Friday, February 5
President Barack Obama takes victory lap on economy
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is using new jobs numbers to take a victory lap on the economy.
Obama says the U.S. has "the strongest, most durable economy in the world." He pointed to wage and income growth, job growth, lower oil prices and increasing health insurance as evidence of that claim.
The president says those recent numbers are inconvenient for Republicans who are talking down the economy. He accused Republican presidential candidates of being on a "doom and despair tour" in New Hampshire.
Obama spoke to reporters hours after the Labor Department announced that U.S. employers added 151,000 jobs in January. The gains were enough for the unemployment rate to fall to 4.9 percent from 5 percent. That's the lowest level of Obama's presidency.
Obama allies urge greater efforts against Zika
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's allies in the Senate are urging him to ramp up the government's response to the outbreak of the Zika virus in the Americas and the potential for its widening spread in the United States.
All 44 Senate Democrats and two independents sent Obama a letter urging him to use money from last year's government-wide spending bill to come up with a comprehensive response plan to combat Zika, both overseas and in the U.S.
They say he should add money to his upcoming budget request if necessary and that curbing the virus abroad is one of the best ways to limit its spread in the U.S.
The Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and is suspected of links to a condition that can have devastating effects on unborn children.
Assange addresses supporters
LONDON (AP) —Julian Assange has addressed supporters from the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, calling a U.N. panel's findings "a historic victory."
He said "this is a decision under international humanitarian law." In a reference to British and Swedish authorities, he warned that "there will be criminal consequences" for parties that breach international human rights treaties.
The WikiLeaks founder has not left the embassy since June 2012, when he took shelter there to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning about sexual assault allegations made by two women.
To cheers from a small crowd of supporters — and shouts from a lone heckler — Assange accused British, Swedish and American authorities of denying his children their father.
ISIS TWITTER SUSPENSIONS
Twitter moves to actively seek out terrorist supporters
WASHINGTON (AP) — Twitter says it's now using spam-fighting technology to seek out and automatically flag accounts that might be promoting terrorist activity.
The company announced Friday in a tweet that it has suspended more than 125,000 accounts on its social media site for threatening or promoting terrorist acts mainly related to the Islamic State group in the last eight months.
The news signals a move toward automation as the U.S. government has pressured social media companies to respond more aggressively to reports of abuse. A human still reviews flagged posts.
Child pornography is automatically flagged for human review using a separate technology.
MANHATTAN CRANE COLLAPSE
Victim was on sidewalk, not in a car
NEW YORK (AP) — Authorities now say the man killed when a crane collapsed in Lower Manhattan was walking on the sidewalk, not sitting in his car.
Police say their investigation has found that David Wichs was a pedestrian when part of the crane toppled onto him Friday morning.
Mayor Bill de Blasio (dih BLAH'-zee-oh) had previously said the victim was in his car.
Police say a 73-year-old man who was sitting in his car when the crane collapsed was injured. He's being treated for head injuries.
Officials say the crane came down as workers were lowering an extended boom amid 20 mph winds.
Gunmen attack boxing fans at Dublin hotel, killing 1
DUBLIN (AP) — Gunmen wearing disguises opened fire on boxing fans at a Dublin hotel Friday, killing one man and wounding two others in an attack that could reflect tensions within Ireland's top cocaine-smuggling gang.
Fans attending the weigh-in ceremonies for a Dublin boxing event fled in terror as at least one group of gunmen opened fire inside the Regency Hotel.
Mel Christle, president of the Boxing Union of Ireland, said the gunfire started within seconds of the final weigh-in ceremony. He said he saw one gunman, holding a handgun and dressed as a woman, flee through the crowd as two others dressed as policemen opened fire in the lobby. Other witnesses said at least one of those attackers was armed with an assault rifle.
Doctor gets 30 years to life for drug deaths
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A doctor convicted of murder for prescribing exorbitant amounts of painkillers that left three patients dead has been sentenced to 30 years to life in prison.
Dr. Hsiu-Ying "Lisa" Tseng was sentenced Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Her second-degree murder conviction in October is rare for a doctor. It came after a dozen of her patients died.
She was only charged with three killings because other factors were involved in some of those deaths, such as drugs prescribed by other doctors and one possible suicide.
Tseng's lawyer said the doctor had been naive to prescribe so many medications and didn't think her patients would abuse them.
Prosecutors say she prescribed medication to people who didn't need it and ignored signs they were overdosing.
NEW: Texas authorities move 'affluenza' teen to adult jail
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The Texas teenager who used an "affluenza" defense in a fatal drunken-driving wreck has been transferred to an adult jail.
Records show that 18-year-old Ethan Couch was moved Friday from a juvenile detention center to the Tarrant County jail.
A hearing had been scheduled for Feb. 19 to determine whether his case would move from juvenile to adult court. It wasn't immediately clear if the jail transfer affected his status in the juvenile system.
Couch was given probation for the 2013 wreck that killed four people. During the juvenile trial, a defense expert said Couch's wealthy parents coddled him and invoked the term "affluenza."
Couch was ordered to the juvenile center after being deported from Mexico last month. Authorities believe he and his mother fled as prosecutors investigated whether he violated his probation.
NEW: AG wants dismissal of Penn State officials' charges reversed
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Prosecutors want a Pennsylvania appeals court to reconsider its dismissal of some criminal charges against three former Penn State administrators accused of covering up sex abuse complaints against Jerry Sandusky.
The attorney general's office said Friday it will ask the full Superior Court to overturn last month's decision throwing out several of the more serious allegations against Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley.
A three-judge panel ruled that grand jury testimony by the university's then-general counsel violated the defendants' rights.
That ruling dismissed charges of perjury, obstruction and conspiracy, but left in place charges including failure to report suspected child abuse and endangering the welfare of children.
Spanier's lawyer declined comment. Attorneys for Curley and Schultz didn't return messages.
Spanier is the school's former president and still a member of the faculty. Schultz, a former vice president, and Curley, the former athletic director, are both retired.
DURHAM, N.H. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders may be getting an up-and-close look at the man who portrays him on television: comedian Larry David.
Sanders is taking a short break from the campaign trail in New Hampshire and planning to be in New York on Saturday night. Senior adviser Tad Devine says Sanders is likely to appear on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," where David will be the host this weekend.
Devine says the details were not yet finalized but "it looks like it's going to happen."
NBC declined comment on whether Sanders would appear on the show.
David has spoofed the Vermont senator as a passionate presidential candidate screaming of revolution and Sanders has happily played along. During a CNN forum this past week, Sanders was asked if he does a Larry David imitation. The senator replied, "I am Larry David."
UPDATE: Stocks lose more ground as jobs report disappoints
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks closed sharply lower after a weak jobs report cast doubt on the strength of the U.S. economy.
Technology stocks were especially hard hit, leading a broad decline Friday that included all sectors except utilities.
Other big losers were energy and consumer discretionary stocks, down because oil prices fell and further concern that the risk of the U.S. economy slipping into recession, while low, is growing.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 211 points, or 1.3 percent, to close at 16,204.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 35 points, or 1.9 percent, to close at 1,880. The Nasdaq composite fell 146 points, or 3.2 percent, to close at 4,363.
Bond prices were largely unchanged. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note remained at 1.84 percent.