If you were to chart jobless numbers over the past three years, it would be flat-lining right now at a low point. Some 12.7 million Americans are looking for work, and in June only 80,000 landed jobs, a rate that barely keeps up with population growth.
The picture, in other words, is bad and unlikely to change much. Between now and the November election, there will be four more such monthly reports to see if the 8.2 percent unemployment rate improves. Don't bet on it.
The factors are well known. The Eurozone economies are sickly and won't revive soon. Major economies such as China and Brazil are slowing too. The United States, by far the biggest and most diverse, can't escape untouched.
Add homegrown troubles to the list. The Federal Reserve, having dropped bank borrowing rates to near zero, is scrambling for more answers, which it may introduce in August. Another major obstacle is the "fiscal cliff" deadline of January when Bush tax cuts will expire and huge trims in federal programs are due -- barring a deal to sidestep this monumental disruption. Who wants to lend or hire in this fog of uncertainty?
Neither President Barack Obama nor his GOP challenger Mitt Romney had much new to say in the wake of the June jobless numbers. That's because Obama is paralyzed by Washington's failure to deal with the fiscal showdown at year's end and Romney trotted out his familiar lineup of lower taxes and less regulation.
Neither side wants to cut a deal before the results are in. But given present polling, neither side is poised for a sweeping win that will hugely change the picture.
Leadership and responsibility will have to wait. A balanced, negotiated answer must be found for the sake of country and especially the jobless.
San Francisco Chronicle
If Congress suddenly passed a law requiring all citizens to carry tracking devices that monitored their movements and snooped into their private communications 24/7, the outcry would be huge. But as a report in the New York Times shows, that has pretty much happened on its own, without Congress or most of the rest of us noticing.
Last year, cellphone carriers gave officials text messages, cellphone locations and other private information 1.3 million times. Because a single request can involve multiple phone users, the actual number of citizens who were tracked undoubtedly was far higher. And there's every reason to believe the number will keep growing exponentially unless government acts.
With no reliable safeguards in place, the possibilities for abuse are limitless. And because government can store the information indefinitely, no one who carries a cellphone regularly can feel his or her privacy is secure.
Big Brother should have had it this good.
If Congress can't snap out of its gridlock to do something about this, state governments should act. Law enforcement must be able to do its job, but privacy rights can't be trampled in the process.
The FDA made a huge leap toward fighting AIDS with the approval of the first over-the-counter rapid HIV test with near-instantaneous results.
Starting in October, people who might otherwise not get tested for fear of stigma or white coats will have the option to learn about their health in the privacy of their home, with results delivered in 20 to 40 minutes.
The self-administered OraQuick test detects the presence of HIV in saliva using a mouth swab. It should be available in 30,000 pharmacies, grocery stores and online retailers this fall, an availability that stands as another milestone and tool in treatment.
About 50,000 Americans are infected with HIV each year; about 20 percent of the 1.2 million Americans with HIV do not know they have the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. These numbers make the need for accessible testing all the more apparent.
The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.,