Happy weekend everybody! We have late word that the man who jumped the security barrier at Newark Airport this past Sunday has been arrested by Port Authority police at his New Jersey home. Additional details as we get them on ABCNEWS.COM
SECURITY INCIDENT AT HEATHROW- British police say three people have been arrested this evening in a security incident aboard an Emirates passenger jet at London's Heathrow Airport. A police spokesman says the three — all believed to be male — were removed from the jet, which was preparing to fly to Dubai. A search of the aircraft showed there was no hazardous material or substance. As to why they were removed, Maeve Bambuck from our London bureau talked with a Scotland Yard spokesman who “still won’t confirm it was a verbal threat. SKY NEWS is reporting 3 white British males, possibly intoxicated, made alarming comments before take-off”. The airport remains open.
JOBS-Looks like the road to recovery may be littered with résumés…today’s jobs report for December was nothing short of disappointing, with 85 thousand jobs lost. Many economists expected to see a positive number in today’s announcement. They got one, just not for the month they were focusing on. According to Dan Arnall, November’s jobs number was revised upward into positive territory (+4K), the first such monthly gain since December 2007. But that December 2009 number…some 15.3 million people looking for work, nearly double the number of unemployed (7.7 million) before the recession started. Factor in the 9 million-plus part-time workers aspiring to full-time status and those who’ve simply given up looking and you’ve got yourself nearly 27 million Americans(and potential voters) who might challenge any “road to recovery” claim. Jake Tapper reported for WORLD NEWS on the jobs report and notes that “the President today acknowledged the bad numbers but insisted things will get better”. Speaking to reporters this afternoon from the East Room, President Obama noted “the road to recovery is never straight” and offered the following: ““Job losses for the last quarter of 2009 were one-tenth of what we were experiencing in the first quarter. In fact, in November we saw the first gain in jobs in nearly two years. Last month, however, we slipped back, losing more jobs than we gained, though the overall trend of job loss is still pointing in the right direction.”
Tapper breaks down the jobs lost figure by sector-“among the 85 thousand jobs lost in December, those in manufacturing, construction, retail and real estate were worst hit but not a surprise. What many economists did not expect were job losses in sectors such as the postal service and restaurants.” So are we or are we not heading into positive territory with the American economy? Tapper reports it depends who you ask. Tapper:”There’s a great divide among economists. Some fear a double dip recession in the second half of this year, others are cautiously optimistic.” Once again, it seems, the economic crystal ball remains cloudy and difficult to read.
GREEN JOBS-While the President spoke this afternoon about the job numbers, he also took time to point out some efforts the Administration is making to create some new jobs. Jake Tapper/Ann Compton and Sunlen Miller sent out an email with the particulars: “Switching gears quickly from disappointing jobs numbers, to efforts the administration is taking to create jobs, the President announced that the administration is awarding $2.3 billion in tax credits for American manufactures of clean energy technologies – companies that build wind turbines, solar panels, and assemble cutting-edge batteries. Awarded to 180 projects in over 40 states, the administration says they hope the initiative will generate about 17,000 jobs. The money will come from last year's $787 billion stimulus program.” “This initiative is good for middle class families. It is good for our security. It is good for our planet,” Obama said, “a clean energy manufacturing initiative that will put Americans to work while helping America gain the lead when it comes to clean energy.”
“GIG”-ONOMICS-With so many Americans out of work or under-employed, more and more creative methods are needed to keep food on the table…witness 21st century Renaissance (Wo)man Karen Swim, who Betsy Stark introduced us to on this evening’s WORLD NEWS. Ms. Swim does not work for one employer, she works for a multitude, going from “gig to gig”. Stark explains: “Karen Swim has been gigging as a writer and marketer for 6 years and last year earned almost $100K” Ms. Swim notes “you can replace your income. You can do it. It’s not that hard”. Not that hard? Stark: “If you can juggle 7 or 8 jobs a day as she does. At 8:40am yesterday, she was marketing herself on Facebook and Twitter. At 9:54, skyping with a client in Hungary. 1:30pm consulting with a brain scientist…3:50pm giving résumé advice…the key is to spend at least as much time lining up new gigs as doing them.” It’s a sector of the economy on the radar screen-Stark showed us “a shared workspace called ‘OfficePort’…(that had) copiers, conference rooms and all the coffee you can drink for around $500 a month” for giggers. Sounds pretty good but Stark reminds that for giggers, there’s “not much security…lack of health care and retirement benefits are giggers’ number one concern.” But there is income…if you’re willing to work your tail off for it.
CHRISTMAS DAY TERROR PLOT-Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian accused of trying to ignite an explosive on a Detroit-bound flight from Europe on Christmas Day, appeared before a judge today for the first time at a federal courthouse in Detroit. The arraignment was brief-no more than five minutes. Abdulmutallab had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf to the six charges named in the indictment. While the arraignment may have been brief, the controversy over the Obama Administration’s decision to try Mr. Adbulmutallab in a civilian court continues. Chris Cuomo, reporting for WORLD NEWS, notes “The legal community is raging about how terror suspects should be handled.” Cuomo addresses the questions raised. First..that Mr. Abdulmutallab could have had more secret information he could have told us. Cuomo: “According to sources close to the prosecution, questioning of Abdulmutallab ended after 30 hours. He was then granted an attorney. Former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani says this was a huge mistake” with Mr. Giuliani quoted as saying “why would you stop it. there’s no reason to stop it, particularly since the Administration has created military courts.” But Edward O’Callaghan, a former terror prosecutor, points out to Cuomo that “getting a lawyer doesn’t necessarily end the interrogation or cooperation. We often can get suspects to keep talking as part of the plea deal…which gives us plenty of options.” As for the suggestion that both a military court and then a civilian court be employed like the government is doing with Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Alan Vinegrad, another former terror prosecutor tells Cuomo “could you have gotten more information? Yes. Would it have been something that would be usable against him in a court of law? No.” But information appears to be what prosecutors are after-Cuomo noted in his close that “the evidence (against Abdulmutallab) seems overwhelming, but the goal for prosecutors isn’t just a conviction, it’s to get all the information Abdulmutallab has. Trouble is, it’s up to him whether or not to give it up.”
THE YEMEN CHALLENGE: It might be called the third frontier in the battle against terrorism. Martha Raddatz has been in Yemen all this week and tells us: “In so many ways, Yemen is like Iraq and Afghanistan, with problems that can't be solved by the military alone.” Problems like poverty. “The poverty is extreme. The annual income for the 50 percent of Yemenis who are lucky enough to have jobs is about $900 per year.” According to Yemen’s Foreign Minister, Abu Bakr Al Qirbi, poverty is one of the root causes of terrorism: "With the increasing unemployment of young people, many in remote areas suffering from underdevelopment. This is the ground that terrorists take advantage of." But the U.S. is determined to do whatever it can in the battle against al Qaeda. Martha traveled into some of the lawless parts of Yemen with American special forces: “On a hillside above Yemen's capital, Yemeni counterterrorism troops conducted live fire exercises. And off in the distance trying hard not to be seen were a few men who were almost certainly the U.S. special forces sent to train these troops. No one knows for certain how many counterterrorism forces there are, but it is probably fewer than 1,000 in a country of 25 million people. Today, Yemeni officials said the counter terror troops are killing or capturing dozens of al Qaeda members, but there are vast lawless areas of Yemen where al Qaeda still operates freely.” Another problem for Yemen is the narcotic know as Khat or qat. As Martha explains: “It is a leafy green plant that grows all over the landscape, but it is much more than a shrub. It's actually a narcotic, chewed by almost everyone. The high that qat produces is killing Yemeni society.” By some accounts, most Yemeni men stop everything by noon, spending the rest of the day in smoking rooms, chewing their qat. (thanks to Ed Bailey for this entry)
NBC LATE NIGHT DRAMA-John Berman reports for World News that because of poor ratings for both "The Jay Leno Show" and Conan O'Brien's "Tonight Show," the network is said to be considering returning Leno to his 11:35 p.m. EST slot and moving "Tonight" to midnight. Many stations have complained that the ratings for their 11 p.m. newscasts have plummeted because Leno's 10 p.m. show is such a weak lead-in. NBC pushed Leno to 10 pm in a kind of two part strategy; to keep both Leno and Conan at the network and to cut costs. NBC's contract with O'Brien reportedly allows the network to move "Tonight" to 12:05 a.m. EST but no later, at the risk of substantial financial penalties. Conan’s two-year contract said to be valued at about $28 million per year. Whether Leno accepts a truncated, half-hour version of his prime-time comedy and talk show remains to be seen, as does O'Brien's response to getting less than a year to prove himself as host of "Tonight." Any change would probably not take effect until March, after the Winter Olympics on NBC. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Conan O'Brien was approached by FOX network about hosting another late-night show. The conversations haven't yet turned serious in part because Mr. O'Brien is still under contract to NBC. (thanks to Jason Volack for this entry)
COLD…COLD…COLD-The never-ending cold spell attacking much of the nation will be hanging around this weekend and with those chilly temperatures finding places as far south as Florida, concerns about crops continue. Ryan Owens will be filing for GOOD MORNING AMERICA SATURDAY from Dover, Florida where he will introduce us to a strawberry farmer trying to protect his crop.
LOCAL BANKS-Earlier this week, David Muir filed a story for WORLD NEWS that looked at banks raising rates on credit cards before those new rules protecting consumers can take effect. Some viewers wrote in that they are taking matters into their own hands and trading large banks for neighborhood banks. One woman documented her effort to change banks on YouTube after her credit card jumped 27 percent. And web-sites such as Huffington Post are joining in the effort by providing a list of local secure banks. And Muir says there is a Facebook group dedicated to this. (thanks to Jason Volack for this entry)
MICHAEL JACKSON DEATH-It looks like Michael Jackson’s private physician isn’t out of the woods yet as the investigation into the death of the pop star continues. Russell Goldman wrote the story up for ABC NEWS DOT COM: “Prosecutors are prepared to indict Michael Jackson's doctor for involuntary manslaughter in the death of the pop star, ABC NEWS has learned. Dr. Conrad Murray, a Las Vegas-based cardiologist who was with Jackson when the pop singer died after receiving a lethal cocktail of painkillers and anesthetics June 25, has long been the focus of a homicide investigation. Officially, the Los Angeles District Attorney's office said that no final decisions had been made in the Jackson case. ‘We don't have a case. It hasn't been presented. Don't know when we'll get it,’ Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the DA's office, told ABC News. Murray's lawyer said his client had not yet been made aware of any indictment.”
–JEAN FINNEGAN BIDEN, the 92-year-old mother of Vice-President Joe Biden, died today in Wilmington, Delaware. A statement released by the Vice-President’s office noted that she was surrounded by her family and loved one at the time of her death. The Vice-President himself was there, having left Washington yesterday to be at his ailing mother’s side.
–“LOST” VIEWERS SAFE FROM WHITE HOUSE INTRUSION-We don’t know when the President’s State of the Union speech will be but we know when it won’t. The White House announced today that the President’s first State of the Union speech would not be broadcast Feb. 2nd. Why do you care? Well that date is also the premiere of the final season of “Lost”, whose fans have been burning up the internet with worry and consternation that their beloved show will be pre-empted by the White House. (Jake Tapper/Karen Travers/Ann Compton)