U.S. economy

U.S. unemployment rate falls to record lows, Pelosi says Barr committed a crime, and a phone call between Trump and Putin 

The U.S. economy exceeds expectations and boasts the lowest unemployment rate in decades, Speaker Pelosi says Attorney General Barr committed a crime during Senate testimony, a lengthy phone call between Trump and Putin, and much, much more.


Good evening, it’s Friday, May 3rd, here’s what you need to know…



1. The U.S. adds 263,000 jobs and the unemployment rate falls to 3.6%


The U.S. economy added 263,000 jobs in April, continuing nearly a decade of economic expansion and providing a positive outlook for growth in the remainder of the year. The job numbers released Friday morning far exceeded expectations and beat the monthly average of 186,000 jobs added in the first three months of 2019. The solid job gains dropped the unemployment rate down to 3.6% – the lowest level since 1969 and below 3.8% in March. The strong labor market produced the most notable hiring gains in construction, health care, and restaurant service. The retail and automotive sectors both lost jobs amid store closures and declining sales of some vehicle models that have forced some plant to shut down. Additionally, the average hourly wage for workers increased by 3.2% from last year to indicate a boost in American’s paychecks.



2. Pelosi says Attorney General Barr committed a crime 


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has accused Attorney General William Barr of committing a crime by lying to Congress following his testimony before the Senate on Wednesday. “The attorney general of the United States of America was not telling the truth to the Congress. That’s a crime,” Pelosi said to reporters on Thursday. “He lied to Congress.” The California Democrat said that Barr lied to Congress when discussing Robert Mueller’s report and Mueller’s concerns over how the attorney general characterized the investigation’s findings. During Wednesday’s hearing in the Senate, Barr has been criticized for seeming to contradict himself with past statements he made during previous testimony before the House on April 9. The Justice Department responded to Pelosi by calling her statements a “baseless attack on the attorney general” that is “reckless, irresponsible, and false.”


3. Phone call between Trump and Putin


President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the Mueller report, Venezuela, North Korea, and nuclear weapons during an hour-long phone call on Friday. Trump said he talked about the “Russian hoax” with Putin in their first communication since the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election ended and the Mueller report was released. However, the president did not warn Putin against meddling in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. President Trump said other topics remained the focus of the phone call, primarily discussions about a new nuclear arms deal, North Korea, and Venezuela. Both leaders talked about “extending the current nuclear agreement” that restricts the number of U.S. and Russian nuclear warheads and discussed the possibility of creating a similar deal with China. The two also spoke about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and Trump mentioned to Putin that it was important for Russia to continue to place pressure on leader Kim Jong-un to denuclearize the country. On Venezuela, Trump said Putin “is not looking to get involved in Venezuela,” a statement which contradicts Russia’s longtime support for President Maduro’s socialist regime politically, economically, and militarily.


4. Stephen Moore withdraws consideration for the Fed


Conservative economic commentator Stephen Moore has withdrawn himself from consideration for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, President Trump announced in a tweet on Thursday. Moore decided to pull his name from consideration following a growing lack of support among several Republican senators who expressed concern regarding Moore’s disparaging comments about women that surfaced in recent weeks. The Fed pick has criticized women as “malleable,” denounced “equal pay,” and called for there to be no women referees, “announcers,” or “beer vendors” in college basketball. In a statement sent to Trump, Moore wrote, “I am respectfully asking that you withdraw my name from consideration. The unrelenting attacks on my character have become untenable for me and my family and 3 more months of this would be too hard on us.” In response, the president tweeted, “Steve Moore, a great pro-growth economist and a truly fine person, has decided to withdraw from the Fed process. Steve won the battle of ideas including Tax Cuts and deregulation which have produced non-inflationary prosperity for all Americans.” Moore is the second pick by President Trump to withdraw from consideration for two open seats on the central bank after Herman Cain’s withdrawal last month. CNN



5. Facebook bans far-right personalities and other political commentators


Facebook has banned right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and other “dangerous individuals and organizations” from its platform, the company announced on Thursday. Those banned from Facebook are controversial political personalities, primarily on the far right, including Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer, Paul Joseph Watson, and Paul Nehlen, a white supremacist, who ran for Congress in 2018. Among the most prominent individuals banned for violating Facebook’s policies are Alex Jones, the prominent conspiracy theorist behind Infowars, and Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who has a history of making anti-Semitic comments and advocating for black separatism. Facebook said in a statement, “We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology.”


6. Baltimore Mayor resigns amid scandal


Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has resigned amid mounting pressure and increased calls to step down amid a public scandal. “I am sorry for the harm that I have caused to the image of the city of Baltimore and the credibility of the office of the mayor,” Pugh wrote in a letter. “Baltimore deserves a mayor who can move our great city forward,” she added. The former mayor is under federal investigation for allegedly receiving more than $500,000 in payments from several businesses and entities for her self-published children’s book series. Most of the sales came from companies or organizations that do business with the city or that Pugh is directly involved in. A few weeks ago, federal agents raided Pugh’s two homes, her City Hall office, and other locations connected to the then-Baltimore mayor, increasing public sentiments among state and city leaders for her to resign. Since April 1, she has been placed on paid leave from her job for health reasons.

7. Former CIA officer pleads guilty


A former CIA officer has pleaded guilty in a federal court on Wednesday to spying for China, in which he was accused of providing the Chinese with U.S. defense and intelligence secrets. The ex-CIA officer was identified as Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 54, who transferred sensitive information about specific CIA operations and activities to flash drives and passed them on to the Chinese government. In 2010, two Chinese intelligence operatives offered Lee $100,000 and promised to take care of him “for life” in exchange for valuable intelligence information he had access to, the Justice Department said. Lee quit the CIA in 2007 and subsequently moved to Hong Kong. As part of a plea deal, Lee agreed to plead guilty to the most serious offense of conspiracy and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. It was the third case of espionage related to China and a former U.S. intelligence officer in less than a year.


8. Sexual assaults in the military are up 40%


The number of sexual assaults in the U.S. military are up 38% from 2016 to 2018, according to the Defense Department’s annual report on sexual assault in the military released on Thursday. The report, which surveyed active-duty troops, found that an estimated 20,500 service members experienced sexual assault, an increase from roughly 14,900 in 2016. As for the sexual-assault rate for women, it jumped a stunning 50% despite efforts from military officials to address ways to put a stop to such violence. The numbers come from surveys conducted across four service branches – the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps – and show junior enlisted females at the highest risk to be victims of sexual assault. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan drafted a memo that called the findings in the 2018 report “unacceptable” and vowed to make sexual harassment a crime as well as encourage reporting of assaults.



9. “Star Wars” actor Peter Mayhew dies


Peter Mayhew who played the popular role of Chewbacca in the “Star Wars” film series has died at the age of 74. The English-America actor secured the role of Chewbacca in the hit movies as director George Lucas was looking for a tall actor. Mayhew stood 7-foot-3 at his peak height. Mayhew played Chewbacca in all the “Star Wars” movies until “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015 when he retired from acting due to health reasons. He died at his home in North Texas on Tuesday.


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