This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Today, new evidence that the pace of job growth is picking up. The government's employment report for December showed 200,000 jobs added to payrolls. The unemployment rate continued its downward trend falling to 8.5 percent.
And while that may be welcome news, as NPR's John Ydstie explains, the December report could be overstating job growth.
Robert Siegel talks to authors Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel about their comic novel Lunatics. It tells the story through the voices of the two main characters: Philip Horkman is a happy man — the owner of a pet store called The Wine Shop, and on Sundays, he's a referee for kids' soccer. Jeffrey Peckerman is the sole sane person in a world filled with jerks and morons, and he's having a really bad day.
Syrian officials are vowing to respond with an iron fist to a suicide bombing in Damascus today, 25 people were killed. It was the second deadly bomb attack in the Syrian capital in recent weeks. The government and opposition activists traded accusations as to who was responsible. And the bombing raised fears of escalating violence, as the Arab League presses Syria to implement a peace plan.
NPR's Peter Kenyon is monitoring developments in Syria from Istanbul.
The Justice Department is redefining the criminal definition of "rape" for the first time since the 1920s. It will now include same-sex assaults and a definition beyond actual intercourse. This will change the way local police departments report crime statistics.
Now, a story with this you-can't-make-it-up headline: Americans Rescue Iranian's From Pirates. According to the U.S. Navy, yesterday in the North Arabian Sea, a Navy battle group came across a fishing vessel in distress. The crew was Iranian and they'd been held hostage for weeks by pirates. And here's the irony: The American battle group included the same aircraft carrier that Iran's government threatened earlier this week.