The last time the Labor Department published a report on initial unemployment claims this good, the Great Recession hadn't even started yet.
The number of people who applied for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits in the week that ended July 19 tumbled by 19,000 to 284,000 -- the lowest level since February 2006 -- signaling that companies have further slowed down the pace of layoffs and are letting go of few workers, according to government data released Thursday.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected initial claims of 310,000 in the most recent weekly data. The average of new claims over the past month declined by 7,250 to 302,000 -- the lowest level since May 2007, the U.S. Labor Department reported.
Regular readers know I run the above chart every Thursday morning, highlighting initial unemployment claims since January 2007, the year the Great Recession started. Look closely, however, and you'll notice that today's report is the best since before the chart began.
Appointed Democratic Sen. John Walsh of Montana is running for a full term this year, and by all estimates, faces long odds. One recent analysis found the decorated Iraq war veteran stands about a 6% chance of success. Recent polling suggests Walsh has narrowed the gap against Rep. Steve Daines (R), but everyone agrees the senator has a tough road ahead.
A road that now looks even tougher, following thisNew York Times report.
On the campaign trail this year, Mr. Walsh, 53, has made his military service a main selling point. Still wearing his hair close-cropped, he notes he was targeted for killing by Iraqi militants and says his time in uniform informs his views on a range of issues.
But one of the highest-profile credentials of Mr. Walsh's 33-year military career appears to have been improperly attained. An examination of the final paper required for Mr. Walsh's master's degree from the United States Army War College indicates the senator appropriated at least a quarter of his thesis on American Middle East policy from other authors' works, with no attribution.
The incident occurred seven years ago, before Walsh was serving in elected office, but it can't be dismissed as a youthful indiscretion -- he was 46 at the time. What's more, the extent of the plagiarism wasn't just the result of sloppy editing; large chunks of others' work was presented as his own.
Walsh acknowledged late yesterday that he made a "mistake," adding, "I don't want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor. My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment."
Time will tell the degree to which Montana voters hold this against him, but it raises a larger question about why some politicians can overcome plagiarism controversies and some can't.
Witnesses to the execution today describe the prisoner as gasping for air more than 600 times. One compared it to watching a fish that had been thrown on shore, opening and closing its mouth. The execution lasted so long that lawyers for the prisoner asked the courts to stay the execution in progress. "He is still alive," they told the court.
They did not get that order. But they did get a court order requiring the county medical examiner to preserve tissue from the body and to take blood samples by 11 P.M. Eastern tonight. On the show, attorney Dale Baich told us the local medical examiner had said he would not comply with a court order to draw blood from the executed prisoner by that deadline. From the interview:
Mauricio Marin, reporter for CBS's Tucson affiliate KOLD TV, describes the execution of Joseph Wood by the state of Arizona, the latest in a series of botched executions using experimental drugs of undisclosed origin. watch
Rachel Maddow reports breaking news that an Arizona judge has ordered the body of Joseph Wood be preserved and blood drawn immediately as evidence for the investigation into his botched execution. watch
Dale Baich, attorney for Joseph Wood, who witnessed Wood's botched execution, talks with Rachel Maddow about the ensuing legal steps as it becomes increasingly clear that the practice of killing prisoners with secretly sourced drugs is flawed. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on the first stages of examination of the flight data recorders of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 which so far appear not to have been tampered with despite concerns raised by the delay in their being turned over. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on the discovery that the United States Army War College master's thesis of Senator John Walsh, D-Mont., appears to have significant portions copied from other sources without citation. watch
Thomas Kaplan, reporter for the New York Times, talks with Rachel Maddow about why New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's ethics panel (and its demise) is drawing increased scrutiny into the governor's own ethics. watch
Rachel Maddow shares video of Medal of Honor recipient former Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts, closing the trading day at the New York Stock Exchange and accidentally breaking off the head of the gavel in the process. watch
* Ukraine: "Two Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jets were shot down on Wednesday in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. The planes were downed in an area of heavy fighting between government forces and Russian-backed separatists, near where a Malaysia Airlines jet was blown out of the sky on Thursday, killing 298 people and drawing international dismay."
* Unimaginable: "Parents who lost three young children and their grandfather when Flight MH17 was shot down by pro-Putin rebels revealed that they now 'live in a hell beyond hell.'"
* Middle East: "Israel faced new political and economic pressures on Wednesday to negotiate a halt to the 16-day-old Gaza war, with its rising toll of death and destruction, as cease-fire talks ground forward and the Israeli tourism industry was upended as major foreign airlines extended their suspension of flights over fears of Palestinian rocket fire."
* U.N.: "The United Nations Human Rights Council voted to establish an inquiry into human rights violations in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories at a special session on Wednesday in which the top human rights official, Navi Pillay, said Israel and Hamas had likely committed war crimes with indiscriminate attacks on civilians."
* Intelligence released: "The Obama administration, detailing what it called evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner, on Tuesday released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence that officials say show Moscow had trained and equipped rebels in Ukraine responsible for the attack."
* A career-ender for Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.)? "An examination of the final paper required for Mr. Walsh's master's degree from the United States Army War College indicates the senator appropriated at least a quarter of his thesis on American Middle East policy from other authors' works, with no attribution."
* House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is blasting President Obama for supporting a 2008 human trafficking law. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is blasting President Obama for opposing the same 2008 human trafficking law. Hmm.
* Confirmation now appears certain: "The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved President Obama's pick to lead the troubled Veterans Affairs Department, sending his nomination to the full chamber. Senators voted 14-0 for former Procter & Gamble executive Robert McDonald to run the agency, which has been rocked by a scandal over falsified reports over how long veterans were waiting for care."
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) really wants to deport Dream Act kids. I mean, he desperately wants to deport them. The far-right senator knows these young people have been living, working, and studying in the United States for most of their lives. And he knows America is the only home they've ever known.
But the Texas Republican has nevertheless made kicking these young people out of the country his "top priority." Cruz is approaching this with a zealotry that's rather unnerving, and he's urging other GOP lawmakers to do the same.