New figures show the U.S. economy added 96,000 jobs last month, a lower number than had been predicted. The official unemployment rate saw a slight dip to 8.1 percent, but only because less people reported they were actively looking for work. The Department of Labor also lowered its job figures for June and July, saying 41,000 fewer jobs were created than had been reported.
President Obama accepted the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night in a lengthy speech closing out the Democratic National Convention. Obama argued he has rescued the economy from disaster and planted the seeds for a continued recovery. He vowed to create one million new manufacturing jobs by 2016 and to double exports by 2014. On foreign policy, Obama highlighted the killing of Osama bin Laden, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and the planned drawdown from Afghanistan. In a theme he touched on throughout his speech, Obama said the “change” he promised four years ago would take time but is surely underway.
President Obama: “Our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And I’m asking you to choose that future.”
Commenting on his opponent Mitt Romney, Obama criticized Republicans for a tax plan favoring the wealthy.
President Obama: “When Governor Romney and his friends in Congress tell us we can somehow lower our deficits by spending trillions more on new tax breaks for the wealthy — well, what did Bill Clinton call it? You do the arithmetic. You do the math. I refuse to go along with that. And as long as I’m president, I never will. I refuse to ask middle-class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut.”
At least 50 people have been killed in a pair of earthquakes in southwestern China. The Chinese government says the quakes damaged thousands of buildings, displacing some 20,000 people.
The United Nations food agency says global prices have stabilized at levels near those of the 2008 crisis that sparked unrest across the globe. The head of the Food and Agriculture Organization, David Hallam, said international action could prevent a crisis, in part by addressing the harsh impact of the recent U.S. drought.
David Hallam: “There is a risk of more price increases, but at the moment there is no evidence to suggest that that is an inevitability. The very sharp reduction in U.S. production because of the drought — the worst drought for 50 years, we are told — has had a major impact on both stock levels and on prices. The overall global stock-to-use ratio has fallen to a historic low of just over 13 percent. In the U.S., it’s significantly lower than that.”
More than 100 striking miners in South Africa have been released from jail after they were arrested following the killings of their colleagues. Dozens of miners were initially charged for the murders despite the fact the victims were in fact shot dead by police. The slain miners were killed more than a week after walking off the job at the Marikana platinum mine in a call for higher pay. Despite their release, many of the miners still face charges and are due to appear in court early next year.
In Israel and the Occupied Territories, six Palestinians have been killed in a pair of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. The victims included three civilians — two of them brothers — struck by an Israeli tank shell. Israel says it was targeting militants planning attacks.
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral James Winnefeld visited Israel on Thursday amidst ongoing talk of military action against Iran. Winnefeld met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak just days after the top U.S. military official, General Martin Dempsey, said he does not want to be “complicit” in an Israeli attack. Barak said the United States and Israel share the same goals but are now on different timetables.
Ehud Barak: “Today I met with with Admiral Winnefeld, vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chief of Staff, along with the American ambassador. We discussed the situation in the region and of course talked about Iran. We are facing a joint challenge, but our clocks are ticking in different tempos. We have differences between us. Israel is maintaining its right to make sovereign decisions, and the United States respects that.”
President Obama has publicly disclosed what he says are his administration’s criteria for carrying out drone strikes and targeted assassinations abroad. Obama spoke to CNN in some of his most extensive comments on the drone attacks to date.
President Obama: “It has to be a target that is authorized by our laws. It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative. It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States. And this is an example of where I think there’s been some misreporting. Our preference is always to capture, if we can, because we can gather intelligence. But a lot of the terrorist networks that target the United States, the most dangerous ones, operate in very remote regions, and it’s very difficult to capture them. And we’ve got to make sure that, in whatever operations we conduct, we are very careful about avoiding civilian casualties.”
Obama’s comments come days after at least 11 civilians were killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, including three children. Obama also told CNN that U.S. citizens are entitled to what he called “due process.”
President Obama: “I think there’s no doubt that when an American has made the decision to affiliate himself with al-Qaeda and target fellow Americans, that there is a legal justification for us to try to stop them from carrying out plots. What is also true, though, is that as an American citizen, they are subject to the protections of the Constitution and due process.”
Obama made no direct mention of any of the three U.S. citizens killed overseas, including the 16-year-old teenager Abdulrahman al-Awlaki.
The Colombian government has rejected calls for a ceasefire from the country’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, ahead of peace talks beginning next month. FARC commander Mauricio Jaramillo made the appeal at a news conference in Cuba.
Mauricio Jaramillo: “We are going to raise the possibility of a ceasefire. Better said, we are going to fight for it. We are going to discuss it at the table. It is one of the first points we will make. We have a defined point, which is land, but we are also going to talk about a bilateral ceasefire.”
Responding to FARC’s call, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said his government will continue military operations against the rebels until a deal can be reached. Talks between the two sides are due to begin in Norway next month.
Hundreds of people gathered in New York City on Thursday to welcome a month-long, cross-country peace caravan led by Mexican activists calling for an end of the U.S.-backed drug war. The caravan is organized by Mexican poet-turned-activist Javier Sicilia, whose 24-year-old son, Juan Francisco, was murdered by drug traffickers last year. At a vigil beginning at the Riverside Church, Daniel Robelo of the Drug Policy Alliance said the drug war is causing suffering on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Daniel Robelo: “I think the vigil is drawing attention to the fact that it’s not just our brothers and sisters in Mexico who are suffering so much because of this failed war on drugs, but also communities right here in New York, communities in the United States, especially the black and Latino communities, who, while drug use levels are similar across all racial and ethnic lines, are vastly — blacks and Latinos are vastly overrepresented in the criminal justice system, far more likely to be arrested, to be incarcerated, to be deported, just for possessing or using drugs.”
Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan addressed supporters in Colorado Thursday ahead of President Obama’s acceptance speech. Ryan said the Republican ticket would welcome a debate over Medicare, despite Ryan’s own support for turning it into a voucher program.
Rep. Paul Ryan: “You see, President Obama can give great speeches. He can blame other people in the past. But he can’t tell you we are better off as a nation. They — I love this debate about Medicare. By the way, this debate about Medicare is a debate we want. It’s a debate we’re going to have, and it’s a debate we’re going to win about Medicare.”
Ryan also repeated the contentious claim that Obama would cut $716 billion from Medicare, and vowed a repeal of the president’s healthcare law if Republicans win in November.
Rep. Paul Ryan: “And when we talk about the fact that the president took $716 billion out of Medicare to fund Obamacare, don’t take my word for it. Take the word from the Medicare chief actuary, from the Congressional Budget Office, or from arithmetic. You can’t spend the same dollar twice. Either this money comes and helps Medicare, or it goes to pay for Obamacare, but not both. And, you see, when we repeal and replace Obamacare, we stop the raid of Medicare. And that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
The news giant CNN is under criticism for refusing to air a documentary it had commissioned and produced that featured a lengthy segment on the uprising against the U.S.-backed regime in Bahrain. The segment featured interviews with Bahraini activists facing repression and footage of U.S.-armed government forces shooting unarmed protesters. The documentary, called “iRevolution: Online Warriors of the Arab Spring,” aired once on CNN for a U.S. audience. But it never aired on CNN International as initially intended, meaning no audiences in the Middle East or elsewhere outside of the United States ever got to watch it. CNN has refused to provide an explanation for the move, but critics call it political censorship. The correspondent on the Bahrain segment, Amber Lyon, said she was told by CNN colleagues that the network had received numerous complaints from the Bahraini government.
In Syria, a bombing outside a Damascus mosque has killed five people. Syrian activists say the dead were government forces.