Melissa Block speaks with our regular political commentators, E.J. Dionne, of the Washington Post and Brookings Institution, and David Brooks, of the New York Times. They discuss the jobs numbers, Obama's recess appointments and presidential campaign developments.
One of the last remaining Navajo Code Talkers from World War II has died. Keith Little, who transmitted codes in important Pacific battles such as Iwo Jima and Saipan, died Tuesday at 87. He led the Navajo Code Talkers Association in recent years and fought to get recognition for the Code Talkers, who were ordered to keep their contribution to the war effort secret for decades after the war ended.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Today, new evidence that the pace of job growth is picking up. The government's employment report for December showed 200,000 jobs added to payrolls. The unemployment rate continued its downward trend falling to 8.5 percent.
And while that may be welcome news, as NPR's John Ydstie explains, the December report could be overstating job growth.
Robert Siegel talks to authors Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel about their comic novel Lunatics. It tells the story through the voices of the two main characters: Philip Horkman is a happy man — the owner of a pet store called The Wine Shop, and on Sundays, he's a referee for kids' soccer. Jeffrey Peckerman is the sole sane person in a world filled with jerks and morons, and he's having a really bad day.
The NFL kicks off an exciting weekend of games Saturday when it starts its playoffs. Meanwhile, there's big news in the sport that most of the rest of the world calls football. Fox television is making a major play to air more soccer games in this country, including an English Premier League game before the Super Bowl. Sportswriter Stefan Fatsis talks with Robert Siegel about the news in both kinds of football.
Syrian officials are vowing to respond with an iron fist to a suicide bombing in Damascus today, 25 people were killed. It was the second deadly bomb attack in the Syrian capital in recent weeks. The government and opposition activists traded accusations as to who was responsible. And the bombing raised fears of escalating violence, as the Arab League presses Syria to implement a peace plan.
NPR's Peter Kenyon is monitoring developments in Syria from Istanbul.
The Justice Department is redefining the criminal definition of "rape" for the first time since the 1920s. It will now include same-sex assaults and a definition beyond actual intercourse. This will change the way local police departments report crime statistics.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum nearly won the Iowa caucuses on the strength of his retail campaigning across all of the state's counties — and his connection with Christian conservative voters. Now he's in New Hampshire, with just days to go before the first-in-the-nation primary. Santorum is trying to connect with independent-minded voters in a very secular state.