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Has Oil Peaked Already?

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 2:59 PM EDT

1449449901_304d12978c_m.jpg According to the German Energy Watch Group, world oil production peaked in 2006, far earlier than expected. The nonprofit's scientists, working independently of government and industry, analyzed oil production figures and predicted it would fall by 7 percent a year, dropping to half of current levels by 2030. The report also predicts falls in gas, coal and uranium production, and warns that supply shortages could cause meltdowns in human society.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

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A New Twist on "Sleeping It Off"?

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 2:34 PM EDT

Late last night, a fatal car accident forced the closure of the Capital Beltway, the major highway that loops around Washington D.C. According to the Washington Post, when police reopened the roadway a few hours later, they discovered several cars occupied by drunk people who had passed out while waiting for police to clear the accident scene. They were hauled off to jail for driving while intoxicated. Clearly all those "Who's Your Bud?" ads aren't doing the job...

Country Legend Porter Wagoner Dies at 80

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 2:22 PM EDT

mojo-photo-wagoner.jpgCountry music legend Porter Wagoner died yesterday in Nashville after a brief battle with lung cancer. While his string of hits in the '60s might not be immediately familiar to contemporary audiences, Wagoner's trademark flashy rhinestone suits made him a symbolic country music figure, and his hand in launching Dolly Parton's career proved his own eye for talent.

Wagoner signed to RCA in 1955 and had a syndicated TV show in the '60s and '70s. He hired a 21-year-old Parton as a duet partner in 1967, and the two won the Country Music Association's "Duo of the Year" award in 1970 and 1971. Wagoner's career petered out in the '80s, and he only returned to the studio this year, recording an album for alternative Los Angeles label Anti-. His last show was this summer where he opened for the White Stripes at Madison Square Garden.

MP3: Porter Wagoner – "Committed to Parkview" (from Wagonmaster, 2007)

California Fires Batter Endangered Species

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 2:17 PM EDT

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So what happens to species already on the brink when fires, fueled by our changing climate, visit like never before? Nature reports that the San Diego Zoo suffered damage to one of its California condor breeding facilities—though the birds, thankfully, were safely evacuated ahead of the flames. The zoo also lost a planned habitat for endangered mountain yellow-legged frogs—a habitat designated after the frogs' original home was burned in the huge wildfires of 2003. The frogs may now have to be moved to another zoo altogether.

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At Camp Pendleton, one of only two known habitats of the endangered Pacific pocket mouse was burned. No one knows yet whether the mice survived.

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Sadly, these are just the kind of stressors that healthy populations can survive but which wipe out those species already reeling from the blows of over(human)population, habitat loss, pollution, illegal wildlife trade, and border fences.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

More Halloween Fun: Flaming Lips Host Flaming Skeleton Parade

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 2:02 PM EDT

Flaming Lips

I guess the joke would be, "Do you realize/that you have the most beautiful skull?" Or maybe not. The legendary Oklahoman psychedelic-rock combo played host to the "Ghouls Gone Wild" Halloween parade in Oklahoma City over the weekend, managing to recruit 1,000 fans to dress up in spooky skeleton costumes and carry flaming torches in what the band's recruitment e-mail referred to as "a spectacle celebrating the mysterious, the supernatural, and the otherworldly." Kind of like Zaireeka?

The parade, sponsored by the Oklahoma Gazette with the stated purpose of "celebrating creativity and artistry in Oklahoma City," kicked off at 7pm on Saturday night, but not without a bit of a hitch: the specially-designed skull masks the band had ordered for marchers were deemed too vision-impairing to be worn by people carrying, say, flaming torches. "We do not want anyone catching on fire," Lips frontman Wayne Coyne reassured parade-goers in a speech before the parade.

I'd just like to point out that if this parade had happened here in San Francisco, you wouldn't have been able to tell the difference between the costumed participants and the homeless lining the streets, there would have been a fight between anti-war protesters and 9/11 conspiracy theorists, and like seven people would have been shot.

Bush White House Outdoes Rose Mary Woods

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 1:25 PM EDT

Rose Mary Woods, Richard Nixon's White House secretary, only managed to hide eighteen and a half minutes of her boss's secretly tape-recorded conversations. The National Security Archive, a nonprofit outfit, says that the Bush White House deleted at least 5 million email records it should have kept. The Archive and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington have filed lawsuits that aim to recover the missing emails. (See Dan Schulman's piece on "The Emails the White House Doesn't Want You to See.")

Might this mass of data be a treasure trove of the administration's dark secrets? No one will know unless these lawsuits uncover the missing emails. On Friday, the Archive filed a motion requesting expedited discovery against the Executive Office of the President to determine what emails are missing from the White House email system and backup tapes. In a press release put out today, Archive General Counsel Meredith Fuchs says, "The pressing need for the information arises out of troubling representations by the EOP and its components about its document preservation obligations and the location of its backup tapes. We need information so we can take steps to preserve all possible sources of e-mails deleted from the White House servers."

Here's how the Archive recaps the legal case:

The Archive filed this case on September 5, 2007, against the Executive Office of the President (EOP) and its components seeking to recover at least 5 million federal e-mail records improperly deleted by the EOP. After the government failed to provide adequate assurances that backups and copies of the missing e-mail would be preserved throughout this litigation, on October 11, 2007, CREW filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against the White House defendants in its case. A hearing in CREW's case was held before Magistrate Judge Facciola on October 17, 2007. Magistrate Judge Facciola issued a Report and Recommendation on October 19, 2007, advising the Court to grant a temporary restraining order. The government has filed objections to Magistrate Judge Facciola's Report and Recommendation.

In other words, the Bush administration is doing what it can to dodge its pursuers. CREW notes,

The White House objected to the entry of any order [to preserve email records during the litigation], despite its refusal to give adequate assurances that all necessary back-up copies of the millions of deleted emails are being preserved, and objected to that part of the order that requires the White House to maintain back-up copies in a manner that makes them usable.

Bottom line: the White House is refusing to state what was lost and is refusing to vow it will preserve records that might be needed to recover what was lost. Rose Mary Woods would be impressed.

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Check In on the Iowa Polling: Huckabee Up, Edwards Down

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 11:29 AM EDT

With both Iowa caucuses (the Republican and the Democratic) now firmly entrenched on January 3rd, let's take a look at some poll numbers.

According to a University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll, Mike Huckabee is a legitimate top-tier candidate in Iowa. He is now in third place (actually a statistical tie for second) with 12.8 percent. Rudy Giuliani has 13.1 percent, and the frontrunner, Mitt Romney aka Mr. Fantastic, has 36.2 percent. Romney has similarly huge leads in all the early states. Worth noting: (1) In August, Huckabee polled at two percent in the same poll. (2) Huckabee has spent $1.7 million on his campaign while Mr. Fantastic has spent $53.6 million, an object lesson in the limited power of money in politics. Who knew?

On the Democratic side, John Edwards has slipped a bit. His 20 percent support in Iowa represents a six point drop since August. Hillary Clinton tops the field with 28.9 percent and Obama places second with 26.6 percent. It's too bad John Edwards doesn't have this hilarious/awesome South Carolina mojo going for him in Iowa. I think that would win over a lot of caucus-goers.

Update: Here's an even more remarkable fact, considering the money disparity between Huckabee and Romney: Huckabee is actually beating Romney, though just barely, in a national Rasmussen poll. Maybe the Log Cabin Republicans are more effective that we know.

First Lady Elected President

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 10:52 AM EDT

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The one on the left, not the one on the right. Early results from yesterday's Argentinian presidential election show that current first lady Cristina Fernandez will be the next president. Fernandez will be Argentina's first elected female head of state.

Fernandez is married to President Nestor Kirchner, who oversaw Argentina's emergence from financial crisis. The challenge of her presidency will be to capitalize on the stability her husband's term brought to the country.

Some are worried that a political dynasty, obviously already in place, could get out of control: Kirchner is eligible to take over at the end of his wife's term in 2011. Argentina has a history of spousal politics. Juan Perón was president from 1946-1955 and 1973-1974. His second wife, the famous Eva Perón, almost ran for vice president in 1951, and his third wife, Isabel Perón, took over the presidency after her husband's death. She was ousted in a military coup less that two years later.

Some of Obama's Best Friends Are Gay. No, Really

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 10:39 AM EDT

Are we supposed to applaud Sen. Obama's courage in standing up to the "special interests"?

Despite the backlash, gay-bashing preacher-singer Donnie McClurkin brought the noise to the contender's South Carolina, pander-to-black-hatred tour stop yesterday. So, not only is he legitimizing black bigotry, he's also a coward by choosing not to share a stage with McClurkin. Instead, the campaign scrounged around for a token to prove that some of it's best friends were gay:

Sidden is the white, gay pastor added to the concert bill as a last minute compromise by the Obama campaign. Sidden's appearance was notably brief and anti-climactic: He said a short prayer to the auditorium at the very beginning of the program, when the arena was only about half full, and then he left.

We're supposed to believe that Obama thought CP Time wouldn't be in effect for once?

Disgraceful, all around. Whether Obama had ever intended to attend the concert, he should have after the scandal broke or he should have cancelled it and admitted the error (pot calling the kettle black watch: didn't he hammer Sen. Clinton for waffling on admitting her Iraq War vote was a mistake?). Hiding behind the black masses and their unassailable hyper-religiosity will not soon be forgotten by those supporters who thought him the man who'd bring integrity and truth-telling back to Washington. If he doesn't soon answer this question, his silence will do the job for him: how does Obama reconcile his mild, but clear, support for gay rights with an embrace of those who believe God "saves" believers from the sin of homosexuality? No points, Senator, for hiding behind the bigotry of the black masses while positioning yourself as he who will tell blacks, and therefore the country, what they don't want to hear. I guess he just means the ones who'll still vote for him no matter what he does.

Maybe it's true what they (used to) say (out loud) about blacks and music: funk it up and anything blacks' ignorantly fear becomes sacrosanct and you, a racist, for objecting.

Iowa's Democratic Caucus Now January 3rd

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 10:29 AM EDT

The Iowa Democratic Party has just moved its caucus up to January 3rd, the day on which the Iowa Republican caucus is already scheduled. Political journalists everywhere rejoice at the idea of a New Year's in Des Moines...

Press release after the jump.