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U.S. hiring slows in November, jobless rate dives

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U.S. employers added far fewer jobs than expected in November, as millions of unemployed Americans likely remained home. But the unemployment rate dropped sharply. Fred Katayama reports.

The pace of hiring slowed abruptly in the U.S. last month. New figures from the Labor Department out Friday show the economy added 210,000 new jobs in November – significantly below economists’ forecasts for as many as half a million, in line with the hiring surge in October.

But at the same time, the unemployment rate plunged, down to 4.2 percent – the lowest level since February 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic.

And average wages rose.

The report paints a picture of a workforce that still hasn’t fully recovered after a year of health-related restrictions. Millions who lost their jobs have not returned to work. And the spread of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus poses a continued risk to the economic rebound.

Investors, however, initially liked the report, sending stocks higher at the market open. The less-than-stellar hiring number eased investors concerns about the Federal Reserve’s quicker tightening of monetary policy.

Analysts say the report probably won’t change the Fed’s timeline for paring back its massive bond purchases. But it could give the central bank more room to say it doesn’t have to accelerate the pace of reducing those purchases, especially amid the uncertainty posed by the Omicron variant.

Earlier this week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank would consider a faster wind-down to its bond-buying program, which Wall Street saw as opening the door to earlier hikes in interest rates.

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Amazon turns to deforestation in Africa

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Amazon’s founder and CEO is no stranger to making headlines, and his latest venture is sure to turn some heads.

Bezos is looking to help reverse deforestation on 100 million acres of land in Africa by 2030.

The billionaire’s philanthropic organisation, the Bezos Earth Fund, is championing the cause and working with African Union countries to make it happen.

If successful, it would be a major win for the environment and help preserve some of Africa’s most biodiverse and threatened ecosystems.

So why is Bezos focusing on Africa?

Well, the continent is home to some of the world’s most endangered species and its ecosystems are under immense pressure from human activity.

His organisation’s efforts could help to protect these animals and their habitats, while also providing a much-needed boost to the local economy.

It comes as the Earth Fund’s CEO says richer countries are going to have to step up the support for their struggling counterparts…

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Four killed in Himalayas avalanche

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At least four people have been killed and dozens more are missing after an avalanche hit a group of mountaineers high in the Indian Himalayas.

The avalanche victims were part of a group of 34 trainees and seven instructors who were practicing navigation at the time.

The students were from different parts of India, and had come to the Himalayas for a mountaineering course.

So far, eight people have been rescued, while the rest are trapped in a crevasse.

Search efforts have been paused for the night due to intense rain and snowfall.

Local media reports say the number of casualties may rise significantly as further details emerge.

It comes just one week after American professional skier, Hilaree Nelson was also found in the Nepali Himalayas.

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Trump calls on Supreme Court to end raid probe

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Former President Donald Trump filed an emergency appeal at the Supreme Court over the FBI raid on his Mar-A-Lago estate.

Trump wants the court to temporarily block the Justice Department from reviewing classified documents seized at his Florida estate in early August.

The appeal came days after a three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals said investigators could retain the classified documents and review them as part of a criminal investigation.

Despite nominating three associate justices during his time in the White House – Trump’s record at the Supreme Court hasn’t been too successful.

The high court repeatedly refused pro-Trump efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 election.

The litigation stems from an Aug. 8 FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, which came as part of a federal investigation into allegations he took classified documents from the White House.

Because the case is filed on the Supreme Court’s emergency docket, the justices could resolve the dispute relatively quickly – potentially within a matter of days.

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