3:39am

Wed January 18, 2012
Governing

Secretaries Of State At Center Of Election Battles

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

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

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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12:01am

Wed January 18, 2012
Europe

Hungary Faces EU Action Over New Constitution

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

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

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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12:01am

Wed January 18, 2012
Europe

French Dilemma: How To Burn Off All That Overtime?

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

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

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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12:01am

Wed January 18, 2012
Environment

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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12:01am

Wed January 18, 2012
Around the Nation

Cruise Ship Disaster Puts Focus On Safety Concerns

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

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

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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12:01am

Wed January 18, 2012
Around the Nation

New Recycling Company Springs From Old Mattresses

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

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

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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12:01am

Wed January 18, 2012
Energy

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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12:01am

Wed January 18, 2012
It's All Politics

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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10:00pm

Tue January 17, 2012
Sweetness And Light

Take Your Ball And Go Home? How Dare You!

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

"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

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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7:02pm

Tue January 17, 2012
The Two-Way

Facing Disaster, What Is A Ship's Captain Expected To Do?

The Costa Concordia lies stranded in the Giglio harbor on Tuesday.
Filippo Monteforte AFP/Getty

The captain of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia has been pilloried by many for what they say was cowardice in the wake of the accident off the coast of Tuscany Friday.

The dramatic recordings of the exchange between Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco's and Capt. Francesco Schettino, reveal a captain unwilling to return to the listing ship, even as De Falco mocks him.

But under maritime law, what was Schettino supposed to do?

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