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Unemployment Dips in January, Australia Cleans Up from Cyclone

The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percent from December, settling at 9 percent in January. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 36,000 new jobs were added, the gains were the smallest in four months.

Industries affected by weather, including construction and transportation, were weakest, while manufacturing grew, linked to an increase in consumer spending.

The underemployment rate went from 16.1 percent from 16.7 percent. That figure reflects people who are working less than they would like or have given up looking for jobs.

In remarks at the National Press Club Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told journalists the economy was on track to recover, albeit slower than hoped, and emphasized the job growth was a key factor.

“Until we see a sustained period of stronger job creation, we cannot consider the recovery to be truly established,” he said.

Australia Begins Cleanup After Cyclone Yasi

After the state of Queensland was battered by one of the fiercest cyclones in almost a century, troops are assisting in the massive cleanup effort. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has estimated that the recovery will cost upwards of $500 million.

Cyclone Yasi uprooted trees and homes in its path. At least one person was confirmed dead from suffocation, another man feared dead emerged after riding out the storm on his boat.

Man Who Targeted Danish Cartoonist Sentenced to 9 Years

A Somali man who tried to break into the home of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard has been sentenced to nine years in prison by a court in Denmark. Mohamed Geele, 29, targeted Westergaard for drawing cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.

The cartoonist was uninjured; when Geele broke in bearing an axe and knife, he locked himself in a reinforced room. His 5-year-old granddaughter was in the living room.

Geele could be deported to Somalia after he finishes his term. He reportedly had ties to the militant group al-Shabab, which has been battling for control of much of the country.

NASA to Make Announcement About Kelly

In a news conference Friday, NASA will announce the commander of the upcoming flight of the space shuttle Endeavor in April. Astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of Ariz. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was scheduled to command the flight. A backup commander was named, but Kelly is expected to be at the announcement.

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