Short Takes: News From All Over

The Case of the Jena Six
By Jacquie Soohen, Democracy Now!
Mychal Bell, a 17-year-old African American, faces 22 years in prison without parole after an all-white jury in Jena, Louisiana, convicted him of conspiracy charges and aggravated battery following a school yard fight that left a white student with a concussion. The fight broke out after three nooses were hung from a tree where white students normally sat and where, the previous day, a black student had ventured. Six African American students, including Bell, were arrested and now collectively face up to 100 years in prison in a case that has the teens’ families and activists calling for justice in the racially divided town. — Bennett Gordon

17 Reasons (or More) to Stop Charging People to Ride the Bus
By Dave Olsen, The Tyee
They say there’s no such thing as a free ride. Maybe there should be. In the first installment of a five-part series sponsored by the reader-funded Tyee Fellowship for Solutions-Oriented Reporting, Dave Olsen lays out the many advantages of a fare-free transit system. They include reducing greenhouse gases, boosting the local economy, leveling the socioeconomic playing field, and increasing civic pride. The system would not be totally free, Olsen acknowledges — funding would come from taxes in what he calls ‘the ultimate implementation of prepaid fares.’ — Natalie Hudson

The Politics of Stillbirth
By Allison Stevens, American Prospect Online
‘Missing Angels’ laws started as a grassroots effort to address the emotional needs of parents of stillborns. The idea is to grant certificates of stillborn birth to these parents, who would normally receive death certificates but no birth certificates. Allison Stevens, the Washington bureau chief for Women’s eNews, reports that abortion-rights activists worry that the laws — now on the books in 20 states — could become another tactic for anti-choice advocates looking to assert personhood rights to fetuses. — Julie Dolan

US Publisher Turns Away from Cartoon Nudity
By Franziska Bossy and Elke Schmitter, Spiegel Online
Much ado has been made over the tiny illustrated penis pictured in Rotraut Susanne Berner’s children’s book. Translated from its original German, the book has been read by kids in dozens of countries. But the cartoon anatomy, which belongs to a statue in a whimsical illustration of an art gallery, caused a hang-up with would-be US publisher Boyds Mills Press. After Berner refused to redact the offending nudity, the press dropped plans to publish the book in the United States. — Chris Gehrke (Thanks, Maud Newton.),1518,493856,00.html

Surui Partner with Google Earth to Map Territory
By Lisa Garrigues, Indian Country Today
For years, the 600,000-acre reserve in southern Brazil that belongs to the Surui people has been plagued by illegal loggers and miners. Now, with the help of Google Earth and high-resolution satellite images, the Surui will be able to monitor the area for illegal activity. The indigenous tribe also will work with Google to create a multilayer map that will outline culturally significant locations, territorial boundaries, and the tribe’s historical roots. — Chris Gehrke

Media That Matters Film Festival
Arts Engine, Inc. showcases its seventh annual Media That Matters film festival with a collection of 16 thought-provoking shorts directed by artists with a desire to instigate change. The films span subjects from Alzheimer’s disease to transgender youth to recycling in Cairo. The winning pieces have been screened in New York City and Washington, DC, but the festival’s website lets cinephiles view the films from anywhere. Online bonus features include discussion forums for each film, extra information about them, and links to related websites and organizations. — Cara Binder

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