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Jobless Rate Stays at 7.8 Percent; National News Briefs

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest government employment statistics show that hiring held up during tense fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington and the unemployment rate remained steady. The labor Department says U.S. employers added 155,000 jobs in December, while the unemployment rate stayed at 7.8 percent last month. November’s rate was revised higher from an initially reported 7.7 percent to 7.8.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is set to vote today on part of a $60 billion aid package for Superstorm Sandy victims. Today’s measure would inject $9.7 billion into the National Flood Insurance Program, which will run out of money next week if the House and Senate don’t take action. Congressman Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey says some people who’ve filed flood claims are still sleeping on cots in rented rooms because they have not been paid.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Police in the Philippines say a pregnant woman, her 3-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old girl are three of eight people killed by a gunman near Manila today. At least eight other people were wounded before police killed the gunman. Authorities are not sure why the man went on a rampage, but they say he had marital problems and had spent several days on a drug and alcohol binge.

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — The police chief in Waterbury, Conn., has stopped granting permits for gun shows, saying he’s concerned any firearms purchased there might one day be used in a mass shooting. A local newspaper (the Republican-American) reports that Waterbury Police Superintendent Michael Gugliotti imposed a moratorium the day after the Dec. 14 killings of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary in nearby Newtown.

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Government officials in Ivory Coast say the death toll from a New Year’s stampede has grown to 64. The incident happened as a crowd of thousands left a fireworks show in Abidjan (ah-bee-JAHN’). Most of those trampled to death were children and teenagers.

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