Short Takes: News From All Over

By Staff

The Art of the Cart
By Anne Ford, ChicagoReader
Hot dog vendors now have a Harvard in Hot Dog University (HDU). Founded a year ago by Mark Reitman in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, HDU offers a two-day course on the basics of running a successful mobile food service. Born out of Reitman’s post-retirement employment as a vendor, HDU is gaining national attention with students from as far away as California willing to swallow the $298 tuition for a future in frankfurters. — Eric Kelsey

Vanity Fair: The Unbearable Whiteness of Green
By Van Jones,
Mixing green environmentalism with green money gives the environmental movement an unflattering white hue, according to social justice activist Van Jones. According to Jones, Vanity Fair‘s recent ‘Green Issue’ exemplifies the trend of portraying the environmental movement as an elitist ‘playground’ of white affluence. Jones fears that minorities and the poor may be turned away from environmentalism, citing a recent backlash in California that rejected a ballot measure calling for clean energy. If the Vanity Fair-style elitism persists, Jones foresees a disastrous ‘alliance between polluters and the poor.’ — Eric Kelsey

Untouchables Sweep to Power in India’s Most Populous State
By Randeep Ramesh, The Guardian
An unlikely hero turned India’s caste system upside down after a surprising election victory earlier this month. The fiery politician Mayawati, who goes by only one name, shocked the country with a resounding victory in the impoverished state of Uttar Pradesh, home to 170 million people. Many attribute Mayawati’s victory to the unlikely coalition she helped form between the Brahmin caste at the top of the Hindu hierarchy and the Dalits, also known as the Untouchables, at the bottom. — Natalie Hudson,,2077646,00.html

Four Percent of Global Warming Due to Dams, Says New Research
By International Rivers Network
Visions of water running through dams may look sustainable, but new research suggests that hydropower is anything but clean. A recent study from the National Institute for Space Research in Brazil indicates that dams are the largest contributors of methane gas created by humans. According to the study, the breakdown of soils and organic materials flooded by dam reservoirs release 104 million metric tons of methane per year. Scientists also note that the calculations don’t include carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions, which also contribute to global warming. — Anna Cynar

An American Sahara
By John Ross, San FranciscoBayGuardian
Much of Mexico is drying up, creating an environment incapable of supporting human life. Indigenous people and subsistence farmers are abandoning their land as desertification crawls across the country. The major culprits, according to John Ross, are agribusiness giants and the timber industry, who have robbed the country of many of its natural resources. Recent studies by the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) have indicated that 38 Mexican cities, including Acapulco and Cancun, could run out of water in 10 years. — Anna Cynar

That Ain’t White
By Matt Wray, American Sexuality Magazine
The term ‘white trash’ may seem like an unremarkable racial epithet, but as Matt Wray explains, the term shares a precarious and illuminating relationship with marginalization and discrimination. It is likely that the moniker was originally used by African Americans in early nineteenth-century Baltimore to disparage poor white workers and indentured servants. Since then the term has been used to describe people thought to be mentally impaired, culturally inept, and even genetically flawed. (Thanks, Arts & Letters Daily.) — Chris Gehrke

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