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Unemployment claims rise as fragile US jobs market takes hit

© Photograph: Mike Groll/AP
Claims above 400,000 signal a deteriorating jobs market
Jobless claims increased by 38,000 to 368,000 last week - more than forecasters expected and the largest rise since November

The number of people filing their first claim for unemployment benefits in the US has risen by more than forecasters expected.

Initial jobless claims increased by 38,000 to a seasonally adjusted 368,000 in the week ended January 26, the Labor Department said Thursday. The rise was the largest since early November, when claims spiked in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The rise was higher than the 365,000 figure forecast by economists, but the jobs market still appears to be slowly recovering. Claims above 400,000 signal a deteriorating jobs market. The latest weekly figures come ahead of Friday's monthly non-farm figures, which give a far more comprehensive picture of the US jobs market.

Red Flag

With 42 homicides, Chicago sees most violent January in 11 years


Rahm Emmanuel
One month into the new year Chicago has already set an ignominious record for homicides.

By late Tuesday, the Chicago Police Department had logged 42 such killings, making this the second consecutive January to top 40 homicides and the most violent first month of the year since 2002. By sheer happenstance, the 42nd victim was a teenage girl who had performed with her high school band at President Obama's inauguration earlier this month.

The January report does not bode well for turning the corner from last year, when homicides totaled 513 - the highest since 2008. Last summer, as the body count rose - primarily in marginalized swaths of Chicago where joblessness and poverty seem entrenched - Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy stood together to blame the epidemic of shootings on squabbles between multiplying gang factions and a proliferation of illegal guns.

Measures they have introduced to address the surge in homicides include partnering with CeaseFire, the nonprofit group that mediates street conflicts, and demolishing more than 200 vacant buildings that the city considers to be breeding grounds for crime. The police are also refocusing efforts from general sweeps of certain gangs and areas to hotspots or individuals deemed key to the shootings. Central to that strategy is an effort to determine when retaliation to a shooting may happen happen and who might be involved.


Brazil night club owner attempts suicide

© AFP Photo
An owner of the Brazilian night club where 235 people perished in a weekend fire tried to commit suicide, police said Wednesday, as the number of survivors seeking medical treatment after the disaster continued to rise.

Elissandro Sphor tried to kill himself with a plastic shower hose, said senior police official Lilian Carus in the town of Cruz Alta 125 kilometers (about 80 miles) from Santa Maria, where the club owner is hospitalized.

"It was clear he wanted to hang himself," Carus told AFP, adding that a police officer arrived at the scene - a hospital where Sphor is being treated for gas poisoning - before anything happened.

Police took Sphor and three others into custody as they pieced together what caused the inferno at the Kiss nightclub, which was packed with partying students when the blaze broke out early Sunday.

About 75 injured victims of the fire are clinging to life, some in critical condition, in the college town of Santa Maria.


Gun advocate tells Senate: AR-15 is the 'weapon of choice' for women


Gayle Trotter speaks to U.S. Senate
A senior fellow from the conservative Independent Women's Forum (IWF) on Wednesday told a Senate committee that assault weapons should not be outlawed because they were the "weapon of choice" for young mothers who need a "scary-looking gun."

At Senate Judiciary Hearing on gun violence, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asked IWF's Gayle Trotter, who also writes for The Daily Caller, if it would "disproportionately burden women" to ban assault rifles like the Bushmaster AR-15 used to slaughter 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut.


Behind the Headlines: Gun Control USA: Do Guns Protect Freedoms?

In this second SOTT Talk Radio show, co-hosts Joe Quinn and Niall Bradley discuss the recent furor over proposed US government gun control legislation in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, and the implications for Americans' right to bear arms. Many 2nd Amendment advocates insist that a 'well-armed citizenry' is the last defense against tyrannical government, but are 80 million armed Americans really the solution to the problems of a corrupt government? An armed populace has not hindered the destruction of other civil liberties in the US to date, so is it a question of the curtailment of gun rights opening the way to tyrannical government, or is tyrannical government already here?

Along with their special guest, Jason Martin, a life-long student of martial arts and the history of warfare and combat theory, Joe and Niall discuss the root causes of the culture of violence in the USA, the history that gave rise to the US constitution and the Bill of Rights, citizens' justified fears that they cannot rely on the corrupt authorities to protect them and what kind of a revolution it would take for people to achieve real justice.

Running Time: 02:23:00

Download: MP3

Black Magic

Satan worshiper facing harassment charges

Christopher Cori
© Nancy Lane
‘Delusional’: Christopher Cori, 21, stands outside the courtroom as he is arraigned in Brighton District Court yesterday.
An alleged devil worshiper has been charged with harassing and threatening to kill a 25-year-old fitness instructor he met at Faneuil Hall, and then carving satanic symbols on the glass of his holding cell after his arrest, authorities said today.

"Enjoy your dreams, sweetheart. Chances are you will never wake up," and "How would you like to find out what it's like to be burned alive?" are two of several disturbing text messages and voicemails Christopher Cori is alleged by Boston police to have sent the terrified victim over a two-day period.

Cori, 21, of Rockaway Beach, Queens, N.Y., was ordered held on $100,000 bail today on charges of making threats to kill, criminal harassment, making annoying and harassing phone calls and willful and malicious destruction of property.

He was arraigned today in Brighton District Court where he was also sent to Bridgewater State Hospital for observation.


Rep. Gohmert calls for Obama's former students to file class-action lawsuit for Constitutional violations

Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said Monday night that President Barack Obama had a poor understanding of the Constitutional despite teaching constitutional law at one of the most prestigious universities in the country.

Gohmert, along with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), appeared on Fox News' Hannity to discuss a recent court ruling that found Obama had violated the Constitution when making recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The three-judge panel said the Senate remained formally in session when Obama made the appointments during Christmas break.

"It is part of the Constitution," Gohmert said. "I think one of the big legal ramifications that should come out of this is a class-action lawsuit by all of those who had him as a constitutional law instructor to get their money back. I think it would be a lay-down case for them."

Obama was a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School before launching his political career.

"This guy does not respect the Constitution, he does not abide by the Constitution, and we've seen it repeatedly," Gohmert added.

Blackburn also alleged the President didn't respect the Constitution and tried to circumvent Congress.

Chart Bar

Fox news January ratings lowest since 2001

The Fox News Channel, the largest conservative media outlet, suffered its worst month since 2001 in January among the most coveted viewer demographic, according to the latest ratings figures. A press release from the NBC Media Center reported that Nielsen ratings for the month of January showed Fox News viewership at a 12-year low, while rival MSNBC gained ground in all categories in 2012.

The right-leaning news juggernaut continues to dominates most cable news categories, hosting 9 of the top 10 programs, but it has lost considerable ground among the 25 to 54 demographic, turning in the worst ratings since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 and its lowest total day ratings since 2008.

Social Media Stomps Traditional Media
High-Paid Celebrities Cannot Save Mainstream Media
Mainstream media in decline as they lose Americans trust


One dead in Arizona mass shooting, suspect at large

Arizona Shooting_1
© Twitter/@azfamily
Police confirmed that at least six people were injured in the latest mass shooting in the US. One victim has reportedly died of gunshot wounds, while two remain in severe condition as the 'armed and dangerous' suspect is still on the loose.

­The suspect, who was identified as a 70-year-old Arthur D. Harmon, remains at large and was described by police as "armed and dangerous."

The shooting occurred around 10:30 a.m. MST (12:30 p.m. EST) at an office building in Phoenix, Arizona. Harmon, a white male, was seen fleeing the scene in a white SUV. After firing his gun and hitting at least five people, he escaped from police.

The building was evacuated and the five victims hospitalized while police were searching the compound for any additional victims.

One of the victims, a 48-year-old Steve Singer, the CEO of Fusion Contract Centers Inc, died in hospital. Police did not release the names of the other victims.

Harmon appears to have been working alone, and the reason behind the attack remains unknown, officer James Holmes told the press.

"We have no motive. It is right now a really fluid scene," Holmes told AP.

Arrow Down

Multiple injuries in Brisbane train crash

Brisbane Train Crash
© Channel Seven
Aerial footage shows the front carriage of the train embedded in the station.
A train has crashed into a station in Brisbane, injuring at least eight people.

Authorities say eight people suffered minor injuries when the train crashed in Cleveland, a suburb in the southeast of the city.

The Courier Mail reports that a woman with serious head injuries is believed to be on the train, but emergency services cannot reach her due to live electrical wires.

A witness told ABC News half of the train's first carriage slammed into the refurbished building when it failed to stop around 9:30am (local time).

"A few people are being taken out with minor lacerations to the head," he said.

The Cleveland line had been experiencing power problems throughout the morning, but it is not clear whether this contributed to the crash.

Queensland Ambulance has set up a triage area at the station and the train is being searched for anyone else with injuries.