Governing
3:39 am
Wed January 18, 2012

Secretaries Of State At Center Of Election Battles

Scott Gessler gives a victory speech on Nov. 2, 2010, after being elected secretary of state in Colorado.
Jack Dempsey AP

Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 12:30 pm

In his first year as Colorado's secretary of state, Republican Scott Gessler has been sued eight times.

He has outraged Democrats by rewriting the state's campaign finance rules, tangled with counties over which voters they can send mail-in ballots to, and attracted national attention for participating in a fundraiser to pay off a campaign finance fine levied by his office.

"We've definitely shaken up the status quo, and I think that's happened a bit in some other states, too," he says.

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Environment
12:01 am
Wed January 18, 2012

Cleaner Air In L.A. Ports Comes At A Cost To Truckers

A truck passes shipping containers at China Shipping at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the busiest port complex in the U.S., near Long Beach, Calif. Stricter emissions standards have cut down on air pollution from the trucks, which has been one of the most significant sources of air pollution in California for many years.
David McNew Getty Images

The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the busiest in the nation. They also have some of the dirtiest air, thanks to thousands of cargo trucks that pass through each day.

But this month marks the beginning of a new era, as tighter emissions standards go into effect.

'100 Percent Clean Energy'

A common trope in environmental stories is to put things in terms of jobs vs. the environment. But that's not what happened in the case of the ports.

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Europe
12:01 am
Wed January 18, 2012

Hungary Faces EU Action Over New Constitution

People gather to protest against Hungary's new constitution outside the Opera House in Budapest on Jan. 2. Critics say the document curbs democracy.
Ferenenc Isza AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 18, 2012 11:03 am

Veteran Hungarian broadcaster Gyorgy Bolgar, who hosts a popular daily news/talk call-in show on Klubradio, gets a daily earful from ordinary Hungarians upset with Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Many here fear that Orban, a dissident during the communist era, and his conservative Fidesz party are pushing the country backward.

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Europe
12:01 am
Wed January 18, 2012

French Dilemma: How To Burn Off All That Overtime?

France's 35-hour work week has resulted in some workers accumulating vast amounts of overtime that they are required to use this year. The problem is particularly acute at some hospitals. Here a woman speaks with a doctor at the Conception Hospital in Marseille on Tuesday.
Anne-Christine Poujoulat AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 18, 2012 8:32 am

France's 35-hour work week has plenty of critics who say it has sapped the country of its competitiveness and is tying companies in knots. And to make their case, a leading example is the current state of overtime at French hospitals.

Along with five weeks of annual leave, French employees get time off if they work more than 35 hours in a week. At the Hopital Vaugirard, a public hospital in central Paris, employees have accumulated more than 2 million days off in the past decade.

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Around the Nation
12:01 am
Wed January 18, 2012

Cruise Ship Disaster Puts Focus On Safety Concerns

The luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia leans on its side after running aground on the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy. One maritime workers union called the disaster a "wake-up call" highlighting long-standing safety concerns and what it sees as lax regulation.
Gregorio Borgia AP

Originally published on Wed January 18, 2012 7:50 am

The dramatic Costa Concordia accident off the coast of Italy is calling attention to the regulation of the cruise line industry. Experts say there are plenty of rules, but enforcement can be spotty.

Some of the survivors of last week's disaster described the rescue effort as chaotic and disorganized. The crew had not yet conducted a required emergency drill during the cruise.

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Energy
12:01 am
Wed January 18, 2012

Blocking Keystone Won't Stop Oil Sands Production

Oil storage tanks at the Chevron Burnaby Oil Refinery on the shores of Burrard Inlet, east of Vancouver, B.C.
Andy Clark Reuters/Landov

President Obama is feeling election-year pressure on the pending decision over the Keystone XL pipeline. Republicans say the Canadian project would provide the U.S. with oil and new jobs, but environmentalists want him to block it. They say Alberta's oil sands generate more greenhouse gases than other kinds of oil, and Americans must not become dependent on such a dirty source of energy. But it may already be too late to change that.

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Around the Nation
12:01 am
Wed January 18, 2012

New Recycling Company Springs From Old Mattresses

Old mattresses lie on the street outside abandoned homes in Las Vegas, in this 2010 photo. Used mattresses present a unique problem to landfills and recycling firms alike.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 1, 2012 11:23 am

Old mattresses are among the worst kinds of household waste: Most recycling companies won't touch them, and landfills would rather not. But a new business in Nashville that started as a college project hopes to move mattress recycling into the mainstream — and employ former convicts in the process.

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It's All Politics
12:01 am
Wed January 18, 2012

South Carolina: Gingrich's Last Stand

GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich addresses the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday in Columbia, S.C. The state holds its primary on Saturday.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

In South Carolina, the race to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney is hitting a fever pitch. The state is seen by many as the last stop before inevitability in the GOP primary.

In campaign stops Tuesday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich laid out what sounded like an ultimatum.

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Sweetness And Light
10:00 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Take Your Ball And Go Home? How Dare You!

"It's not that I've fallen out of love; I've actually never liked sports, and I never understood how I became an athlete," Serena Williams said recently, according to TennisNow.com. "I don't like working out; I don't like anything that has to do with working physically."
Tertius Pickard AP

Originally published on Wed January 18, 2012 8:11 am

Now that Tim Tebow is out of hearts and minds, and we can actually turn our attention to other things, let us go clear to the other side of the world. There, a short while ago, while preparing for the Australian Open, Serena Williams said: "I don't love tennis today, but ... I've actually never liked sports."

While her confession might have surprised some, I suspect that even more were irritated, actually angered, that an athlete — a great champion! — could utter such blasphemy.

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The Two-Way
6:30 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Indian Lit Festival Invitation To Author Salman Rushdie Stirs Controversy

Salman Rushdie.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

There's a controversy brewing in India over an invitation extended to Booker Prize-winning novelist Salman Rushdie by the organizers of the Jaipur Literary Festival.

Rushdie, the author of Midnight's Children, angered Muslims with his 1988 novel Satanic Verses. The novel, which many Muslims say insults the Prophet Muhammad, led to Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declaring a fatwa against Rushdie. The writer spent much of the next few years in hiding.

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