Wednesday, August 29

Jobs in the city
In its July survey of the nation’s 372 metropolitan areas, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said unemployment declined in 305 metro areas and increased in 52 areas since the previous July. In the latest report, 67 areas claimed unemployment rates of 10% or more, while 94 areas posted jobless rates below 7%. Among metro areas with populations of 1 million or more, the Las Vegas-Paradise region had the highest unemployment rate at 12.9%, followed by the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario region with 12.7%.

National economy remains sluggish
Real domestic gross product—the total output of goods and services produced by labor and property in the U.S.—increased at an annual rate of 1.7% in the second quarter of 2012, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said. It represented a slowdown from the 2.0% annual rate of real GDP growth in the first quarter.

Flu threatens children with neurologic disorders
A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals a disproportionately high number of children with neurologic disorders died from influenza-related complications during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. The report underscores the importance of flu vaccination to protect children, especially those with neurologic disorders.

Health insurance coverage by county
The U.S. Census Bureau released estimates of health insurance coverage for each of the nation’s 3,140 counties. The data is available by sex, age groups, race, Hispanic origin, and income-to-poverty ratios.

New hospital for Libby, Mont.
The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development approved a $32 million loan guarantee to finance construction of a new hospital in Libby, Mont. HUD’s press release said the hospital will offer services that are not typically provided at most hospitals, including a facility for asbestos-related specialty care. It makes no specific mention about hundreds of workers who died of exposure to asbestos particles over a 65-year period at a local mine that was operated by the now-defunct W.R. Grace & Co.

We’re not in Kansas anymore.
Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Kansas is one of five states—Idaho, Iowa, Michigan and Montana are the others—that do not meet any of the disaster preparedness standards for regulated child care facilities or schools. Save the Children released its 50-state survey, National Report Card on Protecting Children During Disasters, as Hurricane Isaac battered the Gulf Coast.

Labor membership decline
A report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research catalogs the decline in U.S. labor union membership since the 1960s, citing employer opposition to unions and weak labor laws as prime reasons for the decline. As of last year, only 11.8% of U.S. workers were union members, substantially less than the 30% unionization rate in 1960.

Hydraulic fracturing
A background report from The Heritage Foundation claims there is nothing new about “hydraulic fracturing,” a technique for retrieving oil and natural gas from rock formations that has become highly controversial following the discovery of major oil and gas deposits in the U.S. “Fracking,” as the process is called, has been used in over 1 million wells during the last 60 years, and has been used successfully to retrieve more than 7 billion barrels of oil and over 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the report says.

Fuel economy
A new fuel efficiency standard announced by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gives manufacturers of cars and light trucks until 2025 to achieve 54.5 miles per gallon. When combined with previously announced standards, the new one nearly doubles the fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks compared to new vehicles currently in use. If met, the fuel standard would be the equivalent to lowering the price of gasoline to $1 per gallon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump, and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels. The National Automobile Dealers Association said meeting the fuel economy standard would add $3,000 to the average price of a new car.

Billion dollar score
Two California investment advisors were found guilty by a federal jury for conspiring to defraud a wealthy investor out of $1 billion, the U.S. Dept. of Justice said. But the monumental payday never materialized for William Ferry, a former stock broker and investment advisor, and Dennis Clinton, a former real estate investment manager. Turns out the billionaire investor was an undercover FBI agent.

Battlefield preservation
The Virginia Dept. of Transportation is seeking a permit to build a six-lane highway—the proposed Tri-County Parkway—that would cut a swath through the Manassas National Battlefield Park. The National Parks Conservation Association called the road project unnecessary to meet the National Park Service’s goal of reducing commuter traffic through the battlefield, and claimed the proposed road would make traffic within the park even worse.

Carpe diem
The Nature Conservancy reported that Asian carp has migrated into Lake Erie, and is threatening to invade all of the Great Lakes. The invasive species used the Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway to enter Lake Michigan several years ago. Evidence of Asian carp in Sandusky Bay “is even more extensive than we thought…and lends additional urgency to our efforts to control the spread of these fish,” said Lindsay Chadderton who is the Nature Conservancy’s Great Lakes aquatic invasive species director.




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