Wednesday Links

I’ve lagged on original commentary and writing, I’ll correct that soon. In the meantime, links!

Who’s the extremist?

And so it goes. The Democratic mayor of Washington, Vincent Gray, called on citizens to “fight back against oppression.” What oppression, you ask? Riders to the 2011 federal budget would end taxpayer funding for abortions and allow a handful of poor kids in D.C. to once again escape public schools. (Talk about fighting oppression.) Choice, as you know, is tyranny. Sometimes.

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The IMF’s World Economic Outlook (WEO), published this week, aims to shatter such complacency. America, its authors write, lacks a credible strategy for dealing with its growing public debt, and is expanding its budget deficit at a time when it should be shrinking. The chart below, drawn from the WEO, illustrates the size of the problem America faces.

As the mountaintops fall, a coal town vanishes

Less than a decade ago, Ms. Gunnoe was working as a waitress, just trying to get along, when a mountaintop removal operation in the small map dot of Bob White disrupted her “home place.” It filled the valley behind her house, flooded her property, contaminated her well and transformed her into a fierce opponent of mountaintop removal. Through her work with the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, she has become such an effective environmental advocate that in 2009 she received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. But no one threw a parade for her in Boone County, where some deride her as anti-coal; that is, anti-job.

Mexico reports 28 more bodies in pits near U.S. border

The police say witnesses have told them that gunmen had been pulling people, mostly young men, off passenger buses traveling through the San Fernando area in late March. The authorities say the abductions were carried out by the Zetas drug gang, the same group accused in the killings of 72 migrants last August in the same area.

The motive for the abductions remains unclear, though prosecutors have suggested that the gang may have been forcibly recruiting people.

Lobbyists won key concessions in budget deal

The plan to allow some employees to “opt out” of their employer-sponsored plans and choose their own coverage drew opposition from an unusual alliance of unions and businesses. Supporters said the vouchers would give employees more options and spur competition in the marketplace. Critics contended that younger, healthier employees would leave the plans and make insurance costlier for older, less healthy workers.