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Friday, February 1, 2013

Egyptian Protesters Demand Morsi’s Resignation

Opponents of Egypt President Mohamed Morsi demonstrated in Port Said, Cairo and Alexandria today asking for his resignation. At least one person died and 50 were wounded in clashes with the police. In Cairo, protesters marched to Tahrir Square and threw stones, molotov cocktails, and fireworks at the presidential palace. Morsi issued a statement saying security forces would act with the “utmost decisiveness” to protect state buildings and opposition groups responsible for the violence would be held “politically accountable.” The National Salvation Front, who called for the mass protests, said it had “no connection whatsoever” with the violent acts against the palace. Sixty people have died in protests that marked the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled Mubarak since January 25.

U.S. Embassy Bombed in Turkey

A suicide bomber attacked the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey, killing himself and a Turkish security guard. The bomber was a far-left militant, according to Turkey Interior Minister Muammar Guler, part of a local marxist group, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, which has been deemed illegal, though the U.S. said an investigation was underway, adding it was still too early to know who perpetrated the “terrorist attack.”  The man approached a side entrance and the blast blew a hole in the wall. U.S. citizens were instructed not to go near the embassy for the time being. The event occurred as Hillary Clinton prepared to leave her post as Secretary of State. The staff of her successor, soon-to-be ex-Senator for Massachusetts John Kerry, was briefed as quickly as State Department officials, according to Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

U.S. Economy Adds More Jobs than Estimated

The U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs in January, and revisions show the payroll gains in November and December were higher than initially estimated at 247,000 and 196,000, respectively. The Labor Department updates place the total of workers for 2012 at 134.7 million workers, 647,000 more than previously calculated. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent in January, from 7.8 percent in December, all but ensuring that the U.S. Federal Reserve will maintain its stimulus program (the Fed said it will raise its interest rate once the unemployment rate reaches 6.5 percent). “The big story is all the upward revisions to the previous months, which gives the report a real positive spin,” UniCredit Chief U.S. Economist Harm Bandholz told Bloomberg. The Dow Jones index of stocks rose above 14,000 points for the first time since 2007.

White House Alters Birth Control Rules to Appease Religious Groups

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama proposed today a compromise to allow religious organizations to exclude free birth control from the health insurance plans they give their employees. The proposal would still provide birth control at no charge, with the possibility for the insurance company to cover its costs through the money saved by fewer births. For two years, the White House has faced intense pushback from the Roman Catholic Church, various Protestant groups, and others on this rule, and has struggled to balance its commitment to health care and women’s health with freedom of religion. The new proposed rules are open to public comment until April 8.

Google Sets Up Fund to Help French Media Organizations with Online Operations

In a settlement with France’s government, Google will set up a €60m fund ($52 million) to help French media organizations to improve their online operations. The agreement comes after two months of negotiations that followed a complaint by various French news sites demanding payment for the privilege to link to their articles in Google News searches. When the government threatened to tax the revenues from the ads that accompany the results, Google said it would stop indexing the sites. The deal could set a precedent, possibly emboldening other publishers to seek similar treatment. “These agreements show that through business and technology partnerships we can help stimulate digital innovation for the benefit of consumers, our partners and the wider web,” said Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Weekend Read: Is Dr. Oz Doing More Harm than Good?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, son of Turkish immigrants, is a respected thoracic surgeon who teaches at Columbia University and directs the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian. Oz also has a television show in which he promotes both conventional medicine and “miracle” cures. Michael Specter takes a critical look at Oz’s stance. In The New Yorker.

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