The Coalition on Human Needs reminds us that some 7.5 million part-time workers are still looking for full-time work. The U6 unemployment rate -- which counts, among other folks, these part-time workers -- still stands at 12.2% (the official unemployment rate is 6.2%); that's down from 17.1% at its recent peak (achieved, so to speak, from October through December of 2009 and again in April 2010), and that's also down from 13.9% just a year ago, but it's still higher than it ever was between January 1994 and October 2008, and the new jobs replacing the old ones, as you probably remember, don't pay as well.
Here's a news story from the Alaska primaries you may have missed: a ballot measure that would have repealed a huge tax cut for big oil corporations came fairly close to succeeding. Why celebrate a tax cut repeal failing at the ballot box? Consider that they held the vote during the primaries, which would have drawn even more right-wing voters in a state such as Alaska (particularly one with a heated Senate race up top). Consider, also, that the anti-repeal forces outspent pro-repeal forces by about 20 to 1. Yet this measure still lost by less than five points. If they'd held the repeal vote during a general election, or a Presidential election, it might have won.
MIT researchers figure out how to recycle car battery lead for use in solar panels -- as in, one car battery contains enough lead to make solar panels that could power 30 houses. And they've made the lead-based photovoltaics almost as energy-efficient as silicon-based ones in a short two years. The development could keep the lead from 200 million car batteries out of landfills and prevent manufacturers from having to harvest lead -- and both of these processes cause a lot of lead poisoning in America (not to mention the developing world) these days. So this discovery could be revolutionary -- unless certain mining interests spend millions of dollars lying to people about it, which I wouldn't put past them.
In other solar power news, Ari Phillips at Think Progress tells us how homeowners' associations often prevent homes from putting up solar panels. Mr. Phillips negotiates the attendant issues more patiently than I would -- homeowners' associations aren't "serving the community" or "preserving the neighborhood" by disallowing solar panels ostensibly because they're an "eyesore," and though I think it's a little too far to say that one day we might regard covenants against solar panels the way we now regard covenants against Blacks owning houses in your neighborhood (the latter item is considerably more odious), there is a point where your home is your castle.
Finally, Federal Trade Commission settles with Infant Learning Company over false advertising charges concerning its Your Baby Can Read program. Finding that ILC misrepresented scientific studies supposedly buttressing the program's claims that babies could read by their ninth month, the FTC levied a six-figure fine against ILC, which also won't be able to use the phrase "Your Baby Can Read" on its products. As happens more egregiously with banksters, the settlement doesn't include an actual admission of guilt -- though you could be excused for thinking that agreeing to stop using the name Your Baby Can Read sure sounds like one.