In brief | Nation & World | 8-2-14


Solid hiring stretches into 6th month as employers add 209,000 jobs; rate rises to 6.2%

WASHINGTON — A sixth straight month of solid 200,000-plus job growth in July reinforced growing evidence that the U.S. economy is accelerating after five years of sluggish expansion.

Employers added 209,000 jobs last month. Though that was fewer than in the previous three months, the economy has now produced an average 244,000 jobs a month since February — the best six-month string in eight years.

At the same time, most economists don’t think the pace of job growth is enough to cause the Federal Reserve to speed up its timetable for raising interest rates. Most still think the Fed will start raising rates to ward off inflation around mid-2015.

The Labor Department’s jobs report Friday pointed to an economy that has bounced back with force after a grim start to the year and is expected to sustain its strength into 2015. Economists generally expect it to grow at a 3 percent annual rate in the second half of this year after expanding 4 percent in the second quarter. Consumer spending is rising, manufacturing is expanding rapidly and auto sales are up.

“There is no doubt that the economy and the labor market have been strengthening,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at California State University’s Smith School of Business. “People are rejoining the labor force. All these factors point to moderate, but sustained economic growth in 2014.”

Denver County celebrates pot at county fair with contests for plants, bongs and edible treats

DENVER — Marijuana joined roses and dahlias Friday in blue ribbon events at the nation’s first county fair to allow pot competitions.

This weekend’s Denver County Fair includes a 21-and-over “Pot Pavilion” where winning entries for plants, bongs, edible treats and clothes made from hemp are on display.

There is no actual weed at the fairgrounds. Instead, fairgoers will see photos of the competing pot plants and marijuana-infused foods. A sign near the entry warns patrons not to consume pot at the fair.

A speed joint-rolling contest uses oregano, not pot. The only real stuff allowed at the event? Doritos, to be used in the munchie eating contest.

Organizers say the marijuana categories this year — which come with the debut of legal recreational marijuana in Colorado — add a fun twist on Denver’s already-quirky county fair, which includes a drag queen pageant and a contest for dioramas made with Peeps candies.

Ukraine: Body parts retrieved at crash site by investigators working close to war zone

HRABOVE, Ukraine — Wearing gloves and carrying blue plastic buckets, international investigators finally began gathering up body parts and victims’ belongings Friday in the fields where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 came down.

Artillery boomed in the distance as the 70-member team of Dutch and Australian experts painstakingly combed a patch of scrubland not far from the site of bloody clashes between Ukrainian soldiers and pro-Russian separatist rebels.

The team’s top priority: collecting the remains of as many as 80 victims that have been lying out in the open, baking in the midsummer heat, for more than two weeks because investigators were prevented by the fighting from reaching the scene.

Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, head of the Dutch recovery mission, said in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev that the experts were able to gather some of the human remains. He would not give details out of respect for the victims’ relatives.

The pace set Friday hinted at the magnitude of the task ahead.

By wire sources