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US employers add a strong 225K jobs; unemployment up to 3.6%

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hiring jumped at the beginning of the year as U.S. employers added 225,000 jobs. The Labor Department also says a half-million people streamed into the job market in January, though not all of them found jobs. That boosted the unemployment rate to 3.6%, from a half-century low of 3.5% in December. The government also issued its annual revisions, which showed that job growth was slower in 2018 and early last year than previously estimated. Employers added 2.3 million jobs in 2018, down from a previous figure of 2.7 million.



Bad weather moves into Eastern states; 5 dead in South

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — More than 300,000 homes and businesses in the eastern United States are without power following a storm that left at least five people dead in the South. The National Weather Service said early Friday the system was expected to strengthen as it moves up the Eastern Seaboard, bringing high winds and rain through the mid-Atlantic region. Gusts up to 55 mph were predicted for the nation’s capital. Hundreds of people have been evacuated from flooding in places across the Southeast, and many school districts have canceled classes. Five storm-related deaths were confirmed in Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee.


Rains continue to cause flooding in western Washington

SEATTLE (AP) — Officials are warning of more flooding and landslides in western Washington state on Friday as the rain keeps falling and rivers continue to rise. A tree fell on a car on State Route 18 west of Issaquah on Thursday night, blocking the highway for hours. No one was injured. People living in an apartment building in Issaquah were evacuated Thursday after Issaquah Creek breached its banks and began running under the building. The King County Flood Warning Center issued a flood alert early Friday for the Snoqualmie River. The city of Duvall reported on Twitter that a downed tree was blocking Woodinville-Duvall Road.


Doctor’s death unleashes mourning, fury at Chinese officials

BEIJING (AP) — The death of a doctor who was reprimanded for warning about China’s new virus triggered an outpouring of praise for him and fury that communist authorities put politics above public safety. Ophthalmologist Li Wenliang died at the hospital where he worked and likely contracted the virus while treating patients. A prominent Chinese disease researcher called him a hero and said, “Dr. Li Wenliang is immortal.” In death, Li became the face of simmering anger at Chinese officials who frequently are accused of abusing the ruling Communist Party’s controls over information to lie about or hide disease outbreaks, chemical spills, dangerous consumer products or financial frauds.


Heavy rain, floods lash eastern Australia, help with fires

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Heavy rains are lashing parts of the wildfire and drought-stricken Australian east coast. The rain brought some flooding to Sydney and relief to firefighters still dealing with dozens of blazes in New South Wales, the state hardest hit by wildfires that have killed at least 33 and destroyed more than 3,000 homes in an unprecedented fire season that began late in record-dry 2019. New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says he is optimistic the rain will help extinguish some blazes in the coming days.


Turkey sends more troops, tanks to Syria amid Idlib assault

BEIRUT (AP) — Several Turkish armored vehicles and tanks have entered rebel-controlled northwestern Syria in the latest reinforcements sent in by Ankara amid a Syrian government offensive that this week brought the two countries’ troops into a rare direct confrontation. The offensive by the Syrian government, backed by its ally Russia, has been unfolding to secure a strategic highway that runs along rebel-controlled territory, advancing on rebel-held areas and towns and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. The latest Turkish deployment on Friday came a day after Syrian troops captured a key town along the highway. The offensive has displaced over half a million people.


Dutch euthanasia center sees 22% rise in requests in 2019

AMSTERDAM (AP) — A Dutch organization that carries out euthanasia says it received 22% more requests last year compared to 2018. The Euthanasia Expertise Center said Friday that it honored nearly 900 of the 3,122 requests it received in 2019. Director Steven Pleiter says that means the center hears every work day from 13 people saying “Help me, I can’t go on.” The Netherlands in 2002 became the world’s first country to legalize euthanasia. It can only be performed by doctors who administer fatal drug doses under strict conditions. The center sometimes works with patients whose regular doctors do not want to do euthanasia.


Pope’s Amazon document due Wednesday amid married priest row

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis will release his eagerly awaited document on the Amazon next Wednesday, with attention focused on whether he will approve calls by the region’s bishops to ordain married men to address a priest shortage there.Speculation about Francis’ decision has intensified in recent weeks after retired Pope Benedict XVI co-authored a book insisting on the “foundational” need for a celibate priesthood. The book, excerpts of which were published Jan. 12, appeared to be a direct attempt to influence Francis’ thinking. Vatican officials sought to deflect that idea Friday, saying Francis had turned over his document to the Holy See for translation before Benedict’s book came out. They said the text did not undergo any changes since then.


Dun-dun: Defense witness wrote ‘SVU’ episode about Weinstein

NEW YORK (AP) — Their defense off to a rocky start, Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers look to rebound Friday by bringing in a film director to test the credibility of a rape accuser who acknowledged using prescription drugs during an early 1990s movie shoot. Warren Leight wrote and directed “The Night We Never Met,” a 1993 romantic comedy starring Annabella Sciorra, the actress who testified early in the trial that Weinstein barged into her apartment and raped her in the mid-1990s. Leight, a top producer on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” wrote a #MeToo themed episode of the show based on the Weinstein saga.


Plaque marking site of slave auctions missing in Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A plaque marking the site of slave auctions in a Virginia city has been reported missing and vandalism was found nearby. News outlets report the marker in Court Square in Charlottesville was missing Thursday. It had been built into a sidewalk. Police say it appears someone used dirt from below the marker to write “1619” on a nearby light pole. The number signifies the year Africans were first brought to Virginia as slaves. Police say it’s unclear whether the plaque was stolen or taken for protection. Charlottesville was the site of a deadly 2017 white nationalist rally.

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