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Speaking at the AME Church’s 49th General Conference in Nashville on Thursday, Mrs. Obama praised the church for its role in fighting slavery, segregation and disenfranchisement of blacks at the ballot box.

She says the way to tackle challenges like childhood obesity and poor schools can be less clear-cut. But she told the crowd that laws still matter and still shape our lives.

She asked them not to get overwhelmed by today’s problems.

Appealing to their faith, she said, “If a simple fisherman could become the rock upon which Christ built his church, surely we can do our part.”

HEALTH CARE

Emanuel says ‘Thank God’ Obama ignored his advice

CHICAGO | President Obama’s former chief of staff says he’s relieved that the president didn’t listen to his advice to avoid the health care issue.

Rahm Emanuel, now mayor of Chicago, acknowledged Thursday that he tried vigorously to steer Mr. Obama away from taking up the health care issue, warning him of the potential political cost and the amount of time it would take away from other matters.

After the Supreme Court’s decision Thursday, Mr. Emanuel said: “Thank God for the rest of the country he didn’t listen to me.”

He also praised Mr. Obama and told his former boss in a congratulatory email that Mr. Obama had the courage to - in his words - “bend the needle of history.”

LABOR

Unemployment-aid requests drop last week to 386,000

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell last week, but the level of applications remains too high to signal a pickup in hiring.

The Labor Department says weekly applications fell to a seasonally adjusted 386,000. That’s down from 392,000 the previous week, which was revised up. The four-week average was mostly unchanged at 386,750.

Applications are a measure of the pace of layoffs. When applications rise above 375,000, it generally means that hiring isn’t strong enough to rapidly lower the unemployment rate.

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