HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. economy is showing signs of rebounding, after a lackluster first quarter. The Labor Department reports that employers added a net of 211,000 jobs in April, up sharply from the month of March. The unemployment rate for April fell to 4.4 percent, a nearly 10-year low. The strong showing could increase odds that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again next month.
In Somalia, a U.S. Navy SEAL has been killed in a raid on the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab. It’s the first American combat death there since 1993, when two helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu. U.S. officials say the SEAL died on a mission supporting Somali forces yesterday. Two other Americans were also wounded.
Thousands of Afghans turned out today to hail the return of a former warlord to Kabul. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar responded with a demand that U.S. and other outside forces leave Afghanistan. He rallied the crowd with a call for peace with the Taliban, and he criticized the Afghan government for its cooperation with the U.S.
GULBUDDIN HEKMATYAR, Afghan Warlord (through interpreter): Let’s all end this war together in our country first, and tell the foreign forces that Afghans are able to sort out their issues themselves, and that we want them to leave Afghanistan. No one has any justification for the presence of foreign troops.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. now has about 8,000 troops in Afghanistan. Next week, the Pentagon is widely expected to recommend sending more troops.
Russia’s Defense Ministry announced today that four newly declared safe zones in Syria will be closed to U.S. coalition aircraft. It’s part of a deal that Russia, Turkey and Iran signed yesterday. It took effect tonight. Syrian military planes will also be banned from the restricted areas.
The U.N. Human Rights Office is condemning China for an ongoing crackdown of activists and their defense lawyers. The agency said today there’s been a continued pattern or harassment. Within recent days, a prominent defense lawyer and his family were seized by police.
Back in this country, President Trump signed the omnibus bill to fund the government through September. It totals some $1.2 trillion. Now the focus shifts to the fate of the Republican health care bill that passed the House yesterday.
At the White House, Deputy Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president understands there are calls to revise the measure.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, Deputy White House Press Secretary: He’s committed to reforming our health care system. You’re going to see that process take place. We’re not going to get ahead of the legislative process. We expect there to be some changes, but we expect the principles and main pillars of the health care bill as it exists to remain the same.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Several key Republican senators said today they probably cannot support the House bill.
President Trump has lost his second nominee for Army secretary. Mark Green withdrew today, saying — quote — “false and misleading attacks” made his nomination a distraction. He drew fire for saying that being transgender is a disease, and deploring — quote — “the indoctrination of Islam in public schools.”
The president’s initial nominee, Vincent Viola, withdrew because of financial entanglements.
And Wall Street closed out the week on the higher note. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 55 points to close near 21007, the Nasdaq rose 25 points, and the S&P 500 added nine. For the week, all three indexes gained less than 1 percent.