2.5.16:   US adds just 151k jobs in Jan.; 4.9 pct. jobless rate



WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added 151,000 jobs in January, a sharp deceleration from recent months as companies shed education, transportation and temporary workers.

The Labor Department says the jobs gains were enough for the unemployment rate to fall to 4.9 percent from 5 percent. The slowdown in hiring reflects an increasingly muddled picture for the U.S. economy, as global financial pressures and a volatile stock market appear to have curtailed growth. January’s jobs report appears to have further clouded the economic outlook.

In a sign of robust consumer demand, retailers hired 57,700. Restaurants and bars added 48,800 workers.

Manufacturers hired a solid 29,000 workers last month, even though other indicators show factory activity weakening. But education services, the temp sector and transportation and warehousing let go of a combined 84,000 workers.





2.4.16:  Airports do more to fight human trafficking



COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Columbus airport is joining its counterparts nationwide in training employees to recognize signs of human trafficking.

All 400 employees at Port Columbus International Airport will view a 30-minute video on spotting signs of trafficking beginning this month.

The video by the Ohio Department of Public Safety recommends keeping an eye out for people not allowed to speak for themselves, not in control of their travel documents or being closely watched or followed.

Last month, San Francisco International Airport trained about 220 employees who come in contact with the public, including baggage handlers and maintenance workers.

The Department of Homeland Security posted human trafficking awareness messages on video monitors and airport shopping bags at 13 airports last summer, including JFK and LaGuardia in New York, Chicago-O’Hare and Los Angeles International Airport.


2.4.16:  Computer problems impact tax refunds



(AP) – Wednesday the IRS stopped excepting electronically filed tax returns because of problems with some of its computer systems.

The outage could affect refunds, but the agency says it doesn’t anticipate “major disruptions.”

The website remains available but “where’s my refund” and other services were not working.

2.4.16:  Concerns on the rise over Zika Virus



PARIS (AP) — The head of the Pan American Health Organization says more resources are needed quickly if the region is to fight the Zika outbreak. It’s spread in the Americas and has been liked to a birth defect that causes infants to have unusually small heads. Health ministers from Latin America held an emergency meeting in Uruguay on Wednesday. Every nation in the region was encouraged to devote more money to expand mosquito control campaigns, bolster health services and educate the public on the dangers.


Meanwhile, health emergencies have been declared in four Florida counties because of the Zika virus. That’s because there have been at least nine cases of the mosquito-borne illness. The counties are Miami-Dade, Lee, Hillsborough and Santa Rosa. Health officials believe all of the cases are from people who contracted the disease while traveling to affected countries.

2.4.16:  Johnson & Johnson, ViaCyte testing possible diabetes cure



UNDATED (AP) — Johnson & Johnson, continuing its long quest for a Type 1 diabetes cure, is joining forces with biotech company ViaCyte to speed development of the first stem cell treatment that could cure the life-threatening hormonal disorder.

They’ve already begun testing it in a small number of diabetic patients, a first. If it works as well in patients as it has in animals, it would amount to a cure, ending the need for frequent insulin injections and blood sugar testing.

The companies have agreed to combine patents covering their research under ViaCyte.

Their therapy involves inducing embryonic stem cells to turn into insulin-producing cells while inside a small capsule that is implanted under the skin. The capsule protects the cells from the immune system, which otherwise would attack them as invaders.


2.4.16:  Threat targets sheriff’s office at center of Netflix series




MANITOWOC, Wis. (AP) — Authorities say a caller who phoned in a bomb threat to a Wisconsin county sheriff’s office made an apparent reference to “getting justice” for the man at the center of the “Making a Murderer” documentary.

A statement from the Manitowoc Police Department says a male caller made the threat around 6:40 p.m. Wednesday. It says the caller described bombs inside the Manitowoc County sheriff’s office building and a vehicle outside with explosives.

The statement says the caller mentioned “getting justice for Steven,” what it describes as an apparent reference to Steven Avery, the Wisconsin man whose prosecution in a 2005 killing was the centerpiece of the Netflix series. The series questions Avery’s treatment and suggests the possibility Manitowoc County sheriff’s deputies planted evidence.

Authorities deemed the area all clear; they found no suspicious devices.

An investigation is ongoing.




2.3.16:   World’s future will hinge on how three religious questions are answered



WASHINGTON (AP) — A Christian scholar says the world’s future will hinge on how three religious questions are answered.

Author Os Guinness, founder of the Trinity Forum, took part in a panel Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington.

He said the first question is whether Islam will modernize peacefully. The second is “which faith or ideology” will ultimately replace communism in China, and the third is whether Western civilization will return to its roots.

Guinness said, “Religious freedom is absolutely pivotal to each of the answers to those questions if they’re to come out constructively.”

Guinness was joined by former Congressman Frank Wolf and international religious freedom advocate Nina Shea , who cited what she called “genocide” against Christians and other religious minorities by Islamist radicals.

Wolf highlighted the rise in religious oppression in China and other nations, and called for a stronger U.S. response.


2.3.16:  Toyota recalls 320,000 trucks and SUVs for air bag problem



DETROIT (AP) — Toyota is recalling about 320,000 trucks and SUVs because the roof-mounted air bags can inflate without a crash.

The recall covers the 2005 and 2006 Toyota Tundra and Sequoia, the 2003 through 2006 Land Cruiser, and the 2004 through 2006 4-Runner. Also included are the 2003 through 2006 Lexus LX 470 and the 2004 through 2006 GX 470.

The company says improper programming in the air bag control computer caused the problem, which could increase the risk of driver and passenger injuries.

Dealers will replace the computer at no cost to owners. Owners will be notified by letter about when they can bring their trucks in for repairs.


2.3.16:  Storm moves northeast



UNDATED (AP) — A large swath of the Northeast and New England as well as the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states are expected to feel the effects today of the storm system that spawned tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama along with heavy snow in parts of Colorado and Nebraska.

Forecasters say upstate New York and northwest New England face a nasty mix of heavy rain, freezing rain and snow while heavy rain and thunderstorms are predicted for the Southeast and the Mid-Atlantic states. Flash flooding is possible.

Heavy rain prompted an apartment evacuation early today in northwest Georgia due to flood danger.

The National Weather Service, citing a report from an emergency manager in Catoosa County, Georgia, says the apartments being evacuated before were near the town of Fort Oglethorpe, just south of Chattanooga, Tennessee. No serious injuries were reported in the flooding.


2.2.16:  Razor thin in Iowa



DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says his razor-thin contest against Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses is giving his campaign a “kick-start.”

He says it shows the American people that “this is a campaign that can win.”

Sanders was greeted by cheering supporters this morning in New Hampshire, where polls show the Vermont senator is leading Clinton.

But the Iowa contest has yet to be officially decided.


Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz says his victory in Iowa is a victory for the grassroots and is part of a larger movement of conservatives against what he calls the “Washington cartel.”

Donald Trump came in second in the Iowa caucuses and Marco Rubio came in a close third.



Two presidential candidates have just pulled out of the race. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley ended his Democratic presidential campaign midway through vote-counting in the Iowa caucuses.

Early results showed O’Malley garnering negligible support in the first primary contest.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee dropped out on the Republican side.