Short Takes: News From All Over

April 26, 2007

| April 2007

Black Market in Tobacco Makes Prisons More Violent
By Dwight Abbott, New America Media
The recent ban on tobacco products in California's prison system may be doing more harm than good. Reporting from inside Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, inmate Dwight Abbott writes that a pack of Camel cigarettes can now fetch $150 on the prison black market. To satisfy their tobacco needs, prisoners sometimes rely on the cigarette butts collected from outdoor work crews. An anti-gang coordinator at Pelican Bay said, 'It's becoming a better market than drugs.' Abbott believes it already is. -- Natalie Hudson

Web Site Charts Three Months of Violence
By Alan Mota, OhmyNews
The city of Rio de Janeiro has deteriorated into what some are calling a civil war as gangs and police battle in the Brazilian slums. A website called Rio Body Count, modeled after the Iraq Body Count website, has kept track of the 773 (and counting) deaths that have occurred in the city and surrounding area in the past three months. Alan Mota reports that amid the daily bloodshed swirl rumors of an alliance formed between gangs to protect themselves from 'militias' composed mostly of police officers. -- Natalie Hudson

The Official Typeface of the 20th Century
By Ryan Bigge, Toronto Star
'Helvetica has played a crucial role in providing shape and tone to the modern visual landscape,' writes Ryan Bigge. Originally designed in 1957, the font didn't gain popularity until 1961, when its name was changed to capitalize on the popularity of Swiss design. Since then Helvetica has become the de rigueur font for ad agencies and marketing firms. In honor of its 50th birthday, Bigge considers both the praise and the criticism of the font, and looks at the changing dynamic of typography. -- Chris Gehrke

Jesus 'Love Bombs' You
By Chris Hedges, Truthdig
During a 'love bombing,' evangelical church members and leaders 'bomb' a new convert with a barrage of compliments, friendly touches, and attention, seducing the convert with the promise of instant friendship and belonging. As Chris Hedges notes, love bombing is a timeworn tactic that's been used by the Russian and Chinese communist parties to woo recruits, a deceptive part of the process of 'deconstructing an individual and building a submissive follower.' -- Evelyn Hampton

Eco-Anxiety: Something else to worry about
By Justin Nobel, Columbia News Service
With an increase in eco-awareness -- and worries over environmental threats like global warming -- comes an increase in 'eco-anxiety.' Sufferers complain of decreased appetites, panic attacks, and a strange feeling that their 'cells are twitching.' Professionals in the mental health field have responded with a new breed of eco-therapists. One therapist sees 40 to 80 eco-anxious patients a month in her Santa Fe practice. Her prescription for mental well-being? Lead an environmentally friendly life. -- Mary O'Regan

Native Hawaiians Maintain Their Inherent Sovereignty
By Gale Courey Toensing, Indian Country Today
After six years of defeat, Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) has reintroduced a federal bill that calls upon the United States to recognize a Native Hawaiian government. Many Native Hawaiians oppose the bill, however, because they believe it prevents them from pursuing sovereignty under international law. As J. Kehaulani Kauanui, an assistant professor of anthropology and a Native Hawaiian explains, Native Hawaiians never gave up their claims of sovereignty over the 1.8 million acres of land annexed by the United States in 1898. Says Kauanui: 'I'd rather stick with the status quo for the moment.' -- Bennett Gordon

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