First Draft: no break

February 6, 2009

It’s Friday, but no break from dismal economic news.

The employment report showed a whopping 598,000 decline in jobs in January, the most severe slashing in 34 years. The unemployment rate jumped to 7.6 percent to its highest level in more than 16 years.

The latest economic data shock gives more ammunition to President Barack Obama as he tries to sell reluctant Republicans on the economic stimulus package.OBAMA/

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a prominent Republican, said on NBC’s “Today” show that Obama should be careful in how he handles the stimulus legislation or he risks being seen as more of a Jimmy Carter than a Ronald Reagan.

Obama is set to unveil members of his new economic recovery advisory board this morning — they certainly have their work cut out for them. Later, he meets with families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and the USS Cole bombing about plans for closing Guantanamo Bay.

Everyone could learn a thing or two about handling stress from Capt. Chesley Sullenberger who safely landed a US Airways jetliner disabled by birds into the Hudson River last month. Newly released tapes have him calmly telling air traffic controllers that the plane won’t make it to the airport. “We’re unable. We may end up in the Hudson,” he says in a voice as calm and cool as can be.

At the White House, the National Park Service is hot on the trail of a band of masked marauders. The Washington Post reports that a pack of roaming raccoons have been spotted on the grounds.

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Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama walking toward Oval Office)

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