Short Takes: News From All Over

Estonian Online Poll a World First
By Kate Connolly, The Guardian
Online voting in general elections is now a reality… in Estonia. In a national parliamentary election held earlier this week, more than 30,000 Estonians cast their votes online, helping deliver victory to the Reform Party. The integrity of the e-election was maintained through computerized national ID cards and multiple passwords. The tiny Baltic state, which boasts expansive wireless networks, widely used internet banking, and online cabinet meetings, has gone so far as to declare internet access a basic human right. — Natalie Hudson,,2025719,00.html

An Open Letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
By John Sinno, BaltimoreChronicle & Sentinel
For nominee John Sinno, producer of the documentary Iraq in Fragments, the 2007 Academy Awards didn’t turn out to be the red-carpeted fairy tale portrayed on TV. In an open letter to the Academy, he laments Jerry Seinfeld’s introduction to the documentary category — in which the comedian called the films ‘incredibly depressing’ — as damaging to documentaries’ appeal. What could prove more detrimental to the mostly small and independent genre, however, is the Academy’s recent change in the category’s eligibility requirements. Documentaries now must screen in 75 percent more cities in order to qualify, making things even tougher on independent filmmakers. Under such requirements, Sinno notes, Iraq in Fragments wouldn’t have been eligible for a nomination. — Natalie Hudson

Like a Spam Filter for Your Mailbox
By Todd Hymas, Gristmill Blog
More than a half-dozen states are considering legislation this year to create a ‘do not mail‘ list for residents — a welcome development for eco-minded mail recipients and those who are simply fed up with sorting through piles of junk mail. But not everyone is jumping at the chance to sign up. Akin to the kerfuffle that sent telemarketers protesting the federal ‘do not call‘ registry, the Direct Marketing Association, along with groups including the mail carrier union, are rallying against the ‘do not mail’ bills. Their argument? Junk mail is more important to the economy (and post office employees) than many understand. — Jenna Fisher

Eat Your Green(s)
By Andrew Gumbel, LA City Beat
Whole Foods has long faced complaints over its pricey eats, but the organic giant’s recent acquisition of Wild Oats has garnered a barrage of criticism that Andrew Gumbel suggests might better be directed at US agriculture. He argues that deliberate government policies that favor huge agribusinesses and limit crop diversity are the real reason for high prices in specialty stores. A solution, Gumbel says, might be to mimic Europe’s focus on crop diversity, not gripe about pricey organic grub. — Jenna Fisher

Marigolds Make Way for Marijuana in Suburbia
By Patrik Jonsson, The Christian Science Monitor
Cannabis could be coming to a cul-de-sac near you. Georgia police cite recent raids in several counties as indicative of a national trend in the marijuana industry. Grow-houses are increasingly cropping up in suburban neighborhoods of privacy-loving, unsuspecting residents. Growers purchase the homes to convert the basements into year-round cultivation sites. Upstairs, the houses contain only ‘a cot, a chair, and a rabbit-ear TV,’ and remain uninhabited — save for the occasional ‘baby-sitter’ dropping by to tend the operation. — Elizabeth Ryan
By the Sunlight Foundation and the Participatory Politics Foundation
Sifting through the legislative labyrinth of Congress can be a tall order for the average citizen. is there to help. The new website weaves together coverage from blogs and news sources with official government information to give people more insight into what’s happening in Washington. — Bennett Gordon

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