember, “Jaws” the movie was filmed on Martha’s Vineyard (it’s hard to write out the movie sound of the shark approaching, but you get the picture).

Onshore there will undoubtedly be golf outings for the First Golfer in what is a truly natural setting — as The New York Times pointed out earlier this week, the Vineyard Golf Club is a completely organic course. Perhaps they also serve arugula salad for lunch.

Here are our top stories from today…

More tough economic times forecast by CBO

The U.S. economy faces even more difficult times ahead with chronic unemployment and slow manufacturing hurting the recovery, the head of Congress’ budget agency said. The warning from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office came on top of more bad economic data that heightened concerns about a return to recession. It could also spell trouble for Democrats facing November elections.

For the full story by Richard Cowan and Donna Smith, here.

Economic numbers point to darker outlook

The frail economy was dealt further setbacks as new jobless claims scaled a nine-month high last week and Mid-Atlantic factory activity contracted in August for the first time in more than a year. Other data also implied that expansion had lost momentum after a brisk first quarter, though economists cautioned against interpreting the reports as signs of an impending double-dip recession.

For the full story by Lucia Mutikani, click here.

U.S. tries to fix slow response to outbreaks

The government proposed major changes to the way it works with companies to fight new disease threats such as flu, including reform at the Food and Drug Administration and setting up centers to make vaccines quickly. The report from the Health and Human Services Department said the U.S. ability to respond to new outbreaks is far too slow and it lays out a plan for helping academic researchers and biotechnology companies develop promising new drugs and vaccines.

To read the rest of this story by Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor, click here.

What we are blogging…

Poll shows Americans are confused on Obama’s religion

A year and a half into his presidency, Americans appear to be growing more uncertain about Barack Obama’s religion. A Pew Research Center survey shows that nearly one in five Americans — 18 percent — believe Obama is a Muslim, up from 11 percent in March 2009.  Meanwhile only about one third of Americans surveyed correctly describe Obama as a Christian, a sharp decrease from the 48 percent who said he was a Christian in 2009.

For Deborah Charles’ full blog, click here.

From elsewhere…

 “Dilmaboy” and Twitter: Brazil election goes online

Complete with its own version of “Obama Girl,” Brazil’s election has moved firmly into the Internet age this year as candidates battle for votes and clicks among a surging number of computer users. The two main contenders to succeed President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have become avid tweeters, invested in websites that can gather donations, and took part in the country’s first online presidential debate.

For more of the story, click here.

Vuvuzelas make it into the Oxford dictionary

The ever-present hum of the vuvuzela during this year’s soccer World Cup catapulted the plastic trumpet to prominence and now it has earned a place in the Oxford Dictionary of English. Vuvuzela is among 2,000 new words and phrases added to the third edition of the dictionary, which is compiled from analysis of two billion words used in everything from novels to internet message boards.

For more of the story, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder (T-shirt marking Obama vacation to Martha’s Vineyard)

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