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News Wrap: Unemployment falls to 8-year low, but job growth slows

In our news wrap Friday, while the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent in January -- its lowest level in eight years -- the Department of Labor said that only 151,000 new jobs were added to the economy, a slower pace than the last two months. Also, a 6.4. magnitude earthquake rocked southern Taiwan. Local media reported that multiple buildings collapsed.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff.

    On the "NewsHour" tonight: Democrats square off in a contentious debate, as Republican candidates jockey for survival just days before the New Hampshire primary.

  • Then:

    a report from the epicenter of the Zika outbreak in Brazil, where scientists are racing against time.

    And from a new restaurant owner to a resilient mother in a muddy camp, the many lives of the Syrian refugees now living in Lebanon.

  • AMINA HAMADI, Syrian Refugee (through interpreter):

    A mountain can't move me. I have children that I have to raise. I need to look after them.

  • 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."

    (BREAK)

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    In the day's other news, the government's latest jobs report showed hiring slowed substantially in January from the month before. The Labor Department said U.S. employers added 151,000 jobs. At the same time, the unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent last month. That is its lowest level in eight years. And wages, average hourly earnings, rose significantly.

    President Obama hailed the news this afternoon at the White House.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    We should be proud of the progress we have made. We have recovered from the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, the worst in my lifetime and the lifetime of most of the people in this room, and we have done it faster, stronger, better, more durably than just about any other advanced economy.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The mixed jobs data sent stocks downward on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped nearly 212 points to close just under 16205. The Nasdaq fell more than 146 points, and the S&P 500 lost 35. For the week, the Dow was down more than a percent. The Nasdaq fell 5 percent, and the S&P 500 lost 3 percent.

    A 6.4-magnitude earthquake has rocked southern Taiwan. It was centered about 27 miles southeast of Tainan and struck about six miles underground. Local media reported multiple buildings had collapsed in the city that is home to nearly two million people. There was no immediate word on casualties.

    In Syria, pro-government forces aided by Russian airstrikes tightened their grip around Aleppo. They captured the town of Ratyan, less than 15 miles away. A rebel commander said the northern Aleppo countryside has now been totally encircled.

    Meanwhile, Turkey estimates 15,000 Syrians have arrived at their border, but it's not clear how many will be let in. Relief groups have set up tents on the Syrian side for temporary shelter.

    The United Nations' children's agency, UNICEF, reports that at least 200 million girls and women around the world have been subjected to genital mutilation. That is 70,000 more cases than in 2014. It attributed the rise to both population growth and increased reporting. Female genital mutilation occurs in at least 30 countries. But half the victims live in Egypt, Ethiopia and Indonesia.

    Twitter is cracking down on accounts that promote terrorist activity. The company said today that it's already suspended more than 125,000 accounts, mostly linked to the Islamic State. It's also increasing the staffing of teams that review accounts flagged for extremism, so they can catch suspicious users faster.

    A United Nations human rights panel ruled today that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be allowed to walk free. The group said that he's been arbitrarily detained by the British and Swedish governments, who have long sought to extradite Assange to Sweden to face rape charges that he's denied. Assange emerged onto the balcony of Ecuador's embassy in London, where he's taken refuge since 2012, to celebrate the panel's findings.

  • JULIAN ASSANGE, Founder, WikiLeaks:

    How sweet it is. This is a victory that cannot be denied. It's a victory of historic importance, not just for me, for my family, for my children, but for the independence of the U.N. system.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    British's foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, repudiated the U.N. ruling, which is not legally binding.

  • PHILIP HAMMOND, Foreign Secretary, United Kingdom:

    Julian Assange is a fugitive from justice. He is hiding from justice in the Ecuadorian Embassy. He can come out onto the pavement anytime he chooses. He is not being detained by us, but he will have to face justice in Sweden if he chooses to do so.

    And it is right that he shouldn't be able to escape justice. This is, frankly, a ridiculous finding by the working group, and we reject it.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    London police have said that they will arrest Assange if he tries to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy. It's unclear whether the U.S. is also seeking his arrest related to WikiLeaks' release of hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. documents.

    There will be no big dance appearance for the Louisville Cardinals this year. The University of Louisville announced a self-imposed postseason ban for its men's basketball team today. It comes as the NCAA is investigating claims that escorts were paid to dance and have sex with recruits and players. The university's president said a separate internal investigation revealed — quote — "that violations had occurred."

    And former Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell has died. Mitchell was a part of the 1971 lunar mission, becoming the sixth of only 12 people to ever walk on the surface of the moon. He died last evening in Florida following a short illness. Edgar Mitchell was 85 years old.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": Brazil's race against time to combat the Zika virus; Syrian refugees struggle to call Lebanon home; Mark Shields and David Brooks on this week in politics; psychology of sports ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl; plus, the causes and consequence of distrust in government.

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