Greensboro

As a card-carrying member of the Betrayed by John Edwards Alumni Association, I’ll admit that my initial response to his federal indictment for violating campaign laws was skepticism. Yes, Edwards was an egocentric, lying, baby-denying cad who betrayed his dying wife. I doubted, however, that he had committed a crime. But now that the Edwards trial is getting started—opening statements will be heard today in Greensboro, North Carolina—I have begun thinking that things are a bit more complicated.

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Two years ago, Nick Melvoin was hired to teach English at Markham Middle School, which serves some 1,500 students in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. The school, which is 72 percent Hispanic, 27 percent black, and mostly poor, posts among the lowest test scores in the city. Last year, nearly 60 percent of students were suspended at some point. And, just off school grounds, students must navigate poverty, crime, and gangs. But, fresh out of college, Melvoin, a Los Angeles native, was excited to work with kids in one of his city's most challenging schools.

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Amid all the talk of U.S. trade recently, The Economist just published a series on the importance of exports. A piece entitled “Export or Die” described how a New York-based architecture firm barely avoided massive layoffs by finding projects in China, Korea, and the Middle East, where demand has not faltered as sharply over the last two years. In other words, service exports prevented unemployment. One wonders: Is this just an anecdote, or is it representative of an important trend? As it turns out, it is a trend.

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Since controlling health care costs is the topic du jour in Washington right now, it's worth pointing out two environmental policies that could have some ancillary health benefits. First, it's true that gasoline taxes tend to be the ultimate political no-fly zone. But new research suggests that higher gas prices wouldn't just cut back on our carbon emissions—they might also cut back on our waistlines (and, accordingly, our medical bills).

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GREENSBORO, N.C.--It’s 9 a.m., and Kay Hagan, her morning jog already a distant memory, breezes into a breakfast at the Democratic Women of North Carolina’s annual convention. Dressed in a sharp brown suit and pumps, the Democratic Senate candidate glad-hands quickly, finds her way to the stage, and, after a few introductory remarks from her fans, launches into her stump speech: increasing access to health care, improving education, adding new green energy jobs.

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Franklin B. Thacker Jr. lives in a trailer a few miles outside Appalachia, a worn-out mountain town in the southwest corner of Virginia. Thacker, who is 40, isn’t much for going out. He broke his neck ten years ago in a mining accident, and he spends his days living "bed to the couch." But, one day in January 2005, Thacker got himself a bulletproof vest. Not just any bulletproof vest, but a combat-model flak jacket—"eight times thicker" than the standard-issue police vest.

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Personality Test

Erskine Bowles likes to say that he is not a politician--which might seem strange considering that he's running to replace Jesse Helms as a U.S. senator from North Carolina. But watching Bowles campaign at a nursing home outside of Greensboro one recent summer morning, it was easy to understand his oft-repeated disclaimer. Several dozen seniors were gathered in the facility's dreary dining room, more than a couple of them nodding off despite the breakfast cleanup loudly taking place in the adjoining kitchen.

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