Thursday, July 9, 2009

(MY080) 565K new jobless claims, lowest level since Jan

WASHINGTON – The number of newly laid-off workers filing initial claims for jobless benefits last week fell to lowest level since early January, largely due to changes in the timing of auto industry layoffs.

Continuing claims, meanwhile, unexpectedly jumped to a record-high. While layoffs are slowing, jobs remain scarce and the unemployment rate is rising, which some economists worry could weaken or delay a recovery. The unemployment rate rose to 9.5 percent last month and is expected to top 10 percent by the end of this year.

Separately, many retail chains reported disappointing June sales, as consumers are saving more and spending less.

New claims for unemployment insurance plummeted by 52,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 565,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's significantly below analysts' expectations of 605,000 for the week ending July 4, according to Thomson Reuters. The last time new claims were below 600,000 was week of Jan. 24.

"This is not as positive as it looks," Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a note to clients. "There are a number of special factors at play here, including the fact that the holiday-shortened week skewed the data."

(MY079) Use of vibrators common, surveys show

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Two Indiana University surveys suggest that vibrator use during sexual encounters is common among American men and women and is linked to better sexual health.

Dr. Debra Herbenick and colleagues surveyed 2,056 women between 18 and 60 years old and found that more than half of the women (52.5%) had used a vibrator, with nearly 1 in 4 having done so in the past month.

Women who used vibrators were more likely to have had gynecologic check up within the past year and were also more likely to have performed a genital self-exam within the past month.

In addition, women who used vibrators, and particularly recent users, reported more desire, arousal, lubrication, and orgasm, and less pain.

Most women (71.5%) said they never had any side effects associated with vibrator use and side effects that did occur were generally not severe or long-lasting.

Dr. Michael Reece and colleagues surveyed 1,047 men, also between 18 and 60 years old and found that, for both solo and partnered sexual activities, 44.8% of the men had used a vibrator at some point in their lives, with 10.0% having done so in the last month, 14.2% within the past year, and 20.5% at some point more than a year ago.

"Men who used vibrators, particularly those with recent use, were more likely to report participation in sexual health promoting behaviors, such as testicular self-exam," Reece and colleagues report.

In addition, men who reported recent vibrator use scored themselves higher on sexual desire, erectile function and satisfaction with sex and orgasms, than men who did not report recent vibrator use.

In an Indiana University-issued statement, Herbenick said: "The study about women's vibrator use affirms what many doctors and therapists have known for decades -- that vibrator use is common, it's linked to positive sexual function such as desire and ease of orgasm, and it's rarely associated with any side effects."

"The study about male vibrator use," Reece added, "is additionally important because it shows that vibrator use is also common among men, something that has not been documented before."

"Also, both studies help us to further understand the way in which American consumers are turning to the marketplace for products that promote their sexual health," Reece said.

The surveys, which were sponsored by condom manufacturer Church & Dwight Company, appear in the latest issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

SOURCE: Journal of Sexual Medicine, July 2009.

(MY078) Greenpeace activists arrested for banner on Mount Rushmore

CHICAGO (AFP) – Greenpeace activists were arrested Wednesday for scaling Mount Rushmore and hanging a banner next to the carved face of Abraham Lincoln urging President Barack Obama to get tough on climate change.

A video posted on the environmental group's website showed the massive banner hanging on the South Dakota mountain face.

Its message -- "America honors leaders not politicians: Stop Global Warming" and an unfinished portrait of Obama -- was barely visible as it was whipped by wind.

"Doing what it takes to solve global warming demands real political courage," Greenpeace USA deputy campaigns director Carroll Muffett said in a statement.

"If President Obama intends to earn a place among this country's true leaders, he needs to show that courage, and base his actions on the scientific reality rather than political convenience."

(MY077) F1 Teams Association walks out of FIA meeting

LONDON – The Formula One Teams Association has walked out of a meeting with the sport's governing body to discuss cost-cutting measures.

The FIA was to meet Wednesday with the 13 teams that have entered the 2010 F1 championship to discuss measures agreed to last month that kept FOTA from forming a breakaway series.

But there has been no agreement over a minimum weight limit or on signing a legally binding agreement to reduce costs to the level of the early 1990s.

The FIA said: "The eight FOTA teams were invited to attend the meeting to discuss their further proposals for 2010. Unfortunately no discussion was possible because FOTA walked out of the meeting."

FOTA's members are Ferrari, McLaren BMW Sauber, Renault, Toyota, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Brawn GP

(MY076) Chinese troops flood streets after riots

URUMQI, China – Thousands of Chinese troops flooded into this city Wednesday to separate feuding ethnic groups after three days of communal violence left 156 people dead, and a senior Communist Party official vowed to execute those guilty of murder in the rioting in western China.

Long convoys of armored cars and green troop trucks with riot police rumbled through Urumqi, a city of 2.3 million people. Other security forces carrying automatic rifles with bayonets formed cordons to defend Muslim neighborhoods from marauding groups of vigilantes with sticks.

Military helicopters buzzed over Xinjiang's regional capital, dropping pamphlets urging people to stay in their homes and stop fighting. Special police from other provinces were called in to patrol the city.