Short Takes: News From All Over

Instant Expert: Brilliant Minds Forecast the Next 50 Years
By Staff, New Scientist
What do the next 50 years have in store for us when it comes to aliens, aging, space, sex, computers, chemistry, and other areas worthy of conjecture? The mind can run amok with possibilities. Offering perhaps some more informed opinions, 70 of the world’s top scientists make their predictions, which include a near-complete map of all Earth’s species, clarity on what exactly dark matter is, and an understanding of sexual health as a human right. — Elizabeth Oliver

Canada Pressured at UN Climate Change Talks
By news staff,
Canada made the environmental naughty list at the recent United Nations climate conference in Nairobi. The United States’ oft-idealized neighbor was singled-out for environmental irresponsibility, placing 51st out of 56 countries graded on emissions levels, emissions trends, and climate policy. If that wasn’t bad enough, the country was given an ‘award’ for doing so little to fight climate change. But before Americans get smug, guess who fared worse? Kazakhstan, China, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. — Jenna Fisher

Stoned By Jury
By Alan Young, NOW
A controversial case in Canada has unearthed divided opinions on the criminality of what Alan Young calls ‘med-pot.’ Problems began when two jurors asked to step down after being unable, in good conscience, to condemn Grant Krieger, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, for growing and distributing medical marijuana. The judge then ordered the jurors to uphold the law (i.e., convict Krieger). The impropriety of the judge’s command led the country’s Supreme Court to order a new trial. — Rachel Anderson

St. Louie Chop Suey
By Malcolm Gay, Riverfront Times
What do the platonic ideal, Richard Nixon, race, and the St. Paul Sandwich all have in common? Chop suey. Malcolm Gay serves up a huge slice of history (at 6100 words, it’s a mouthful) on the Chinese-American delicacy, exploring its boom in the United States, its inherent imperfection, and its role in racial tensions in St. Louis. Though many see chop suey as ‘a concoction without a culture,’ Gay’s extensively researched celebration of the meat-and-vegetable dish turns that notion on its head. — Rachel Anderson

Wal-Mart Charged with Selling Nonorganic Food as Organic
By Staff, Cornucopia Institute
When Wal-Mart made the shift to selling organic food, the biggest change may have been to the labeling system. The folks at the Cornucopia Institute, an organization that pegs itself as ‘the nation’s most aggressive organic farming watchdog,’ uncovered a number of cases in which conventional produce and dairy were labeled as organic in various stores. Will Fantle, the institute’s director of research, filed a legal complaint with the USDA on Nov. 13 in hopes of protecting future ‘unsuspecting customers’ from the alleged scam. (Thanks, Rural Populist.) — Suzanne Lindgren

Alexander Litvinenko: The Poison of Power
By Zygmunt Dzieciolowski, OpenDemocracy
It sounds like something that could be in the latest James Bond film — a journalist is stabbed in a crowd with the poisoned tip of an umbrella — but in Russia, stealthy poisonings are a tradition that is alive and well. Zygmunt Dzieciolowski chronicles Russia’s history of intentional toxification, from a mysterious Soviet-era laboratory to the recent poisoning of former secret service agent, Alexander Litvinenko. — Suzanne Lindgren

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