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Democrats focus on getting the vote out

MAPLE HEIGHTS, Ohio — Democrats have tried improving the political climate, discrediting their Republican opponents and asking Americans for patience in tackling the nation’s challenges, but the party’s best hope of stemming deep losses on Election Day may now rest on loyalty and logistics, not persuasion.

The final seven days of the campaign provide the biggest test yet for the enduring strength of President Barack Obama’s network of supporters, which party leaders are relying on to build a critical firewall in races for Congress and governor. Republicans hold an array of advantages with the electorate, but Democrats believe their voter turnout operation is one key equalizer.

As Republican candidates and their allies rely more on television advertising to rally their core voters, Democrats are deploying a presidential-style effort to awaken supporters and ensure they cast a ballot. The get-out-the-vote program by Democrats and their allies will not save all of their endangered candidates, but organizers hope it can help offset excitement among Republican voters, particularly in Ohio, where early voting has been under way since Sept. 28.

For all the talk about how Obama has been an anchor on Democratic candidates — Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi, locked in the toughest race of his career, declared over the weekend that he voted for Sen. John McCain for president — there are other places where the president is seen as the last best hope of salvaging his party’s majority.

Buying bonds, investors
bet on inflation

At a time when savers complain that they are earning almost no interest from their bank accounts, some investors Monday bought U.S. government bonds that effectively had negative interest.

In an auction of a special kind of five-year Treasury bond, investors paid $105.50 for every $100 of bonds the government sold — agreeing to pay the government for the privilege of lending it money.

The reason: These types of bonds offer a guaranteed protection against inflation. So, if inflation soars — as some economists worry might happen, with the government seeking to give the economy a boost by flooding it with money — the value of the bonds would go up accordingly.

The investors who took part in the $10 billion auction are betting that inflation, now at about 1 percent annually, will rise to a level that more than compensates for the premium they paid.

The unusual auction on Monday “reflects a condition in the Treasury market that has been in place for months, chiefly that yields on shorter maturities have moved below the inflation rate,” Anthony Crescenzi, a senior vice president at the bond giant Pimco, wrote in a research note.

At cholera epicenter, fear, misery, and hope

ST.-MARC, Haiti — Inside the courtyard of St. Nicholas Hospital, beyond the gate with the handwritten sign stating “Diarrhea Emergency Only,” lies a grim but unusually orderly scene at the epicenter of this country’s unexpected cholera epidemic.

Scores of children and adults are doubled over or stretched out on every available surface, racked by convulsive stomach disorder or limp with dehydration. Buckets sit by their sides, intravenous solutions drip into their arms. Life hangs in the balance, yet there is a sober, almost eerie calm.

Treatment is rescuing more than 90 percent of those who get to a clinic, and that is why health officials concentrated Monday on bolstering local hospitals and erecting cholera centers throughout the Artibonite region. This is, for the moment, the area of high infection where the bacteria must be aggressively attacked before it spreads.

International health officials stressed that the pattern of the outbreak was almost impossible to predict. But Monday was a relatively good day: Only six cholera deaths were registered in a 24-hour period after more than 200 died of the acute bacterial infection in the first few days of the epidemic. The known death toll now stands at 253, with more than 3,000 cases, all but 450 or so in the Artibonite area.

Navajos look to move away from coal in favor of sun and wind

BLUE GAP, Ariz. — For decades, coal has been an economic lifeline for the Navajos, even as mining and power plant emissions dulled the blue skies and sullied the waters of their sprawling reservation.

But today there are stirrings of rebellion. Seeking to reverse years of environmental degradation and return to their traditional values, many Navajos are calling for a future built instead on solar farms, ecotourism and microbusinesses.

“At some point we have to wean ourselves,” Earl Tulley, a Navajo housing official, said of coal as he sat on the dirt floor of his family’s hogan, a traditional circular dwelling.

Tulley, who is running for vice president of the Navajo Nation in the Nov. 2 election, represents a growing movement among Navajos that embraces environmental healing and greater reliance on the sun and wind, abundant resources on a 17-million-acre reservation spanning Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

At the grass-roots level, the internal movement advocating a retreat from coal is both a reaction to the environmental damage and the health consequences of mining — water loss and contamination, smog and soot pollution — and a reconsideration of centuries-old tenets.

But the shift is also prompted by economic realities. Tribal leaders say the Navajo Nation’s income from coal has dwindled 15 percent to 20 percent in recent years as federal and state pollution regulations have imposed costly restrictions and lessened the demand for mining.