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With Rick Santorum out of the Republican primary race and Mitt Romney now the presumptive nominee, Chris Hayes discussed the conventional wisdom that Romney will now inevitably attempt to "pivot" back to the middle and soften some of the very extreme positions he's taken while trying to get through their primary race. Hayes played a series of clips both from President Obama and Romney. He reminded us of some of Obama's broken campaign promises and followed up with some of the things Mitt Romney's said on the campaign trail.
Hayes has a point: it doesn't matter much what Romney says once he attempts to moderate some of the things he's said in those clips because today's Republican Party is not going to allow him to govern as a moderate.
HAYES: The President is a product of the party that nominates him and the party that will nominate Mitt Romney is unwaveringly committed to a singularly regressive agenda. No post election private reversion to the moderate meme will change that. So, as we enter the era of the pivot, don't listen to what Mitt Romney says. Look at what his party is doing.
Eddie Murphy talked about the Ann Romney situation over 20 years ago in his concert film Raw. He said what Hillary Rosen was trying to say about rich women ( This could also go for men that marry rich women ). Many of you also think this but unlike Rosen keep it to yourself. Warning [...]
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The SEC is the Three Stooges of regulation.[...]
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Baritone Christian Gerhaher sings the raging, then emotionally washed-out, third of Mahler's Wayfarer Songs, "Ich hab' ein glühend' Messer," at the 2010 Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, with Herbert Blomstedt (age 83) conducting the Mahler Youth Orchestra.
Here I was thinking we could cover the four songs of Mahler's Lieder eines farhrenden Gesellen) (Songs of a Wayfarer) in two posts (plus previews). Now it turns out that it's going to stretch to three.
In the first installment we got through the first two songs, "Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht" ("When my darling has her wedding day") and "Ging heut' Morgen übers Feld" ("Went this morning across the field"), which trace -- in an impressionistic rather than narrative way -- the aftermath of the wayfarer's rejected love. Then in Friday night's preview to today's post, we jumped to the great final song, "Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz" ("The two blue eyes of my darling"), which seems to resolve into some sort of acceptance. Along the way we've listened to the way Mahler recycled the second and fourth songs, or portions thereof, into key portions of the first and third movements of his First Symphony.
Well, we're going to hear the third and fourth songs today, all right. In fact, we've already heard the third, "Ich hab' ein glühend' Messer" ("I have a glowing knife") up top. But we're not going to do much more than that. I'm still struggling with how I want to get just a bit inside "Die zwei blauen Augen." And so I'm going to defer most of that to another time. We will, however, entertain a couple of Schubertian digressions.
TO COMPLETE THE WAYFARER CYCLE, AND HEAR
OUR PAIR OF SCHUBERT DIGRESSIONS, CLICK HERE
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Contemplation of justice
[W]hen you are changing the relation of the individual to the government in ... a unique way, do you not have a heavy burden of justification to show authorization under the Constitution?? - Justice Anthony Kennedy during oral arguments regarding the Affordable Care ActOne of the most "fascinating" aspects of the arguments presented before the Supreme Court regarding the Affordable Care Act and the individual mandate and penalty (the shared responsibility penalty), is how the Roberts Court and its members are contemplating, in truly ad hoc fashion, the transformation of the standards by which the constitutionality of Congressional action is to be judged. Indeed, the reason many of us believe the case is easily decided is not only because of the clear line of precedents from 1937 to the present, but by decisions issued by the Roberts Court and other decisions joined by the current members of the conservative bloc of the Roberts Court. I've discussed them before but it is worth revisiting.
The question before us, however, is not whether it is wise to enforce the statute in these circumstances; rather, it is whether Congress? power to regulate interstate markets for medicinal substances encompasses the portions of those markets that are supplied with drugs produced and consumed locally. Well-settled law controls our answer. The CSA is a valid exercise of federal power, even as applied to the troubling facts of this case. We accordingly vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals. [Emphasis supplied.]Justice Stevens, writing for the Court, was right. Wickard v Fillburn was fully on point:
Wickard [...] establishes that Congress can regulate purely intrastate activity that is not itself ?commercial,? in that it is not produced for sale, if it concludes that failure to regulate that class of activity would undercut the regulation of the interstate market in that commodity. [Emphasis supplied.]Repeating the key words: "Congress can regulate purely interstate activity that is not itself "commercial." In layman's terms, Congress can regulate what you do even if you are not engaged in commerce. Justice Kennedy fully joined the Raich opinion. As for Justice Scalia, he joined the result but wrote separately. But his words echo the rule stated above:
Congress?s regulatory authority over intrastate activities that are not themselves part of interstate commerce (including activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce) derives from the Necessary and Proper Clause. Id., at 78; Katzenbach v. McClung, 379 U.S. 294, 301?302 (1964); United States v. Wrightwood Dairy Co., 315 U.S. 110, 119 (1942); Shreveport Rate Cases, 234 U.S. 342, 353 (1914); United States v. E. C. Knight Co., 156 U.S. 1, 39?40 (1895) (Harlan, J., dissenting).1 And the category of ?activities that substantially affect interstate commerce,? Lopez, supra, at 559, is incomplete because the authority to enact laws necessary and proper for the regulation of interstate commerce is not limited to laws governing intrastate activities that substantially affect interstate commerce. Where necessary to make a regulation of interstate commerce effective, Congress may regulate even those intrastate activities that do not themselves substantially affect interstate commerce. [Emphasis supplied.]Thus, Justice Scalia's conception of Congressional power is even more expansive than that stated in the majority Raich opinion. He says "Congress may regulate even those intrastate activities that do not themselves substantially affect interstate commerce." The activities regulated need not even substantially affect interstate commerce for Congress to act according to Justice Scalia, because of the power afforded to Congress under the Necessary and Proper Clause. Justice Scalia explained:
Congress?s authority to enact laws necessary and proper for the regulation of interstate commerce is not limited to laws directed against economic activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. Though the conduct in Lopez was not economic, the Court nevertheless recognized that it could be regulated as ?an essential part of a larger regulation of economic activity, in which the regulatory scheme could be undercut unless the intrastate activity were regulated.? 514 U.S., at 561. This statement referred to those cases permitting the regulation of intrastate activities ?which in a substantial way interfere with or obstruct the exercise of the granted power.? Wrightwood Dairy Co., 315 U.S., at 119; see also United States v. Darby, 312 U.S. 100, 118?119 (1941); Shreveport Rate Cases, 234 U.S., at 353. As the Court put it in Wrightwood Dairy, where Congress has the authority to enact a regulation of interstate commerce, ?it possesses every power needed to make that regulation effective.? 315 U.S., at 118?119. [Emphasis supplied.]According to Justice Scalia, at least in Raich, "where Congress has the authority to enact a regulation of interstate commerce, it possesses every power needed to make that regulation effective." (My emphasis.) Webster's defines the word "every" as follows:
... being each individual or part of a group without exception.
In other words, "every power" means, um, every power. My view is that Justice Scalia overstates the case. In McCulloch v. Maryland, Chief Justice Marshall explained:
If the end be legitimate, and within the scope of the Constitution, all the means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, and which are not prohibited, may constitutionally be employed to carry it into effect. [...]There is the limit?prohibited by the Constitution. In U.S. v. Carolene Products, the Court explained:
If a certain means to carry into effect of any of the powers expressly given by the Constitution to the Government of the Union be an appropriate measure, not prohibited by the Constitution, the degree of its necessity is a question of legislative discretion, not of judicial cognizance. [Emphasis supplied.]
The power to regulate commerce is the power "to prescribe the rule by which commerce is to be governed," Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, 196, and extends to the prohibition of shipments in such commerce. Reid v. Colorado, 187 U.S. 137; Lottery Case, 188 U.S. 321; United States v. Delaware & Hudson Co., 213 U.S. 366; Hope v. United States, 227 U.S. 308; Clark Distilling Co. v. Western Maryland R. Co., 242 U.S. 311; United States v. Hill, 248 U.S. 420; McCormick & Co. v. Brown, 286 U.S. 131. The power "is complete in itself, may be exercised to its utmost extent, and acknowledges no limitations other than are prescribed by the Constitution." Gibbons v. Ogden, supra, 196.[Emphasis supplied.]To repeat, "the power is complete in itself, may be exercised to its utmost extent, and acknowledges no limitations other than are prescribed by the Constitution.." (My emphasis.) This is the applicable legal rule and neither Justices Scalia nor Justice Kennedy ever questioned it. At least, not until now. By contrast, Justice Thomas has consistently questioned this constitutional rule. In his dissent in Raich, Justice Thomas wrote:
Even the majority does not argue that respondents? conduct is itself ?Commerce among the several States.? Art. I, §8, cl. 3. Ante, at 19. Monson and Raich neither buy nor sell the marijuana that they consume. They cultivate their cannabis entirely in the State of California?it never crosses state lines, much less as part of a commercial transaction. Certainly no evidence from the founding suggests that ?commerce? included the mere possession of a good or some purely personal activity that did not involve trade or exchange for value. In the early days of the Republic, it would have been unthinkable that Congress could prohibit the local cultivation, possession, and consumption of marijuana.[...]Under Justice Thomas' reading of the Commerce and Necessary and Proper power, one could plausibly argue that the individual mandate violates the Constitution. But one would need to gut decades of settled precedent to do so. Such a reading would put in jeopardy our modern national state. Civil rights laws? Sorry no power for that. Environmental laws? Sorry, no power for that. Social Security? No can do. Medicare? Ditto.
In Lopez, I argued that allowing Congress to regulate intrastate, noncommercial activity under the Commerce Clause would confer on Congress a general ?police power? over the Nation. 514 U.S., at 584, 600 (concurring opinion). This is no less the case if Congress ties its power to the Necessary and Proper Clause rather than the Commerce Clause. When agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration raided Monson?s home, they seized six cannabis plants. If the Federal Government can regulate growing a half-dozen cannabis plants for personal consumption (not because it is interstate commerce, but because it is inextricably bound up with interstate commerce), then Congress? Article I powers?as expanded by the Necessary and Proper Clause?have no meaningful limits. Whether Congress aims at the possession of drugs, guns, or any number of other items, it may continue to ?appropria[te] state police powers under the guise of regulating commerce.? United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598, 627 (2000) (Thomas, J., concurring). [Emphasis supplied.]
But that was then, this is now, some might say. Why can't the Roberts Court develop its own limiting principles? Well, obviously they can. The Supreme Court has the final say on these things. But the question is?is there a principled way to do so? I believe the answer is no. And the answer is provided by the Roberts Court's decision in United States v. Comstock, decided in 2010. I'll discuss that case on the flip.
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Last week, I discussed a new paper on methane leakage, to argue that “Natural Gas Is A Bridge To Nowhere Absent A Carbon Price AND Strong Standards To Reduce Methane Leakage.” Last month, I wrote about a paper by climatologist Ken Caldeira and tech guru Nathan Myhrvold that came to a stronger conclusion: You Can?t Slow Projected Warming With Gas, You Need ?Rapid and Massive Deployment? of Zero-Carbon Power. I asked Caldeira to comment on the new paper. He slammed those who support a “fundamentally immoral” policy of delivering a hothouse climate to future generations, especially since avoiding the worst outcomes requires means redirecting at most 2% of our wealth. He expressed his views with a bluntness that is becoming increasingly common among climate scientists – JR.
Caldeira: “Basically, people are saying ‘If you don’t build this natural gas plant, we’ll build this coal plant.’ As the natural gas plant spews its CO2 into the atmosphere, we are supposed to be grateful that they didn’t shoot the dog.” [Apologies to National Lampoon].
By Ken Caldeira
Myhrvold and Caldeira (2012) presented a method for estimating climate consequences of energy system transitions. We used every Life Cycle Assessment study that we could get our hands on that provided the necessary level of detail. We also, in the Supporting Online Material that accompanied our paper, considered many cases with technological improvement. Our goal was to present a simple analytic framework that others could use to analyze energy system transitions in a physically defensible framework using numbers of their choosing. [See figure below.]
I am a climate scientist, not a power plant engineer. For the sake of discussion, I am happy to accept that 0.5 could be the ratio of emissions from a natural gas plant relative to those from a coal plant, and that something close to infinity could be the ratio of emissions from a natural gas plant relative to those from an intrinsically carbon-emission free technology (wind, solar, nuclear) constructed in a decarbonized economy of the future.
Under these assumptions, continued use of natural gas would delay but not avoid unwanted climate outcomes. Only the intrinsically carbon-emission free technologies can avoid these outcomes.
Note: This is me speaking mostly as a human being, a moral and political animal, and not me speaking as a scientist. As a human being, I ask questions that are related to my values and my conception of what is right and wrong. As a scientist, I answer these questions as objectively as I possibly can.
Every CO2 molecule is the same to the atmosphere. The atmosphere doesn’t care whether that CO2 molecule came from coal or natural gas.
We are converting the climate of our planet to one that is similar to the hothouse climates that existed on this planet when dinosaurs were the top predators. To a first approximation, if we emit greenhouse gases half as rapidly as we do today, we will wind up in the same place but it will take us twice as long to get there.
Economists estimate that it might cost something like 2% of our GDP to convert our energy system into one that does not use the atmosphere as a waste dump. When we burn fossil fuels and release the CO2 into the atmosphere, we are saying “I am willing to impose tremendous climate risk on future generations living throughout the world, so that I personally can be 2% richer today.” I believe this to be fundamentally immoral. We are saying we want to selfishly reap benefits today while imposing costs on strangers tomorrow.
Would we like it today if the Romans had developed a modern technological society like ours, and their scientists told them that using the atmosphere as a waste dump for greenhouse gases would melt the ice caps, acidity the oceans, overheat the tropics, cause species extinctions, etc, and then they decided to go ahead and do it anyway, just because they were selfish and didn’t care about other people? Perhaps their economists too would do a net present value calculation that would tell them that selfishness is the way to go. Would we be happy to have all of this environmental damage comforted by the knowledge that they knowingly imposed these costs on us in order to be 2% richer?
All I am asking is that we follow the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is fundamentally a moral issue, not an economic issue. Given what we know now, it is simply unethical to impose risk of grave damage on future generations just so that we can have a few more consumer products today.
The only ethical path is to stop using the atmosphere as a waste dump for greenhouse gas pollution.
As a political strategy, are we supposed to believe that somehow atmospheric CO2 concentrations will be lower in the future if today we expand fossil fuel industries that rely on using the atmosphere as a waste dump? Am I really supposed to persuaded that the path to lower future CO2 concentrations is by building more power plants with smokestacks that dump CO2 into the atmosphere?
If the problem is that we have too many power plants that dump greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere, I am highly skeptical that the way we are going to solve this problem is by building more power plants that dump greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere.
Energy demand is going up exponentially. Natural gas relative to coal brings down emissions fractionally. If you multiply an exponentially increasing curve times a constant, you get an exponentially increasing curve. It takes a little longer to get to the same value, but it does change the long-term trend. We have to decide whether we are in the business of delaying bad outcomes or whether we are in the business of preventing bad outcomes. If we want to prevent bad climate outcomes, we should stop using the atmosphere as a waste dump.
I am reminded of the famous old National Lampoon cover “If you don’t buy this magazine, we’ll kill this dog.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Natlamp73.jpg). Basically, people are saying “If you don’t build this natural gas plant, we’ll build this coal plant.” As the natural gas plant spews its CO2 into the atmosphere, we are supposed to be grateful that they didn’t shoot the dog.
If we build these natural gas plants, we reduce incentives to build the near zero emission energy system we really need. Natural gas is a delaying tactic. It is time to start building the near zero emission energy system of the future. There is no time to waste. There is plenty of energy in solar and wind, and I believe that nuclear power can be made safe. We need to improve these technologies, and come up with better ways to store and distribute energy. But we need to get started on this program now. Expansion of natural gas is a delaying tactic, not a solution.
Right wing extremists say what they want: They don’t worry about political realism. They work to make what they want be the political reality.
Their political positions may be immoral, but at least they are usually logically coherent.
So-called “progressives” are afraid to say what they really want, and instead worry about “political realism”. They start out with a compromised and logically indefensible position. They are too afraid to say that we should not be using the atmosphere to dispose of greenhouse gas pollution, so they argue for building more power plants that use the atmosphere to dispose of greenhouse gas pollution. It is a fundamentally compromised and indefensible position.
It is time to say what we really want, and not just propose things that we think the saner elements of the right-wing nut community might accept.
It’s time for progressives to learn from the right wing extremists that sometimes having a backbone can be good political strategy.
Myhrvold and Caldeira (2012) presented a very simple climate model to predict climate consequences of different energy system transitions. This model took into account the different atmospheric lifetimes of different greenhouse gases and the different radiative forcings of each gas, and also considered delays in the climate system caused primarily by the thermal inertia of the ocean. This is a simple and physically sensible way to look at the climate effects of different energy system transitions.
The Technology Warming Potential approach [of the new Alvarez et al paper] seems to be a step backward from simply calculating the temperature change caused by an emission. Thermal lags in the climate system matter, and it matters to the climate of year 2050 whether radiative forcing gets added to the climate system today or in year 2040.
Our approach of calculating climate-impacts using a simple climate involves calculations that are at about the same level of complexity as Alvarez et al (2012) used to to calculate their Technology Warming Potentials. I do not understand the advantage of sacrificing physical realism and ignoring the way thermal lags work in the climate system.
JR: Here is the key figure from Caldeira’s paper:
Many decades may pass before a transition from coal-based electricity to alternative generation technologies yields substantial temperature benefits. Panels above show the temperature increases predicted to occur during a 40-yr transition of 1 TWe of generating capacity. Warming resulting from continued coal use with no alternative technology sets an upper bound (solid black lines), and the temperature increase predicted to occur even if coal were replaced by idealized conservation with zero CO2 emissions (dashed lines) represents a lower bound. The colored bands represent the range of warming outcomes spanned by high and low life-cycle estimates for the energy technologies illustrated: (A) natural gas, (B) coal with carbon capture and storage, (C) hydroelectric, (D) solar thermal, (E) nuclear, (F) solar photovoltaic and (G) wind.
JR: Caldeira subsequently sent me this follow-up email:
A lot of things I said in my previous email were the result of generally getting worked up about the natural gas question, and was not a response to Alvarez et al (2012) in particular.(In fact, they didn’t even cite Myhrvold and Caldeira , which seems to be a bit of an oversight. Any links to the YouTube video we made on this would be much appreciated: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9LaYCbYCxo)Of course, their basic premise is correct: If you are going to burn natural gas, we need to focus on methane leakage from natural gas infrastructure.My quibble is with the antecedent, not the consequent.————–I do have a quibble with their methodology that considers time-integrated radiative forcing as the metric of choice.You can see this most clearly by looking at the climate effects of deforestation many centuries ago, such as occurred in China and India, versus deforestation occurring in the recent past in Brazil and Indonesia. The time integrated radiative forcing from ancient deforestation will be greater than an equivalent deforestation occurring 20 years ago, but the more recent deforestation will have a bigger effect on today’s climate. Recent deforestation will impact this century’s climate much more than will deforestation that occurred deep in history. The time-integrated radiative forcing approach fails to take the time dimension into consideration in a physically or economically justifiable way.Our simple climate model approach of predicting the temperature consequences of human actions is both physically motivated and conceptually simpler and thus it is more useful and broadly applicable.– Ken CaldeiraRelated Posts:
Rachel Maddow did an interesting piece Friday night that said something that needs to be said, over and over: John Edwards is being singled out for special treatment in his indictment. And unfortunately, people who might otherwise support him in fighting it have decided for their own reasons that he deserves to be punished because he cheated on his dying wife.
That's just plain crazy. And it's no basis for a criminal prosecution, as Maddow pointed out.
Nor is our personal affection for Elizabeth Edwards a good enough reason to look the other way while he's railroaded through a criminal trial that was brought by a politically ambitious Republican prosecutor:
MADDOW: The reason the reason I'm making a federal case about this is because a federal case has been made about this - specifically, about the money part.
During the campaign with the National Enquirer reporting he had an affair. the mistress was a politically inconvenient thing for this presidential campaign. Two of his very wealthy supporters spent $900,000 trying to hide the woman with whom John Edwards had the affair. [...]
They paid for her medical care while pregnant. According to the government, that $900,000 spent on his mistress, that was a campaign contribution. It was meant to protect his public image. [...] $900,000 being spent on that is way over the limit for how much you can legally donate to a campaign. Remember when we used to think there was [a limit on] how much money you could give to a campaign.
The John Edwards trial is unprecedented. Nobody has been indicted on charges like this before, let alone in the wild, wild world campaign of no rules with the Citizens United and the finance laws they have killed in the last few years. Sheldon Adelson has spent more than 16 times more that the money implicated in the John Edwards scandal on Newt Gingrich in the 2012 primary. At least, this case is not about whether or not John Edwards is a bad guy. Ultimately, this sex scandal boils down to whether he took campaign donations that were too big. Joining us now is Hampton Dellinger. He's been covering by blog. Thanks for your time. it's nice to have you here.
DELLINGER: You're welcome. Great to be with you.
MADDOW: I know you've been covering this closely. Did I get the basics about the scandal and the case? I wouldn't be surprised if I messed something up.
DELLINGER: I'm surprised you didn't. You got it spot on. This is a one of a kind. It will likely be the only case of its kind. We have corporations and individuals giving tens of millions of dollars in direct aid of candidates and their campaign. $900,000 in indirect aid doesn't feel good, doesn't smell right. Clearly, his activity as a husband was heinous, but it's never been considered felonious until now.
MADDOW: The decision to bring a prosecution here, you think it's no foregone clonclusion this is a criminal matter. They are making an issue of what might have motivated prosecutors in bringing this case. What can you tell us about the prosecutor in this case?
DELLINGER: There's no question that it's an inconvenient fact for the government. There's never been a case like this before. This is not Blagojevich selling a senate seat. This was not an ambassadorship for sale. A lot of folks have wondered what could have motivated this type of prosecution. It is a fact that the U.S. attorney, a staunch Republican who is able to stay in office, thanks to the Republican U.S. attorney scandal stayed in office during the first two years of the Obama administration. That U.S. attorney indicted John Edwards and stepped down and started running as a Republican for congress. He and Edwards crossed paths in the years past. I think there's a discomfort with a novel prosecution and the pivotal role played by someone who decided to play the candidate. He may be the next U.S. senator from North Carolina.
MADDOW: Has he made an issue of the fact that he brought their prosecution against John Edwards in trying to build his political career? Has he been campaigning on it?
DELLINGER: It's exhibit A.
MADDOW: Oh. In terms of the merits of case, when you look at the defense team that John Edwards put together, that's a fascinating part of this. He's is trial lawyer, yet he's had to build a legal team. Do you think he's done a good job of building a defense team?
DELLINGER: He's built a team and torn them apart, going through them like Elizabeth Taylor through husbands. It's been troubling to see how many fine attorneys have been part of his defense team and then left. The outcome, we can't know. We do know this is a jury that's going to be working class. I was in court the other day when the pool came in. You saw more baseball caps than neckties and t-shirts than button downs. It's the type of jury that john edward appealed to as a candidate, that he talked about in his "Two Americas" speech. it's the kind of jury that he thinks he's got a chance with, but boy, is he taking a risk.
MADDOW: Hampton Dellinger. thanks for following this so closely. I appreciate it.
DELLINGER: You're welcome.
Watch the tape, the available transcript was really garbled in parts.
A few days ago I made a post t I called Thought Of The Day. Here is what I said– “It is easy to join a permanent opposition or to make common cause for a brief time with the enemy of your enemy. It is a more difficult thing to ?govern? in the sense of offering [...]
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Here is the weekly posting of the Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. TPA members are citizen-bloggers working for a better Texas. (Above–The famous gusher at Spindletop.) Every Texan and every American has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write [...]
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Rhonda, the heroine of Mary Pauline Lowry?s magical novel, The Earthquake Machine, is a young woman lost in the borderlands of late adolescence, family dysfunction, sexual identity and the mysteries of love, desire and friendship. On a river trip with[...]
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