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POSTED July 20, 2012 9:05 p.m.

NATION

STATE UNEMPLOYMENT STILL HIGH: WASHINGTON: Three years since the recession ended, 43 states have yet to regain the jobs they lost. The states that are furthest behind are those that were hit the hardest by the housing bust, such as Arizona, Florida and Nevada. As slow as the recovery in jobs has been — the national unemployment rate was 8.2 percent in June — a few states are doing quite well. Thanks to a boom in oil drilling, North Dakota, Texas and Alaska have more jobs than they did before the recession started.

OBAMA & ROMNEY ON GUN CONTROL:  President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney both have softened their positions on gun restrictions over the years. As they express shock and sorrow over the bloodshed at a Colorado movie theater, neither suggests that tougher gun control could make a difference, a notion that has faded from political debate.

ROMNEY GOING ON FOREIGN TRIP: Mitt Romney travels to England, Israel and Poland next week looking to establish credibility as a potential commander in chief in his challenge to President Barack Obama. For Romney, a business executive and Massachusetts governor with little formal experience overseas, it's a chance to demonstrate competence in settings often occupied by presidents. There's also risk. Romney, sometimes prone to misstatements, faces higher stakes in wading into delicate diplomatic disputes than he does on the more familiar campaign trail at home.

DROUGHT MEANS BETTEWE TASTING FOOD: Temperatures above 100 degrees and drought-like conditions across much of the country have had an unintended benefit for peppers, corn and other crops: Their flavors became unusually concentrated, producing some of the most potent-tasting produce in years. AP photos.

MISSING COUSINS CLASSIFIED AS ABDUCTION: EVANSDALE, Iowa — A law enforcement official says the search for two missing Iowa girls is being classified as an abduction after an FBI team fails to find their bodies in a lake. The cousins disappeared a week ago while riding bikes..

WORLD

LONDON GAMES READY TO ROLL: With the flame comes the games. After years of preparation and months of buildup, London's Olympic moment has finally arrived. Royal Marine Martyn Williams is poised to rappel from a helicopter carrying the Olympic torch on Friday night, dropping down within the stone walls of the Tower of London. The grand entrance plunges the symbol of the games into the city's historic heart, bringing Olympic pageantry to the British capital that last held the event in 1948.

BRAZIL-GIRL FROM IPANEMA:  RIO DE JANEIRO — In 1962, a poet and a musician whiling away the hours in a Rio bar were mesmerized by a green-eyed beauty walking by. The result, the song "The Girl From Ipanema," was first played in August of that year. Fifty years later, the song is the second most played tune worldwide, sung by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Amy Winehouse.

WORLD COURT: PROSECUTE EX-CHAD DICTATOR: DAKAR, Senegal — The United Nations' highest court orders Senegal to prosecute former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre, who has lived in luxury in this West African nation for more than two decades. Human rights activists herald the move, saying that the survivors of torture during Habre's regime have waited long enough to see their day in court.

RUSSIA’S VOLUNTEER LAW: MOSCOW: A stooped woman in her 70s dropped off a kettle and about $600 in cash, while a thick-necked businessman unloaded an SUV packed with brand new strollers and jumbo packages of diapers. It was part of a wave of charity for flood victims in the town of Krymsk. A week after the unprecedented volunteerism took hold of Russia, a Kremlin-linked body proposed a bill in Parliament that regulates charity drives — a move critics suspect is aimed at keeping an eye on popular movements that could snowball into anti-government protest.

SOUTH AFRICA-BABY BRAIN:  South African baby born with brain outside his head won't survive, doctors say.

SYRIA’S WOBBLING REGIME: BEIRUT: The Assad family's grip on Syria has never looked so tenuous. After 17 months of violence, intense fighting in Damascus and the bombing of a regime inner sanctum that killed four high-level aides has brought a lightning-quick turnaround in the momentum of the civil war, putting government forces on the defensive. The regime is now struggling to control the capital and the borders, and thousands in Damascus are fleeing, all signs of wobbling in the once-impenetrable family dynasty.

ODD NEWS

'GOAT MAN' SPOTTED IN MOUNTAINS OF NORTHERN UTAH: SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A man spotted dressed in a goat suit among a herd of wild goats in the mountains of northern Utah has wildlife officials worried he could be in danger as hunting season approaches. Phil Douglass of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said Friday the person is doing nothing illegal, but he worries the so-called "goat man" is unaware of the dangers. Douglass said a man hiking Sunday along Ben Lomond peak in the mountains above Ogden, about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City, spotted the person dressed like a goat among a herd of real goats. The person provided some blurry photographs to Douglass, who said they did not appear to have been altered.

 

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