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Thumbs down — Pull your hair


In April, the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter took hair samples from 38 people in Indianapolis, most of whom were local residents, and guess what? All 38 samples showed traces of mercury; three samples were above the Environmental Protection Agency's health guideline for mercury. Mercury is a neurotoxin that can harm the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver. It is especially dangerous to fetuses and young children. Mercury is released into the environment by local power plants. It is then deposited in the ground and gets into White River sediments, where fish pick it up. "The only real answer to the problem," said Chrystal Ratcliffe, of the local chapter of the NAACP, "is to have better pollution controls to reduce the mercury that comes out of power plant stacks." Ratcliffe said fish contamination is a threat to people who live in the inner city and catch and eat fish in the White River and its tributaries.

Thumbs down — What's in a name


Downtown planners need to get a grip and lay off plans to rename the remodeled Georgia St. in time for next February's Super Bowl. The Metropolitan Development Commission has said it will make a recommendation to the mayor regarding a possible name change on Oct. 19. That date seems rather arbitrary, but even more arbitrary is the exercise of trying to name a new civic amenity that doesn't even exist yet, and that no one has actually experienced. It would be far better to let the thing be built, develop a little history and, perhaps, earn itself a nickname based on its use and character. At the moment, "Back Hoe Row" comes to mind...

Thumbs Up — Two-party system


For more years than we can count, Richard Lugar has kept one of Indiana's seats in the U.S. Senate securely in the Republican column. But thanks to a coalition of 55 Indiana Tea Party groups, this may be about to change — or at least become competitive. Last Saturday, Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate endorsed state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in his Republican primary challenge for Lugar's seat. Monica Boyer, a co-founder of the Tea Party group, was quoted in the Indianapolis Star saying Tea Partiers "were tired of Senator Lugar constantly moving the conservative goal posts to the liberal end of the playing field." This would be a surprise to liberals, who had just as much reason to complain about Lugar's seemingly knee-jerk support for conservative causes during the last Bush administration, but never mind. The point is that a successful challenge to Lugar's Senate sinecure could actually make for a race in November of 2012, between, ahem, Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelly.

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