JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The U.S. economy posted solid job growth for November, with the unemployment rate hitting a nine-year low. The Labor Department reported U.S. employers added about 178,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 percent, largely because many people stopped looking for work.
Stocks were mostly flat on Wall Street today, in spite the better-than-expected jobs report, but crude oil prices posted their biggest weekly gain since February of 2011. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 21 points to close at 19170. The Nasdaq rose four points, and the S&P 500 added less than a point. For the week, the Dow gained a fraction of a percent, the Nasdaq fell nearly 3 percent, and the S&P 500 slipped 1 percent.
House lawmakers overwhelmingly backed a nearly $619 billion bipartisan defense bill today. It will give U.S. troops their biggest pay raise since 2010. It also prohibits the Pentagon from closing military bases and the prison at Guantanamo Bay. While most members of Congress supported the bill, some criticized it for including over $3 billion more in war funding than last year’s budget.
REP. JOE HECK (R-Nev.): It stops the troop reductions in our armed forces, thereby increasing readiness while reducing stress and strain on our force and the families.
REP. BARBARA LEE (D-Calif.): Enough is enough. Instead of writing blank checks to the Pentagon, Congress needs to live up to its constitutional obligation to debate matters of war and peace. We need to rip up the 2001 blank check for endless war. We need to stop funding wars without end with no debate on the cost and consequences to our troops or to the American people.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week.
Officials in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, today raised the death toll from days of fierce wildfires to 13 people. Thousands of residents also returned home for the first time to survey the extent of the devastation. Officials said the number of damaged homes and buildings is now close to 1,000.
In Indonesia, 200,000 people flooded Jakarta today to protest against the city’s Christian governor, who is being prosecuted for allegedly insulting the Koran. The sea of conservative Muslim demonstrators gathered peacefully to demand the governor be jailed for blasphemy. Ten people were arrested by police, who accused the dissenters of using the protest to overthrow the government.
And Ford Motor Company is recalling more than 680,000 vehicles for potentially faulty seat belts. The recall affects its mid-size sedans, like the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ, that were mostly sold in the U.S. The automaker says the seat belts might not restrain passengers in a crash.