WASHINGTON – Aiming to assert control over the nation’s economic debate, President Barack Obama on Tuesday warned Americans eager for good news that “by no means are we out of the woods” and argued his broad domestic agenda is the path to recovery.
In a speech at Georgetown University, Obama aimed to juggle his recent glass-half-full takes on the economy with a determination to not be stamped as naive in the face lingering problems. He summarized actions his administration has taken to steady the limping economy and coupled that with a fresh overview of his domestic goals.
The speech, which key aides had signaled in advance would not contain any major announcements, came as Obama nears his symbolic 100-day mark in office, important because that has become a traditional marker by which to judge new administrations.
“There is no doubt that times are still tough,” Obama said. “But from where we stand, for the very first time, we are beginning to see glimmers of hope. And beyond that, way off in the distance, we can see a vision of an America’s future that is far different than our troubled economic past.”
Obama’s message came on a day of conflicting economic indicators and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s suggestion that the recession may at last be bottoming out.
It would have been difficult to make that case based on a report the government released earlier Tuesday showing that retail sales plummeted by 1.1 percent in March, a performance much poorer than experts had anticipated. At the same time, wholesale prices dropped sharply, a strong indication that inflation appears to pose little threat to the economy.
In a speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Bernanke talked of flickering signs of improvement, citing recent data on home and auto sales, home building andconsumer spending.
But the government’s broader message — that a full turnaround might be a long time coming — may not be welcome news for a weary U.S. public.
Obama, in fact, said in his speech that a complete recovery depends on building a new foundation for the U.S. economy and making changes in the political landscape. And he said anew that rules governing the financial system must be made compatible with Digital Age technology and innovation, telling Congress that “I expect a bill to arrive on my desk for signature before the year is out.”
MIAMI (Reuters) – Right-wing extremists in the United States are gaining new recruits by exploiting fears about the economy and the election of the first black U.S. president, the Department of Homeland Security warned in a report to law enforcement officials.
The April 7 report, which Reuters and other news media obtained on Tuesday, said such fears were driving a resurgence in “recruitment and radicalization activity” by white supremacist groups, antigovernment extremists and militia movements. It did not identify any by name.
DHS had no specific information about pending violence and said threats had so far been “largely rhetorical.”
But it warned that home foreclosures, unemployment and other consequences of the economic recession “could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists.”
“To the extent that these factors persist, right-wing extremism is likely to grow in strength,” DHS said.
The report warned that military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with combat skills could be recruitment targets, especially those having trouble finding jobs or fitting back into civilian society.
The department “is concerned that right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities,” the report said.
DHS spokeswoman Sara Kuban said on Tuesday the report was one of an ongoing series of threat assessments aimed at “a greater understanding of violent radicalization in the U.S.”
A similar assessment of left-wing radicals completed in January was distributed to federal, state and local police agencies at that time…
Extremist groups are preying on fears that President Barack Obama, the first African American U.S. president, would restrict gun ownership, boost immigration and expand social programs for minorities, the report said.
It said such groups were also exploiting anti-Semitic sentiment with accusations that “a cabal of Jewish financial elites” had conspired to collapse the economy.
“This trend is likely to accelerate if the economy is perceived to worsen,” the report said.
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