In another telltale sign that the country's economy has been damaged by the housing, credit, and financial crises, the number of people who signed up for unemployment benefits last week was the highest it has been in more than two years. The Labor Department reported today that 407,000 signed up for government aid for the week ending March 29, a much higher number than economists had predicted. The last time this many people signed up for unemployment benefits was September 2005, when thousands had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina and other Gulf storms.
Despite Russia's objections, NATO today gave President Bush the green light to build a missile defense system in Europe. It rejected, however, the president's push to have the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine enter the military alliance. "NATO's door must remain open to other nations in Europe that share our love for liberty and demonstrate a commitment to reform and seek to strengthen their ties with the trans-Atlantic community," Bush said at the alliance meeting. Albania and Croatia were invited to become members of NATO, which now encompasses 26 countries.
When New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson endorsed Barack Obama, he received harsh criticism from James Carville, who was a chief strategist for Bill Clinton when he was seeking the White House. Now the criticism is coming directly from Clinton, the Associated Press is reporting today. The former president told California superdelegates over the weekend that Richardson, as a former Clinton cabinet member, was expected to endorse his wife or stay neutral. Instead, Richardson endorsed Obama at the end of last month, calling him a "once-in-a-lifetime leader."