Short Takes: News From All Over

By RiverCubes
Riverside cleanups uncover the sludgy remains of our disposable society, and typically these beautification projects haul the collected refuse to recycling or salvage centers. But the RiverCubes organization in Pittsburgh has taken a different approach. By compacting the trash into colorful, artful cubes and lining riverbanks with them, RiverCubes provides a visual reminder for people to question their wasteful reflexes and encourages community members to discuss waste issues in their neighborhoods. — Anna Cynar

Hanging in the Balance
By Wayne Roberts, NOW Magazine
The big-Agriculture, big-yield, ‘big-is-better’ ethos has been plowed over once again by two recent studies on organic food production. According to Cornell University’s professor emeritus David Pimentel, organic systems cultivate more fertile soils and are more resistant to harsh weather conditions than industrial farming. The tacks of the pesticide-pushing agriculture giants have been further diminished by a University of Michigan study, which found that organic agriculture in developing countries can produce 80 percent more than conventional farming. — Natalie Hudson

The Troublesome Truth About Sitka Spruce
By Jimmy Leslie, Guitar Player
The famed guitar makers Gibson, Martin, Fender, and Taylor have teamed up with Greenpeace to form the MusicWood Coalition, a group dedicated to saving the Sitka spruce, whose wood is used in most acoustic instruments for its supreme resonance. Old-growth Sitka groves may be gone in a mere six years due to vast clear-cutting in Southeast Alaska by the Sealaska corporation. The MusicWood Coalition is encouraging all music manufactures to join the fight to protect the trees. — Cara Binder

Pop Goes to War
By Mike Miliard, the Phoenix
Whether soldiers are flooding their ears with Beyonc? for escapism or burying themselves in copies Baghdad Express to gain understanding, it’s clear that popular culture is helping those in uniform cope. The Boston alt-weekly the Phoenix talked to local armed forces about the role of books, film, music, and videogames in combat and at home. Not only are these soldiers seeking out art for therapy, many are creating their own music and films to process their experiences. — Cara Binder

Braille Literacy Flags, Even as Technology Makes it More Urgent
By Amy Brittain, Christian Science Monitor
The National Braille Press estimates that only 12 percent of the 55,000 blind children in the United States are literate in braille, a huge slide from the 50 percent literacy rate during the 1960s. Some worry that technologies such as audio and computer aids are the culprit. But new translation software, embossing printers, and PDAs may actually improve braille education for blind students. Despite these new developments, most public schools continue to focus on audio and computer aids as cheaper options. — Julie Dolan

Carnivore Sex Off the Menu
By Rebecca Todd, the Press (New Zealand)
There’s a lot vegans already restrict themselves from, and some are adding another taboo to the list: sex with omnivores. This new class of vegans have been dubbed ‘vegansexuals’ by Annie Potts, codirector of the New Zealand Centre for Human and Animal Studies at Canterbury University. When one vegansexual was asked to explain her lifestyle choice, she responded: ‘I would not want to be intimate with someone whose body is literally made up from the bodies of others who have died for their sustenance.’ — Bennett Gordon

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