The Daily Need

Thursday morning roundup

From left, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Special Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell. Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Security

Here we go again. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the State Department this morning for the formal commencement of direct peace negotiations. While the resumption of talks is seen as a diplomatic win for the Obama administration, the expectations for a breakthrough remain low.

Environment

Another offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded this morning. According to Coast Guard reports on CNN.com, the Mariner Energy rig, situated about 80 miles south of Vermilion Bay, was in production at the time of the explosion. [UPDATE: A spokesman for Mariner told the AFP that the rig was not drilling at the time of the explosion.] All 13 workers have been accounted for, including one who was injured in the blast.

Health

It looks like insomniac men have something else to lose sleep over: A new study published yesterday in the journal Sleep found that insomniac men (who got less than six hours of sleep per night) were four times more likely to die than their well-rested counterparts. Insomniac women, however, fared much better in the 14-year study.

Culture

The buzz from the Lido is that Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan,” a psychological thriller starring Natalie Portman as a ballerina gone mad, is a winner. The Venice Film Festival, the world’s oldest, runs until September 11, 2010.

Economy

Unemployment claims declined for a second week in a row – decreasing by 6,000 claims for last week. Despite this modest lift, unemployment levels remain “uncomfortably high” — reflecting a weak labor market that is unlikely to spur a resurgence in consumer spending in the coming months.

 
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