The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that 651,000 jobs were lost in February (making it the third straight month in which more than 650,000 jobs have been lost) thus increasing the unemployment rate to 8.1 percent, the highest level since 1983. The Obama Administration pointed to 60 new highway-paving jobs in Maryland as proof that the $787 billion stimulus package was succeeding. “That’s how we’re going to get the country back on its feet,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The White House hopes that the stimulus package will generate 3.5 million jobs; 4.4 million have been lost since the recession began in December 2007, and a total of 12.5 million people are unemployed, a number greater than the combined populations of Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wyoming, Washington, D.C., and both Dakotas. Economists predicted that by the summer one in ten Americans would be out of work.The Labor DepartmentNew York TimesWashington PostCNN.comU.S. Census BureauWashington PostFormer Countrywide Financial president Stanford Kurland founded PennyMac, a business that purchases delinquent mortgages, sometimes for pennies on the dollar, from the government. “It is sort of like the arsonist,” said Margot Saunders, a lawyer with the National Consumer Law Center, “who sets fire to the house and then buys up the charred remains and resells it.”New York TimesThe World Bank said that the global economy would shrink in 2009 for the first time since World War II,New York Timesand auditors said that even with loans from the Treasury, General Motors is likely to fail.Washington PostThe United States celebrated Grammar Day.
After Republican senators prevented the passage of a spending bill, Congress was forced to enact an emergency five-day stopgap to keep the government from shutting down. Senator John McCain criticized a $951,500 earmark for a “sustainable Las Vegas.” “So much for the promise of change,” he said.New York TimesWashington PostWhen asked about the state of the Republican party, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty said, “It’s kind of like asking whether the stock market has bottomed out.”PoliticoThe International Criminal Court charged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity for his “essential role” in the genocide in Darfur. “‘Rape the women, kill the children,'” one Sudanese soldier, who deserted, recalled as his orders. “‘Leave nothing.'” The Sudanese government responded by ordering relief organizations responsible for feeding hundreds of thousands of people to cease operations and leave the country.New York TimesA man accused of killing his girlfriend was shot inside a Californiacourtroom after he repeatedly stabbed the judge presiding over his case,Washington Postand a Nevada man was found guilty of sexually assaulting two small girls. The verdict was based on a video that showed the man, an animal trainer for Siegfried & Roy named Chester Stiles, raping a two-year-old girl.Las Vegas Review-JournalNeighbors and counselors of Lexie Agyepong-Glover, a 13-year-old Virginiagirl who was killed by her foster mother, said that in the past two years they had repeatedly called police to report the child’s abuse but nothing was ever done. People recalled Lexie wandering the streets dressed in a barbecue-grill cover, trying to board her school bus wearing only her underwear, and being driven away from school in the trunk of her mother’s car. “Lexie walks right over, climbs in that trunk,” Brenda Taylor, Lexie’s school-bus driver, said. “She did not hesitate, like she had been doing it every day.”Washington Post
Alan Landers, the 68-year-old face of Winston cigarettes, died of lung cancer,New York Timesand a European study found that obese teenagers are as likely as heavy smokers to die prematurely. “It’s fairly dramatic when you say something is as lethal as smoking,” said one of the researchers. “We know of very few things from a health perspective that are as lethal as smoking.”New York TimesFebruary U.S. retail sales increased 0.7 percent, although if Wal-Mart sales were excluded, sales would have decreased by 4.1 percent. “Flat is the new up,” said one retail analyst. “If you’re only doing a zero percent increase, congratulations. You’re a winner.”New York TimesFans of Phish, who reunited after a five-year hiatus to play three shows at Hampton Coliseum in Norfolk, Virginia, were dismayed to learn that vendors would not be allowed to sell their wares in the stadium’s parking lot. “They won’t let us set up anywhere,” said Sarah Rose, a 34-year-old who had hoped to sell her gems, jewelry, and handmade dresses. “I’ve been to, like, 100 shows, and I’ve never had this happen. This is a community.” Another would-be vendor who was told by police that he needed a permit said, “I’m just trying to make a living, feed my kids. It’s a depression going on.”The Virginian PilotThe Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize” was named Oklahoma’s state rock song. “Do you realize,” go the lyrics, “that everyone you know/some day/will die?”Tulsa WorldA dozen gunmen in Pakistan attacked the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team, killing eight people and injuring six players, and led some to question whether Pakistan should remain a co-host of the 2011 Cricket World Cup. TimePresident Barack Obama said the United States was not winning the war in Afghanistan.New York TimesThe president of Guinea-Bissau, Joao Bernardo Vieira, was assassinated;Timethe prime minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, was injured in a car crash that killed his wife;New York Timesand a 40-yard-wide asteroid just missed striking the earth.CNNPresident Obama attempted to reassure the nation: “I don’t think,” he said, “that people should be fearful about our future.” New York Times