The Justice Department is redefining the criminal definition of "rape" for the first time since the 1920s. It will now include same-sex assaults and a definition beyond actual intercourse. This will change the way local police departments report crime statistics.
The NFL kicks off an exciting weekend of games Saturday when it starts its playoffs. Meanwhile, there's big news in the sport that most of the rest of the world calls football. Fox television is making a major play to air more soccer games in this country, including an English Premier League game before the Super Bowl. Sportswriter Stefan Fatsis talks with Robert Siegel about the news in both kinds of football.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Today, new evidence that the pace of job growth is picking up. The government's employment report for December showed 200,000 jobs added to payrolls. The unemployment rate continued its downward trend falling to 8.5 percent.
And while that may be welcome news, as NPR's John Ydstie explains, the December report could be overstating job growth.
Now, a story with this you-can't-make-it-up headline: Americans Rescue Iranian's From Pirates. According to the U.S. Navy, yesterday in the North Arabian Sea, a Navy battle group came across a fishing vessel in distress. The crew was Iranian and they'd been held hostage for weeks by pirates. And here's the irony: The American battle group included the same aircraft carrier that Iran's government threatened earlier this week.
Melissa Block speaks with our regular political commentators, E.J. Dionne, of the Washington Post and Brookings Institution, and David Brooks, of the New York Times. They discuss the jobs numbers, Obama's recess appointments and presidential campaign developments.
Moroccan rapper Mouad Belrhouat — commonly known as "El-Haqed," or "the sullen one" (shown here on an album cover) — has been jailed for four months and is awaiting trial in Casablanca. His supporters say his case shows the limits of recent, post-Arab Spring political reforms.
Credit Abdelhak Senna / AFP/Getty Images
Young protesters in Rabat, Morrocco, demand political and social changes along with Belrhouat's release, Sept. 11, 2011,
Morocco has been called one of the winners of the Arab Spring. The country's young king, Mohammed VI, offered a new constitution and early elections, taking the steam out of the February 20th protest movement.
But the arrest and trial of an artist who writes provocative rap songs shows that the reforms have a long way to go.
The rap songs of 24-year-old Moaud Belrhouat are popular in Morocco, even more so after the four months he has spent in jail.
We thought the World Wide Web was supposed to make information fly.
But now we have to question that notion.
It's taken a year and a half for us to hear that Pepsi is defending itself against a lawsuit claiming that a mouse was found in a can of Mountain Dew by saying that the furry little creature couldn't have been there because:
Open any children's book with a scene set downtown and you'll see a picture of basically the same row of shops. There's a bookstore, a pharmacy, a florist, a post office and a bank, and maybe a bakery where the kids can hope for a free cookie.
Nearly all those businesses are under threat from the Internet.
The Obama administration said it is proposing a change for the way some apply to become legal, permanent residents of the United States. The change would affect American citizens who are married to or have children who are in the country illegally.
The current rule mandates that in order to apply for legal status, a person must return to their country and wait there while the long process continues. The rule tweak would allow those family members to stay in the country while the application works its way through the bureaucracy.
When it comes to unemployment reports in an election year, it's not just the data — it's also the spin.
Friday's jobs report could be seen as good news — at 8.5 percent, it's the lowest in three years. Good news for President Obama? Not according to Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who lost no time in pointing out that the number is still above 8 percent — the figure that the president said would be the worst case under his 2009 stimulus package.
This could be "the year of the gas-pocalypse" analysts tell the Los Angeles Times, "because gasoline prices are the highest ever for the start of the year, and they're on the rise, supercharged by expensive oil and changes in refinery operations."
Originally published on Fri January 6, 2012 9:05 am
Of all the good news in the December unemployment report, perhaps the most encouraging sign for the 2012 labor market was the increase in construction jobs. That sector has lost more than 2 million jobs as the housing market imploded 5 years ago, but increases in construction hiring and spending could be cautious signs of a turnaround, analysts say.
Overall, employers created 200,000 jobs last month, sending the U.S. unemployment rate down to 8.5 percent, the Labor Department said Friday.
Reporter Liz Halloran and I have been motoring around New Hampshire the past few days, chasing candidate events and taking the political temperature of the state.
On the way to a Santorum event Thursday we spotted a small lake dotted with ice fishing shelters — the first we'd seen all week. Apparently, the ice only became thick enough in the last two weeks or so.
The Labor Department announced Friday that 200,000 jobs were created in December, and the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent. The new hiring came largely in transportation and warehousing. Tens of thousands of other people found jobs in retail and manufacturing.
January is a giddy time for weight-loss companies, which usually rake in profits as New Year's resolutions shuttle earnest dieters to their doors. Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would like to get in on the action, too. Not the money, mind you. The feds want us to use their new online food-and-exercise tracker, SuperTracker.
Now that he's getting his moment at the front of the GOP pack, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is drawing the kind of scrutiny he's escaped during all those lonely months at the bottom of the polls.
Originally published on Fri January 6, 2012 5:42 am
Penn State University has chosen New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien to be its next head football coach and the man who will try to rebuild a program that was rocked last fall by a scandal that cost legendary coach Joe Paterno the job, ESPN reports. The sports network says an announcement is expected to be made Saturday.
There's been an explosion in central Damascus today and there are reports of multiple deaths and dozens of injuries.
As always in Syria, where the regime of President Bashar Assad tries to control the news, it's difficult to get an accurate sense of just what is going on. The regime is blaming its opponents, who have been protesting against Assad since last spring. Activists are questioning whether the attack was staged by supporters of the regime to make the opposition look bad.
Researchers trudging down the long and twisted path toward an AIDS vaccine are encouraged by new studies that show an experimental vaccine protects monkeys against infection with a virus that is very similar to HIV.
Police in Fresnow, Calif., say a car thief drove too fast, lost control on a curve, shot up a slope, launched over landscaping rocks and landed the car on the sloping roof of a house. A woman nearby thought it had been an earthquake.
Unseasonable temperatures and lack of snow have a lot of New Englanders singing the blues. In Maine, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and Nordic skiing are a big part of the winter economy. Downhill ski areas are making due with man-made snow, but those other industries have no choice but to wait for Mother Nature.