By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, pointing to a further strengthening of labor market conditions. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased by 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 289,000 for the week ended Aug. 2, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week's claims were revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 305,000 for the week ended Aug. 2. Volatility related to the summer automobile plant shutdowns for retooling pushed claims to a 14-year low in July. Most of that volatility has worked its way through the data. The four-week average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 4,000 to 293,500, the lowest level since February 2006. A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the state level data. "The underlying trend seems to be improvement in payrolls. The slower pace of claims would be consistent with that,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities in Stamford, Connecticut. U.S. stock index futures held gains, while prices of U.S. Treasuries turned flat, paring earlier gains, after the claims data. The U.S. dollar was trading higher against the euro. Claims are now at levels where the scope for further declines is limited as the labor market normalizes. As such, hiring will need to pick up significantly for job growth to accelerate. The slow pace of layoffs as well as steady hiring are helping to strengthen labor market conditions, fanning speculation of an early interest rate increase from the Federal Reserve. But with the ranks of the long-term unemployed, discouraged job seekers and part-time workers still large, the U.S. central bank has given little indication it is in a hurry to lift its benchmark interest rate, which it has kept near zero since December 2008. Fed officials last month acknowledged the improvement in labor market conditions, but said "significant underutilization of labor resources" remained. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 209,000 in July, marking the sixth straight month that employment expanded by more than 200,000, a stretch last seen in 1997. The unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 6.2 percent as more people entered the labor force in search of work. Thursday's jobless claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped by 24,000 to 2.52 million in the week ended July 26. The unemployment rate for people receiving jobless benefits was 1.9 percent for the fourth week in a row. (Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Additional reporting by Richard Leong in New York; Editing by Paul Simao)
President Joe Biden will continue his flurry of executive orders on Monday, signing a new directive to require the federal government to “buy American” for products and services. Why it matters: The executive action is yet another attempt by Biden to accomplish goals administratively without waiting for the backing of Congress. The new order echoes Biden's $400 billion campaign pledge to increase government purchases of American goods.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.What they're saying: "President Biden is ensuring that when the federal government spends taxpayer dollars they are spent on American made goods by American workers and with American-made component parts," the White House said in a fact sheet.The big picture: Biden’s action kick offs another week in which the president will seek to undo many Trump policies with executive actions, while signaling the direction that he wants to take the country. * Biden will also reaffirm his support for the Jones Act, which requires maritime shipments between American ports to be carried on U.S. vessels. * Last week, Biden signed an order to attempt to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors and workers to $15 an hour.The bottom line: Former President Trump also attempted to force the federal government to rely on U.S. manufacturers for procurement with "buy American" provisions. * But supply chains — with some parts and components made outside of the U.S. — require long and complicated efforts to boost domestic manufacturing. Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- Associated Press
A federal judge on Sunday blocked the release of a Tennessee man who authorities say carried flexible plastic handcuffs during the riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell for the District of Columbia set aside an order by a judge in Tennessee concerning the release of Eric Munchel of Nashville. After testimony at a detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Frensley for the Middle District of Tennessee determined Friday that Munchel wasn’t a flight risk and didn’t pose harm to the public.
- The Telegraph
The acrimonious split within Republican ranks widened over the weekend as Donald Trump made his foray back into politics, backing the re-election of a hard-line supporter as chair of the party in Arizona. His wholehearted support for Kelli Ward was seen by allies as the former president firing a warning shot across the bows of any Republican senators considering backing his impeachment. Underlining Mr Trump’s grip on the Republican grassroots, the Arizona party also voted to censure John McCain’s widow, Cindy, former senator Jeff Flake and governor Doug Ducey, who refused to back the former president’s claims of election fraud. Mr Trump’s intervention came amid reports that he is considering setting up a “Patriot Party” which would spearhead primary challenges to his opponents in the 2022 mid-term elections. The former president has already amassed a massive war chest with his Save America political action committee declaring last month that it had raked in $207.5 million in donations.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by Sheldon Silver, the once-powerful New York State Assembly Speaker, of his conviction on corruption charges that resulted in a 6-1/2-year prison sentence. Silver, 76, began serving his sentence last August despite being in poor health. Two conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, said they would have taken up Silver's appeal.
- Yahoo News Video
Israeli authorities on Monday extradited a former teacher accused of sexually abusing her former students in Australia, capping a six-year legal battle that had strained relations between the two governments and antagonized Australia's Jewish community.
- The Week
President Biden has pledged to get 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Americans in his first 100 days in office. And when reporters asked Biden if that plan was ambitious enough last week, he doubled down on the original plan.Even though the U.S. hasn't reached Biden's goal of giving 1 million vaccines each day, Biden still seemed ready to push forward on Monday. "I am quite confident that in the next three weeks or so," the U.S. will get that pace up to 1 million per day, and quickly after could make it to 1.5 million, the president said in a press conference. Every American who wants to get a vaccine will be able to do so by spring, Biden promised, though the COVID-19 pandemic itself could rage through summer and "early fall," he added. Immunologists meanwhile contend distributing only 1 million vaccines per day will drag the pandemic into 2022.Biden is pushing to get Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill after signing a series of coronavirus-related executive orders last week. He declared "time is of the essence" when it comes to passing the bill, but wouldn't pull out specific pieces of the legislation to prioritize on Monday.Biden also gave a confusing interpretation of his calls for unity, suggesting that a bill that doesn't have bipartisan support doesn't necessarily lack unity.> Unity doesn't have to be bipartisan, Biden says. "Trying to get at a minimum if you pass piece of legislation that breaks down along party lines when it gets passed. it doesn't mean there wasn't unity. It just means it wasn't bipartisan. I prefer these things to be bipartisan..."> > — Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) January 25, 2021That comment comes as the Senate tries to work out a power-sharing agreement that's essentially at a standstill.More stories from theweek.com Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing Trump must be prosecuted 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Biden's COVID-19 push
- The Independent
Accused of aiming to take her job, Florida congressman tweets that he is ‘not seeking a position in House Leadership’
- Associated Press
Indianapolis police arrested a 17-year-old boy Monday in the killings of five people, including a pregnant woman, who were shot to death inside a home in what the city's mayor called a “devastating act of violence.” The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement that the name of the suspect in Sunday's killings was “not being released at this time since the suspect is a juvenile." As officers were investigating, police received information about 4:40 a.m. that led them to a nearby home, where they found multiple adults dead inside from apparent gunshot wounds, Sgt. Shane Foley said Sunday.
- The Telegraph
Israel will ban passenger flights in and out of the country from Monday for a week as it seeks to stop the spread of new coronavirus variants. "Other than rare exceptions, we are closing the sky hermetically to prevent the entry of the virus variants and also to ensure that we progress quickly with our vaccination campaign," said Benjamin Netanuahu, the Israeli prime minister. It came as a study in Israel reported a 60 per cent drop in over-60s being hospitalised with coronavirus three weeks after being vaccinated, in the latest sign that the jabs are effective. According to Maccabi, an Israeli healthcare provider, there was a significant decrease in hospitalisations from day 23 onwards, which was two days after patients received their second jab. Also on Sunday, Israel expanded its rapid vaccination drive to include 16-18 year-olds in an effort to get them back in schools to take their winter examinations. The winter matriculation certificate is a significant part of university and military admissions. At least one dose has been administered to around a quarter of Israel’s 9 million-strong population. The vaccine is generally available to over 40s or, with parental permission, those aged between 16 and 18. Israel struck a deal with Pfizer at the beginning of January that allowed them to expedite delivery of the vaccine, in return for sharing extensive data on their vaccination campaign with the rest of the world. Yuli Edelstein, the Israeli health minister, told The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that the data from their vaccination programme suggests a first dose offered around 30 per cent protection from coronavirus.
Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Ricardo Lewandowski has approved an investigation into Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the northern city of Manaus, according to a court document released on Monday. Lewandowski granted a petition for the probe by Attorney General Augusto Aras, and gave a period of 60 days for the probe to conclude. Manaus, in the northern state of Amazonas, has been hit hard by a brutal second wave that has pushed the city's emergency services to breaking point.
- The Week
Senate Democrats are drawing a line at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) demand that a power-sharing agreement in the 50-50 Senate include a pledge to retain the legislative filibuster. "If we gave him that, then the filibuster would be on everything, every day," Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) told NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday's Meet the Press. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) offered McConnell "word for word" the same power-sharing agreement used in the first half of 2001, and McConnell's insistence on adding the filibuster pledge is "a non-starter."But until Schumer and McConnell reach agreement on the Senate's operating rules, Republicans still retain much of the majority they lost last Wednesday."Without an organizing accord, Republicans remain in the majority of most Senate committees," and "veteran Democrats eager to seize the gavels and advance their long dormant agendas can only wait and wonder," The Washington Post explains. "Newly sworn-in Democratic senators cannot get committee assignments until an organizational deal is struck," leaving the old GOP-majority structures in place, and "Democrats can't unilaterally impose an organizing agreement because they would need Republican support to block a filibuster."The filibuster has evolved into a sclerotic de facto requirement for a 60-senator supermajority on all legislation. Frustration with obstruction by the minority led Senate Democrats to end the filibuster for some presidential appointees and lower-court judges in 2013, and McConnell continued eroding the filibuster as majority leader, killing it for Supreme Court nominees and further easing the confirmation of presidential appointees.A handful of Democratic centrists would prefer to keep the filibuster — for now. But there is mounting pressure from inside and outside the chamber. "There is absolutely no reason to give Sen. McConnell months and months to prove what we absolutely know — that he is going to continue his gridlock and dysfunction from the minority," said Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for the anti-filibuster liberal coalition Fix Our Senate.More stories from theweek.com Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing Trump must be prosecuted 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Biden's COVID-19 push
President Biden has scrapped a ban which stopped transgender people joining the US military.
- Associated Press
The Supreme Court on Monday ordered a further review by a lower court of a lawsuit brought by a Texas death row inmate who objects to a policy that bars a chaplain from accompanying him into the death chamber. The justices ordered Ruben Gutierrez's case sent back to a federal trial-level court for additional proceedings. The justices in June had blocked Gutierrez's execution after Texas changed its policy and barred all spiritual advisers from the death chamber.
Thousands of people were expected to defy public health concerns and protest against the mistreatment of Australia's Indigenous people as the country marked its national day on Tuesday on the anniversary of the arrival of the British First Fleet in 1788. For many Indigenous Australians, who trace their lineage on the continent back 50,000 years, the Australia Day holiday is known as Invasion Day symbolising the destruction of their cultures by European settlers. In Sydney, Indigenous groups have called for protests to demand the national day be changed, although state health officials have refused to make an exemption to social distancing rules to allow for crowds of more than 500 people.
- The Telegraph
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced the establishment of its embassy in Tel Aviv as the US national security advisor announced that America hopes to build “on the success of Israel’s normalisation agreements” under the Biden administration. The UAE cabinet decision to approve establishing the embassy comes after they signed the Abraham Accords in September, becoming the first Gulf state to establish a full diplomatic relationship with Israel. No further details about the embassy were given in UAE media. While Israel’s government recognises Jerusalem as its capital, the international community does not, with Palestinians claiming East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Most countries base their embassies in Tel Aviv. Before the deal, Israel only had peace deals with only two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan - where it has fortified embassies. Most Arab countries had previously refrained from recognising Israel, believing that recognition should only be granted if serious concessions are made in the Palestinian peace process. Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco later agreed to follow in the UAE’s footsteps and normalise ties with Israel under US-brokered deals.
- Business Insider
Barely any time has passed since President Biden's inauguration, and Republicans have already returned to their bag of shenanigans.
- Associated Press
Democrats marched the impeachment case against Donald Trump to the Senate Monday night for the start of his historic trial, but Republican senators were easing off their criticism of the former president and shunning calls to convict him over the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol. The House prosecutors delivered the sole impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection," making the ceremonial walk across the Capitol to the Senate.
- NBC News
Brittney Gilliam had taken her family for a “Sunday funday” when officers with guns drawn ordered her and the four underage girls with her to exit the car.
India said it will administer homegrown coronavirus vaccine COVAXIN in seven more states from Monday as it seeks to inoculate 30 million healthcare workers across the country. The government this month gave emergency-use approval to the vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech International Ltd and state-run Indian Council of Medical Research, and another licensed from Oxford University and AstraZeneca PLC that is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden on Monday appeared to boost his goal for coronavirus vaccinations in his first 100 days in office, suggesting the nation could soon be injecting 1.5 million shots on an average per day. Biden signaled his increasing bullishness on the pace of vaccinations after signing an executive order to boost government purchases from U.S. manufacturers. It was among a flurry of moves by Biden during his first full week to show he's taking swift action to heal an ailing economy as talks with Congress over a $1.9 trillion stimulus package showed few signs of progress.