Short Takes: News From All Over

Gilmore v. Gonzales
By Staff,
Oral arguments begin December 8 in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in a case challenging the constitutionality of requiring airline passengers to show identification. While the US government doesn’t mandate ID checks, Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Gilmore claims that it has become de facto law through a kind of outsourcing of inspections at airports. — Nick Rose

Skyscraper That May Cause Earthquakes
By Kate Ravilious, The Guardian
The world’s tallest building may be bringing about its own demise. A geologist at the National Taiwan Normal University claims that the recent earthquakes directly under Taiwan’s Taipei 101 may have actually been caused by the building itself. Implications for further building projects are, well, earth-shaking. — Nick Rose,,1655978,00.html

Truth is Stranger than Phiction: The Drug Industry’s Literary Misadventure
By Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer,
Earlier this year, the lobbying giant Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America commissioned writers to create a work of fiction (read: propaganda) aimed at halting the re-importation of American drugs. Canada, with its cheaper prescription drugs luring Americans across the border, was to play the villain. The plot fell through, however, and the would-be authors changed their tack, instead writing a book attacking the pharmaceutical industry itself. Due out this month. — Nick Rose

RFID Rolls for Bike Rentals in France
By Laurie Sullivan,
In Lyon, France, public transit riders can flash a pre-paid radio frequency identification (RFID) card to hop on a bus, tram, Metro, and now a bicycle rented at a Cyclocity kiosk. The popular rental system launched in May and is in the process of expanding its services. The RFID technology monitors up to 14,000 bike rentals a day, but as RFID naysayers may point out, Big Brother may be watching too. — Rose Miller

Danish Researchers Develop Hydrogen Tablet
By Jacob Gordon, Treehugger
Scientists at the Technical University of Denmark are packing a little piece of the future of energy into a tablet small enough to fit into a pocket. The sea-salt-based tablet is laden with ammonia that, when triggered, can release hydrogen. Researchers say the system allows for large quantities of hydrogen to be stored in a compact, stable, solid form — an important step toward developing hydrogen as a safe, viable fuel-source for fossil-fuel-free cars. — Rose Miller

Skin Deep
By Staff, Environmental Working Group
The data crunchers behind Skin Deep know that beauty may not reach beyond the epidermis, but its accoutrements can. The Environmental Working Group collected information on some 7,000 ingredients to create this recently updated online database ranking more than 14,000 cosmetics and the like. Plug in your personal care products to find out how they stand in categories like ‘cancer hazard,’ ‘illegal ingredients,’ and ‘estrogenic chemicals and other endocrine disruptors.’ — Hannah Lobel

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