Bradford Plumer

Data Dump

Like many people who don't know much about computers, I assume I'll end up using Vista, Microsoft's latest version of Windows, eventually. Not that I really need it, mind you: My computer use mostly involves trawling the Internet, pecking away on a word processor, watching political ads on YouTube, and playing music. My laptop can handle all of that just fine, and, in theory, it should be able to keep whirring along for another decade.

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Hot Seat

"I just saw him! And I think he's loaded for bear," a reporter whispered breathlessly, as the crowd scrambled to their seats at the Senate hearing yesterday afternoon. Most of the audience had come to see Al Gore testify before the Environment and Public Works Committee on the dangers of global warming. Over 100 people had been camped outside for hours, like ardent Star Wars fans, to make sure they would get inside. At least one RUN AL, RUN sign bobbed above the heads in line. But the reporter wasn't talking about Gore.

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Hot Seat

"I just saw him! And I think he's loaded for bear," a reporter whispered breathlessly, as the crowd scrambled to their seats at the Senate hearing yesterday afternoon. Most of the audience had come to see Al Gore testify before the Environment and Public Works Committee on the dangers of global warming. Over 100 people had been camped outside for hours, like ardent Star Wars fans, to make sure they would get inside. At least one RUN AL, RUN sign bobbed above the heads in line. But the reporter wasn't talking about Gore.

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Greener Pastors

Bradford Plumer: Inside the evangelical war over climate change.

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Greener Pastors

When James Dobson gets angry, people notice. And, in early March, the influential chair of Focus on the Family fired off a very angry letter to the board of the National Association of Evangelicals. Tony Perkins of The Family Research Council signed it. So did Gary Bauer. So did 22 other conservative Christian leaders. Their complaint? It seems that Richard Cizik, NAE's vice-president for governmental affairs, had been sounding the alarm on global warming.

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Tactical Strike

The history of labor is partly a history of violence, and the recent janitors' strike in Houston was no exception. "The horses came on all of the sudden," said Mateo Portilla, a janitor who described how police broke up the protests, causing at least one person to be hospitalized. "They started jumping on top of people. I heard the women screaming." Another demonstrator, Anna Denise Solis, described her night in prison, where protestors faced bail of more than $800,000 apiece: "The first night they put the temperature so high that a woman--one of the other inmates--had a seizure.

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Hot House

"Time is running out, and we need to move forward on this," Senator Barbara Boxer declared in a conference call with reporters last week, referring to global warming. The California Democrat will take over as chair of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee in January, and she has already vowed to make climate change a top priority, reversing a decade of inaction by congressional Republicans.

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Last September, Hurricane Katrina revealed a Bush administration studded through and through with hacks. These cronies exhibited the quality made infamous by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Michael Brown: a loyalty to party and president that could overcome the kinds of issues that would give lesser governments pause, such as insufficient experience or a sketchy diploma.

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Sugar Daddy

Last month, the Sunlight Foundation, in conjunction with several other government watchdog groups, unveiled a searchable database to help ordinary citizens locate earmarks in the 2007 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill so that they could ring up their representatives and figure out which little piggie asked for $80,000 for the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids. Or $200,000 for a Portuguese and Lusophone Studies program in Rhode Island. Or $300,000 for an academic coaching program for high school football players in New Jersey.

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Bean Counter

If Democrats win back the House in the midterms today, they'll owe an enormous debt to organized labor, which has spent more than $40 million--and sent millions of voters to the polls--to help the party take control of Congress. The AFL-CIO alone has targeted more than 200 contests in 21 states this cycle, and unions, despite their declining power, are still acting as difference-makers in many races.

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