Looking behind the scenes at the workings of government and big business is rarely a pleasant experience, but it's a necessary one if we want to even pretend we live in a country where ordinary citizens' interests are considered important. Facing South, an online magazine produced by the Institute for Southern Studies in Durham, has three articles this week that shed light on federal abuse of environmental laws, Duke Energy's finagling behind the scenes in Washington, and the messy, darker side of coal and energy companies' practices. The short versions are: 1. The Bush administration hid information about the very high risk of cancer for people who live near coal ash dumps. 2. Duke Energy and other groups with ties to fossil fuels are pressuring the House committee that's cobbling together the American Clean Energy and Security Act; those groups seem on the verge of receiving huge giveaways that, to cut to the chase, will make it easier to dump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And, 3. The feds have begun shipping toxic coal ash from the massive spill last December in Tennessee to landfills in Alabama and Georgia in counties with large black, high poverty populations.