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Weekly Pulse: Anti-masturbation crusader Christine O'Donnell is master of her domain

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Christine O’Donnell is master of her domain. The deeply conservative Tea Party darling won the Republican senate nomination in Delaware last night with a stunning upset of establishment favorite Rep. Mike Castle.

O’Donnell rose to prominence as an anti-masturbation crusader in the 1990s. Jillian Rayfield of Talking Points Memo has video of O’Donnell’s 1996 appearance on MTV’s series “Sex in the Nineties” in which she and her colleagues from the Savior’s Alliance for Lifting the Truth Ministry. (SALT) O’Donnell warns teens that masturbation is adultery that will undermine their future marital sex lives: “You’re going to be pleasing each other, and if he already knows what pleases him and he can please himself, then why am I in the picture?” she asks.

Lest you think the anti-masturbation ministry was a youthful indiscretion, O’Donnell was still listed as the contact person for SALT on a web directory last updated in 2009. Christina Bellantoni of TPMDC reports that O’Donnell remained an outspoken social conservative on the campaign trail.

Blessing in disguise?

Suzi Khimm of Mother Jones sees O’Donnell’s victory as a potential blessing in disguise for Democrats:

Ultimately, though, the biggest benefactor of an O’Donnell victory could be the Democratic Party, as she has a significantly weaker shot against the likely Democratic contender, lawyer and county executive Chris Coons. [...] If the GOP loses Delaware, it could completely blow its chance at getting enough seats for a Senate majority.

Adele Stan of AlterNet reports that, as of 3 o’clock on Wednesday morning, former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte was still locked in a dead heat with Tea Party favorite Ovide Lamontagne for the Republican Senate nomination. Does Ayotte’s name sound familiar? That’s probably because she made a name for herself as the anti-abortion Attorney General behind Ayotte vs. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Beth Saunders reports for RH Reality Check.

If either of these Republican nominee proves too extreme for the voters of New Hampshire, the Democrats could pick up the senate seat being vacated by Republican Judd Gregg.

Urban coal pollution is deadly

In other health news, Michelle Chen reports in Colorlines that coal pollution will kill 13,000 Americans this year, mostly in urban areas:

According to the study, fine particle pollution linked to the coal industry is “expected to cause over 13,000 premature deaths in 2010, as well as almost 10,000 hospitalizations and more than 20,000 heart attacks per year.” The estimated death toll clusters in certain industrial cities, namely New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., affirming other research showing the racial and economic implications of these urban health impacts.

The bright side is that fewer people are projected to die of coal-related illnesses this year compared to last year. It’s not clear whether we have tougher regulation to thank, or the economic slowdown, or both.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by membersof The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The AuditThe Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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