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I've just got back from 10 days in Ohio and it was so different from what I'd been led to expect, writes Nima Elbagir.
Those preconceptions came mostly from conversations with urbane US East Coasters. "It's really just one big farm" and "why do they have a vote?" - that sort of thing.
Both on my own behalf and on the behalf of those who misled us who are not quite brave enough to purge their own consciences you know who you are.
First of all people were incredibly lovely and polite - you have no idea how many times we rolled up - black girl, asian guy- to motels in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night expecting to be kept occupied while someone sent for the men in the white hoods.
During the course of our lives, transcendental moments come along, and we are forced to sit up and take notice.Everybody has their moments. We all react differently, writes John Dickie inOaxaca, Mexico.
It is difficult to figure out how to begin retelling the story of any one of those moments. Presumably, it is up to each person to do their best to convey the transcendence felt, and for each listener to absorb it as their own.
In this instance, all I can do is begin by telling you that, yesterday, for around a hundred minutes, I was dead.
California plans to sue US carmakers for allegedly contributing to global warming. And here's the best of the chat on the blogosphere.
The CalRepublicans blog believes that "This lawsuit is a waste of taxpayer money. Why would you file suit against the car makers when they just got handed this crazy bill that has so many requirements forcing them to pay money for something that has already been established as a problem and is being worked on?
"Because the automakers have decided to file suit delaying litigation on the rules California issued to force them to cut tailpipe emissions."
Elsewhere, the response from US bloggers appears to be a mixture of bafflement and anger. "Is this some kind of joke?" rages Broken Kode.
Our reporter Keme Nzerem had rare access to Guantanamo Bay, where the US military keeps its prisoners in the War on Terror. Here's his account:
As our minders ushered us to the recreation enclosure in Camp 4 - where Guantanamo's most complicit detainees are being held - 4 or 5 them were playing basketball in the Caribbean sun.
Fantastic images for us - and a great PR coup for Gitmo's press team tying to mend America's sullied image. We'd been warned the detainees usually hide in the shadows when television crews show up.
But we never got to shoot a frame - because the Camp Guards shooed them away. My initial reaction - disappointment, this clear evidence of a disconnect between Gitmo's image consultants - and its workers on the ground.
We filmed on as the detainees chatted in the background, one of them riding an exercise bike. Our guide asked me what I thought of the scene before me.
More4 has an exclusive report tonight, on the assissination of the US President. Not the actual event, of course, (that would be a scoop) - but a film imagining how the event would happen. Channel 4 News's Felicity Spector worked on the film - here's her account of filming a top-secret drama.
The film Death of a President was an epic project - a fictional drama researched as thoroughly as any documentary. My job was to help track down and interview real-life counterparts of the characters in the film: the FBI agent, the forensics expert, the White House presidential aide, the White House correspondent, the Iraq war veteran and so-on.
Due to the highly sensitive subject matter - the assassination of George W Bush, everyone involved with the entire project signed a confidentiality agreement. I spoke to some pretty senior people from present and past administrations - some who'd experienced the assassination attempt on President Reagan - others who'd been involved with investigating terrorist suspects or policing major demonstrations against Bush.
The aim was to make the film as accurate as possible - filmed in the style of a real documentary, it charts the moments leading up to the assassination - and the political aftermath. Clearly it's attracted lots of publicity - not least through More4's release of a still photograph showing the moment the sniper's bullet hits the President.
One year on from the day Katrina hit the gulf coast of America, and there citizens of New Orleans are angry at the slow progress at rebuilding their city.
Channel 4's Morning Report spoke to New Orleans blogger Ashley Morris, college professor and long time resident of the city, who is angry about the city's failure to recover faster.
Many parts of the city have no power or water. "You go through parts and litteraly, you can't tell that the hurricane - and the resulting flood more importantly for New Orleans - you can't tell that wasn't three days ago," he says. "The federal government has utterlly and totally abandoned us."
He's also angry about how other Americans view New Orleans. "Over eighty per cent of the coffee in the United States comes through the port of New Orleans. And a lot of people didn't care about New Orleans until they couldn't get their coffee."
New Orleans, he says, is like Hiroshima. The difference, he says, is that Hiroshima has been rebuilt. New Orleans is still waiting.
Listen to the report here. Ashley Morris's blog is here.
Blogging is a hard-won pleasure. It can be a lonely business too. It feels like one of those dreams where you practise your part in the school play and when the time comes, the curtain comes up and you are all alone, on stage talking to an empty house.
But, it seems, bloggers are no longer ranting at the silence. Their audiences are growing, their effects increasingly far-reaching. Now it seems, the humble blog has played a major role in helping to defeat US Senator Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Senate primary.
In the past, websites like The Daily Kos or MoveOn.org have helped make a Right Royal Racket, but they have added up to produce few tangible electoral results. Until now.
We like to get a bit excited here in the newsroom about what Prime Ministers, Foreign Secretaries and the like get as way of presents from their overseas counterparts. Mr Prescott's recent gift of a cowboy suit provided much merriment.
But what about the US of A?
A recent report on White House gifts has shown that President George W. Bush has received a right Royal smorgasbord of the weird and wonderful in the last few years, including a $10,000 sniper's rifle, 11 antique handguns, six jars of fertilizer, and a DVD of "Singin' in the Rain" from various foreign leaders.
The report covers gifts provided by "foreign government sources."
Included in Bush's goodie bag were assorted American Football toys from Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar, and - amusingly to us at least - a $125 braided leather whip from the Hungarian prime minister.
The Sultan of Brunei was kind enough to pop a copy of "The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook" into the post (we take it it remains unread)...