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Fri, 03 Feb 2023
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New jobless claims take surprise jump

© Unknown
New claims for unemployment benefits took an unexpected jump in the latest week, raising more concerns about the struggling job market and providing further incentive for the Federal Reserve to jump in and help the economy.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that seasonally-adjusted initial claims rose 4,000 to 372,000. That's compared to a decline of 1,000 that economists on average had been expecting.

The data keeps pressure on President Barack Obama ahead of his November re-election bid. His Republican challenger is trying to focus voters' attention on a lofty unemployment rate that has dogged Obama's presidency.

"It's not a great number. The trend for jobless claims has been flat and has been erratic of late. But overall it does keep the odds for more quantitative easing from the Fed," said currency strategist Brian Kim of RBS Securities.

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United Church of Canada Clarifies its Boycott of Israeli Settlements

After months of controversy and negative media attention, the United Church of Canada, the country's largest Protestant denomination, finally made it official. The church's General Council voted today to call on its members to avoid buying products coming from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Presbyterian and Methodist churches in the United States have made similar calls.

Despite the tameness of such proposals, we may expect a continuation of the widespread and exaggerated complaints that have saturated the Canadian press for the last few months. In the interests of honesty and clarity, I would like to address three common distortions.


Ecuador Doesn't Fear US Revenge for Giving Asylum to Assange

Ecuador does not fear US revenge for granting asylum to Julian Assange. Despite America's power in the world, it is not Ecuador's "father or teacher to punish us," the country's foreign minister said exclusively to RT Spanish host Eva Golinger.
"We don't think that any punishment is possible, nor do we think that there is a reason for revenge (let's call it this way, it is stronger than "punishment") for Ecuador's sovereign decision. The USA does it every day," Ricardo Patino said.
Ecuador believes that the situation around Assange, who is wanted in Sweden for questioning on sexual assault allegations, will not provoke a breach in relations between his country and the US because there are no grounds for the relationship to worsen.
"The only difference is that it may appear now that a small, less-developed country has fewer rights to protect freedom and lives of other people than world powers," Patino told Eva Golinger, RT Spanish TV host, lawyer and writer. "We have the same rights as they do. We will not accept any revenge in any case," he stressed.

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Congressional Budget Office Warns of Looming Recession

CBO warns the first half of 2013 could see gross domestic product shrink by 2.9 per cent
Congressional Budget Office says massive spending cuts and tax hikes due in 2013 could lead to fiscal crisis.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said that the US economy can fall into recession, if the Congress fails to take action to stave off tax increases and automatic budget cuts scheduled for January 1.

The nonpartisan analysis, released on Wednesday, said massive spending cuts and tax hikes due next year would cause even worse economic damage than previously thought if Washington failed to come up with a solution.

Failure to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts and automatic spending reductions would cause US gross domestic product to shrink 0.5 per cent in 2013.

Previously, CBO forecast full-year GDP growth of 0.5 per cent.

Heart - Black

Woman Charged with Manslaughter for Leaving Mother on Toilet for 2 Days

© Baltimore County Police Department
Sharon Caslow
Cockeysville, Maryland - A Cockeysville woman has been charged with manslaughter after police say she left her 91-year-old mother on the toilet for two days.

A grand jury returned an indictment against 65-year-old Sharon Caslow last week after the death of 91-year-old Audrey Caslow was ruled a homicide. Sharon Caslow had previously been charged with abuse of a vulnerable adult.

Baltimore County medical workers found Audrey Caslow on a toilet on Jan. 17 at the home she shared with her daughter. Police say Sharon Caslow told officers she knew her mother had been in the bathroom for two days, but didn't ask for help. Audrey Caslow died 10 days later.

Medical examiners ruled that Audrey Caslow died of renal failure. Sharon Caslow's public defender did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Source: The Associated Press


40 Indicted in Meth Ring Run From Indiana Prisons

Indianapolis - A prison inmate coordinated a methamphetamine ring that involved at least two Indiana prisons using cellphones and drugs smuggled in by guards, according to a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday that charges 40 people in connection to the scheme.

At least three inmates are among those charged, including the alleged ringleader, Oscar Perez, who's serving time for murder and attempted murder. At least 17 people appeared in court Wednesday in Indianapolis after about 300 FBI agents fanned out across the state and made arrests.

Prosecutors said the defendants were flight risks, and the judge ordered them to remain in custody.

The activity, which also included heroin trafficking, occurred at the Westville Correction Facility in northern Indiana and the Wabash Valley Correction Facility in southwestern Indiana, according to the indictment.

Heart - Black

Tennis Judge Lois Goodman Arrested in Alleged Slaying of Husband

© Sipa USA/Rex Features
Lois Goodman, centre, is taken into custody by police after being arrested for allegedly murdering her husband.
Lois Goodman, 70, who has served as a line judge for several years at tennis' U.S. Open, was arrested in New York on Tuesday in connection with the alleged April 17 beating death of her husband at their Woodland Hills home. Goodman was in New York preparing for this year's U.S. Open, which begins there next week.

She initially told police that her husband, Alan Goodman, 80, had fallen down the steps, had a heart attack and managed to get back upstairs to his bed, but prosecutors said Tuesday that they believe otherwise.

"She bludgeoned him to death with a coffee mug," said Jane Robison, a district attorney's spokeswoman.

"It was a homicide. He had multiple sharp-force injuries," said Ed Winter, assistant chief of investigations for the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

Lois Goodman was profiled in a Times article in 1994 and described herself as a lifelong tennis fan.


Anonymous Hits UK Government Websites Over Julian Assange Row

hacker mask
© Mike Kemp/In Pictures/Corbis
The hacking group Anonymous claims to have brought down British government websites in protest at the handling of Julian Assange's bid to avoid extradition to Sweden.

The self-styled hacktivist group targeted the websites of No 10 and the Home Office early on Tuesday under what it called "Operation Free Assange".

Hackers said they had also brought down websites belonging to the justice department and Department for Work and Pensions in the attack.

Anonymous vowed to continue targeting government websites as the diplomatic temperature around the WikiLeaks founder continued to rise.

The online DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks, which also hit sites in Sweden, came as the Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa warned Britain that attempting to enter his country's embassy in London would be an act of diplomatic suicide.


Middle School Custodian Arrested in Baton Rouge Teen Human Trafficking Case

Samuel Woodside
Samuel Woodside
Baton Rouge, Louisiana - A Miami, Florida man is in police custody after an undercover operation caught him trying to meet a 14-year-old East Baton Rouge Parish teen for sex. Officials say he bought a bus ticket for the teen to go to Miami to meet him.

According the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, Samuel Woodside, 45, was arrested at the Greyhound Bus Station in Miami, Florida on Saturday, August 18.

EBRSO says Woodside is accused of communicating with who he believed was a 14-year-old girl over the internet in July and August. An undercover EBRSO detective was actually posing as the child as part of a Sheriff's Office Internet Crimes Against Children Unit initiative.

Woodside is accused of sending sexually explicit photos to the girl, along with an invitation to come to Miami to participate in sex acts with himself and others.

According to EBRSO, he discussed with the girl on multiple occasions that she would be used to make money for him by performing sex acts with others. Woodside allegedly purchased a bus ticket for the child to travel from Baton Rouge to Miami. Woodside was arrested when he arrived at the bus station in Miami to pick up the child.


Baton Rouge Man in Custody After Locking Himself in Plane's Cockpit

© Getty Images
The man was trying to use the plane's radio, officials said.
The man had a ticket and had made it through airport security

US, Louisiana - A 37-year-old man was taken into custody after rushing on to an empty plane parked at a gate at Baton Rouge's Metropolitan airport and barricading himself in the cockpit.

The American Eagle commuter jet had landed in Baton Rouge Tuesday afternoon when Andrew Aleffi, who was inside the gate, rushed past attendants and boarded the aircraft, NBC station WVLA reported. Passengers and crew had already exited and the plane was being refueled and prepped for its next flight when Aleffi boarded.

A law enforcement official told NBC News that the man, who had a ticket and made it through security without incident, tried to communicate with the tower but apparently did not know how to use the radio nor fly the plane.

Power to the plane had been cut off and the aircraft was inoperable.

The man did not have any weapons when he was taken into custody by the Baton Rouge Police and he was not on any no-fly lists.