Short Takes: News From All Over

Speaking Volumes Without Saying a Word
By Corina Zappia, The Village Voice
Slender fiberglass figures donning the latest in designer couture — or subsequent knock-offs — are displayed throughout retail stores in hopes of luring customers to the cash register. But at Rootstein Mannequin’s 50th anniversary party, the focus wasn’t on the clothes — it was on the manufactured bodies beneath them. The mannequin company’s retrospective of five decades worth of idealized body shapes highlights past fetishes, from the nippled models wrought from the sexual revolution to the (slightly) more muscular forms popularized by the ’80s aerobics craze. Today’s developments include a true-to-size African American figure, but sadly, no plus-size forms were to be found — here or in most shop windows. — Kristen Mueller,zappia,73630,15.html

Veronica Mars, Class Warrior
By Christopher Hayes, In These Times
Reminding us that every once in a while pop culture produces a winner, Christopher Hayes waxes virtuosic about the TV series Veronica Mars. According to Hayes, the show navigates the treacherous pathways of inter-class tensions and social pressures with nuanced style and a sense of adventure. It depicts, Hayes proclaims, ‘a prophetic vision of the Two Americas we are in the process of becoming — a ‘town without a middle class,’ as Veronica calls it? where ‘your parents are either millionaires or your parents work for millionaires.” — Suzanne Lindgren

‘A Conspiracy Against the Public’
By Liza Featherstone, The Notion, a blog of The Nation
Liza Featherstone reports that four class-action suits have been filed against hospitals in Albany, Chicago, Memphis, and San Antonio alleging that ‘hospitals in those cities are exchanging detailed information about nurses’ pay, so that each can keep labor costs low without suffering a competitive disadvantage.’ Featherstone argues that these low wages are perpetuating a nursing shortage, forcing nurses to work long hours, without support, for menial salaries. Though the lawsuits use evidence collected by the Service Employees International Union, folks are keeping mum about labeling them part of an organizing strategy. However, says Featherstone, organizing might be the best shot nurses have at getting a fair wage. — Rachel Anderson

Home on the (Artillery) Range
By Kevin Krajick, OnEarth
Much of the Department of Defense’s 25 million acres of land exist largely as live-fire buffer zones, wherein more species of plants and animals dwell than within the collective acreage of our national parks. The land has long been protected by congressional crackdowns on environmental violations. But leaked Pentagon memos show the agency is working on a ‘comprehensive approach’ to shake off such restrictions. That, Kevin Krajick reports, means endangered species could be in trouble as the department balks at cleaning up its polluted land, under the banner of ‘national security.’ — Evan Noetzel

Bake Sales for Body Armor
By Staff, Bake Sales for Body Armor
In response to a Pentagon study that up to 80 percent of US troops killed between March 2003 and June 2005 could have been saved by additional side-protecting body armor, one soldier’s wife, Tammara Rosenleaf, cooked up the idea to hold a bake sale to raise money for supplemental body armor. Based the success of that initial endeavor, Rosenleaf, with Iraq War veteran Charlie Anderson, co-founded the Bake Sales for Body Armor campaign to raise money and meet the requests of confidentially registered soldiers through online and regional bake sales across the country. To date, such goodies have raised more than $11,000 and purchased 18 full armor sets. — Evan Noetzel

Overconfidence is a Disadvantage in War, Finds Study
By Roxanne Khamsi,
Confidence can kill, according to a new study by Dominic Johnson, a fellow and lecturer at Princeton University and author of the book Overconfidence and War: The Havoc and Glory of Positive Illusions. Johnson and his colleagues recruited 200 volunteers to take part in a computer simulation of an international conflict. The participants were asked to rank their chances of success before the simulation, and those who expected to do best often fared the worst. Peter Turchin, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut and author of War and Peace and War: The Life Cycles of Imperial Nations, commented on the study, saying, ‘One wishes that members of the Bush administration had known about this research before they initiated invasion of Iraq three years ago.’ — Bennett Gordon

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