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US jobless claims rise by 7,000, but still low at 207,000

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week but remained at historically low levels, suggesting that the job market remains strong. U.S. jobless claims rose by 7,000 last week to 207,000.  The four-week average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week gyrations, rose by nearly 4,800 to just below 205,000. Despite the increases, the numbers show that claims remained below the 220,000 typical before the pandemic struck the U.S. economy in March 2020. The highly transmissible omicron variant so far does not appear to have triggered layoffs.


November trade deficit hits near record-high $80.2 billion

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit surged to a near-record high of $80.2 billion in November as exports slowed  while imports jumped sharply. The  November deficit was 19.3% higher than the October deficit of $67.2 billion and was just below the all-time monthly record of $81.4 billion set in September. Through the first 11 months of 2021, the U.S. trade deficit is 28.6% higher than the same period in 2020 as the economic recovery in the United States has outpaced other nations, sending import demand up faster than gains in U.S. export sales.


Powerball tickets sold in Wisconsin, California split $632M

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Powerball tickets sold in Wisconsin and California were winners of the latest jackpot and will split $632 million. The Wisconsin Lottery didn’t immediately announce where the winning ticket was sold in Wisconsin. The California Lottery says the winning ticket in its state was sold at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Sacramento. The winners have a cash option of splitting $450 million. The jackpot is one of the largest in the history of the Powerball game, but didn’t rank among the Top 10 largest in U.S. lottery history. The winning numbers for the Powerball jackpot drawn Wednesday night were 6, 14, 25, 33 and 46. The Powerball was 17.


Duffy ignores Trump plea, won’t run for Wisconsin governor

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Retired Republican U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy is ignoring pleas from former President Donald Trump to run for Wisconsin governor. Duffy announced Thursday on Jay Weber’s conservative talk radio show that he is taking a pass on running for the office currently held by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Trump urged Duffy to get into the race last fall, but Duffy took no public steps toward mounting a run. The only high-profile Republican in the race is former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. Duffy also ruled out a run for U.S. Senate, another sign that Republican incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson plans on seeking a third term this year. Johnson has not said yet whether he will run again.


Biden and Congress mark a year since violent insurrection

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and members of Congress are solemnly marking the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection. Lawmakers are holding events Thursday to reflect on the violent attack by supporters of then-President Donald Trump. The ceremonies will be widely attended by Democrats, but almost every Republican on Capitol Hill will be absent. It’s a stark reminder of the rupture between the parties, worsening since hundreds of Trump’s supporters violently pushed past police, broke through the Capitol’s windows and interrupted the certification of Biden’s victory. Biden plans to say that “at this moment we must decide what kind of nation we are going to be.”


Dozens of protesters, 12 police dead in Kazakhstan protests

MOSCOW (AP) — Authorities say dozens of protesters and 12 police have died during extraordinarily violent demonstrations in Kazakhstan that saw government buildings stormed and set ablaze. One police officer was found beheaded in escalating unrest that poses a growing challenge to authoritarian rule in the Central Asian nation. After breaking into the presidential residence and the mayor’s office in the country’s largest city Wednesday, demonstrators continued to try to storm more buildings overnight. While the president initially seemed to try to mollify the protesters, he later promised harsh measures and called in forces from a Russia-led military alliance for help. The airports in Almaty and two other cities have been shut, and internet service was severely interrupted Thursday.


Firefighters finally leave South Africa Parliament complex

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Firefighters have left South Africa’s Parliament complex four days after a major blaze destroyed the main chamber of the country’s national legislature. Authorities said Thursday that a South African police unit that deals with serious or high-profile crimes has assumed control of the Cape Town complex. A man suspected of starting Sunday’s fire has appeared in court on charges of housebreaking, theft, arson and contravention of a South African security law that restricts access to government buildings. Authorities declined to speculate on the man’s possible motives and have said it’s too early to say if the fire was an intentional attack on the seat of South Africa’s democracy. 


Iran holds mass funeral for ’80s war dead amid nuclear talks

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Thousands of mourners have poured into the streets of Iranian cities for the mass funeral of 250 victims of the Iran-Iraq war — remains recently recovered in a testament to the brutal conflict’s scale and enduring legacy after 35 years. Thursday marked the largest such ceremony in recent years. While serving as a mass remembrance for a country routinely consumed in mourning over the grisly war that killed a million people on both sides, the event also demonstrated the power of Iranian hard-liners who organized it, as negotiations over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers flounder in Vienna and tensions ratchet up across the region. 


Israeli military: Forces kill Palestinian gunman in raid

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — The Israeli military says its forces shot and killed a Palestinian who had opened fire on them during an arrest raid in the occupied West Bank. The military says it was carrying out an operation to arrest a suspect early on Thursday when armed men began firing on troops. It said forces killed one of the gunmen. The military says no soldiers were wounded and the suspect who was the target of the raid was arrested. The clashes comes amid a spike in Israeli-Palestinian violence in recent weeks, including shootings and stabbings by Palestinian attackers but also settler violence against Palestinians.


Christian world marks Epiphany with series of celebrations

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Christians around the world have marked Epiphany with a series of celebrations. Epiphany is also known as the Three Kings Day for Catholics and the Baptism of Christ for the Orthodox  Pope Francis used a Mass to decry consumerism, parades were held in Spain, and Orthodox believers watched swimmers plunge into icy waters despite the pandemic to retrieve crosses. Francis on Thursday warned against surrendering to the “tyranny of needs” especially in consumeristic societies. Bartholomew I is the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians and he recently recovered from COVID-19. He led a Blessing of the Waters ceremony in Istanbul during which swimmers competed to retrieve a cross he threw into the Golden Horn waterway.

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