Short Takes: News From All Over

Cool Cities
The Bush administration may have its head in the sand when it comes to global warming, but local leaders across the country are taking action on climate change. To find out what your community’s leaders are (or aren’t) doing, visit the Sierra Club‘s website. Click on a state to discover if your mayor is one of the 200-plus politicians that has signed the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, a pledge to reduce carbon dioxide pollution by 2012. Or take action yourself by signing a petition demanding that Congress invest in ‘smart energy solutions,’ and reading up on Cool Cities’ key strategies for change: promoting ‘green’ vehicles, energy-efficient buildings, and renewable energy. — Kristen Mueller

Give Up Cheap Flights, Holidaymakers Told
By Ned Temko, The Observer
Some influential members of Parliament (MPs) in Britain are eyeing air travel as the way to reach the country’s carbon emission reduction goal. Unsettled by ‘the government’s willful disregard of the effects of cheap air travel on global warming,’ the MPs have aimed to put Europe’s bargain intercontinental fares to rest with the intention to reroute some passengers to the more eco-friendly rail system. The airline industry has been reaping the benefits of cheap flights because of tax-free fuel and low passenger duty charges, but MPs say cutting use will be the most effective way to achieve Britain’s goal of 60 percent less carbon emissions by 2050. — Rachel Anderson,,1838313,00.html

Other Sides of the Story
By Jesse Hyde, Dallas Observer
Military bloggers, often frustrated with the negative coverage of war, have taken to reporting the news themselves. The estimated 1,400 military blogs registered on the web offer a ‘boots-on-the-ground alternative’ to what some see as ‘leftist, anti-military media’ — though a small number of soldiers are using their blogs to voice opposition to war. How open these dispatches truly are remains a question: Active-duty bloggers are required to register their sites with their commanding officers. — Rachel Anderson

Made in the Sade
By Kimberly Chun, San Francisco Bay Guardian
Grotesque torture films like Saw and The Devil’s Rejects are en vogue, eerily so as the media uncovers more and more real-life torture stories. But it is the movie Hostel, Kimberly Chun notes, that not only cloaks itself in gross-out cinema, but (possibly inadvertently) presents itself as a ‘very unsentimental education on European (and global) perspectives on an arrogant America’s adventureering in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.’ Chun suggests the film offers ‘gringo exotica’ where, even in the face of torture, the ugly American prevails, but not without first doing more harm than good to international allies. — Rachel Anderson

What’s Wrong With This Picture?
By Jessie McQuillan, Missoula Independent
The Montana Meth Project has been hailed as a runaway success for its in-your-face ad campaign meant to frighten teens from trying the drug. Since the campaign’s inception a year ago, other states have been considering adopting a similar tack. But Jessie McQuillan reports that the program has serious pitfalls — according to its own survey, teens say that the ads exaggerate the risks of meth use, fewer fear the consequences of taking the drug, and more say they are willing to experiment with it. With the Montana program’s $5.5 million in funding from a private donor running out, McQuillan questions whether the campaign is worthy of continuing on the public’s dime. — Suzanne Lindgren

Beyond Marriage
By Beyond Marriage
With both sides of the gay marriage debate firmly entrenched in their positions, a new nonprofit is offering a novel vision of legalized unions. Beyond Marriage wants governments and private institutions to recognize myriad types of household partnerships, families, and relationships through legal protections similar to those of marriage. The inclusive approach moves past the struggle to get same-sex unions recognized by the state, pointing out that selective rationing of marital benefits excludes many who deserve the institution’s protections, from ‘blended and extended families’ to ‘care-giving relationships’ supporting family members, senior citizens, or people with terminal illnesses. The campaign is garnering support in the form of a petition that already bears many signatures. (Thanks, Clamor.)
Suzanne Lindgren

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