Jindal headed to Ohio, Pennsylvania to rebut Obama
Republicans are dispatching Gov. Bobby Jindal to some of the same towns that President Barack Obama is touring in Ohio and Pennsylvania to offer a rebuttal to the president's remarks. Jindal is widely considered to be among those on the short list of candidates that GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney is vetting as a running mate. He'll be joined by another Republican thought to be on that list: former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Obama is departing today on a two-day bus tour of Ohio and Pennsylvania, offering a defense of his economic policies and his decision to rescue U.S. automakers; he'll also likely raise further questions about Romney's business record. Obama's 250-mile Betting on America bus tour is taking him through several northern Ohio communities where he received strong support in 2008. The tour also will take him into western Pennsylvania with a stop in Pittsburgh.
'225 Weekender': Celebrity softball tournament this weekend
On Friday night, Mayor Kip Holden will face off on the softball diamond against the likes of former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Horn, former LSU Tiger and big league pitcher Ben McDonald and LSU Offensive Coordinator Greg Studrawa—plus many, many more current and former professional athletes with Baton Rouge ties—at the third annual Red, Rock and Blue Celebrity/Sorta Celebrity Softball Game at Cypress Mounds Baseball Complex. The softball game kicks off a weekend of events benefiting Louisiana military veterans via the Support Our War Heroes and Blue Star Moms nonprofit organizations. Friday's celebrity softball game—which also includes athletes such as Joseph Addai, Brandon Bass, Drake Nevis, Randall Gay and Glenn Dorsey—is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. On Saturday, the Red, Rock & Blue Charity Concert will be held at The Varsity Theatre. Softball and kickball tournaments are also taking place at Cypress Mounds Friday through Sunday. Click here for complete details on all the events; and read the rest of this week's 225 Weekender e-newsletter here for more local happenings this weekend and beyond.
NFLPA sues, calls Goodell 'biased' in Saints bounty case
The NFL Players Association filed a lawsuit against the NFL this morning on behalf of three players suspended in connection with the Saints bounty investigation, calling Commissioner Roger Goodell "incurably and evidently biased." The lawsuit, filed in federal court in New Orleans, says Goodell violated the labor agreement by showing he had determined Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita participated in a bounty system before serving as an arbitrator at their hearing. The NFL says the action is an "improper attempt to litigate," adding there is "no basis for asking a federal court to put its judgment in place of the procedures agreed upon with the NFLPA in collective bargaining." "These procedures have been in place, and have served the game and players well, for many decades," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello says in an email to The Associated Press. The lawsuit asks a judge to set aside earlier arbitration rulings and order a new arbitrator to preside over the matter. The suit comes two days after Goodell denied appeals by four players. The other player, Jonathan Vilma, has sued the NFL and Goodell separately. Vilma is suspended for a season, Hargrove for eight games, Smith four, and Fujita three. Read the full story here.
Private survey: U.S. economy added 176K jobs in June
A day before the Labor Department is slated to release its official employment figures for June, a private survey out this morning says U.S. businesses increased hiring last month. Payroll provider ADP says American businesses added 176,000 jobs in June. That's better than the revised total of 136,000 jobs it reported for May. The report only covers hiring in the private sector and excludes government job growth. The Labor Department's figures will offer a more complete picture of June hiring. The ADP survey indicates hiring is picking up some, but it has often deviated sharply from government reports. In May, the Labor Department reported employers added just 69,000 jobs—the fewest in a year and nearly half of ADP's estimate. Meanwhile, the Labor Department says jobless aid applications fell to a six-week low last week. Weekly unemployment benefit applications dropped by 14,000 on the week to a seasonally adjusted 374,000, the Labor Department reports this morning; that's the fewest since the week of May 19. Read more about both reports out today and what economists expect from Friday's monthly jobs report in the full story here.
Service sector grows in June at slowest pace in 2.5 years
U.S. service companies grew in June at the slowest pace in nearly 2.5 years, a troubling sign for the economy. But those same firms collectively boosted hiring last month, adding to other data that show job growth may have picked up. The Institute for Supply Management is reporting this morning that its index of non-manufacturing activity fell to 52.1 last month from a May reading of 53.7. The reading was the lowest since January 2010. Still, any reading above 50 indicates expansion. The sector has grown now for 30 straight months. Service companies employ roughly 90% of the economy. They include retail, construction, financial services, health care, and hotels, among others. The industry has weakened at a time when the broader economy has lost vigor. U.S. employers have scaled back on hiring. Paychecks are barely keeping pace with inflation, making consumers less confident in the economy. Consumer spending, which drives 70% of economic activity, didn't increase from April to May. Still, the report included some hope that the job market is getting better. A measure of employment showed that service firms added more workers last month: The employment index rose to 52.3, up from 50.8 in May.
Malware may knock thousands off the Internet on Monday
The warnings about the Internet problem have been splashed across Facebook and Google. Internet service providers have sent notices, and the FBI has now set up a special website. But tens of thousands of Americans may still lose their Internet service Monday unless they do a quick check of their computers for malware that could have taken over their machines more than a year ago. Despite repeated alerts, the number of computers that probably are infected is more than 277,000 worldwide, down from about 360,000 in April. Of those still infected, the FBI believes that about 64,000 are in the United States. Users whose computers are still infected Monday will lose their ability to go online, and they will have to call their service providers for help deleting the malware and reconnecting to the Internet. The problem began last year, when the FBI went in to take down international hackers running an online advertising scam to take control of more than 570,000 infected computers around the world. Agents realized that if they turned off the malicious servers being used to control the computers, all the victims would lose their Internet service. In a highly unusual move, the FBI brought in a private company to install two clean Internet servers to take over for the malicious servers so that people would not suddenly lose their Internet—but that temporary system will be shut down Monday at 12:01 a.m. EST. To check whether a computer is infected, users can visit a website run by the group brought in by the FBI here.
News roundup: Retailers report tepid sales for June … VW to pay $5.6 B for rest of Porsche … Romney's wife affirms woman 'option' for husband's running mate
At the register: Shoppers pulled back on spending in June, resulting in tepid sales results for many retailers. Costco Wholesale reported a gain below Wall Street expectations, and Target and Macy's also missed estimates. One bright spot was Limited Brands, which reported a robust gain that surpassed Wall Street predictions. Only a handful of chains representing roughly 13% of the U.S. retail industry reports monthly sales. Get more figures in the full story here.
A deal with wheels: Volkswagen has agreed to buy the 50.1% stake in Porsche's automotive business that it doesn't already own for 4.46 billion euros—about $5.6 billion—ending a seven-year takeover saga that divided two of the most powerful families in Germany. VW was able to proceed with the transaction two years earlier than planned after reaching an agreement with German tax authorities, it announced late Wednesday. Bloomberg has the full story here.
Just the ticket: Mitt Romney's wife has disclosed a tantalizing detail about her husband's intensely secret vice presidential search: He's considering choosing a woman. "We've been looking at that, and I love that option as well," Ann Romney told CBS News in an interview broadcast this morning. She added: "There's a lot of people that Mitt is considering right now." Read the full story here.
Today's poll question: How do you think selecting a female running mate would affect Mitt Romney's chances of winning the presidential election this fall?