- - Thursday, April 26, 2012

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits remained stuck near a three-month high last week, a sign that hiring has likely slowed since winter.

The Labor Department says weekly applications dipped 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 388,000. That’s little changed from the previous week’s figure, which was the highest since Jan. 7.

The four-week average, a less-volatile measure, rose to 381,750, also the highest in three months.

Applications jumped sharply three weeks ago, a sign that employers had stepped up layoffs and added fewer jobs.

Economists said the increase might have been inflated by temporary layoffs during the spring holidays, when many school employees are laid off.

But applications haven’t dropped back since then. The increase follows a report earlier this month that showed hiring slowed in March.


Donor says he offered internship without consent

LITTLE ROCK — A member of a Los Angeles Jewish temple says he offered an internship to Sen. Mark Pryor’s office without the lawmaker’s permission in an auction that the founder of “Girls Gone Wild” said he won.

Chad Brownstein informed the Arkansas Democratic senator Thursday in a letter Mr. Brownstein provided to the Associated Press. Mr. Pryor asked the FBI a day earlier to investigate who offered his internship in the auction benefiting the Wilshire Boulevard Temple.

“Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis says he won the internship in the auction and planned to include it in a prize package for a “hottest girl” TV show. The temple has returned his money.

Mr. Brownstein, who has donated to Mr. Pryor’s campaign, says he’d suggested putting the internship up for auction, but didn’t realize it’d be posted.


Conservative-leaning group to air anti-Obama ads

NEW YORK — A conservative-leaning independent political group is set to spend $6.1 million on a new television ad targeting President Obama in eight states.

Americans for Prosperity announced Thursday that it would run the commercial in the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia. The ad suggests money from Mr. Obama’s $800-billion-plus economic-stimulus package went to overseas green-energy companies.

Americans for Prosperity was founded by the billionaire oil-industry brothers Charles and David Koch. The group spent $6.5 million earlier this year on ads criticizing Mr. Obama over Solyndra, a California-based solar energy company that went bankrupt despite a $535 million federal loan guarantee.


Clinton: Branson my last hope to go into space

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s childhood aspiration of becoming an astronaut was dashed by NASA, but she may not be giving up on the dream of reaching the heavens.

Mrs. Clinton welcomed British billionaire Richard Branson to a State Department conference on global investment on Thursday by saying she was “excited he’s here, because many, many, many years ago, I wanted to be an astronaut, and I think he may be my last chance to live out that particular dream.”

She often tells the story about how NASA rejected her inquiry on joining the space program in the early 1960s because she was a girl. Mr. Branson’s Virgin Galactic Venture will send paying tourists into space.


State, local government more popular than feds

A new poll from the Pew Research Center has found that more people have positive impressions of their state and local governments than of the government in Washington.

Just one-third of the public views the federal government favorably, the least positive rating in the 15 years since Pew began asking the question.

But slightly more than half of those surveyed by Pew, or 52 percent, view their state governments favorably. The rating climbs to 61 percent for local governments.

Still, those positive views do not mean people are impressed with their state government’s performance.

Majorities say their state government is inefficient and, like Washington, not careful with the people’s money.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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