News Wrap: U.S. economy stays strong despite global slowdown

March 4, 2016 at 8:11 PM EDT
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with his economic team at the White House in Washington March 4, 2016. Beside Obama are Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (L) and Vice President Joe Biden (C). REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTS9CBD

JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff.

On the “NewsHour” tonight:

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Republican Presidential Candidate: He’s trying to do to the American voter what he did to the people that signed up for this course. He’s making promises he has no intention of keeping.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump gets hit hard for Trump University and more at last night’s Republican debate.

Then, a dangerous trend: What happens when the only hospital in a remote town is shut down?

BILL CHAVIS: And the whole time, I’m driving to town with the palms of my hands, where I burnt my hands. I said, where do I go? Where do I go?

JUDY WOODRUFF: And it’s Friday. Mark Shields and David Brooks are here to analyze the week’s news.

All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”


JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The U.S. economy has turned in another strong month, despite a global economic slowdown. The Labor Department reported that U.S. employers added 242,000 jobs in February, led by the retail, restaurant and health care sectors. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent, as more people started looking for work.

At the White House, President Obama met with his economic advisers and said the numbers prove his detractors wrong.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There seems to be an alternative reality out there from the — some of the political folks that America is down in the dumps. It’s not. America is pretty darn great right now, and making strides right now, and small businesses and large businesses alike are hiring right now.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Continued low unemployment may also open the door to the Federal Reserve raising interest rates again in June.

Slowing growth in China is taking a bite out of military spending. Beijing announced today that its defense budget will increase this year by 7 to 8 percent. That is the slowest pace in six years. Since 2000, China has mostly hiked military spending by double digits.

In Syria, rebel groups charged today that government forces are still attacking just a day after the U.N. voiced optimism about a week-old cease-fire. Activists reported warplanes hit a rebel-held town near the capital, Damascus, for the first time since fighting was supposed to stop. Syrian peace talks are due to resume in Geneva next Wednesday.

A court in Turkey has sentenced two Syrian smugglers to four years in prison in the death of a 3-year-old boy. The child’s body washed up on a beach last September, and the images sparked international outrage. Today, the court in Ankara convicted the two men on smuggling charges, but it found them not guilty of causing the boy’s death. The defense blamed his father, who has since returned to Syria.

Back in this country, a flurry in the O.J. Simpson murder case more than 20 years after he was acquitted. Los Angeles police confirmed today that they’re investigating a knife purportedly found at the site of Simpson’s former home. They say someone spotted the knife apparently when the home was torn down in the late ’90s and gave it to a now-retired police officer. But he failed to turn it in until recently.

CAPT. ANDREW NEIMAN, Los Angeles Police Department: I don’t know what the circumstances are, why that didn’t happen, or if that’s entirely accurate, or if this whole story is possibly bogus from the get-go, involving a variety of people. So, we’re looking into that. But I was quite shocked.

JUDY WOODRUFF: NBC News reported later that the knife is inconsistent with other evidence, and it is likely that double jeopardy would bar another murder trial for Simpson, regardless. He was acquitted in 1995 of stabbing to death his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend Ron Goldman. He is now serving prison time in Nevada for armed robbery and kidnapping in a separate case.

And today’s positive jobs numbers helped pushed Wall Street higher to finish out the week with modest gains. The Dow Jones industrial average was up nearly 63 points to close back above 17000. The Nasdaq rose nine points, and the S&P 500 added six. For the week, the Dow was up 2 percent. The Nasdaq and the S&P increased well over 2.5 percent.

Still to come on the “NewsHour”: Brazil in dire straits, the Zika virus, corruption, and Olympic woes; European leaders’ tough message for economic migrants; the cost of closing hospitals in rural America; and much more.