The US Commerce Department raised its estimate for US economic growth to 4.2 percent Thursday, confirming the solid rebound from the first quarter's steep contraction. In the second quarter, the revised data showed pickups in consumer spending and business investment, and improved government spending and home building. On the other hand, gross domestic product was dampened by an increase in imports, not surprising given the rebound in activity after the first quarter, analysts say. The threat, or lack of, inflation has been key to debates over whether the Federal Reserve needs to tighten monetary policy sooner rather than later to prevent price increases from getting out of hand.
Prime Minister David Cameron suffered a heavy blow Thursday when one of his MPs, Douglas Carswell, announced he was leaving the Conservative Party to join the eurosceptic UK Independence Party (UKIP). Carswell is to resign his seat and stand as a UKIP candidate at an upcoming by-election which, if he wins, would make him their first elected member of the House of Commons. Polls suggest UKIP could be poised to take a string of seats from the Conservatives at the 2015 general election, raising the chances of a victory for the opposition Labour party and defeat for Cameron.
Islamic State jihadists have executed more then 160 fleeing Syrian soldiers, a monitoring group said Thursday, the latest in a string of brutal abuses alarming Western powers who fear a global spread of the terror. News of the killings comes as US President Barack Obama is reportedly weighing air strikes on IS positions in Syria and coming closer to greenlighting a mission to aid Shiite Turkmen trapped in an Iraqi town by the jihadists. Syrian regime air strikes killed six IS leaders on Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, but Washington has so far baulked at cooperating with Damascus against the jihadists. French President Francois Hollande added his voice to the disquiet that has been growing since the jihadists marauded through Iraq and beheaded US journalist James Foley.
New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits fell last week, fresh evidence of improvement in the jobs market, official data released Thursday showed. Initial jobless claims fell to 298,000 in the week ending August 23, a decline of 1,000 from the previous week's revised 299,000, the Labor Department said. The level of jobless claims has been below 300,000 in four of the past six weeks. The economy added 209,000 jobs, leaving the average number of jobs growth per month at 223,000 jobs this year.
A senior NATO official said on Thursday that "well over a thousand" Russian troops were operating inside Ukraine. "They support separatists, fighting with them and fighting amongst them," the official said on condition of anonymity, adding that the supply of arms by Russia had increased in both "volume and quality". The official, who was speaking to reporters ahead of a NATO summit next week in Britain, said the situation was made even more worrying because the key route between Donetsk and Novoazovsk, on the Sea of Azov close to the Russian border, had been cut off by pro-Kremlin forces. The official warned that the latest events in Ukraine "have made clear that the security paradigm in Europe has fundamentally changed" in the face of a "very aggressive Russia".
Hackers believed to be from Russia broke into the computer systems of JPMorgan Chase and a second US bank earlier this month, sparking a federal investigation, US media reported Wednesday. Bloomberg said two people familiar with the probe confirmed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was examining the case to see if it is retaliation for US sanctions against Moscow over its support of Ukraine's secessionist rebels. Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal, which also reported the hacking case but without naming Russians as behind it, said it was not clear what damage the hackers caused or what data they may have stolen. Bloomberg said the hackers showed a high level of skill to get through layers of security in the bank's systems, "a feat several security experts said appeared far beyond the capability of ordinary criminal hackers."
In Syria's Aleppo, devastated by two years of fighting and regime attacks, rebels and activists are eager for US strikes against jihadists they say have stolen their anti-government uprising. The United States has yet to decide on whether it will carry out air strikes in Syria against jihadists from the Islamic State group, though it is already doing so in neighbouring Iraq. The Islamic State's campaign of extreme violence and abuses against both civilians and rival opposition groups has prompted a backlash across rebel-held Syria, where many hope the US air campaign next door will be extended.
The unemployment rate stood at 6.7 percent in seasonally adjusted terms in August, unchanged from July, while the number of people registered as unemployed edged up by 2,000, the Federal Labour Office said in a statement. "The German economy shrank by 0.2 percent in the second quarter. Weak exports and investment could not be offset by stable consumption, which means that the continual growth seen in the preceding four quarters was halted," the labour office said in a statement.
Turkey's outgoing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on Thursday set to be sworn in as president to extend his more than decade-long domination of the country. Erdogan was due to take his oath of office at 1100 GMT in Ankara and usher in a new era for Turkey, where he is expected to push for a new constitution and seek to further transform the country with development projects. Taking over Erdogan's post of prime minister is Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, a long standing ally who is expected to do little to challenge the Turkish number one. The United States is only sending its charge d'affaires in Ankara.
British Prime Minister David Cameron heads to Scotland Thursday to make the business case for it remaining part of Britain as 200 business leaders signed an open letter backing independence. Questions over whether Scotland's economy could go it alone have been at the heart of the campaign -- with a rival group of 130 captains of industry claiming Wednesday that independence would be "bad for business". Scotland votes in three weeks' time on whether to become a separate country after over 300 years of union with the rest of the United Kingdom. The "Yes" and "No" camps have traded statistics and accusations on everything from whether Scotland could keep using the pound to what share of Britain's national debt it should take on if it broke away.
By Joseph Kolb ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - Santa Fe on Wednesday became the latest U.S. The Santa Fe City Council voted five to four in favor of revising a law classifying possession of less than one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana as a misdemeanor. Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales cast a dissenting vote on Wednesday, despite supporting the change, saying he thought the issue should have been put to the public. Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director for the drug-law reform group Drug Policy Alliance, had also hoped for a broader vote, but said: "It still is an historic win for us all." Kaltenbach said activists obtained some 11,000 signatures and that her internal polling showed more than 70 percent of Santa Fe residents supported decriminalization.
Spain's economy grew by 0.6 percent in the second quarter compared with output in the previous three months, the fastest rate since 2007, the national statistics office said on Thursday in a further sign of recovery from recession. The Spanish economy, the eurozone's fourth-largest, grew by 1.2 percent over 12 months, following four consecutive quarters of expansion, the statistics office said in a statement. It is Spain's best quarterly growth figure since the final three-month period of 2007, when the economy grew by 0.7 percent.
Indonesia and Australia on Thursday signed an agreement aimed at drawing a line under a damaging espionage row and paving the way for the resumption of full cooperation on issues such as defence. Ties between the neighbours sank to their lowest point in years in November after reports that Australian spies tried to tap the phones of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his inner circle. Jakarta recalled its ambassador from Canberra and suspended cooperation in several areas over the incident, including efforts to stop people-smuggling boats reaching Australia. Yudhoyono called for a code of conduct to govern behaviour and, after months of talks on the issue, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and her Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa on Thursday signed an agreement.
WASHINGTON (AP) — With impeachment threats and potential lawsuits looming, President Barack Obama knows whatever executive actions he takes on immigration will face intense opposition. So as a self-imposed, end-of-summer deadline to act approaches, Obama's lawyers are carefully crafting a legal rationale they believe will withstand scrutiny and survive any court challenges, administration officials say.