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The Senate passed an $827 billion stimulus package with the help of three Republicans who forced Democrats to cut billions of dollars that would have provided aid to states and education programs. Economists said the cuts were “outrageous” and “disastrous.” “The point is to keep lots of extra Americans from being unemployed for the next two years and have them, instead, do useful things for the country,” said Berkeley economist J. Bradford DeLong. “[Senators Ben] Nelson and [Susan] Collins, well, it’s not clear what their objective is.” The House and the Senate were negotiating differences in their packages in the hopes of presenting President Barack Obama with a final bill by Friday. “If this is a harbinger of the future, God save us,” said Robert Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute and former director of the Congressional Budget Office. “Here we are shoveling out the goodies and we can’t agree on that. What happens when you have to shift the car in reverse, or deal with something like health reform or energy policy?”MSNBCAlternetRegulators overseeing the previous administration’s $700 billion Wall Street bailout said the Treasury overpaid banks, spending $78 billion more than was necessary on Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) investments. “There may be good policy reasons for overpaying,” said regulator Elizabeth Warren. “But without a clearly delineated reason, we canâ??t know.”New York TimesThe U.S. Labor Department announced that 598,000 people lost their jobs in January. The unemployment rate rose 0.5 percent to 7.6 percent, and employed women were expected to soon outnumber employed men.New York TimesNew York TimesThe makers of Botox planned to lay off 5 percent of their global workforce. “If someone was getting four injections and now they are getting two,” said one analyst, “right there, that is down 50 percent.”New York TimesFormer Attorney General Alberto Gonzales blamed his difficulty in finding a new job on the faltering economy. “I can understand that in a very tough economy,” he said, “some employers are gonna be hesitant about bringing someone like me on when you have ongoing investigations.”TPM Muckraker
Tax problems forced Tom Daschle to withdraw his candidacy for secretary of health and human services and Nancy Killefer to withdraw as nominee for performance czar; the confirmation of Hilda Solis as labor secretary was postponed after it was revealed that her husband had $6,400 worth of tax liens that had been outstanding for sixteen years. “I made a mistake,” explained President Obama. “I don’t want to send a message to the American people that there are two sets of standards, one for powerful people and one for ordinary folks who are working every day and paying taxes.”New York TimesNew York TimesWashington PostWashington PostIran denied visas to a group of U.S. female badminton players after inviting the women to participate in a competition it is hosting, and announced that it had used its own rocket to launch a satellite into orbit, a feat only eight other nations have accomplished. “In the face of world opposition and sanctions,” said missile expert Geoffrey Forden, “Iran has joined a very exclusive club.” Washington PostNew York TimesFurlough Fridays began at California state-government departments, forcing more than 200,000 employees to remain at home without pay. Ski resorts were offering Friday discounts to California state workers with valid identification.BreitbartA woman sued a Florida doctor and his clinic for botching her abortion, alleging that, after she unexpectedly delivered a live baby girl at the clinic, the baby was put in a plastic biohazard bag with her placenta and afterbirth and thrown away. Buffalo NewsSupreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer.New York Times
Saying that “there is no reason only poor people should be infected” with malaria, Bill Gates opened a jar full of mosquitoes in front of a crowd of wealthy, influential attendees at the invitation-only Technology Entertainment Design (TED) conference in California. Gates later admitted that the mosquitoes were free of the disease.Fox NewsMoments after replacing his cell phone’s battery, a Chinese man was killed when the phone exploded, bursting an artery in his neck. The Shin Min Daily News, which first reported the story, suggested that the best way to avoid being hurt by exploding cell phones was to “avoid long telephone conversations.”The TelegraphOne hundred thirty-four fishermen were rescued after getting stranded on an ice floe that broke away from the Lake Erie shoreline,New York Timesand a Detroit mother of five was arrested after her four-year-old daughter told police, “Mom cooks me like a turkey in the oven.” Detroit NewsScientists found that babies born in late summer or early autumn grow to be taller and stronger than their peers, that women with prominent chins are more likely to cheat, and that woman are better than men at faking interest in the opposite sex.BBCTelegraphNBCHans Beck, 79, creator of toy figures for Playmobil (his motto: “No horror, no superficial violence, no short-lived trends”) died, as did Cramps lead singer Lux Interior, 62. “Rock â??nâ?? roll has absolutely nothing to do with music,” Interior once said. “You canâ??t call The Cramps music. Itâ??s noise, rockinâ?? noise.”The New York TimesWashington Post
More from Claire Gutierrez:
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word â€śhallwayâ€ť must have a nautical name. Why didnâ€™t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet heâ€™d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands theyâ€™d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you donâ€™t belong to, that doesnâ€™t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isnâ€™t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members â€” because ocean life pays better than money! â€” who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Number of people stopped and frisked by the NYPD in 2011 for â€śfurtive movementsâ€ť:
The faces of Lego people were growing angrier.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature