The $3.47 billion lobbying bill

 More than $3.47 billion was spent lobbying the federal government in 2009, a 5 percent increase over 2008. “Lobbying appears recession-proof,” said Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group.
The Hill

Heading West for happiness

Eight of the top 10 cities in a survey of Americans’ satisfaction with their lives and optimism for the future are in Western states, with Boulder, Colo., coming in first. Huntington, W.Va., was last.

Our snowy nation

Thanks to an unusual combination of weather patterns last week, 49 states were at least partially covered by snow. Hawaii was the sole exception.
Associated Press

Should senior year be optional?

Utah legislators, faced with a $700 million budget shortfall, are considering a proposal to make senior year of high school optional for students who complete their required credits. “The more options we give to students to accelerate,” said one state legislator, “the more beneficial it is to students and taxpayers.”
Los Angeles Times

The 'Superfresh' Mardi Gras

To reduce the smell of stale booze, vomit, urine, and garbage during Mardi Gras, a New Orleans sanitation company now sprays Bourbon Street with a solution of lemon fragrance and enzymes called “Superfresh.” “They keep it as clean as Disney World,” one bar owner said. “It’s helped out business tremendously.”
USA Today