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Obama (Kind of) Wins MoveOn Poll Following Iraq Town Hall

| Thu Apr. 12, 2007 1:32 PM EDT

The results are in from the MoveOn virtual town hall on Iraq that I live blogged on Tuesday. (See parts one, two, three, and four.)

MoveOn polled its members after the town hall to see whose position on Iraq they preferred, and the results are in. Barack Obama, whose comments are found in part four, has won. As Ben Smith at The Politico mentions, the news comes as a bit of a surprise because Obama has not courted the netroots nearly as much as John Edwards has. To Edwards credit, he did come in a close second. Here are the numbers.

Obama 27.87%
Edwards 24.84
Kucinich 17.18
Richardson 12.26
Clinton 10.70
Biden 6.19
Dodd 1.05

To address Ben Smith's concerns, I would say that the MoveOn members are not necessarily the avid members of the blogosphere that are generally termed the "netroots." They are folks who participate in local events organized online, and they receive a flood of emails from the MoveOn folks, but I'm not sure that level of internet engagement means that they are on par with the bloggers and blog readers that Edwards has been courting. Admittedly, there is some overlap. I would wager that a lot of Daily Kos writers and readers are MoveOn members, but a lot of TAPPED writers and readers aren't.

But the numbers from the poll are tricky. MoveOn members could vote in the poll if they attended one of the house parties where people gathered to watch/listen to the town hall online (there was audio but no video; the technology can definitely improve), but they could also vote if they listened to the town hall online from their homes, or if they listened to the town hall on Air America, or if they did not listen at all.

The only way to guarantee that you are polling people who actually saw/heard the town hall is if you poll people who attended a house party. If you do that, the numbers change dramatically.

Edwards 24.56%
Richardson 20.93
Obama 18.61
Kucinich 15.61
Biden 10.27
Clinton 7.22
Dodd 3.65

It would appear that MoveOn members just like Obama, and even if they didn't catch the town hall, they voted for him to win this thing. Those who did hear the town hall thought Obama was third best, behind Edwards and Richardson, two candidates who spoke with the most passion and advocated the boldest moves for an exit from Iraq.

One last note. I neglected to mention in my live blog that MoveOn actually invited five Republican candidates who, from what I understand, all declined to participate.

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MSNBC Drops Imus, Charges Against Duke LAX Players Dropped

| Wed Apr. 11, 2007 9:22 PM EDT

And somewhere in these two stories (here and here) is a perfect snapshot of race relations in America.

Wish I knew what it was. After all, Imus had pulled this kind of crap before (see Ifill, Gwen.) And the Duke situation is so muddy...for one thing, the state attorney general who just cleared the guys is up for reelection. Not so different from DA Nifong, who may pushed for prosecution as a way to further his own ambitions. Having changed her story many times, the accuser certainly doesn't seem credible at this point (legally anyway), but then there remains the email of one of the LAX players saying that he wanted to kill strippers and rip off their skin. And the insults. Testimony of other witnesses about abusive behavior, etc.

Words are not deeds, of course. But whatever happened that night, it is hardly something for anyone to celebrate.

Congolese Forests Falling In Exchange for Beer And Soap

| Wed Apr. 11, 2007 8:59 PM EDT

The world's second largest forest, and one of the oldest on Earth, is being traded for bars of soap and bottles of beer. A Greenpeace report exposes international logging companies for creating social chaos and environmental havoc in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the wake of the logging. The report also nails the World Bank, largest "donor" to the DRC, for utterly failing to stop the destruction, despite a moratorium on new logging. In fact since 2002 more than 37 million acres of rainforest have been leased to the logging industry, an area the size of Illinois, including areas vital to biodiversity. You think it doesn't matter to you? Wrong. We all need these big leafy green places at the equator. --Julia Whitty

Anyone Up For an NCLB Rewrite?

| Wed Apr. 11, 2007 8:30 PM EDT

With No Child Left Behind up for a re-hash this year, dissident voices are gaining traction and even supporters are acknowledging that its language needs some tweaking.

The nonprofit Educator Roundtable, a division of the Vermont Society for the Study of Education, has collected nearly 30,000 signatures for a petition asking to completely dismantle NCLB. One blogger is inviting educators to picket the annual national school board conference on Saturday in San Francisco. An Education Week blogger was dumbfounded that only 20 states have tried to roll back all or parts of the law.

California Congressman George Miller, the Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee who helped author NCLB, told Tavis Smiley that after five years, the law is only in its "infancy" in terms of meeting the needs of poor and minority students.

According to reports, there have been successes. Total federal funding for No Child Left Behind rose 34% between 2001 and 2006. Funding for schools serving low-income students rose 45%. States and school districts also allegedly have unprecedented flexibility in how they use federal funds, in exchange for greater accountability for results.

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has a plan. She says we've learned some things "organically" over the years, and that now is the time for a growth model that charts progress over time with annual assessment systems. She also says it's time to turn attention to high schools, which are becoming increasingly "critical."

At this point what isn't critical when it comes to education reform?

—Gary Moskowitz

The Deep Freeze Is Thawing. So's The Crap We Put There

| Wed Apr. 11, 2007 8:27 PM EDT

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts wide-ranging thawing of the Arctic permafrost. This is likely to have significant implications for infrastructure including houses, buildings, roads, railways and pipelines. A combination of reduced sea ice, thawing permafrost and storm surges also threatens erosion of Arctic coastlines with impacts on coastal communities, culturally important sites and industrial facilities. One study suggests that a three degree C increase in average summer air temperatures could increase erosion rates in the eastern Siberia Arctic by up to 15 feet a year. But you've heard all this, right? What's worse is that in some parts of the Arctic, toxic and radioactive materials are stored and contained in frozen ground. Thawing will release these substances in the local and wider environment with risks to humans and wildlife. The report predicts significant clean-up costs. How optimistic. I predict no clean-up at all. Only a Super-Duper Fund. --Julia Whitty

Using Niacin To Foil Drug-Screening Tests? Don't. Bad Medical Juju Follows

| Wed Apr. 11, 2007 8:13 PM EDT

Taking excessive doses of niacin (vitamin B3) in an attempt to defeat drug screening tests could send you to the hospital. Or worse. Researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and The University of Pennsylvania reported that two adults and two adolescents suffered toxic side effects from taking large amounts of niacin. Both adults suffered skin irritation. Both adolescents suffered potentially life-threatening reactions, including liver toxicity and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), along with nausea, vomiting and dizziness. One teen also had disrupted heart rhythms. All four recovered after treatment in emergency rooms. The report appeared online in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.--Julia Whitty

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Say Good-By to Arctic Foxes?

| Wed Apr. 11, 2007 7:52 PM EDT

Arctic foxes failed to retreat to cooler climes when global temperatures rose in the past. A new study dampens hope that species will be able to adapt to climate change by moving towards the poles this time around, reports Nature. Comparing DNA from living arctic foxes with DNA extracted from fossils indicates that, at the end of the last ice age, foxes that lived in mid-latitude Europe simply died out rather than move north. The same could be happening now. Today, Alopex lagopus, is restricted to northern tundra in Scandinavia and Siberia, while 10,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age, it lived in what's now Belgium, Germany and southwestern Russia. So will Arctic foxes join polar bears and half of all Earth's species threatened by the mass global extinction already underway, and hugely amplified by global warming? Maybe, says the latest installment of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report. Will our species ever do one righteous thing about it? --Julia Whitty

Najaf Estimates Split along Liberal/Conservative Reliable/Unreliable Divide

| Wed Apr. 11, 2007 6:41 PM EDT

Jonathan blogged on Monday about the disturbingly wide range of estimates of the number of Iraqis who attended an anti-American rally in Najaf that day. Dutiful wonks at ThinkProgress, to the rescue! ThinkProgress points out that credible sources like The New York Times, the Washington Post, Reuters, AP, and the Wall Street Journal all put attendance in the "tens of thousands" (which, at least according to strict Mother Jones rules, means at least 20,000). Mother Jones also reports, in our Iraq 101 package, that Muqtada al-Sadr, who called for the rally, has "tens of thousands" of followers. The military, however, put attendance at 5,000-7,000, and conservative bloggers jumped on that figure.

ThinkProgress claims that a photo used to support lower estimates is, in fact, cropped. Check it out: It sure looks cropped.

najaf3.jpg

ThinkProgress then shows another photo, of a side road not included in the allegedly cropped photo.

iraqflagprotest3.jpg

Problem is, neither of these photos have credible sources. The conservative blog Gateway Pundit, in a post including the photo in question, claims ThinkProgress's photo was taken before its photo, and therefore may well show some of the same people, not additional attendees as it claims. I'm gonna say touché on that one, but ThinkProgress has a solid record—and when you pair it with The New York Times, the Washington Post, Reuters, AP, and the Wall Street Journal and, ahem, Mother Jones, its reliability veritably trounces Gateway Pundit's. One caveat: It does seem a little bit odd that all the sources have used precisely the same wording in providing their estimates—but this is Iraq, and it's not like the Park Service is out there counting.

As for why Mother Jones believes papers of record and not the military, see below.

mission_accomplished.jpg

Johnny Cash's House Burns Down

| Wed Apr. 11, 2007 5:21 PM EDT

mojo-photo-cashhouse.jpg Please, no "ring of fire" jokes: the Tennessee house Johnny Cash lived in for more than 30 years with June Carter Cash burned to the ground Tuesday; the cause is still unknown but appears to have been exacerbated by "a flammable wood preservative" (?!!) that construction workers were applying to the house. In addition to hosting a whole variety of famous friends of Cash, the house was also the setting for the emotional video for "Hurt," one of the covers from his American Recordings albums that make you go "Oh, that's how that song's supposed to be."

An Oak Ridge Boy lives down the road and gives a quote that seems like a bit of a dis on current owner of the house... wait for it... Barry Gibb. Again, may I just say, "?!!"? Anyway, the Oak Ridge Boy says "maybe it's the good Lord's way to make sure that it was only Johnny's house." Which is nice, but the image in my mind is more like the good Lord letting Johnny reach down and zap the house himself. Or, come to think of it, Barry Gibb burning down Johnny Cash's house.

Environmental Fact of the Day

| Wed Apr. 11, 2007 3:14 PM EDT

Still unconvinced that your driving habits contribute to global warming? Americans consume more than a quarter of the world's oil but make up less than five percent of its population. Transportation accounts for more than 70 percent of the United States' oil consumption. Trucking accounts for a big chunk of that number, but non-essential individual trips do, too.