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The Shirley Sherrod saga has continued, as most of you know. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack (above) has apologized for firing the state rural development director. She is not inclined to take a job Vilsack offered.  The Post gives proper credit to CNN for getting the full story on Sherrod’s situation. The Des Moines Register gives a good rundown on Vilsack’s history on civil rights matters. And Talking Points Memo writes a story about how this situation is related to the Pigford settlement between USDA and black farmers who faced discrimination at the agency. (Sherrod was a Pigford plaintiff.)

Finally, Sherrod told the television talk shows this morning that she’d like to talk to President Obama, but not about her situation. “I’d like to talk to him about the experiences of people like me, people at the grassroots level, people who live out here in rural America people, who live in the South. I know he does not have that kind of experience,” Sherrod said.

•The Federal Communications Commission has concluded that between 14 and 24 million Americans still lack access to broadband “and that the immediate prospects for deployment are bleak.” Download the report here. The report concludes that universal deployment is not being reached “in a timely way” and that many of those affected “are poor or live in rural areas that will remain unserved without reform of the universal service program and other changes to U.S. broadband policy that spur investment in broadband networks by lowering the cost of deployment.”

Politico notes that even friends of the coal industry are saying that changes federal regulations and in markets for other energy sources could soon make coal, now the cheapest source of energy, one of the most expensive options for producing power.

“Regulations are coming in the future. If coal does nothing, coal will lose,” Sen. Byron Dorgan said in an interview with POLITICO. “The reason I have reached out to the coal industry is that they’ve been on the defensive position, not negotiating with anyone, and they’re going to lose under that. With or without carbon regulations, there will be a substantial conversion to natural gas, and coal will lose.”

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