The Upshot
  • AP100623057435-1There's no end in sight to the battle of the berms.

    Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and other state officials have been pushing to continue to use money that BP has set aside to mitigate damage from the Gulf oil spill in order to construct a battery of offshore sand barriers, or berms, that are supposed to block the coastal marshlands of Louisiana from taking on oil washing ashore from the spill.

    However, scientists and environmental group say the berms are ineffectual at best — and at worst pose their own disruptive threat to the Gulf ecosystem. When state officials announced the first phase of berm construction this summer, Western Carolina University professor of coastal ecology Robert Young wrote, "I have yet to speak to a scientist who thinks that the project will be effective."

    Now the fight is still raging, even though most of the oil in the Gulf is of the dispersed variety — i.e., broken up into particles many believe are too tiny for the berms to filter out effectively anyway. What's more, the existing berm system has proven to be something of a bust, by some accounts.

    Read More »from Fight over Jindal’s sand berm project rages on
  • Amid talk of spending cuts, scant focus on defense

    Rand and Ron PaulRand and Ron PaulJust about all of today's leading Republicans talk a good game about the need to slash spending if the party takes control of Congress this fall. But as the Wall Street Journal notes, most of them have given little indication that they're willing to take an ax to the largest discretionary portion of the federal budget: defense spending.

    The Republican Party's "Pledge to America" platform makes a generalized call to reduce spending but specifically disclaims any plans to cut defense spending.  GOP candidate Marco Rubio, who looks likely to win a U.S. Senate seat from Florida, has presented himself as a deficit hawk but opposes measures to cut the Pentagon's budget. And Sarah Palin has said defense spending shouldn't be touched.

    It's difficult to make much of a dent in the budget without cutting defense spending, which currently accounts for around 20 percent of total government spending, according to figures from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The $715 billion the United States is spending this year on defense is more than six times the amount spent by our closest competitor, China.

    Read More »from Amid talk of spending cuts, scant focus on defense
  • sestak toomey

    Are Democrats regaining their mojo in Pennsylvania?

    After months of dismal poll numbers, in part due to President Obama's declining popularity in the state, Democrat Joe Sestak has suddenly surged in the state's closely watched Senate race, eliminating GOP rival Pat Toomey's once-sizable lead.

    Three separate polls this week have found Sestak and Toomey in a dead heat. A Morning Call daily tracking survey found the two tied, with 43 percent apiece. A Public Policy Polling survey found Sestak up by 1 point, leading Toomey 46 to 45 percent. A Quinnipiac University poll released just yesterday found Toomey leading by 2 points, 48 percent to Sestak's 46 percent. All results were well within the polls' margins of error.

    That's a major switch from polling as recently as last week, in which Toomey held anywhere from a 5 to 10 point lead over Sestak in the race. According to Quinnipiac, Sestak is enjoying a sudden surge a little over a week before Election Day because Democrats "have begun to come home."

    Read More »from Sestak and Toomey in a dead heat in Pennsylvania


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  • Eagles roll over Cowboys 33-10 for NFC East lead
    Eagles roll over Cowboys 33-10 for NFC East lead

    ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — LeSean McCoy threw open his arms just before crossing the goal line on a touchdown run that essentially put away another big win over the Dallas Cowboys.

  • 5 investigated in FIFA WCup bid corruption probe
    5 investigated in FIFA WCup bid corruption probe

    GENEVA (AP) — Five officials, including three long-serving FIFA executive committee members, are being investigated in the corruption probe into the bidding contests for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

  • Pele says 'nothing serious' with him
    Pele says 'nothing serious' with him

    SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian great Pele says he is not seriously ill, easing fears Thursday that his health deteriorated even though a hospital said he was in intensive care and undergoing renal support treatment.

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