Lion sculpture in stone cliff

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Unemployment up 61% from a year ago, jobless claims at record highest level since records have been kept starting in 1967

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The number of jobless American workers receiving unemployment checks rose to the highest level since the government began keeping records in 1967. A Labor Department spokesman said the number of Americans drawing jobless benefits for a week or longer rose to 4,776,000 in the week ended Jan. 17, the latest data available. The number eclipses the prior mark set in November 1982, when 4,713,000 million Americans drew benefits. Americans who moved to collect their first unemployment checks rose for the third consecutive week, to 588,000, according to a government report released Thursday. The number of Americans filing for unemployment claims has surged by 61% from this time a year ago. The Labor Department said initial filings for state jobless benefits rose by 3,000 for the week ended Jan. 24 from a downwardly revised 585,000 claims filed the prior week. Economists polled by Briefing.com expected the reading to fall to 575,000 claims. Ian Shepherdson, an economist at High Frequency Economics, said that initial claims data are a proxy for the trends in gross firings. Mass firings hit a seven-year high in 2008. “The net result of this is soaring unemployment, and we see no chance of this picture changing in the foreseeable future. We expect net job losses of about three million through the first half of this year,” Shepherdson said. The four-week average of new unemployment claims, used to smooth fluctuations in data, grew by 24,250 to 542,500 from the prior week. A year ago, it was at 333,750. Over the previous four weeks, the number of people on unemployment for one week or more increased by 66,500 to an average of 4.63 million a week, the government said. A year ago, it was at 2.70 million.

1987 Dodge Van hangs off Rock overhang near Grand Junction, CO, after failed suicide attempt (27 suicide attempts at Colorado National Monument last year.)

This Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009 photograph provided by the Colorado National Monument shows a 1987 Dodge van that got stuck on a rock overhang , near Grand Junction, Colo., after the driver sent the vehicle off a cliff in an apparent suicide attempt. The 34-year-old male driver survived the incident. But park officials said that 27 people attempted suicide at the national monument last year, which has prompted administrators to train staff at entrances and visitor centers in suicide prevention.

Birth of Octuplets shocks medical experts in California today.

“When we see something like this in the general fertility world, it gives us the heebie jeebies,” said Michael Tucker, a clinical embryologist in Atlanta and a leading researcher in infertility treatment. Tucker added that in his opinion, “if a medical practitioner had anything to do with it, there’s some degree of inappropriate medical therapy there.”

The parents of the octuplets have not been identified, and Kaiser officials say they have not been authorized to release information to the public on how the babies were conceived.
Doctors reported Tuesday that the eight babies, six boys and two girls, are doing fine. The babies were delivered by caesarean section Monday and ranged in weight from 1 pound, 8 ounces to 3 pounds, 4 ounces.

“The babies had a very good night,” (click to read entire article)

said Dr. Mandhir Gupta, a neonatologist at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center. The babies are stable and the two who were receiving help breathing had their breathing tubes removed Tuesday morning. They began feeding as well.

“They’re doing amazingly well,” Gupta said.

Despite that hopeful report, however, higher-order multiple births (defined as three or more babies born together) are dangerous for babies and the mother. Infants born prematurely face the risk of breathing problems and brain injuries that may cause permanent disability. Problems in premature babies, including learning disabilities or cognitive delays, are often not apparent until years after their birth.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say “doctors should be making efforts to curb these higher-order multiple gestations,” said Dr. Geeta Swamy, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University. “But it really is still up to the individual physician. There aren’t any laws or legal ramifications to it.”

Peanut Processor found salmonella on 12 occasions, shipped product anyway (resulting in 501 poisonings and 8 deaths in 43 states)

The government Tuesday accused the peanut butter manufacturer tied to a nationwide salmonella outbreak of shipping products in 2007 and 2008 after internal tests found bacterial contamination, violating food safety regulations. Peanut butter and peanut paste manufactured by the Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) has been tied to the salmonella outbreak that has sickened 501 people in 43 states and is believed to have contributed to eight deaths. The Food and Drug Administration said that its inspection of the PCA plant in Blakely, Ga., found records of 12 instances in which plant officials identified salmonella in ingredients or finished products. The products should not have been shipped, the FDA says. PCA took no steps to address cleaning after finding the salmonella, says Michael Rogers, director of the FDA’s division of field investigations. In some instances, the company had the product tested again by a different laboratory and got a clean test result, FDA officials said in a telephone conference with reporters. It’s quite possible that a retest would miss the salmonella, says Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety. The product should have been destroyed after the first positive test result, he says.

Photo of powerful moment in American history: Great Great Grand daughter of former Slave, Jim Robinson, carries Lincoln Bible to Inauguration of America’s first Black President at the (slave-built) White House

read a bit about Michelle Obama’s heritage here, and ponder how unlikely her great great grandfather would have considered what happened on

January 20, 2009.

click here to read article about a grandson of a former slave who still farms the same land as his grandfather and what he thinks about the inauguration of America’s first Black President.

click here to read about the use of African American slave labor in the building of the White House, could the men who built the White House 200 years ago have imagined a Black President in their wildest dreams?

MaggieMae breaks in the new linens…