Short Takes: News From All Over: April 8, 2004

The Unsung Heroine
By Harold Meyerson, The American Prospect
In this tear-jerking eulogy for a civil rights hero, Harold Meyerson calls Mildred McWilliams Jeffrey, ‘the great, behind-the-scenes strategist of modern American feminism.’ When she passed away in Detroit two weeks ago, ‘both Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Senator Debbie Stabenow told the media that they would not be in their current positions without the decades of work that Millie had put in on behalf of equal opportunities for women.’ After the Second World War Jeffrey helped put the auto workers on the map as ‘the greatest force for social democracy that America has ever known.’ — Jacob Wheeler

Is Air America Any Good?
By Ben Williams, Slate Magazine
What will it take to subdue the conservative talk empire? And is goofy, if not aloof, Al Franken up to the task? Critics say he ‘needs to sharpen up.’ The Boston Globe calls him a poor interviewer; The New York Times thinks his ‘mix of mockery and mild indignation proves the difficulty of matching the fervor and ferocity of right-wing radio.’ ‘Rush Limbaugh can sleep soundly. For now,’ said the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. — Jacob Wheeler

Organ Donor Registry Is No Dead Giveaway
By Gail Johnson,
British Columbia residents waiting for an organ donation know the downside to the Canadian province’s good road safety record and low rate of violent deaths, especially compared to the unruly neighbor to the south. ‘According to the British Columbia Transplant Society, nearly 85 percent of people in the province support organ donation,’ reports Gail Johnson. ‘But not even 15 percent are registered to be donors after they die.’ Johnson compares various countries’ approaches to identifying transplant donors. Some, like Spain, Belgium, and France, assume consent unless the person already opted out. British Columbia’s registry program, on the other hand, requires potential donors to take more initiative. — Jacob Wheeler

We’ve Got A Bigger Problem Now: Jello Biafra Punk Rocks the Vote
By Daniel Sinker, Punk Planet
If there’s any time for ‘punks’ to go out and throw their support behind a political candidate, this is it, says Jello Biafra, the well-known independent artist/activist who once ran for major of San Francisco (1979). Biafra has ‘thrown his name behind, a website founded by Fat Wreck Chords’ Fat Mike to help spread the fact that your vote counts among punks in the hopes of swinging the election away from Bush,’ writes Punk Planet’s Daniel Sinker. — Jacob Wheeler

The Morph Man
By Brian Alexander, Los Angeles Times
‘Why not us?’ asks David Gardiner, an academic biologist at UC Irvine. If some animals can grow new limbs, then why can’t humans? That question has been on the minds of scientists for hundreds of years, ever since 1768 when an Italian monk observed that amphibians could regenerate body parts. Lately, the U.S. Department of Defense has injected money into research. Its Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is ‘concerned that growing numbers in the military are surviving wounds that once killed and are reentering civilian life without arms and legs,’ Brian Alexander writes in the LA Times. — Jacob Wheeler

U.S. turns to mercenaries
By James Ridgeway, The Village Voice
How ‘civilian’ really are civilian contractors in Iraq when they boast the same firepower as the U.S. army and when their job is to protect L. Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provision Authority in Baghdad? Not four bankers or construction workers, writes James Ridgeway in The Village Voice, but four mercenaries from Blackwater Security Consulting firm were killed, burned, and dragged through the streets of Fallujah last week. ‘The use of private military forces raises tricky questions for the U.S. government.’ — Jacob Wheeler

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