Short Takes: News From All Over

Ugly Veg Competition: The Winners
By Staff, The National Trust
Celebrating the imperfect creations of Mother Nature, a British organization called the National Trust has completed its quest to find the ugliest veggie in the land — ‘a parsnip grown in Bedfordshire, but resembling a creature from the abyss.’ The competition aims to change consumers’ expectations of the appearance of store-bought produce, since tasty but disfigured vegetables are routinely rejected from market shelves. Winners receive a year’s supply of organic veggies as well as the rare distinction of having grown an award-winningly horrid vegetable. Visit the group’s website to check out the winner and other unsightly notables. (Thanks, Treehugger) — Suzanne Lindgren

Raise a Flap for Democracy
By Martha Bayne, Chicago Reader
Every two years, Fall in the United States becomes a time for holidays and elections, political advertisements and Advent calendars. After tiring of partisan bumper stickers, yard signs, and pins, Paul Smith and Ben Helphand decided on a new tack to get people voting this November 7. The two democracy-minded entrepreneurs created the Election Day Advent Calendar. For 29 days, people can punch out the calendar’s little windows to find famous quotes and facts about voting, elections, and democracy in America. The calendar is nonpartisan and, unfortunately, doesn’t contain chocolate. — Rachel Anderson

Society and Globalization
By Staff, The Globalist
Thanks to globalization, much of the world now grapples with the same issues: education, poverty, religion, and even internet and cell-phone use. To put these issues in context, The Globalist has compiled an informative ‘Factsheet’ using more than a dozen sources to chronicle how the world is changing. The factsheet reads like a collection of not-so-mindless trivia, offering enlightening morsels such as the world’s illiteracy rate (20.6 percent) and how many Middle Easterners use the internet (2 percent as of 2004). — Rachel Anderson

Sea Lice from Fish Farms Devastate Wild Salmon
By Staff, Environment News Service
The debate over whether to buy farm-raised or wild salmon has long been a hot one, with many eco-conscious lox lovers opting for the wild-caught variety. But that may not be an option much longer, thanks to some tiny tagalongs. The Environment News Service reports that deadly sea lice have been feasting upon the flesh of juvenile wild salmon on their way out to sea. It sounds like a Halloween horror story, and indeed there is a daunting villain: the massive commercial fish farm industry. According to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ‘[p]arasites from fish farms kill as much as 95 percent of young wild salmon that migrate past the facilities.’ — Jenna Fisher

Reducing Roadkill
By Brittany Sauser, Technology Review
A new system created by researchers at the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University may soon make those jarring car/deer encounters a thing of the past. The system uses radio sensors to pick up the movement of large wildlife contemplating a roadway crossing and illuminate a flashing light on the roadway, warning drivers to slow down. The researchers hope to lessen the $1 billion in property damage caused by wildlife collisions, open migratory routes that highway fencing sometimes blocks, and save lives. — Elizabeth Oliver

Cola Wars in Mexico
By Beverly Bell, In These Times
The influence of Coca-Cola has seeped around the world, but its reach runs especially deep in some of the poorest areas of Mexico. The soft-drink company has entrenched itself into the social, political, and even religious life of the country. According to the beverage processing company Fomento Econ?mico Mexicano, Mexicans consume an average of 483 8-ounce glasses every year. Myriad problems associated with the drink are slowly coming to light, such as malnutrition and a decimation of potable water sources, particularly in the troubled state of Chiapas. Efforts to boycott the drink, however, are made difficult by the company’s extensive social, political, and economic power. — Elizabeth Ryan

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