Short Takes: News From All Over

The Mafia Plot To Kill Dennis Kucinich
By James Renner, ClevelandFree Times
Cleveland, 1977: The city is gripped by a spate of murders as mafia capos, teamsters, and racketeers vie for control of the underground crime syndicate. Enter Dennis Kucinich. The plucky young mayor attempts to untangle the web of corruption that’s strangling city hall; in the process he upsets some powerful people and lands on a hit list. In this noir-like report, the Cleveland Free Times’ James Renner peers into the darkened alleys of Cleveland’s mafia years and retraces the sordid events that fueled the plot to kill Kucinich. — Chris Gehrke

Plants Recognize Siblings
By Andrea Thompson, Live Science
Apparently sibling rivalry is less of a problem in the plant world. Susan Dudley, an associate professor of biology at McMaster University in Canada, recently discovered that plants can detect whether they’re growing in the same pot with a sibling or a stranger. While plants of the same species typically compete for resources, plant offspring share resources equally. Although altruistic tendencies have been well-documented in the animal kingdom, the study is the first to discover plant sibling-bonding. — Anna Cynar

The List: Six Reasons You May Need a New Atlas Soon
By Foreign Policy
Since the fall of the Soviet Union added a host of states to the global scene, mapmakers have had a relatively easy go of it. Foreign Policy takes a look at six autonomous regions whose campaigns for independent status could put cartographers back to work. It seems Kosovo, now nominally under Serbian rule, has the best chance given its strong support from the United States and European Union. Taiwan faces the longest odds as China’s international influence continues to grow and intimidate. — Cara Binder

Seven Wonders of the Shrinking Planet
By Jim Benning and Michael Yessis, World Hum
Not to be out done by the new seven wonders of the world, the folks at the online travel magazine World Hum created their own ‘Seven Wonders of the Shrinking Planet’ to recognize the ‘evolving and colliding’ cultures in today’s ever-globalizing world. Making the list were: the world’s newest rendition of Las Vegas, in Dubai; the innovative mapping and satellite software of Google Earth; the global warming-induced opening of the Northwest Passage; and the Starbucks that set up shop in China’s Forbidden City. — Natalie Hudson

Maxim Insecurity: Why Men’s Mags Are a Drag on Male Self-Esteem
By Jay Dixit, Psychology Today
Those pictures of scantily clad bombshells in men’s magazines like FHM, Maxim, and Stuff aren’t just taking aim at women’s self-esteem; they may be doing a number on men’s self-image, too. Researchers at the University of Missouri at Columbia and the University of California at Davis plan to soon test their theory that it’s the polished images of female beauties — not the ads of ripped guys in Calvins — that make men feel inadequate. The idea is that men end up fixating on their own bodily flaws as turnoffs to such babes. — Eric Kelsey

Four Score and Seven Manatees Ago: Why Have We Stopped Naming Schools After Great Public Figures?
By Jay P. Greene, Brian Kisida, and Jonathan Butcher, City Journal
The number of schools named after presidents or civic leaders has dropped drastically around the nation in the last half century. Instead of Harry Truman High or Cesar Ch?vez Elementary, districts are opting for conflict-free namesakes inspired by natural features or animals (like the manatee). Although school boards may be trying to keep communities contented, City Journal‘s authors claim that deemphasizing our nation’s heroes has eroded students’ knowledge of American civics — an area in which only 27 percent of high school seniors tested as ‘proficient’ in 2006. — Eric Kelsey

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