Short Takes: News From All Over

Buffalo Soldier Blackout
By Greg Palast, Guerrilla News Network
The Republican National Committee may use ‘Support Our Troops’ as a rallying cry, but according to muckraker Greg Palast, high-ranking party leaders were involved in a plan to rob African-American soldiers of their right to vote in the run-up to the 2004 presidential election. Palast has uncovered what he calls a ‘challenge list,’ consisting predominantly of black soldiers, that the Republican Party used to get the service members’ votes thrown out. Letters were sent to the soldiers’ homes in envelopes marked ‘Do Not Forward.’ Since the addressees were usually off in Germany or Iraq, the letters were returned to Republican state headquarters as ‘undeliverable,’ giving the committee the documentation it needed to weed out potentially Democratic absentee ballots. — Bennett Gordon

New York Report Blasts Rotenberg Aversive Programs
By Dave Reynolds, Ragged Edge
The New York State Education Department got an eyeful when they visited the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, earlier this year. The center, which houses 150 youth from New York with diagnoses like autism and mental retardation, uses aversive techniques to correct children’s behavior, such as employing a ‘graduated electronic deceleration’ device to administer a punitive shock on par with a bee sting. The device is used not just for self-destructive behaviors, but also for ‘failure to maintain a neat appearance’ or ‘stopping work for more than 10 seconds.’ New York’s Board of Regents voted June 20 to limit, but not ban, such treatments. — Rachel Anderson

Britain and IOM Criticized for Putting Refugees at Risk
By Ambrose Musiyiwa,
It may have just been World Refugee Day on June 20, but the British government is trying to clean house a bit. With 54,000 open applications for asylum in the UK, the British have had almost 2,000 asylum seekers take part in the Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Program since the beginning of the year, giving each ?3,000 ($5,500) to return to unstable homelands like Zimbabwe or Rwanda. The program saves the British government from spending the ?11,000 ($20,300) it costs for forced deportation, and also from the accountability of refugee laws. But human rights advocates say there is no guarantee of safety for returned asylum-seekers, and sending people back into politically corrupt infrastructures with a publicized sum of money can set them up for extortion. — Rachel Anderson

Night Flights Give Bigger Boost to Global Warming
By Richard Fisher,
Flying in an airplane at any time leaves an enormous ecological footprint, but a new study suggests that flying at night is actually worse than flying during the day. The study, conducted by the University of Reading in the UK, monitored a specific site where only 25 percent of the flights occurred at night. Surprisingly, the night flights accounted for ‘up to 80 percent of the warming in cloud-free conditions.’ The disparity occurred because the contrails from daytime flights can block some of the sun’s rays and effectively cool the atmosphere. Overnight flights might seem cheaper, but the study indicates that the earth ends up paying more. — Bennett Gordon

Tune In, Turn On, Go Vegan!
By Mark Hawthorne, Satya
Mark Hawthorne has compiled ‘a virtual vegan radio smorgasbord’ of internet podcasts from around the United States designed for vegan listeners. The shows range from the very local, like ‘Go Vegan Texas,’ to the international, like ‘Generation Vegan,’ but all are sure to include tips on how live well without resorting to killing or exploiting animals. — Bennett Gordon

Lost in Translation
By Gregory Kulacki, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
When the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review came out this year naming China as the country’s greatest military competition, China responded with a request that the United States ‘stop its random and irresponsible remarks on China’s normal defense construction.’ The incident wasn’t the first time there has been US-Chinese military confusion. A few years ago, the Pentagon cited two Hong Kong tabloid reports as evidence that China was developing a ‘parasite satellite’ that could latch onto enemy space assets and destroy them. Only later was it revealed that the tabloids had lifted the erroneous story from a Chinese military enthusiast’s website. — Rachel Anderson

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