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News Wrap: Obama Administration Announces New Rules for Contraceptive Coverage

February 1, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
In other news Friday, the Obama administration announced that faith-based non-profits like hospitals and universities won’t be forced to provide coverage for contraceptives in their insurance plans. Also, the economy grew in the first month of 2013, but not enough to change the unemployment rate.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. economy grew in January, but not enough to slow down unemployment. U.S. employers added 157,000 jobs last month, but the unemployment rate still ticked up to 7.9 percent, showing job availability isn’t keeping pace with the number of people who want to work. The Labor Department figures also painted a better picture for hiring at the end of 2012.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney welcomed that news, but said it wasn’t good enough.

JAY CARNEY, White House Press Secretary: We still have work to do, and we need to make sure that when we devise economic policies and we negotiate with Congress on how to move forward, that we cannot neglect the essential responsibility to ensure that the policies we put in place promote job creation, promote economic growth.

HARI SREENIVASAN: On Wall Street, the jobs numbers pushed the Dow Jones industrial average above 14000, a level it hasn’t reached since 2007. The Dow was up 149 points to close above 14,009. The Nasdaq rose 37 points to close at 3,179. For the week, the Dow gained three-quarters-of-a-percent, and so did the Nasdaq.

The Obama administration announced new rules today for contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Faith-based nonprofits, like hospitals and universities, would be allowed to issue health insurance without providing coverage for contraceptives. However, employees and students would be able to obtain a separate policy at no cost to the employer. More than 45 federal lawsuits have been filed challenging the contraceptive coverage requirement, claiming the mandate violates religious beliefs.

Protesters across Egypt defied curfews to chant against the rule of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. The protests cap a week of political rioting that left up to 60 people dead. And, tonight, some of the protests reached the doorstep of the president in Cairo. Demonstrators hurled objects, including firebombs, over the wall of the presidential palace. Morsi wasn’t inside. Opposition parties called the protests in an attempt to win concessions from the president.

In Pakistan, a suicide bomber attacked a Shiite mosque, killing at least 23 people. The attack happened as worshipers were leaving Friday prayers. It damaged several small shops in the area and peppered a wall with shrapnel. More than 50 people were wounded. No group has yet claimed responsibility.

Army forces in Mali got some — got some backup today from neighboring African countries; 2,000 soldiers from Chad and Niger are patrolling alongside French troops in the north to try and secure towns there. French President Francois Hollande is set to visit tomorrow and discuss when he might bring home some of France’s 3,500 troops. They have been in Mali for four weeks fighting against Islamic extremists.

In Mexico City, rescue workers kept up their search for survivors of an explosion at the offices of Mexico’s state-run oil company. The blast happened late yesterday, killing at least 33 people and wounding 121 others. Rescue workers dug through the rubble of the basement and first three floors of the building, where about 250 people worked. The cause of the blast is still unknown, and authorities are investigating.

The retired cardinal of Los Angeles, Roger Mahony, was relieved of all his public duties today by his successor. It came as the diocese released thousands of previously secret documents showing he shielded priests who sexually abused children decades ago. The public censure was unparalleled in the American Catholic Church. Mahony will still be able to celebrate mass and can vote for pope until he turns 80. That’s two years from now.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced today he’s stepping down. During his tenure, he came under fire for the handling of a solar energy loan to Solyndra. It later went bankrupt and laid off all its workers. Chu will stay on at least until the end of February, or until President Obama names his successor.

NASA paused today to remember the lives of seven astronauts who died 10 years ago when space shuttle Columbia broke apart in the air over Texas. A few hundred people gathered at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, including family members and other astronauts. The accident happened as the shuttle was returning home with only 16 minutes left until landing.

The brash, bold-talking former Mayor of New York City Ed Koch died today of congestive heart failure at a hospital in New York.

ED KOCH, Former New York Mayor: Good morning. I’m Ed Koch, and I’m running for mayor. And I need your help. How am I doing?

HARI SREENIVASAN: Ed Koch was most at home on the streets of Manhattan. A quintessential New Yorker, the larger-than-life Koch, who ran city hall from 1978 to 1989, was best known for shepherding New York out of financial ruin, restoring the city’s finances through tough budget cuts, and improving its decaying subway system.

ED KOCH: You have got a lot of courage, and I want to thank you.

HARI SREENIVASAN: But he insisted his biggest personal achievement was rallying New Yorkers through the 1980 transit strike that crippled the city.

Still, as homelessness and AIDS soared in the ’80s, his response was criticized. And the city was roiled by racial tensions amid the deaths of two black teenagers at the hands of white gangs. During the 1988 presidential campaign, Koch ignited controversy, saying Jews — quote — “would be crazy” to vote for Jesse Jackson.

But Koch told The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour’s Charlayne Hunter-Gault Jackson was provoking people.

ED KOCH: I have been the mayor here for 11 years. For 10 years prior to this particular period, we have had no difficulty in this city as it relates to civil disturbance. What he is in fact conjuring up is that, the summer that he came here, there might be civil disturbance. That’s what he’s saying, fire in a theater. I don’t think that’s very nice of him to do.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Koch left office in 1989 after losing the Democratic primary to David Dinkins. Current New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg reflected on Koch’s legacy today.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, I-New York City: And when we mourn his passing, Ed really — we always say this, but Ed really would have wanted us to celebrate his life and the life of the city he loved.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Koch voiced that love for his city often, as here in a documentary released in theaters today.

ED KOCH: Whenever I would fly home, especially if it was at night, there was the city of New York laid out before me, and I thought to myself, this belongs to me. It’s extraordinary. Thank you, God.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Ed Koch was 88 years old.