Short Takes: News From All Over

Is YouTube Just What the Doctor Ordered?
By Roxanne Khamsi, New Scientist
It may seem strange to get medical advice from a source that features inane pet tricks, but many people are doing just that through the video sharing site YouTube. Videos explaining effective condom use, dealing with attention deficit disorder, and promoting self-exams for breast cancer are all available on the site. ‘If this kind of medium promotes awareness that’s good,’ says Ted Gansler of the American Cancer Society, ‘but I would stress the importance of verifying facts.’ — Bennett Gordon

Language Revitalization Efforts Bloomed in 2006
By Shannon Burns, Indian Country Today
2006 marked a banner year in efforts to preserve traditional Native American languages. The languages of tribes such the Mohawk and the Wasco have been disappearing at an alarming rate. But new technologies, immersion techniques, and political developments have given some hope to stemming the downward trend. A major achievement came on Dec. 14, when President Bush signed the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act, which will direct federal funds to language preservation initiatives. — Bennett Gordon

McMansions Migrate From ‘Burb to City
By Patrik Jonsson, The Christian Science Monitor
Yearning for shorter commutes, home owners are now taking their big houses from the ‘burbs to the cities. But the modest ramblers found on city plots lack adequate space for some families, so buyers are simply razing existing homes in favor of building a McMansion — much to the dismay of preservationists and the neighbors whose houses then depreciate. Some critics have gone so far as to call the invasion of the gargantuan homes a new form of class warfare. — Elizabeth Ryan

Poverty Pendulum Swings, Press Yawns
By Edward B. Colby, CJR Daily
Skid Row has found a new home in the suburbs. According to a recent report by the Brookings Institution, more Americans live in poverty in suburbs than in cities. The report found equal numbers of poor in 100 urban and suburban areas in 1999, but by 2005 about 1.2 million more poor people were living in suburbs than in city centers. The findings, though striking, have yet to garner much attention from mainstream media. Analysts suggest that current government disinterest in addressing poverty has affected reporting on poverty-related issues. — Evelyn Hampton

The Chain Gangs of the Information Age
By Kate Sheppard, Gristmill blog
The use of cheap, under-regulated prison labor to disassemble old computers is coughing up some serious health problems. A report by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, compiled with support from leading prisoner-rights activists and environmentalists, details prisoner health issues related to chemical exposure from dismantling electronics. Over 100 prison facilities run by Federal Prison Industries, the government-owned corporation that oversees employment in federal prisons, were cited in the report, which called on the corporation to halt its prison e-waste recycling programs. — Jenna Fisher

China‘s Climate Change Report: ‘It’s Getting Hot in Here’
By Alex Pasternack, TreeHugger
In the country’s first state-issued climate-change report, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and six other ministries have urged their government — notorious for its lack of environmental concern — to start taking action to avert environmental catastrophe. Strong evidence gathered in the report shows a bleak future filled with drought, landslides, and a steady rise in temperature. In the wake of these predictions, President Hu Jintao has called for greater efforts to save energy. But critics say the central government’s actions will matter little without cooperation from local officials. — Jenna Fisher

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