Short Takes: News From All Over

Maps of War
By Maps of War
Skip the dusty historical tomes and view 5,000 years of history in just 90 seconds. The website Maps of War offers animated flash cartographies of the histories of religion, imperialism, and the United States at war. Though the site doesn’t focus on narrative explication, the maps do, in their simplicity, offer a greater context to the current war in Iraq. The site also features a map of a secret CIA prison and the US army’s strategy to capture the Iraqi city of Fallujah. — Bennett Gordon

Find Toxic Wastelands Via Google Earth
By Anne Broache, CNET
Radiation sites and hazardous waste storage facilities aren’t the normal fare for maps. But the Environmental Protection Agency is hoping the likes of Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth will start incorporating such toxic locales into their popular online mapping applications. The federal agency recently released on its website a file containing the names and locations of 1,600 sites on its Superfund National Priorities List, with plans to boost that number to 100,000 by the end of the year. The move aims at increasing public access and awareness. (Thanks, Governing.) — Evelyn Hampton

From Iraq to the Bronx
By James Fergusson, Mount Hope Monitor via Voices That Must Be Heard
New York City police are taking to higher ground with two surveillance towers originally created for the US Army in Iraq. Also used along the Mexican border to spot illegal immigrants, the $100,000 mobile hydraulic-lift tower — dubbed ‘SkyWatch‘ — is outfitted with cameras, spotlights, and bulletproof windows. Despite privacy concerns from the New York Civil Liberties Union, a third manned tower will join the NYPD next month to give officers a bird’s-eye view of busy districts in the Bronx. — Jenna Fisher

Bicycle Tram: Need a Lift?
By Groovy Green
Would-be cyclists in San Francisco and Seattle take note: Since 1993, the ‘Trampe’ bicycle lift has eased the ascents of more than 220,000 pedalers in a Norwegian college town. About 41 percent of the lift’s users claim they bike more often thanks to the invention, which looks like little more than a groove in a curb. Website links below will take you to a plethora of photos, a short video of the lift in use, and a sketch of how it works. — Jenna Fisher

Reverse Graffiti: Clean Green Street Art
Taking the ‘wash me’ tags traced onto dirty cars to another level, a number of street artists around the world are expressing themselves through ‘reverse graffiti.’ The artists use cleaning supplies to inscribe images and sometimes paid advertising on grime-covered surfaces, though some building owners where ‘clean’ graffiti is posted aren’t exactly pleased with the artists for tidying up. Check out an amazing skull mural pointing out pollution complacency in S?o Paolo, Brazil. — Jenna Fisher

Truth and Consequences
By Will Doig,
Thirty-four states currently have laws that make it a crime to transmit HIV. In some cases, sentences for those found guilty of transmission are harsher than those of attempted murderers. Will Doig examines the role that intent played in the case of Anthony Whitfield, a Washington man who was sentenced to life in prison for knowingly spreading the virus. Whitfield claims he didn’t know he was infected, but that, regardless, his victims should have protected themselves. — Mary O’Regan

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