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News in Brief: Bernanke Says Recovery on Track as GDP Falls, and More

Bernanke Says Recovery on Track as GDP Falls

Bernanke Says Recovery on Track as GDP Falls

In a much-awaited speech on the precarious state of the economy, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke acknowledged that the pace of economic growth “recently appears somewhat less vigorous” that expected, but said the central bank would only take action if conditions continued to worsen. Those who expected hints of a new stimulus measure may be disappointed, reported The Washington Post.

This speech comes as the Commerce Department slashes its estimate for US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth Friday morning, reporting that the GDP rose at only a 1.5 percent annual rate in the second quarter, compared to the 2.4 percent annual rate prediction.

This shows a significant slowdown in the economy, with some analysts forecasting that the US has a one-in-three chance of slipping into a depression, and others such as Paul Krugman in The New York Times saying, “this isn’t a recovery, in any sense that matters.”

Court Upholds Government Right to Track Individuals Using GPS

A ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upholds the right of government agents to clandestinely put a GPS device on the bottom of your car to track your movements without a search warrant. According to the decision, made in the case of an Oregon man who experienced this treatment in 2007, these actions do not violate Fourth Amendment rights because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a driveway. This rule now applies in California and eight other western states, reported Time. Privacy advocates have called the ruling “Orwellian” and said it could be a “slippery slope.”

Immigration Cancels Thousands of Deportations

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have begun to cancel thousands of deportations to help ease backlogs in immigration courts and focus on catching immigrants who have been convicted of crimes, reported The New York Times. The policy, a significant break with longstanding practices, drew praise from immigration advocates and the expected denouncements from several Republicans.

Spate of Anti-Muslim, Anti-Latino Hate Crimes

As the hype surrounding the Cordoba House Muslim community center in lower Manhattan continues, a spate of hate crimes targeted at Muslims breaks out. The stabbing of a Muslim cab driver in New York City, and vandalism, including broken windows and graffiti at an Islamic center in California point to an alarming trend.

A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center also highlighted a rise in anti-Latino hate crimes, a trend that it says has been building for years. According to FBI statistics, hate crimes have increased in each of the four years between 2003 and 2007. They have continued to pick up as the national debate over immigration reform rages on, with the rise evident from Baltimore to Arizona.

Congo Rapes Raise Concern in Security Council

With the mass rape of almost 200 women and five young boys in the Democratic Republic of Congo within miles of a UN peacekeeping base fresh in their mind, the Security Council is calling for increased measures to prevent a repeat. The incident highlights the slow response to war crimes by Rwandan and Congolese rebels, who carried out the rapes between July 30 and August 3, reported Democracy Now!. The UN was notified of the mass rapes days later, but took three weeks to respond.

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