January Jobs Report Disappoints
After a strong initial unemployment report on Thursday, the Labor Department released a disappointing jobs report on Friday. The US economy only created 113,000 jobs in the year’s first month, far below expert predictions of about 170,000 jobs. The unemployment rate fell from 6.7% to 6.6%.
Many blamed the weak report on bad weather. January was a frigid month, with a major winter storm hammering the eastern portion of the country near the end of the month.
Manufacturing continued to show strength to start the year, adding 21,000 jobs. In 2013, manufacturing added an average of 7,000 jobs per month.
Seahawks Dominate Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII
The Seattle Seahawks won their first Super Bowl in dominate fashion. Seattle obliterated Denver 43-8, as the Broncos looked lost from the first snap. A game that most expected to be close quickly became a blowout, and the city of Seattle got their first major championship in decades.
Denver’s troubles started on their first snap a mere 8 seconds into the game. QB Peyton Manning approached the line of scrimmage to call an audible, but his center snapped the ball early. The ball sailed into the end zone, and the Broncos took a safety.
The Broncos were not able to muster any offense in the first quarter, but the Seahawks marched up and down the field, picking up a pair of field goals on their next few drives to take an 8-0 at the end of the first quarter. Denver’s top ranked offense struggled with Seattle’s top ranked defense. The old saying that defense wins championships was proven right yet again last night.
Seattle picked up their first touchdown early in the second quarter to take a 15-0 lead. Denver’s offense started showing signs of life late in the half, as they finally started moving the ball. However, a promising drive ended terribly when Malcolm Smith returned an interception 68 yards for a touchdown with less than 4 minutes to go in the second quarter to give the Seahawks a commanding 22-0 lead at halftime.
2014 Golden Globe Results
The 2014 Golden Globe Awards were held last night, with “12 Years A Slave” taking home the show’s top honor. The Steve McQueen film was awarded Best Motion Picture – Drama, beating out films such as “Gravity” and “Rush.” It was the only honor the film would take home on the night.
“American Hustle” won the award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. The film was also honored with a Best Actress award for Amy Adams, and a Best Supporting Actress award for Jennifer Lawrence. It is the second win in a row for Lawrence, who was honored last year as Best Actress for her role in “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Mathew McConaughey scored a major upset in winning the Best Actor – Drama award. He beat out Chiwetel Ejiofor from “12 Years A Slave” and Robert Redford from “All Is Lost.” Ejiofor was considered the favorite to take home the award.
In its final season, “Breaking Bad” was the big winner in Golden Globe TV awards. The show won Best TV Series – Drama, and Bryan Cranston was awarded the Best Actor award. Robin Wright was awarded Best Actress – Drama for her role in the Netflix original series “House of Cards.”
Florida State Wins BCS Title In Thriller
The Florida State Seminoles were able to overcome a disastrous start and defeat the Auburn Tigers to win the BCS national championship. The last BCS title game will go down as one of the best, as the Noles overcame an 18 point deficit to clinch the championship.
Heisman trophy winner Jameis Winston overcame late game adversity for the first time this season, leading FSU on a game winning drive in the final minute. Prior to tonight, Florida State had not trailed since September 28th.
The Seminoles jumped to an early 3-0 lead after Auburn missed a golden opportunity to score a touchdown on their opening drive. The Tigers dominated the rest of the first half, taking a 21-3 lead at one point behind the power running of Tre Mason. Florida State would score a late first half TD to close the gap, making the half time score 21-10
The Noles scored the first 10 points of the second half to pull within 1. Auburn tacked on a field goal in the fourth to take a 24-21 lead. It was at this point, in the second half of the fourth quarter, that the game got exciting.
After Auburn’s field goal, FSU freshman Levonte Whitfield returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to give the Seminoles their first lead since the first quarter. Auburn responded with a clutch drive on the back of their running game. Tre Mason finished the drive with a 37 yard TD run, giving Auburn the lead back at 31-27.
Florida State got the ball back with just over a minute to play. QB Jameis Winston, who had struggled all night, lead the Seminoles on a career defining drive. Winston took the Noles 80 yards on 7 plays, completing 6 of 7 passes for 77 yards. Winston capped the drive with a 2 yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin for the game winning touchdown.
Court Approves Additional NSA Spying
The NSA’s blanket surveillance of American citizens will continue for at least another 3 months. For the 36th time, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has approved the NSA’s request to collect American’s phone meta data. The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, made the announcement on Friday.
The legality of the NSA’s surveillance program is currently being challenged in the court system. One judge has ruled the program legal, while another has said it is likely unconstitutional. The matter will probably have to be decided by the Supreme Court.
Some lawmakers who oppose the program are not waiting for current challenges to play out. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has decided to file a class action lawsuit against the Obama administration over the NSA’s spying.
When the agency was questioned by Senator Bernie Sanders as to whether or not they spied on members of Congress, they did not deny the allegation.
Task Force Calls For Limits On NSA
A panel set up by the president to investigate the NSA’s domestic spying program has released their results. The advisory panel recommended huge changes to the program that would vastly limit the NSA’s power. However, the president is also conducting his own internal review of the domestic spying program, and is not bound by the recommendations of the advisory panel.
The panel called for the NSA to stop collecting US citizens’s metadata. Instead, the data would be held by either the phone companies, or a third party. The government would only be able to view the data with an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The panel also recommended limiting national security letters, which are used to obtain phone and financial records without prior court approval in cases that involve national security. The panel states that the government should have to show that the information requested is related to terrorist investigations.
Judge Finds NSA Spying “Likely Unconstitutional”
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon declared the NSA’s domestic surveillance program to be “likely unconstitutional” in a landmark ruling on Monday. The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by conservative activist Larry Klayman back in June. Klayman’s lawsuit was the first to challenge the NSA’s program, which was revealed by leaks from former contractor Edward Snowden.
Judge Leon ordered the government to stop collecting Klayman’s phone records, and to destroy the ones it had already collected. However, the judge also stayed the order, allowing the government more time to make their case that the NSA’s spying program is legal.
Judge Leon cited numerous reasons for his decision, namely the massive invasion of privacy the NSA’s collection of phone metadata represents. He quoted the constitution’s principal writer, James Madison, who Leon said would be aghast at the level of spying the NSA was carrying out.
The courts appear to the last chance at stopping the massive surveillance program that has ballooned since 9/11. Both Democrats and Republicans in government generally support the programs. Many of the programs in place now began under George W. Bush, and have been continued under President Obama.
Mega Millions Jackpot Hits $550 Million
No winners were chosen in the Mega Millions lottery on Friday, and the jackpot has now soared to $550 million. The jackpot is the second largest ever for Mega Millions, and the fourth largest in US history. The next drawing will be Tuesday.
Mega Millions also owns the largest jackpot in US history. Back in March of 2012, the jackpot hit an astronomical $656 million.
Mega Millions has taken a backseat to Powerball for much of 2013. The Powerball lottery increased its ticket price to $2 in order to create bigger jackpots, and thus more publicity. Mega Millions has now also made changes in order to make jackpots larger. They did this by lowering the odds of winning.
Budget Deal Reached
Members of Congress have reached a tentative agreement on a new budget. The agreement follows weeks of negotiations between Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray. While both are optimistic their parties will support the deal, it must still pass both houses of Congress.
The deal would increase federal spending to $1.012 trillion next year, and $1.014 trillion the next year. The new budget would increase spending by $63 billion over two years. To pay for those increases, airline travel fees will be increased, and both federal workers and military personnel will contribute more to their retirement funds.
Both sides had to give a little to get an agreement. Democrats get $63 billion in sequestration relief that will be evenly split between domestic and defense programs. Republicans get between $20 and $23 billion in deficit reduction, as well as no new taxes.
College Football Week 15 Power Rankings
Championship week brought a final twist to the BCS title race. Top ranked Florida State took care of business in a 45-7 rout of Duke, but Ohio State was tripped up in the Big 10 title game and fell to Michigan State. The Buckeyes loss opened the door for Auburn, who had defeated Missouri earlier in the day to win the SEC title and keep their title hopes alive.
Florida State started the ACC title game slow, as the first quarter ended in a scoreless tie. The Seminoles quickly removed all doubt with a 17 point second quarter and a 21 point third quarter. The route was on, and the Noles cruised into the BCS title game with another blowout.
Ohio State had won 24 straight games heading into their Big 10 title match with Michigan State. However, their schedule was notoriously easy this year, with only 2 games against ranked opponents prior to their date with the Spartans. Michigan State jumped out to a 17 point lead, only to cough it up by the third quarter as they surrendered 24 unanswered points. The Spartans would close out the game with the final 17 points to end the Buckeyes undefeated season and any BCS title hopes.
Auburn ran their way to a likely bid in the BCS title game with a 59-42 win over Missour in the SEC title game. The Tigers were once again dominant on the ground, racking up an astounding 534 yards rushing. Tre Mason had a staggering 46 carries for 304 yards on his own. With back to back wins over top 5 teams, Auburn ends the season as the hottest team in the nation. The potential match up with Florida State should have all college football fans salivating.
1. Florida State Seminoles
2. Auburn Tigers
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
4. Michigan State Spartans
5. South Carolina Gamecocks
6. Stanford Cardinal
7. Ohio State Buckeyes
8. Baylor Bears
9. Missouri Tigers
10. Clemson Tigers