Thumbs up: Thumbs down 

Thumbs up: Fierce Female Futbollers

Thumbs up for a gut-wrenching U.S. defeat in the final game of the Women's World Cup? Hell yes! And it's not just sympathy for a traumatized sympathy for Japan, either. The World Cup is awesome no matter who wins — it's the best of the best. We say thumbs up to all those women who engaged in the epic battle that was the 2011 final. They fought for 120 minutes straight with barely 15 minutes to rest. They kept us on the edge of our seats. They scored amazing goals. They played tough. They embodied the true meaning of the beautiful game. And for our humble, corn-covered state to have members of our tribe — Lauren Cheney and Lori Lindsey — occupy two of the 21 places on that U.S. National Team...Well, that's something truly special. Ladies, we salute you!

Thumbs up: Shining the light on Duke

With accusations of cronyism and mismanagement running rampant, the story of Duke Energy's coal gasification project is gaining the drama it needs to launch it beyond the esoteric world of utility regulation and into an arena where the lackadaisical and disinterested general public can engage. Now the onus falls on Duke to make the case to the Indiana Regulatory Commission that all the drama is just a big misunderstanding, that charging Hoosier consumers upfront for cost overruns totaling about 50 percent of the original project price tag is indeed the prudent and correct course of action. Kudos to Star reporter John Russell for uncovering questionable communication between Duke's people and former members of IURC, and for continuing to follow the story with dogged determination. We'll stay tuned.

Thumbs down: Donation drop

The pressures of leaner financial times are evident by looking at the funding plan for United Way of Central Indiana. No question, the $32.2 million set for distribution in fiscal year 2011, which began in July, will help the 106 local organizations in line for funding. But overall agency services investments are down 3.6 percent from 2010 and United Way cut its own operating expenses by 6.2 percent. No use wringing our hands over our empty pocket, though. The city needs mentors, coaches, and food pantry stockers... Visit http://helpindyonline.com/volunteerand get involved!

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