US unemployment claims fall to a pandemic low of 498,000
The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell last week to 498,000, the lowest point since the viral pandemic struck 14 months ago and a sign of the job market’s growing strength as businesses reopen and consumers step up spending.
Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that applications declined 92,000 from a revised 590,000 a week earlier. The number of weekly jobless claims — a rough measure of the pace of layoffs — has declined significantly from a peak of 900,000 in January as employers have ramped up hiring.
At the same time, the pace of applications is still well above the roughly 230,000 level that prevailed before the viral outbreak tore through the economy in March of last year.
National Teacher of Year focuses on individual student needs
The coronavirus pandemic forced students out of the classroom and starkly revealed how learning difficulties, distractions and challenging home dynamics can make it tough to adhere to a rigid curriculum.
In a year with so much loss, a silver lining is that educators are embracing a flexible approach that meets students where they are, said Juliana Urtubey, the newly named 2021 National Teacher of the Year.
“We, as teachers, are much more open to this self-paced learning, this flipped classroom, which has been an invitation for students who think and learn differently,” Urtubey said.
The Council of Chief State School Officers recognized the Las Vegas special education teacher with the award Thursday.
Blinken reaffirms US support for Ukraine amid Russia tension
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed Washington’s support for Ukraine at a meeting Thursday with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the wake of Kyiv’s heightened tensions with Russia, fueled by Moscow’s recent troop buildup near their border.
The top American diplomat met with Zelenskyy during his one-day visit and reiterated the U.S. commitment to Ukraine’s “sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence,” while also underscoring the importance of Ukrainian efforts to tackle widespread corruption and carry out reforms.
“Ukraine is facing two challenges: aggression from outside, coming from Russia, and in effect aggression from within, coming from corruption, oligarchs and others who are putting their interests ahead of those of the Ukrainian people,” Blinken told a news conference after meeting with Zelenskyy.
Al Jazeera News
In Washington, a debate grows over conditioning aid to Israel
For decades, US military aid to Israel has been a sacred cow, with Republicans and Democrats in the United States shielding it from criticism, scrutiny and especially, any calls for restraint.
But after years of campaigning, Palestinian rights advocates and progressive lawmakers say the discourse is shifting – and what was once a solid, bipartisan wall of support for unconditional US support for Israel is slowly cracking.
“In the grand scheme of American politics, we are still sort of situated on the fringe… but a few years ago, there wasn’t even space to be on the fringe,” said Brad Parker of Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), which supports efforts in Congress to condition US funds for Israel.
‘The Starship has landed’: SpaceX nails reusable craft touchdown
All eyes were on Elon Musk’s SpaceX on Wednesday evening as one of its Starship prototypes soared into the skies over south Texas in the United States, achieving what its predecessors could not: a successful landing.
“Starship landing nominal,” Musk tweeted following the test.
This was the fifth test flight of the craft and seemingly the most important. That is because last month, NASA awarded SpaceX a highly-coveted contract to use its Starship as a means to transport astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024 as part of the agency’s Artemis moon programme.
Wednesday’s test launch came nearly 60 years to the day from when Alan Shepard became the first American in space, a successful suborbital flight that led then-President John F Kennedy to make landing on Americans on the moon for the first time a priority.
COVID restrictions return to Sydney as mystery case investigated
Social-distancing measures have been imposed across greater Sydney, Australia’s biggest city, as officials scrambled to find out how a 50-year-old resident had been infected with an Indian variant of the COVID-19 virus.
The man was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Wednesday and also passed the disease to his wife but health officials are baffled by the case because the man has no known links to high-risk jobs or people.
With many people expected to get together over the weekend to celebrate Mother’s Day, the New South Wales state government moved quickly on Thursday to restrict the size of gatherings and mandate masks on public transport and at indoor events.
Taliban captures key Afghan dam as fighting rages
The Taliban has captured Afghanistan’s second-biggest dam after months of fierce fighting in its former bastion of Kandahar, the group and officials said, as the US forces have begun the withdrawal of its troops from the country after 20 years.
The Dahla Dam, which provides irrigation to farmers via a network of canals as well as drinking water for the provincial capital, was now under Taliban control, local officials told AFP news agency on Thursday.
“We have seized the Dahla Dam in Arghandab,” Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP.
Haji Gulbuddin, governor of an adjacent district, confirmed the dam “is now in the control of the Taliban”.
Justice Department: Arizona Senate Audit, Recount May Violate Federal Law
In a letter to the president of the Arizona Senate, an official with the U.S. Department of Justice expressed concerns that an audit and recount of the November election in Maricopa County may be out of compliance with federal laws.
Pamela Karlan, the principal deputy assistant attorney general with the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, wrote Wednesday that federal officials see two issues with the election review ordered by the Republican-led state Senate.
Ballots, voting systems and other election materials are no longer in the custody of election officials — a possible violation of federal law, which requires state and local election workers to store and safeguard federal voting records.
Nonuplets: Woman From Mali Gives Birth To 9 Babies
A Malian woman has given birth to nine babies, in what could become a world record. Halima Cissé had been expecting to have seven newborns: ultrasound sessions had failed to spot two of her babies.
"The newborns (five girls and four boys) and the mother are all doing well," Mali's health minister, Dr. Fanta Siby, said in an announcement about the births.
The babies were born in Morocco, where Cissé was taken for specialist care in late March. Her multiple-fetal pregnancy has been closely watched in Mali, where the government helped pay for her medical evacuation to Morocco. Camera crews recorded her arrival.
Cissé, 25, gave birth by caesarean section – and doctors were surprised to find two more babies than expected, the health ministry said. The agency's announcement of the successful births was welcomed on social media in Mali, but several people also urged the government to improve the standard of medical care in the poor West African country, noting the expense of such evacuations.
Four months into Brexit, the UK and France have resorted to gunboat diplomacy over fish
Take a glance at the British media and you'd be forgiven for thinking that the UK was preparing for war with France.
On Wednesday night, it was widely reported that the UK was to send two gunboats
to the self-governing British island of Jersey, which sits just 14 miles off the French coast. On Thursday, France announced that it is sending its own navy ships to monitor the situation.
The British warships were deployed in response to a protest by French fisherman at the port of Saint Helier, Jersey's capital, over post-Brexit rules on fishing rights.
In short, France is angry that after decades of unfettered access to the waters around Jersey, fishing boats must now provide proof they have historically fished in the waters, and paperwork that is required since Britain left the European Union.
By the mid-afternoon, the French fishing boats were reported to be leaving the port, ending the protest.
Chinese rocket debris is expected to crash into Earth soon. It's not the first time.
The good news is that debris plunging toward Earth -- while unnerving -- generally poses very little threat to personal safety. As Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University, told CNN: "This is not the end of days."
Still, the episode has fueled fresh questions about space debris, uncontrolled reentry and what precautions might need to be taken, if any.
Disney World To Require Masks Despite FL Governor Ending Mandates
Despite Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' order ending all local coronavirus emergency orders, Disney World officials said the theme park will continue to mandate that park visitors wear masks and observe and other coronavirus safety protocols.
On Monday, DeSantis signed executive order 21-102 suspending all local emergency orders until July 1 when Senate Bill 2006 takes effect, which permanently invalidates all emergency orders.
"Over the last year, we've avoided protracted lockdowns and school closures in Florida because I have refused to take the same approach as other lockdown governors," DeSantis said during a news conference in St. Petersburg. "This legislation ensures that legal safeguards are in place so that local governments cannot
Yankees, Mets To Segregate Unvaccinated Fans At Home Games
The Mets and Yankees can increase capacity to 100 percent at their ballparks for home games starting May 19, as along as those attendees are vaccinated against COVID-19. But those not inoculated against the deadly pandemic will have to sit in separate sections.
"Theoretically if you had 100 percent vaccinated, you could fill the entire stadium with 100 percent vaccinated," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a COVID-19 briefing yesterday. "Unvaccinated, it is still the 6-foot social distancing. In other words, our capacity
restrictions have been relaxed subject to the federal CDC social-distancing guideline of 6 feet."
Currently, fans must show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test, but that will be dropped, Cuomo noted. Sections for unvaccinated fans will be at 33 percent capacity and masks will continue to be required.
Ducklings Follow Mama Duck Through School, As Tradition Continues
Ten baby ducklings followed a mother duck through the halls of a suburban Minneapolis elementary school recently, a symbolic act that has been aligned to the school's sixth graders as they graduate in the spring and prepare for the move to middle school after summer vacation.
It's not just a one-time event but one that occurs every spring at Eisenhower Elementary School in Hopkins, Minnesota, KARE11 highlighted in a recent report at the school.
The Eisenhower Elementary tradition began 20 years ago, according to school media specialist Jeff Shepherd. In 2001, a mallard flew into the school's enclosed courtyard to lay her eggs but had no way of getting her ducklings, who were too young to fly, out of the space, Shepherd told KARE11.
'Karmic Payback' For Retired Circus Elephants Loving Florida Life
Two weeks after the first 12 of Asian elephants retired from the former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had arrived at an expansive refuge for rare species in northeastern Florida, karma has turned things around for these majestic beings.
"It is quite clear we now work for these elephants," said Michelle Gadd, who leads conservation efforts for Mark and Kimbra Walter, the philanthropists who are building an expansive new home for the pachyderms at White Oak Conservation. The dozen newly arrived elephants will have 135 acres to roam on the 17,000-acre refuge that also provides habitat for other rare species. Eventually, the elephant preserve will span 2,500 acres.
The Walters' generosity means these Asian elephants will spend the rest of their lives doing whatever they want — not what we mere humans want them to do or find entertaining. The dozen currently settling in range in age from 8 to 38 and are all females. Eight males are among the up to 20 that will eventually join the herd.
Little Boy' Who Saved Her Family From Fire
An East Shoreham woman is reaching out to thank the little boy and his mom who saved her family as their home was burning on Saturday.
Danielle Apryl said at 8 a.m., her house on Suffolk Down caught fire.
"One our neighbors alerted us by banging on the door," Apryl said. "They were trying to get the door open and screaming through the window. I didn't know what to expect so I ran over and yelled out, 'Who are you? What do you want'? Thinking I would hear something totally different I heard words that I never wanted to hear, or thought I would: 'Your house is on fire! Get out!'" she said.
Apryl said she doesn't even remember running over to her son, who just turned 1, and "ripping him out of his highchair. I have never screamed as loud as I did to try and wake up other family members who were sleeping."
Good News Network
He Saved a Stranger From Drowning in India, Now They’re Married in the Netherlands
In the real world, falling in love isn’t usually an adventure that literally begins with a daring ocean rescue—but sometimes that’s exactly how a story unfolds.
In February 2019, yoga instructor Nupur Gupta was swimming in the waters off a beach in Goa when the current got the better of her. While a strong swimmer, she feared she’d be unable to make it back to shore.
Hope came in the form of Hungarian-born financial adviser Attila Bosnyak, who’d spied his soon-true-love-to-be in trouble and was swimming to her aid.
Though a capable swimmer, once he reached Gupta, Bosnyak realized he wouldn’t be able to get both of them to safety on his own. Rather than towing Gupta in, he swam toward a nearby rock formation.