• SURVEY: NEXT PRESIDENT FACES HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT: WASHINGTON (AP) — A majority of economists in the latest Associated Press Economy Survey expect the national unemployment rate to stay above 6 percent — the upper bounds of what’s considered healthy — for at least four more years.
If the economists are correct, the job market will still be unhealthy seven years after the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. That would be the longest stretch of high unemployment since the end of World War II.
And it means the job market and the economy — President Barack Obama’s main political threats — would remain big challenges in either a second Obama term or President Mitt Romney’s first term.
“The election isn’t going to be a miracle cure for the unemployment rate — that’s for sure,” says Sean Snaith, an economics professor at the University of Central Florida. He thinks unemployment, which is 8.2 percent now, won’t drop back to 6 percent until after 2016.
Economists consider a “normal” level to be between 5 percent and 6 percent.
• NM WOMAN PUTS ‘SOUL’ UP FOR SALE ON EBAY: ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Albuquerque woman has something for sale on eBay that most of wouldn’t even consider selling at any price — her soul.
KOB-TV reports that a woman identified as Lori N. recently put her soul up for bid starting at $2,000 on the online auction site. So far, nobody has made a bid.
The woman told KOB-TV she put her soul up for sale after a string of bad luck. She was a passenger in a car struck by a drunk driver in 2007. Lori was in a coma for three weeks, and woke up suffering from a stroke, a broken hip, broken pelvis, leg, collarbone, sternum, ribs, and a collapsed lung.
Lori said she realizes her ad may offend some people’s religious beliefs.
• TOUR BUS CRASH NORTH OF NYC SENDS 24 TO HOSPITAL: NEW YORK (AP) — A casino bus careened out of control outside New York City on Wednesday, sending 24 people to the hospital with minor injuries and recalling a collision last year that killed 15 casino-goers just two miles up the road, authorities said.
It appeared the driver had been going too fast for the wet conditions, said New York State police Sgt. John Maasz. The bus company, Star Tag Inc., has received four citations for unsafe driving in the last two years and every recorded inspection resulted in vehicle maintenance violations. Most recently, in May, authorities caught one of its motor coaches going at least 15 miles per hour over the speed limit, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The bus was on an early morning route from Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut to Chinatown in Queens when it struck a center median barrier on Interstate 95 in New Rochelle, veered right over three lanes, then slid about 500 feet along an outer barrier before stopping.
• MAYOR TO RESIDENTS: SAVE OR SHAVE 18-INCH MUSTACHE: SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The mayor of Murray has put all 18 inches of his handlebar mustache up for a Fourth of July vote.
Residents of the Salt Lake City suburb told Mayor Dan Snarr to either save it or shave it by giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down sign during the annual parade Wednesday.
The mayor’s wife, April, said she was tired of being poked by the facial hair and living with a “freak.” She campaigned to have it removed, even carrying a giant pair of wooden scissors during the parade to convince voters.
“A nice trim would make me happy,” April Snarr said. “I try to kiss him but can’t find a way in. And he pokes me in the eye. I think he loses his credibility.”
Snarr, who dressed as Uncle Sam and carried a giant poster in the parade that read, “I Want You to Save My ‘Stache,” wants to keep his stiff upper lip.
“My plan is to keep the ‘stache,” said the 62-year-old. “People have said, ‘That’s your whole identity.’ I can’t take away my identity.”
But he said the vote was too close to call after thousands showed up for the parade. He had city officials and family members reviewing parade footage to determine the number of votes cast along the 2½-mile route.