Short Takes: News From All Over

Kiva: Loans That Change Lives
By Staff, Kiva
Don’t like the way large banks deal with developing nations? Then roll your own WTO with Kiva, a website that helps you loan small sums of money to rural entrepreneurs in Africa. Combining the effectiveness of microcredit with the peer to-peer intimacy of the internet, Kiva aims to be the progressive way to catalyze economic growth in the developing world. — Brendan Themes

Wild Palms
By J.F. Pirro, Philadelphia City Paper
Brian Burke, the world’s only known handshake historian, has spent 30 years getting a grip on manual greetings. This retired teacher curates a collection of everything handshake and is writing a book on the salutatory art. — Archie Ingersoll

Doing Away With Childish Things
By Kara Platoni, East Bay Express
Federal elves from the Consumer Product Safety Commission have been in their workshops making sure that shoddy toys don’t make it under the tree this year. Agents gouge, stomp, and downright torture baby dolls, teddy bears, and other playthings to see which ones could harm unsuspecting tots. — Archie Ingersoll Applies for Patent on Storylines
By Xeni Jardin, Boing Boing
The reworking and retelling of common stories has always been an integral part of the human experience. And as such, it was only a matter of time before someone tried to patent it. The crafty folks at Knight & Associates are trying to nab the world’s first storyline patent for a

Rumplestiltskin Rip Van Winkle-like plot. A patent on sliced bread can’t be far behind. — Brendan Themes

Fahamu: Pan-African Text Messaging for Social Justice
By Emily Gertz, Worldchanging
Fahamu uses burgeoning technologies, namely mobile phones and the internet, to raise consciousness and promote human rights in Africa. After successfully launching a ground-breaking mobile text messaging petition to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa in 2004, the African human rights organization has gone on to support and raise awareness about the Global Call to Action Against Poverty using digital technologies. — Rose Miller

God’s Politics
By Brian Fanelli, WireTap
The 10,000 members of the Christian Alliance for Progress are out to let their fellow Americans know that there’s a growing national Christian organization that supports peace, gay and lesbian rights, environmental causes, and a woman’s right to choose. Since its launch in June, the group, which openly opposes the rhetoric of the religious right, has garnered national attention and the criticism of prominent members of the right including Dr. Edward Hindson and the Rev. Jerry Falwell. — Rose Miller

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