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News Wrap: Economic Report Paints Mixed Picture, Oblique Recovery Outlook

September 27, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Economic data released today painted a fuzzy portrait of how the U.S. economy is faring.

Jobless claims filed last week hit the lowest level in two months. But the Commerce Department revised its estimate of second-quarter economic growth from 1.7 percent down to 1.3 percent. The economic numbers were fodder for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

At a campaign stop in Springfield, Va., he said the slow growth was proof that President Obama’s economic policies have not worked.

MITT ROMNEY (R): If you don’t believe me, why, look at the price of gasoline, and look at the jobs in your community and the members of your family that are struggling for good work.

If you don’t believe me, look at the numbers that just came out in the growth of our economy, 1.3 percent vs. Russia at 4 percent, China at 7 to 8 percent? We are at 1.3 percent. This is unacceptable. It is not working. I know what it takes to get us working.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Two hundred miles away, in Virginia Beach, President Obama acknowledged the economy is still struggling. But he also promised the crowd he will push for an era of what he called economic patriotism.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: During campaign season, you always hear a lot about patriotism. Well, you know what?

It’s time for a new economic patriotism, an economic patriotism rooted in the belief that growing our economy begins with a strong and thriving middle class.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BARACK OBAMA: And I won’t pretend that getting there is easy. The truth is, it’s going to take a few more years to solve challenges that were building up over decades.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In spite of the economic data, stocks on Wall Street made broad gains. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 72 points to close just under 13,486. The Nasdaq rose more than 42 points to close at 3,136.

Overseas in Spain today, the government announced a harsh new round of budget cuts to try and bring its economy back in line. But it was in the face of a massive public backlash.

We have a report narrated by Sarah Smith of Independent Television News.

SARAH SMITH: Charging through streets of Madrid last night, protesters were furious about the budget cuts they knew were going to come today. The police too will be hurt by the latest austerity measures, but they still have to do their jobs.

When economy ministers announced today they were slashing yet more billions from government spending, the country ached. And when they also announced 43 new laws they say will fix the economy, the people simply shrugged. No one believes that will work, because Spaniards aren’t working. That’s the problem. Unemployment is rampant and rising, now over 25 percent, whilst the property crash that started the crisis is still festering.

And further austerity measures will simply suck more money out of the economy, threatening an even deeper recession.

Spain is trying to save a total of 40 billion euros from its budget, which will hurt. But it will not be as excruciatingly painful as a new round of cuts in Greece. They are trying to save an extra 12 billion from a budget that has already been pared to the bone.

No one is spared the pain in Greece, not even the most vulnerable. Disabled protesters took to the streets today, pleading for their benefits not to be cut further. They can no longer even afford the medicines they need, they say.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The Greek government today came to basic agreement on $15 billion worth of cuts in spending over the next two years. The country needs to make the cuts if it wants to keep receiving bailout loans from the E.U. and International Monetary Fund.

The United Nations today asked for more money to help Syrians, as its estimates of refugees fleeing the fighting grew. The U.N. and its aid partners are now requesting more than $487 million in humanitarian assistance. By the end of the year, they estimate as many as 700,000 people will leave Syria.

The U.N.’s regional refugee coordinator made the appeal today in Geneva.

PANOS MOUMTZIS, United Nations regional refugee coordinator: As we are seeing thousands of people crossing the borders, and all the humanitarian actors who are standing to help them and to provide the assistance, we only have one-third of the funding to be able to respond.

So, continuous generous response from donor countries at this crucial moment, as winter — we are entering the winter period, it’s really, extremely important. We are running out of time and we need the funding urgently.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Separately, Lebanese TV aired footage claiming to show Syrian troops retaking control of an army complex rebels attacked yesterday in Damascus. Wednesday’s bombings marked the largest security breach in the heavily-guarded capital since July.

One of the most wanted drug traffickers in Mexico has been captured. The Mexican navy caught Ivan Velazquez Caballero, also known as El Taliban, along with two associates yesterday. This morning, Mexican authorities paraded him before the media wearing a bulletproof vest. Caballero leads a faction of the powerful Zetas cartel. He’s the third cartel leader to be captured this month.

Territorial disputes between the Zetas and Gulf cartels have led to widespread violence in northern Mexico in recent weeks.

The U.S. Army paused today for mandatory suicide prevention training. Record high rates prompted the Army-wide initiative. The number of suicides among service members each year has nearly doubled since 2005. And from June to July of this year, the number of suicides outpaced combat deaths of active-duty soldiers. The last stand-down training for suicide prevention was in 2009.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.