Short Takes: News From All Over: April 1, 2004

The Longest Arm of the Law
By Tim Golden, Mother Jones
An investigative judge on Spain’s highest court, the Audiencia Nacional, Baltasar Garz?n isn’t afraid to go after anyone accused of wronging his country: Basque terrorists, Latin American dictators (he famously pursued Chile’s Augusto Pinochet), international drug lords, even Osama bin Laden. In the wake of the horrific terrorist bombings in Madrid last month, are Moroccan suspects next on his list? Actually, Garz?n is cautious about terror prosecution, as Tim Golden reports. ‘We know that when the fight against terrorism moves outside the law, it becomes very dangerous,’ says Garzon. — Jacob Wheeler

Rapid Growth of ‘Dead Zones’ in Oceans Threatens Planet
By Staff, Agence France-Presse/Common Dreams
Does ‘dead zone’ sound like the title of a spooky horror movie? According to the UN Environmental Program, oceanic dead zones are a very real threat to marine habitats around the world…and to the millions of people that depend on marine life for their food and livelihoods. Dead zones are oxygen-depleted parts of the ocean that cannot support animal or plant life. Pollution and the overuse of nitrogen-based fertilizers have caused the number of known dead zones to double in the last decade, and immediate work needs to be done to ‘rebuild’ the seas. — Anastasia Masurat

NYPD Admits to Rap Intelligence Unit
By Dasun Allah, Village Voice
According to the NYPD, rappers are dangerous on more than just the dance floor. The police department’s ‘Hip Hop Task Force’ has been keeping a rap sheet (so to speak) on the stars, cataloguing any criminal incidents that involve them or their crews. But the rap-intelligence units aren’t the only ones keeping track; the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network plans to take legal action for violations of the rap artists’ constitutional rights. — Andi McDaniel

Ex-Guantanamo Inmates Still Behind Bars
By Muhammed Makoyev (pseudonym), Caucasus Reporting Service
If Russian citizens released from the American detention center in Guantanamo, Cuba, thought they were free men, they were mistaken. Unlike the British government, which dropped all charges and released the five British citizens extradited from the U.S. base, Russia has used an iron hand. Seven detainees were recently transferred to the infamous (and ironically named) Bely Lebed (White Swan) facility in the Stavropol region of southern Russia. The mother of one of them, Ruslan Odizhev, claims she has not been able to see her son since his return from Cuba. — JW

Is It Better to Be Gay in the Philippines?
By Nelson Everett Toriano, Pacific News Service/NCM
When Nelson Toriano, a gay man from San Francisco, visited Philippine relatives, he got a few shocks — like the high-school military cadets who called him ‘handsome’ in Tagalog and cruised him openly. ‘I blushed,’ he writes, ‘never having been approached before by flamers in fatigues.’ During his stay, Toriano discovered a conservative, deeply Catholic society that is nonetheless so tolerant of open gay behavior — cross dressing, male-male kissing, and more — that it made Toriano’s town and America’s gay mecca, San Francisco, seem positively uptight by comparison. — Jon Spayde

History Lives!
Historical re-enactors — hobbyists who deck themselves out in the clothing and accoutrements of the past and relive vanished times — are active every weekend in the supposedly future-oriented and history-ignorant United States. Refighting Civil War battles is a favorite activity. But if you want to get a sense of just how varied the re-enactment scene is, take a look at this British web site, with its links to re-enactment societies all over Britain and in parts of Europe. You’ll find everything from faux-Romans and pretend Vikings to folks who carefully reproduce Nazi units. There are even American Civil War re-enactors on the other side of the pond! — JS

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