Economics
August 1, 2014

One of the clearest indicators of the sheer awfulness of the economy after the financial crisis was the soaring numbers of food stamp (SNAP) participants, which rose from 33 million in 2009 to over 47 million in late 2012:

(U.S. Department of Agriculture)

This signified that millions more people in one of the world's richest countries were struggling to feed themselves. Thankfully, though, things are finally turning around. Anna-Louise Jackson and Anthony Feld of Bloomberg write:

Participation in the U.S. government food-stamp program is declining modestly as low-income Americans get some economic reprieve. About 46.25 million people were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in April, according to the most-recent data available from the Department of Agriculture. That's down 3.2 percent from a high of almost 47.8 million in December 2012. [Bloomberg]

So finally — after a deeply uneven recovery — we can say that things are beginning to improve for the poorest people in the economy. That's welcome news — but there is still a very long way to go.

2016 Watch
1:45 p.m. ET
Scott Olson / Getty Images

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina on Sunday crept closer to a White House bid, saying in an interview with Fox News there is a "higher than 90 percent" chance she will run.

"As other potential candidates are doing, we need to make sure we have the right team in place, that we have the right support," she said, adding that an announcement would likely come in late April or early May.

A political neophyte, Fiorina ran for Senate in California in 2010 but lost by a 10-point margin. A CNN poll earlier this month found her with less than one percent of the vote in a hypothetical GOP primary. —Jon Terbush

2016 Watch
12:57 p.m. ET
Screenshot / ABC

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley on Sunday took a none-too-subtle swipe at Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, the presumptive frontrunners for their parties' 2016 nominations.

"The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families," O'Malley, himself a prospective White House candidate, said on ABC's This Week. "It is an awesome and sacred trust to be earned and exercised on behalf of the American people." —Jon Terbush


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The hunters become the hunted
12:27 p.m. ET
Screenshot / NBC

What would Bambi look like with bulging muscles and an entourage of woodland gunmen? That's the question Saturday Night Live answered with a The Fast and the Furious meets Disney reboot staring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the titular orphaned deer.

"When I was a boy, they took away my mother," Johnson says in the faux trailer. "Now it's time for them to pay — dearly." —Jon Terbush

Iran and the bomb
11:51 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday assailed the emerging details of a nuclear agreement intended to curb Iran's nuclear program.

"This agreement, as it appears, confirms all of our concerns and even more so," he said.

The U.S. and Iran have three days left before the deadline to reach a framework deal.

This just in
11:21 a.m. ET
Alex Wong / Getty Images

Arab leaders on Sunday announced a tentative agreement to create a joint military force to combat violence and extremism in the region.

"We recognize the clear challenges in the Arab world and the need to take measures to combat them," Nabil al Araby, chairman of the Arab League, said on the final day of the group's summit in Egypt.

The announcement came days after a Saudi-led coalition began launching airstrikes in Yemen against the Houthi rebels who have overrun the country and forced President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee.

Developing story
10:27 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) said Saturday his state would move to "clarify" the intent of a controversial so-called religious freedom law that critics contend will allow businesses to discriminate against gays.

"I support religious liberty, and I support this law," Pence told the Indianapolis Star. "But we are in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend to see if there's a way to clarify the intent of the law."

The law, which will go into effect in July, bars the state from enacting legislation that could "substantially burden" the ability of people and businesses to practice their religious beliefs. Several high-profile businesses and figures have expressed concern over the law, or threatened to boycott the state.

Developing story
8:54 a.m. ET
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Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot believed to have deliberately crashed a Germanwings airliner last week, sought treatment for a vision problem that could have been psychosomatic and impacted his ability to fly, according to investigators. In addition, investigators on Saturday revealed they found antidepressants while searching Lubitz's home earlier in the week, though it was not clear whether the medication factored into the crash.

Also this weekend, a woman who identified herself as an ex-girlfriend of Lubitz told a German newspaper that the 27-year-old co-pilot once vowed to do something so dramatic that "everyone will know my name and remember."

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