With negotiators set to meet in Copenhagen in less than a month and an agreement still far from reach, world leaders agreed on Sunday to delay a final deal on a climate pact until 2010. So what does that mean for the ultimate chances of a global treaty—and of climate legislation in the US?

T-Paw, Deer Hunter

The Democrats are trying to push this story about Tim Pawlenty, the Minnesota governor and 2012 hopeful:

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has taken a drubbing from hunters for not tracking down a deer he shot on opening day of Minnesota's firearm deer season.

A headline on deerhuntingchat.com calls the possible presidential candidate a "slob hunter" for wounding a deer on Nov. 7 and then leaving for a Republican fundraiser in Iowa before the animal could be found.

One contributor wrote: "What kind of slob hunter goes out opening morning and shoots a deer knowing full well you won't have time to retrieve it or tend to it? One whose presidential ambitions override his hunting ethics, that's what kind."

The-deer-hunting-guide.com says: "A responsible hunter, who is also an ethical hunter, will be prepared to spend hours trailing a wounded deer; even come back the next day if needed. You must make every effort to retrieve a wounded animal. It's the right ethical thing to do."

Pawlenty's buddies tried to track down the deer later, but couldn't find it. According to the story, T-Paw had only bagged one deer before the Iowa hunt. If he's jealous of Sarah Palin's hunting prowess, though, he's on the wrong track. Everyone knows that the toughest hunters gun down wolves from helicopters. That, or they hunt quail. T-Paw doesn't stand a chance.

News on health and the environment from our other blogs and elsewhere.

Public v. Private: Public option would save money, but not for private insurance.

Off Season: Melting Bolivian glacier leaves famous ski resort out of the cold. [Environmental News Network]

Stewing on Stupak: Stupak could be even worse than initially thought.

Record Highs: New report shows there were twice as many record highs than lows in past decade. [LiveScience]

Top Dogs: Goldman Sachs and others are speculating on healthcare reform.


Murder in Mendota

Things have gone from bad to worse in the beleagered town of Mendota in California's Central Valley. Nicknamed the Canteloupe Capital of the World, it was once at the heart of the region's booming agricultural economy. 

Mendota (which also happens to be the setting for much of Josh Harkinson's piece about California's ongoing water crisis) was thrust into the limelight in March of this year, when unemployment there peaked at 41 percent. A bitter feud over water rights pitted growers and farm workers—onetime enemies—against environmentalists and the federal government. Meanwhile, an area the size of the City of Los Angeles went fallow.  

Today, unemployment is still at 36 percent. In August alone, the community food bank distributed more than 2.5 million pounds of food to increasingly desperate workers, and the numbers keep getting worse. "It's a tremendous volume," said foodbank head Dana Wilkies. "Almost all these folks are impacted by the agricultural sector. They're farm workers, they're truckers or packers or people who run small businesses in those communities who were reliant on their customer base." 

Even Governor Schwarzenegger's long awaited water bills, signed into law this week,  won't change anything for the 2010 season. And without torrential rain and heavy snowfalls in the Sierra, there's little hope on the horizon. 

Then, two weeks ago, the tiny town of 9,000 and shrinking was rocked by the brutal slaying of four-year-old Alex Mercado, whose body was found stuffed into a clothes-dryer in the home of a 14-year-old neighbor thought to have sodomized him and drowned him in a bathtub.  He confessed and will be tried as an adult for the crime, which could carry up to a 47-year sentence. 

"I just screamed at what I saw," said Elsa Castro, the suspect's mother. "No one will ever understand how I feel about what happened."

Yet another nightmare in the Cantaloupe Center of the World.  

Dave Rawlings Machine
A Friend of a Friend
Acony Records

"Dave's gone and done it," was roughly what Gillian Welch announced a couple of months ago to 50,000 bluegrass fans in Golden Gate Park. "He's put out an album." Well, now he has. This week, Rawlings—that ephemeral, soft-toned siren who appears on all four of Welch's albums and accompanies her on stage—finally comes out with his debut CD, a jaunt through old-time, folk, country, and bluegrass. Raised in Rhode Island, Rawlings  picked up the guitar when he was 15. Somewhere along the way, string-band country music became his muse, and in the early '90s, Rawlings and Welch moved to Tennesee, where they've carried on the Nashville tradition.

A Friend of a Friend features Welch (she's also cowriter on some of the songs), members of bluegrass favorites Old Crow Medicine Show, Benmont Tench from the Heartbreakers, and Nate Walcott of Bright Eyes, but the Dave Rawlings Machine is front and center. Rawlings' confident picking seems to emanate from a deep understanding of Americana roots. But like any great storyteller, he filters all that knowledge into something even an uninformed listener can get.

Here's an experiment: Ask someone of my generation (I'm 23) to name a few jazz artists they like. If they're not fans, ask them to name any jazz artist at all—good or bad, older or more recent, doesn't matter the instrument. Expect to hear responses like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, possibly Wynton Marsalis, maybe Louis Armstrong or Thelonious Monk, and—well, that's about it.

Mention the names Art Farmer or Jimmy Smith or Art Blakey, or any of the other stars on the latest installment in the Jazz Icons DVD series, and you'll cue up shrugs and blank stares. But rather than bemoan the fact, let's instead stress the importance of the latest Jazz Icons set—fourth in this series—which preserves a collection of timeless, masterful 1960s concerts featuring some of the best damn playing (on drums, piano, hollow-body guitar, flugelhorn, you name it) audiences had ever heard.

Major Nidal Hasan, accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood Army base, has been described by former colleagues as "psychotic." As more details emerge about Hasan's troubled state, gun safety advocates are launching fresh attacks on a Senate bill they say would make it easier for mentally unstable veterans to buy firearms.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) says his "Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act" will protect veterans' gun rights. But the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence calls it a "dangerous" proposal that could allow "over 100,000 mentally incapacitated or incompetent persons" to buy guns—people who would previously have been barred from doing so by the Veterans Administration (VA).

With debate over Fort Hood still raging on cable news, one might think that Burr might try to quietly shelve the measure, whose co-sponsors include Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.). Instead, Burr fired back at the Brady Campaign in an interview with Fox News, accusing its president, Paul Helmke, of using the tragedy to "exploit the senseless murder of American soldiers in the quest to secure personal triumph."

Responding to Burr Thursday in an open letter, Helmke wrote, "it is hardly 'exploitative' to have an honest debate" about the proposal, which would cancel out key provisions of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and override standards used by the VA for nearly four decades.

President Barack Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns on Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., Nov. 11, 2009. (Via army.mil.)

Need To Read: November 16. 2009

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Anyone who's tried to decorate an apartment on a budget knows that houseplants are great: They're cheap. You can buy 'em at the supermarket. And many are remarkably independent. Plop a philodendron down basically anywhere, and voila: instant hominess.

Another houseplant plus: They can clean your air. A team of horticulturists at the University of Georgia recently tested 28 common houseplants to see how well they removed volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—noxious chemicals found in paints, glues, cleaners, and other things around the home—from indoor air. They found that most of the plants tested filtered at least some of the chemicals. The plants themselves do some of the work through photosynthesis, but their soil helps, too, says Bodie Pennisi, a University of Georgia horticulture professor who was involved with the study. "During the day the plant does it; during the night‚ tiny soil organisms remove gases when the plant is not as active."

The five species listed below were the all-around top scorers; they excelled at removing all the chemicals tested.

1. English Ivy English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Great for: a-Pinene (found in wood cleaners)
2. Purple Heart Plant Purple Heart Plant (Tradescantia pallida)
Great for:
toluene (found in kerosene, heating oil, paints, and lacquers)
3. Asparagus Fern Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus)
Great for: a-Pinene (found in wood cleaners)
4. Wax Plant Wax Plant (Hoya carnosa)
Great for: octane (found in paint, adhesives, and building materials)
5. Purple Waffle Purple Waffle (Hemigraphis alternata)
Great for:
benzene (found in glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergents, and cigarette smoke); trichloroethylene (also known as TCE; found in adhesives, paint removers, and spot removers)