Short Takes: News From All Over

Mind Games
By Jonah Lehrer, Seed
Crossword puzzles might not cut it when it comes to keeping an aging brain in shape. As the baby boomers begin to turn 60, a slew of electronic games designed to stave off cognitive decline are appearing in stores. The idea is to exercise players’ minds with tasks of increasing complexity, many of which are aimed at improving memory. Trials of one brand, PositScience, suggest that the games may even help ward off memory loss during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. — Evelyn Hampton

Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples Meets in Guatemala
By Marc Becker, Upside Down World
On March 26, the sacred Mayan city Iximch? in Guatemala hosted the Third Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nationalities of Abya Yala. Thousands gathered for the weeklong summit to hear delegates speak on the theme ‘from resistance to power.’ One of the most significant outcomes was the Declaration of Iximch?, which criticized US government imperialism and ‘ratified an ancestral right to territory.’ — Natalie Hudson

Hot Gas Blues
By James Pitkin, WillametteWeek
The warmer gasoline gets, the further its molecules spread and the more the gas expands. That means drivers in hotter climates get less actual fuel per gallon of gas than those in cooler environments. But it doesn’t mean gas stations are charging them less to fill up. Last fall, the Kansas City Star broke the news that gas stations around the country have failed to adjust their prices to the expanded, less-efficient gas in hot weather, causing drivers to lose millions of dollars each year. Now, Willamette Week reports that 17 states have filed 28 lawsuits against major gas suppliers, demanding that the stations develop a system to keep ‘hot gas’ under control. — Mary O’Regan

The Science of Lasting Happiness
By Marina Krakovsky, Scientific American
Happiness is fleeting, and Sonja Lyubomirsky is trying to figure out why. The Stanford-educated psychologist studies happiness and the phenomenon of ‘hedonic adaptation,’ whereby humans tend to adjust to a level of happiness. Lottery winners, for example, usually aren’t happier than their less lucky peers because of the inevitable crash that follows the elation of winning. Real happiness is possible, Lyubomirsky believes, ‘but the effort it takes is enormous.’ — Bennett Gordon

Allegations of Pregnancy Discrimination Increasing Nationwide
By Sarah Houdek, Asehville Global Report
Recently released statistics from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicate that pregnancy discrimination in the workplace may be on the rise. Women are being denied employment, unduly demoted, or even fired for becoming pregnant. The federal agency received 4,901 complaints of pregnancy discrimination in fiscal year 2006, a 23 percent increase since 1997. — Bennett Gordon

Psst! Corporations Don’t Pay Taxes!
By Dollars & Sense
Every April, workers across the country scrape together the cash to pay their taxes. Many US corporations, on the other hand, don’t have to. Researchers from the nonprofit Institute for Wisconsin’s Future recently found that more than 60 percent of the corporations in Wisconsin that pull in more than $100 million in revenue paid no state income tax at all. Once the findings were released, some state pro-business groups tried to discredit the nonprofit as ‘very left-leaning,’ while others embraced the findings as a testament to Wisconsin’s business-friendly outlook. — Bennett Gordon

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.