Short Takes: News From All Over

Lady Mechanic Initiative
By Staff, Lady Mechanic Initiative
A Nigerian outfit is helping women leave the world’s oldest profession for a newer, more promising field: auto mechanics. The Lady Mechanic Initiative, a nonprofit, nongovernmental group driven by Sandra E. Aguebor, has been training women to wield tools since 1997, when a Nigerian auto-mechanic decided to leverage her own handy-woman skills into a means for social change. Targeting marginalized groups, such as sex workers, orphans, refugees, widows, and ex-cons, Aguebor is steadily building a workforce of empowered, self-reliant individuals who have a ‘positive impact to themselves and the society.’ (Thanks, Bust.) — Kristen Mueller

Mow Down Pollution with Simple Lawn, Equipment Care
By Patricia Monahan, The Progressive
Before tending the fairway that extends from your front door to the street, a little mower-maintenance may be in order. The average mower puts out as much pollution in an hour as eight new cars going 55 mph for the same amount of time, but with a little elbow grease, you can have your mower running more smoothly and efficiently. And though hand tools and push-mowers are preferable, as they produce no pollution when in operation, if you must go with gas power, then a well-maintained mower with a four-stroke engine and the correct oil-to-fuel mixture is optimal. — Nick Rose

Criminal Kinship
By Ronald Bailey, Reason
As technology improves, providing the police DNA samples could become as commonplace as giving them fingerprints. But where fingerprints can implicate only the person giving them, a DNA sample, with its ability to reveal genetic similarities within bloodlines, can be used to track down members of that person’s family. Civil libertarians are warning that this technology will lead to a national database with everyone’s DNA information on file. And they’re driving the point home by referencing recurring talk of a ‘national ID card’ that would be embedded with each carrier’s personal genetic code. — Bennett Gordon

By Cara DeGette, Colorado Springs Independent
School-sponsored art shows aren’t known as bastions for radical thought, but some pieces at the Young People’s Art Exhibition in Colorado Springs were revolutionary enough to set off the school district’s censors. A prime offender was a 5-foot-tall painting called ‘Dismantled Stereotype,’ which was nixed for depicting a teenage athlete standing in front of a truck adorned with a gay-pride sticker. Most teachers and administrators agree that rules prohibiting controversial subject matters must be enforced, but some have argued that the school took such severe actions to avoid seeming sympathetic to the ‘gay agenda.’ Said the artist, Addie Green, to a member of the show’s selection committee, ‘Don’t you get it?’ — Bennett Gordon

Pressure Puts Stop to Bomb Test in Nevada
By Editors, Asheville Global Report
Divine Strake, a 700-ton test explosion originally set for Friday, June 2, has been postponed so that its possible environmental impact can be studied. In an editorial running up to the recent stay, the editors of Asheville Global Report joined activists throughout the region in warning that the non-nuclear test could kick up a cloud of radioactive material still in the ground from nuclear tests of decades past. The test is being opposed by Nevada officials and residents, including members of the Shoshone Tribe, on whose land the test will take place. — Nick Rose

Connectivity: From Thinking to Action
By Staff, Connectivity
Globalization isn’t just an economic phenomenon. In this networked age, activists young and old are cooperating on a scale not seen before. ‘Connectivity: From Thinking to Action,’ a conference taking place July 16-22 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, aims to foster more north-south collaboration, especially among youth. With a star lineup including famed tree-sitter Julia Butterfly Hill, actress Q’orianka Kilcher (The New World), and Utne magazine founder Eric Utne, organizers expect to draw some 800 young people from around the globe for an array of workshops on how to be effective change agents, and to introduce them to environmentally and socially sustainable projects throughout the developing world. — Leif Utne

Comments? Story tips? Write a letter to the editor

Like this? Want more?Subscribe to Utne magazine

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.