Biden’s Popularity on a Downhill Slide

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Vice President Joseph Biden’s favorability ratings have been on a downhill slide since his election in November, falling from 59 percent who saw him favorably then to 40 percent now, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Oct. 16-19. Eighteen percent have no opinion.

 

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President Obama Announces Overhaul of Nation’s Electrical Grid

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Following up on a promise he made during his first weekly address in January, President Obama announced Tuesday the largest energy grid modernization investment in U.S. history.

Speaking in Florida at a solar-to-electricity plant, the president pledged $3.4 billion in grants for “smart meters” and other technology that he said will make the country’s power transmission system more efficient and adaptable to renewable energy sources.

The money is part of the $787 billion economic stimulus package, which Obama pledged would help take a big step toward creating a “clean-energy economy.”

An upgraded grid could give consumers better control over electricity usage and costs, and spur development of wind and solar energy sources, according to The Washington Post. The president said improvements are long overdue because the current electrical grid runs on “century-old technology.” He also stressed the increased security the new facilities will have.

The grants will go to 100 different utilities and businesses in cities across the country, which in turn will spend another $4.7 billion in private money on the so-called “smart grid.” The White House hopes that will create tens of thousands of jobs for factory workers, installers, engineers and others.

 

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What Makes a Man Wash His Hands?

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Disgust.
A British study of 250,000 people using public restrooms showed that men washed their hands half as often (32 percent of the time) as women (64 percent) did.




 

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Car Bomb Kills 90 in Pakistan Hours After Clinton Arrives

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A car bomb exploded in the old-town section of Peshawar, Pakistan, killing at least 90 and injuring approximately 160 others, the New York Times reports. The blast hit just three hours after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Islamabad, a 90-minute drive away. Many of the dead and injured were women shopping in the town’s market.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attacks are likely the work of Pakistani militants responding to a campaign against them in their stronghold along the Afghan border. The campaign has already sparked other attacks, but Wednesday’s was the deadliest so far. Clinton was in a closed-door meeting with senior Pakistani officials when the bomb hit.

“If the people behind these attacks were so sure of their beliefs, let them join the political process,” she told reporters afterward. “They know they are on the losing side of history. But they are determined to take as many lives with them as their movement is finally exposed for the nihilistic, empty effort it is.”

 

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Fault: Andre Agassi’s Meth Confession

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Ridiculously, I feel betrayed by tennis star Andre Agassi’s admission in his new autobiography that he used crystal methamphetamine in 1997, when his career was in the tank.

The book, “Open,” doesn’t come out until next month, but is being excerpted in The Times of London Wednesday and Thursday. In his book, Agassi reveals that he took the drug in his home with his assistant, and then lied to the Association of Tennis Professionals about it to protect his career.
I’m not even sure why I feel bad. For most of the years that he played I never even liked Agassi — I was a “Pistol” Pete Sampras girl through and through. Agassi’s long, dirty blond hair gave me the heebie jeebies, I rolled my eyes at the earring, I laughed at his stone-washed denim tennis shorts and the blousy warm-up jackets.
Then, of course, there was the thing — whatever it was — with Barbra Streisand, and the failed celebrity marriage to Brooke Shields.
But then my attitude started to change, maybe around the time he started shaving his head in the mid-90s. After sinking to No. 141 in the ATP rankings in 1997 (around the time he admit to snorting the meth) Agassi clawed his way back to the top 10 in 1998 and then won the French Open in 1999 — the one Grand Slam championship that had until then eluded him. It was a champion effort, especially the final match, when Agassi made a comeback from two sets down against Ukrainian Andriy Medvedev.
Coincidentally, 1999 was the same year that Steffi Graf won the French Open women’s championship. The two began dating, and married in 2001 (they have a son and a daughter). Even before retiring in 2006, Agassi had turned to philanthropy, using the wealth he accumulated from tennis to open a college preparatory school for underprivileged kids in Las Vegas and to work toward improving public education. Earlier this year, the school celebrated its first graduating class.
Perhaps you’ve seen that Longines commercial that helps promote the school — the one that features Agassi as a bus driver and the uniformed schoolchildren saying such lines as “I learn respect.” “I learn responsibility.” “I learn effort.” I wonder what the students of the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy will feel when they learn of their hero’s lapse.
Look, naïve as I remain, despite my advancing years, I know that no one is perfect — least of all celebrity athletes. In all, Agassi won eight Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal in tennis. That’s an astonishing achievement. Now comes this regretful black mark. I guess I hope that, having confessed his sins, he feels better now, but I’m not sure I do.

Note to Roger and Rafa: If there are skeletons in your closets, please consider keeping them to yourselves.

 

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Obama Marriage in NYT Magazine, Michelle Obama in Glamour

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The Obama marriage — analyzed and parsed — is the subject of a New York Times Sunday cover story, with the First Couple sitting down in the Oval Office with reporter Jodi Kantor to talk about their relationship, which is presumably at a high point because they are living under the same roof full time for the first time since 1996.

On another front, First Lady Michelle Obama, adding mentoring to her portfolio, is the cover of the new Glamour magazine where she offers her dating advice to women and poses with her East Wing interns. “Cute,” said Mrs. Obama to women hunting for partners, “only lasts for so long.” CBS anchor Katie Couric did the interview.

If you are wondering whether that red dress Mrs. Obama is wearing on the cover was a frock Glamour sent over, the answer is no. Mrs. Obama’s spokeswoman Catherine McCormick-Lelyveld told me Wednesday Mrs. Obama wears only her own clothes for photo shoots.

 

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U.S. Economy Grows for the First Time in a Year

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New third-quarter numbers from the Commerce Department show the American economy growing for the first time in year, the New York Times reports. The gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 3.5 percent from July to September, up from contractions of 0.7 percent in the second quarter and 6.4 percent in the first.

“Robust government spending, exports, consumer spending — buoyed by auto purchases from Congress’s now-expired cash-for-clunkers program — and housing helped finally push the measure into positive territory. Spending on consumer durable goods like cars shot up an astounding 22.3 percent at an annual rate, compared to a decrease of 23.3 percent the previous quarter,” the Times summarizes.

The economic growth came without a rise in inflation. It also arrived without major improvements in the job market, suggesting that it will still be months until the growth begins to stimulate new hiring.

 

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