The Week in Review

Highlights from the week that was on

Mayoral madness in Philly: The Democratic primary that the city of brotherly love had been gearing up for finally happened — as Michael Nutter claims victory, Philadelphia Weekly all but proclaims him the new mayor of the heavily Democratic city. Meanwhile, Philadelphia City Paper profiles the elephant, so to speak, in the room: Al Taubenberger, the GOP’s nominee for mayor.

Legislating fundamentalism: The Texas Observer sits down with State Rep. Warren Chisum, who wants Bibles in schools, abortions outlawed, and state-backed marriage counseling for couples wanting to take the plunge. He’s currently the head of the state’s House Appropriations Committee.

Textbooks and checkbooks: It’s been known for some time that higher education has turned into a very big business, as we’ve see proven yet again with the recent scandals involving student loan companies’ insider access. Fort Worth Weekly looks at another aspect of the higher-ed racket — the too-frequent updating of textbooks, which leaves college students able to sell fewer and fewer books back, and also reduces the number of used books on the market for next year’s crop of students.

The sub-prime of life: In many communities, foreclosures have become a way of life. The Houston Press notes “the market is a constellation of dubious lenders, brokers, servicers and investment trusts,” and takes a closer look at one such lender, Litton Loan.

Jane & Jill still not quite Jack & Jill: As Oregon passes its Domestic Partnership bill, Willamette Week runs down the many ways in which gays remain second-class citizens.

The war continues: Theoretically, for Adrian Jimenez, the hard part is over. After all, the marine made it back to the U.S. from a tour in Iraq. But now the recovering alcoholic medicated on anti-depressants is living at a VA hospital and fighting to make it the rest of the way home. Monterey County Weekly tells his story.

Farming for the future: Seven Days spends some time with two Vermont carbon farmers to find out just what the hell carbon offsets are.

Death proceedings: Last week, we mentioned Philip Workman, who was recently executed in Tennessee despite new evidence suggesting he was innocent. This week, the Nashville Scene’s Sarah Kelley files a dispatch from the execution and recaps the case.

Greening your green: Sacramento News & Review writer Jennifer Davidson took a one-week self-taught crash course in sustainable investing, and breaks down what she learned in this diary.

Breaking the automotive addiction Louisville Eccentric Observer writer Stephen George recently gave up his car for a month to see if he could get around the small city without it, and to see how it changed his life. He reports on his “unscientific study” this week.

Canvas might not be enough: The damage caused by plastic bags is becoming common knowledge, and we’re seeing more and more canvas totes lugging groceries, beer, and whatever else people are buying. In this week’s Ecoholic column, Adria Vasil clues us in on which ones are not only earth-friendly, but also sweatshop-free.

Goin’ postal: So, the Postal Service raised first-class postage rates again, to 41 cents. Baltimore City Paper’s Mr. Wrong wonders: “Why, oh why, my sweet Jesus H. Christ of Latter-Day Saints Inc. do they raise the price of stamps to not-round numbers? And you know who They are, seriously, with the Star Wars R2-D2 mailboxes? Who asked for that?”

Steal this story idea: The Chicago Reader’s annual “These Parts” issue “sends correspondents out beyond the city limits to explore the region around us,” and once again, they prove you can find some pretty interesting topics when you leave the metropolis. This year’s topics include Hot Dog University, the world’s only black Neil Diamond impersonator, and “the Pompeii of the midwest.” The Week in Review

Highlights from the week that was on

Two men taken off death row: After sitting on death row for close to 20 years, Curtis McCarty was released on Friday, and the Oklahoma Gazette was there. In a different course of events, the Nashville Scene sadly reports on the execution of Philip Workman, despite evidence casting new doubt on his guilt.

The childless mothers: In a touching Mother’s Day piece, North Carolina’s Independent Weekly puts a face on the mothers left behind in the wake of gun violence, with a striking photo essay, accompanied by short histories of their losses.

Guns, not roses: As the Virginia Tech shootings continue to reverberate through the nation, gun control is the talk of the town. C-Ville Weekly reports on an executive order in Virginia that closed the gun loophole that allowed Seung-Hui Cho to purchase the guns used at Virginia Tech. Meanwhile, Style Weekly notes that “the renewed debate about gun control highlights a new paradigm: The Democrats, it turns out, are packing heat.”

Presidential prognostication: As the presidential campaign ratchets up, Ted Rall writes in his “utterly reckless 2008 preview” that the “number threes” — John Edwards and Mitt Romney — are the real frontrunners.

9/11’s bodies: It has been more than five years, but some families of 9/11 victims are still fighting to get their loved ones’ remains out of a garbage dump. The New York Press talks to the families and reports on their lawsuit.

Starving children with love and fear: The Phoenix New Times reports on a vegan couple who were so concerned with childhood obesity and health food that they gave their children seizures, resulting in the death of one and the near-death of another.

Prosecuting fiction: Karen Fletcher writes fictional stories of sexual violence against children, and now she’s been charged with violating federal anti-obscenity laws. Pittsburgh City Paper notes that it’s the first such case since 1973 dealing strictly with the written word and talks to many who wonder how far the government is willing to go to fight “indecency.”

War stories: As has been the case for the past five years, the elephant in the newsroom is still war, and two noteworthy war-related reports were on the site this week. Metro Times looks at the mercenary problem in Iraq, and Shepherd Express examines the military’s treatment of women.

Summer (movie) lovin’: Do they have an official calendar that tells critics when the “summer movie” season begins? If so, it must have been this week, as three alt-weeklies grace us with their Summer Movie Previews.

‘New Moon’ brings a ‘Fond Farewell’: A posthumous double-disc of early Elliott Smith recordings was released this month, and SF Weekly’s Jennifer Maerz dives headfirst — not only into New Moon, but into “memories from the prime years of a relationship that lasted more than a decade, with a boyfriend I was going to marry.”

A half-century in TV, coming to an end: Bob Barker has hosted The Price is Right for 35 years, but come June 6, the 17-time Emmy winner will remind viewers to help control the pet population for the final time. He talks with LA Weekly about the future, the past and corded microphones.

From the archives: Jerry Falwell’s War on the ACLU: Upon the opening of Falwell’s Liberty University in 2004, the Boston Phoenix noted his aim of training “conservative warriors” to fight “important battles against anti-religious zealots.” The Week in Review

Highlights from the week that was on

Death in Virginia: The big story this week was the Virginia Tech shootings, and alt-weeklies were no exception. Washington City Paper sent a reporter down to Blacksburg, Va., while papers across the country commented on everything from the media mob to the sheer unpredictability of these tragedies.

Green, indeed: Earth Day was this weekend, and many alt-weeklies celebrated by publishing special Green Issues, while others tackled Green topics ranging from sustainable sex toys to alternative transportation to urban farmingand everything in between.

Killed on tape: On the heels of several recent recorded incidents of police brutality in Chicago, the Chicago Reader reported on another act of police misconduct recorded by security camera — the killing of Michael Pleasance. The footage, never before publicly released, was made public by the Reader, with narration by writer John Conroy.

Fest-ivus: The annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival begins this Friday, and, as usual, Gambit Weekly’s got it covered. This Friday also marks the start of a very different festival — LA Weekly’s Kate Sullivan pulled together four potential menus for Coachella to suit the tastes of some imaginary friends.

Homeland security run amok: The Texas Observer revealed a database that may already contain information on 1 million Texans. Created to coordinate information between various law enforcement agencies, the database is being run by the governor’s office, not by any actual law enforcement agency. It left me wondering: Could this be happening in other states too?

‘Law & Order’ candidates: Will Fred Thompson run for president or won’t he? The real answer is: Who cares? Westword handicapped the rest of the stars of the always-on-TV franchise, if any of them are thinking about throwing a hat in the presidential ring.

When did hip-hop get so coked out? That’s the question East Bay Express writer Erik Arnold sorted through in his piece that touched on the “Yay Area,” Clipse, the loss of afrocentricity and Young Jeezy. So who’s to blame for the explosion of the cocaine flow? Reagan? 50 Cent? Blender magazine?

From the archives: As Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was grilled last week on Capitol Hill and somehow managed to hang on to his job, we give you the 2004 Boston Phoenix story, “Alberto Gonzales, The Devil You Don’t Know,” which warned those who cheered John Ashcroft’s departure to think twice, as Gozales was a “considerably more dangerous replacement.”

Steal this story idea: Earlier this month, Philadephia City Paper executed a simple idea in a way that had to entertain its readers who know Philly well (or think they do). The writer took a look at some popular travel guides for the city, highlighted some of the more ridiculous and incorrect passages, and gave his rebuttal to each. All it takes is a couple of hours in the bookstore and an alt-weekly’s command of local knowledge to do this one. The Week in Review

Highlights from the week that was on

So it goes: As news organizations across the globe paid their respects to literary legend Kurt Vonnegut, NUVO published what may have been his last interview, given to his friend David Hoppe.

If this is solidarity: SF Weekly’s Matt Smith uncovered a slew of documents that point to a “sweetheart deal” between the SEIU and California nursing home companies — Smith says it impairs, rather than empowers, workers and patients, while inflating dues-paying union ranks.

Death and taxes: Most Americans filed their federal taxes before this week’s deadline, but some didn’t. Both the New Haven Advocate and Willamette Week looked at the growing movement of war tax resisters.

Ghost soldiers: A Baltimore City Paper investigation examined the Maryland Army National Guard’s practice of keeping discharged soldiers on the books to inflate its federal funding.

Memoir-ies: David Sedaris responded in the Shepherd Express to New Republic writer Alex Heard’s allegations of fabrication.

Bringing (Un)sexy back: The Boston Phoenix revealed 2007’s ‘100 Unsexiest Men in the World.’

From the Archives: As Paul Wolfowitz holds on for dear life at the World Bank, it’s worth checking out Jason Vest’s 2005 Village Voice story chronicling the long list of dubious achievements that have occurred on his watch.

Steal this Story Idea: As part of its “Bike Issue,” NOW Magazine undertook its own “Commuter Challenge,” sending out three writers to find the most efficient means of getting around town: bike, public transit, or car. Time, calories burned, environmental footprint and cost per year were all totaled up — it’s probably not a mystery who “won,” but it’s a good read and an easy project to execute nonetheless.

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