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The Obama magic is everywhere. The other day in the Covered Bazaar a natty gentleman of a certain age dragged us into his back room to show off a photograph of himself and Laura Bush, who had visited the market on some no-doubt well orchestrated tour when W was hanging with his G-8 buddies or someone.

I said that Laura was OK, her husband not so much, and the old dude agreed. Bush NO! O-Ba-Ma YES! Seems to be universal. . .They've just banned smoking in public places in Turkey, and it seems to be working fine. This in a country where cigarette smoking was virtually universal. I've heard grumbling in a restaurant or two, but no outright defiance so far. . .I'm off to the eastern Black Sea this afternoon to visit a village I lived in in the '60s as a Peace Corps volunteer. We'll see how the ban is playing there. . .Finally, virtually the only cars you see here are compact taxis, which may be the result of gas that costs more than 12 dollars a gallon. At that there are too many cars, but if gas were as cheap as it is in the U.S. I'd hate to think.

The signs of greening are everywhere. Paris has thousands of bicycles for rent—with the first half hour free (Velolib, it's called), and there's hardly anywhere in the city you can't get to in a half-hour. There are bike lanes as well, though they're in the middle of the sidewalks, so you must be alert. Almost no bike riders wear helmets for some reason ; maybe it's the great health-care system. Cars in general are tiny, though there are way too many. Stores are full of « bio » (organic) products of all sorts.

The talk is all of Obama's Nobel prize, with people here as preplexed as everywhere else at the timing. Obama himself is wildly popular, seemingly with nearly everybody. It's quite refreshing not to be ashamed of being an American again after the past eight years' nightmare. We send the best and will try to write again (from Turkey next time) soon.
 

Boosters of nuclear power plants usually depend on the fact that the facilities emit no greenhouse gases for their rationale, and a powerful one it is. They generally ignore problems of proliferation, terrorist vulnerability, the need to isolate and store waste products essentially forever, the expense of building the plants (once they're built they're relatively cheap to operate, but building them is very expensive), and the lack of capacity to enrich and manufacture their fuel.

In the 'seventies, when nuclear power plants prompted demonstrations from San Luis Obispo to Upstate New York, the concerns were all about accidents (Chernobyl, Three Mile Island), low-level radiation from normal operation of the plants, what to do with the waste, and the fact that the federal government had to underwrite liability insurance. In the end, it was simple economics that was largely responsible for the demise of the industry (no new plant has been built for more than 25 years).

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