Quote of the day.
“We must continue to be an open and caring congregation that reaches out to everyone and realize that makes you somewhat vulnerable. That’s just part of being present in the world and being present with those people who are deeply broken and hurting.” David Blackmon, coordinating pastor of Asheville, N.C., First Baptist Church on churches having to balance security against the call to ministry in the community.
(Associated Baptist Press)
1. U.S. gains 157k jobs; jobless rate rises to 7.9 pct.
U.S. employers added 157,000 jobs in January, and hiring was much stronger at the end of 2012 than previously thought, providing reassurance that the job market held steady even as economic growth stalled.
2. GOP senators pummel Chuck Hagel.
President Barack Obama’s defense secretary nominee was the target of blistering attacks by Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee during a marathon 7½-hour confirmation hearing.
3. Congress passes debt bill as a $1 trillion ax looms.
The Senate gave final approval on Thursday to legislation suspending the statutory debt ceiling until May, officially turning Congress’s attention to the next budget showdown: $1 trillion in across-the-board military and domestic spending cuts set to begin on March 1.
(New York Times)
4. Citizenship question roils both parties as immigration debate gets underway.
Rising tensions over whether to give illegal immigrants a chance to pursue full citizenship could ruin what President Obama and congressional leaders agree is a pivotal moment in resolving long-simmering problems in the country’s immigration system.
5. Opt out option expected for religious insurers who oppose contraceptives.
Religiously affiliated organizations will be able to opt out of providing their employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives under updates to an Obama administration mandate that the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to unveil on Friday, according to two sources.
6. With airstrike, Israel steps into Syria conflict.
With the attack in Syria, Israel took its first overt military step into the "Arab Spring" unrest that has destabilized its neighbors and left Israelis feeling more vulnerable than they have in decades.
(Chicago Tribune/Los Angeles Times)
7. Timbuktu endured terror under harsh shariah law.
After nearly 10 months of occupation by Islamists fighters, many of them linked with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the people of this ancient mud-walled city recounted how they survived the upending of their tranquil lives in a place so remote that its name has become a synonym for the middle of nowhere.
(New York Times)
8. Iraq Sunnis rally against Shia-led government.
Thousands of Sunni protesters have held anti-government protests in Iraq's Anbar province, complaining of marginalization by the Shia-led government.
9. Egypt braces for fresh protests.
Thousands of opponents of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi are staging new protests, after the deadliest week of violence since he came to power. More than 60 people have been killed in the unrest.
10. U.N. poverty panel meets in Liberia to debate world goals.
The U.N. high-level panel, including David Cameron and set up last summer, is in Liberia to try to keep alive one of the few successful international efforts to address poverty: the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, which expire in 2015.