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Egypt sentences more than 680 to death

MINYA, Egypt — An Egyptian court here on Monday sentenced to death the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and more than 680 other people after a swift mass trial on charges of inciting or committing acts of violence that led to the destruction of a police station and the killing of an officer.

Many of those punished, including Mohamed Badie, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, were sentenced to death for lesser crimes, including committing or inciting acts of violence. The verdict, after a trial lasting only a few minutes, came just a month after the same judge drew condemnation from around the world for sentencing 529 other people to death in a similarly lightning-fast mass trial.

The judge, Sayedd Yousef, affirmed the death sentences Monday of about 40 of the defendants in that mass trial and commuted the others to life in prison, which is understood here to mean 25 years. The verdicts Monday and last month are subject to appeal. Both sets of trials involved sentences in absentia for many defendants who are still at large, and if they are arrested all will receive a retrial.

The speed and scale of the latest batch of sentences, in defiance of international outrage at the earlier one, appeared to underscore the judiciary’s energetic support for the new military-led government’s sweeping crackdown on its political opponents, including Islamist supporters of the ousted President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as more liberal groups.

—David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times

Recovery has created far more low-wage jobs than better-paid ones

WASHINGTON — The deep recession wiped out primarily high-wage and middle-wage jobs. Yet the strongest employment growth during the sluggish recovery has been in low-wage work, at places like strip malls and fast-food restaurants.

In essence, the poor economy has replaced good jobs with bad ones. That is the conclusion of a new report from the National Employment Law Project, a research and advocacy group, analyzing employment trends four years into the recovery.

“Fast food is driving the bulk of the job growth at the low end — the job gains there are absolutely phenomenal,” said Michael Evangelist, the report’s author. “If this is the reality — if these jobs are here to stay and are going to be making up a considerable part of the economy — the question is, how do we make them better?”

The report shows that total employment has finally surpassed its pre-recession level. But job losses and gains have been skewed. Higher-wage industries — like accounting and legal work — shed 3.6 million positions during the recession and have added only 2.6 million positions during the recovery. But lower-wage industries lost 2 million jobs, then added 3.8 million.

With 10.5 million Americans still looking for work — the unemployment rate is 6.7 percent — employers feel no pressure to raise wages for those who are working. As a result, the average household’s take-home pay has declined through the recession and the recovery to $51,017 in 2012 from $55,627 in 2007, after adjusting for inflation.

With joblessness high and job gains concentrated in low-wage industries, hundreds of thousands of Americans have accepted positions that pay less than they used to make, in some cases, sliding out of the middle class and into the ranks of the working poor.

Economists worry that even a stronger recovery might not bring back jobs in traditionally middle-class occupations eroded by mechanization and offshoring. The U.S. workforce might become yet more “polarized,” with positions easier to find at the high and low ends than in the middle.

—Annie Lowrey, The New York Times