Dayo Olopade

The indispensable Inter Press Service flagged a 79-page report last month detailing how the World Bank--after years of costly boondoggles and declining prestige within the save-the-world industry--has hit a new low: "Making money off of causing the climate crisis and then turning around and claiming to solve it." This according to Janet Redman, the study's lead author at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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A report last week from MIT's Technology Review points out that we've been experiencing a severe silicon drought in the US since 2005. Capacity to extract and produce silicon, long used for semiconductors and in microtechnology, has not kept pace with the increasing demand--especially for the type of silicon used in solar panels. So even as support for generating solar power has lifted the industry out of infancy, prices for solar-generated energy have remained about three times that of regular electricity. There's been an 80-cent hike in the price per watt since 2000.

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Rep. Al Wynn This spring, the fourth district of Maryland will hold a special election to fill the seat of retiring Representative Al Wynn. In the long history of the House, there have been many reasons that states have footed the expensive bill, as much as $2 million in this instance, for such rushed voting: deaths, indictments, sudden illness. But this special election is, well, special. That's because Wynn has raced to retire so that he can start his lobbying career as soon as possible.

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania For the past week, the entirety of American politics has seemed to hinge on Pennsylvania--and not just Pennsylvania, but a set of very specific questions about liberals, elitism, and the working-class voters who have long made up the backbone of the state's electorate. The immediate question, of course, is how these voters will react to Barack Obama's now-infamous comments about the alleged bitterness of small-town America.

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Boy, Clinton isn't giving an inch in her speech. Not much outreach to Obama's crowd just yet, as she doubles (triples?) down about the gas tax holiday that has clearly been a rallying point for Obama supporters over the last five days. And "on to the White House" doesn't suggest she is going to stop that Mack truck if "a skinny kid with a funny name" gets in the way.  Nor is she showing much compassion for the hardscrabble working people who "hold their breath at the gas pump" only to see astronomical costs.

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Some bizarre news from the Reuters wire: Rebels who have stepped up attacks on Nigeria's oil industry in the last month said on Sunday they were considering a ceasefire appeal by U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama.The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has launched five attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta since it resumed a campaign of violence in April, forcing Royal Dutch Shell to shut more than 164,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd)."The MEND command is seriously considering a temporary ceasefire appeal by Senator Barack Obama.

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Having had more of a think on last week’s developments, I’d like to cast less heat and more light on the Jeremiah Wright fiasco. As I reported in “Far Wright,” boundaries between preaching, personality and politics were pretty nonexistent during his tenure at Trinity. “Even choir members can be seen scribbling in their bulletins during the sermon, on the blank, lined pages reserved for such note-taking. (The fine print below? "Sermons copyrighted by Rev. Jeremiah A.

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David Sedaris has penned a lovely ode to his smoking years (inhale, exhale) in this week's New Yorker. With wicked precision, he ruminates on just what it is about cigarettes that allows one to be both self-debasing (the cough) and self-promoting (the cool) at once. He extols the many means of self-identification offered by cigarette consumption, pitting Newports v. Pall Malls v.

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Green-collar Blues

Over at Grist, Anna Fahey posts a persuasive set of facts and counterclaims geared at convincing those who are skeptical about the existence of so-called "green collar jobs." The new policy buzzword (which Hillary Clinton injected into her Pennsylvania victory speech with as much aplomb as she did her campaign website), it seems, has some people fearful of a costly bait and switch. It isn't just that people haven't heard the details on what a green labor force would look like, though that's certainly true.

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The Bronx-born Richard Price has walked a steady beat for over 30 years--combing the streets of New York and New Jersey for authentic American stories. His eighth novel, Lush Life, unfolds on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a place Price has called “the most important slum in American history.” A longtime haven for waves of European and Asian immigrants, the neighborhood today is flush with old- and new-world conflicts--on which Price reports with polished instinct. The New Republic’s Dayo Olopade sat down with him recently to discuss cops, grieving parents, and writing for HBO’s The Wire.

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