It's a beautiful morning here, one of those mornings no one in Beijing ever has anymore where you can pretend it's the 70s and the world is less polluted but visions of stagflation might dance in your head, or you can be like Moe and I and pretend it's the 90s and read about 90s music and China's human rights record and WTO negotiations and wish you lived in Berlin instead. But it's 2008 and real questions await like: What EXACTLY is a green collar job? Will Obama embrace Virginia governor Tim Kaine more fully than in this picture? And why do we care what some crazy guy's motives were for shooting a bunch of people in a church when he is obviously crazy and thus his motivations are no more explicable that the motives of any other crazy person, including the first guy that ever sent me a crap-anything-from-a-dude...or Dan Quayle's? These questions and many, many others will stay unanswered after the jump, at least until you get to the comment threads.MEGAN: Hey, there, what's up? MOE: I'm getting coffee. I'll be online in 5. I really feel like its the seventies today. Even the good news on the front of the Times about the natural gas in Louisiana is kind of dark. MEGAN: Sure, no worries MOE: Well the good news is that former Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle is in on some Kurdish oil deal. That is bound to make him a lot of money and he sure deserves it having had the foresight to liberate The Iraq and also suck up to Bill Clinton's friend that dictator guy across the border in Kazakhstan, even as Seymour Hersh and his cabal of elite treason-loving freedom haters were knocking that for being a "conflict of interest" or whatever. Thanks to Wikipedia, we know Richard Perle explained back in 2003 that Sy Hersh was basically a terrorist, so we probably don't need to spend much more time on his smears. Especially with such other positive energy deals in the works as this one that is making everyone in De Soto Parish, Louisiana, suddenly a card carrying Cadillac owning rich person! And that makes 1 place GM might make a profit this year. MEGAN: Well, unless they bought it outright, I'd say GMAC bought a bunch of Caddies more than people in DeSoto did, but no matter. By the way, Bush has signed off on the first military execution since 1961. It's also the first actively-pursued execution since then. Can we all take a moment to be unsurprised that the soon-to-be executed man is black? MOE: There are six other men on military death row. Are you saying that's why he got to go first? Incidentally, I never thought much about the death penalty before The Idiot wherein the lead character is this charismatic Christ figure named Mishkin, which happens to be the name of the retiring Federal Reserve board governor who apparently wants to set inflation targets, something I don't have much of an opinion on today, although I read somewhere else that only about a third of jobless are receiving unemployment benefits these days, down from 44% in 2001 and 52% when all "social safety net" stuff was actually taken seriously, before the breakdown of the family made us all stupid and neighbors started locking their doors at night and buying homes in ever farther-flung suburbs, a trend no one thought would ever ever end but boy were they wrong, but hey, on the bright side, it's a good thing we didn't turn out Berlin, right? All opera and free education and cheap rent and richly endowed cultural institutions and SO LITTLE GDP GROWTH??? Anyway, we were supposed to "weigh in" on that Tennessee guy. Um, he sucks is my opinion. Because all the drawbacks of breakneck economic growth are so easily reversible! Oh wait. MEGAN: Yeah, I'm sort of all like, meh, whatever, another crazy person went on another crazy shooting and we're supposed to go, ohhhh, it's because he hated liberals? Well, maybe he just hated Unitarians, it's not like he went to the local Democratic Party offices. Why would anyone expect that the guy's homicidal/suicidal rantings would make sense? It was like 4 pages long. I haven't written a letter that long since my best friend in junior high moved to Canada, not even the one time that I got a letter from a guy I'd been dating in college 3 weeks after the school year ended telling me what a stupid, slutty, vicious cunt I was but that he was only writing to make sure that he hadn't knocked me up so then he really wouldn't have to have speak to me again. God, damn, I wonder if I still have that letter somewhere. Anyway, even he didn't merit a 4 page reply. But God knows what Mr. Crazypants in Tennessee will write when he learns GOP hero Dan Quayle is about to turn Mr. Fancypants and is in talks to join Dancing With the Stars. MOE: Yeah, oh god, Dan Quayle, it's the nineties again all right. Except insofar as the pollution in China is hella worse. MEGAN: They're even still defending their human rights record. Seems like it would've been easier to try harder not to be human-rights violators in the last 20 years or whatever, but whatever. MOE: Pitchfork crapsters: previous link contains JARVIS COCKER, J MASCIS, SEBADOH, LIZ PHAIR, BUILT TO SPILL, MISSION OF BURMA annnnnnnd Flava Flav, referencing his popular reality TV show! To get us back on the Dan Quayle angle. Lou Barlow does not sound like he held up too well, but we'll forgive him because his cover of Ratt's "Round And Round" was such a sparkling contribution to the culture. Okay, and also, pollution. because it's kind of a really good story with implications for the whole next century.

Shougang Steel Group, the giant steelmaker whose name translates as "Capital Steel," was ordered to relocate most of its operations hundreds of miles away to a partly manmade island. Xiang Dong, who worked at the company for 16 years, says he cried when his unit was shut down on March 31. Most of his 600 or so colleagues were transferred to the new facility. "Of course I was sad. A lot of coworkers cried when it stopped," says Mr. Xiang, who continues to work as a caretaker at the mothballed production line. "But this is for the Olympic dream. We do some sacrifices for that."

MEGAN: Speaking of human rights records, did you know the American Medical Association didn't support the 1964 Civil Rights Act? That they deliberately shut down black medical colleges, understaffed black hospitals while forcing the segregation issues, allowed affiliates to keep black doctors out and are only just now apologizing? Because I didn't. MOE: Oh God, I looked at that story and had no idea what it was about, other than I didn't feel like I needed another reason to disrespect doctors this week. Holy shit. MEGAN: Ahem. I'm feeling a little disrespectful to the medical establishment this morning, though, but I will change the subject before I rage out for the 2nd time in as many days and so we can talk about the Doha talks in which they're still debating the same fucking issues they did 2 years ago when I got my writing start authoring a "humorous" round-up of the week's events in the WTO negotiations. No, for real. MOE: Oh, great last graf:

Consider this statistic: In 1910, when Abraham Flexner published his report on medical education, African-Americans made up 2.5 percent of the number of physicians in the United States. Today, they make up 2.2 percent.

MEGAN: Yeah, that was the best kicker I'd read all day. MOE: Anyway, I have to go sort of. But the buzz today is Obama closing in maybe on Tim Kaine for VP. Do you think Obama could win your state? Maybe I could go home and vote there since Philly seems to have forgotten I existed. Garry Kasparov thinks O needs to go hard on Russia, not a shock, the Ataturk Thought Association is worried the country is turning into Iran following a raid on their headquarters. And I'm still hung up on China, because at some point the world needs to figure out how to make the whole green collar jobs thing work, and just to spite the fucking Republicans I hope they do it in Berlin. MEGAN: One of my friends just took a green collar job! He mostly took it, though as a third job because his former employer outsourced a bunch of their work and his second job as a tattoo apprentice doesn't pay the bills either so now he's working at a recycling plant. He says he doesn't feel very green except on the really hot days and then he does, but only around the gills. As for Virginia, polls show it's tight, so who knows. The Washington Post keeps running stories I'm too lazy to find at the moment that Obama's operation in the state just keeps expanding and expanding so maybe? I don't think Kerry was within a point or two of Bush, like, ever in 2004.