Short Takes: News From All Over: August 5, 2004

Improving the Environment in a Conservative Political Climate
By William T. Johnson, Electronic Green Journal
Conservatives have a rotten record when it comes to environmental issues, but recent shifts in conservative thinking are starting to honor the ‘conserve’ part of the ideology’s moniker. Using the common ground of religion and its idea of stewardship, liberals and conservatives alike can find a biblical basis for environmentalism that is both viable and effective in the current political climate. — Brendan Themes

The Metrosexual Superpower
By Parag Khanna, Foreign Policy
Good diplomacy has a square jaw — and a waxed chest. Combining the strength of Mars and the seductive power of Venus, the European Union advances its national and global interests with style, finesse, and force, while the slovenly, crew-cut United States stumbles, arms swinging and nose running, into disaster. With the E.U. currently earning acclaim on the world stage, a new adjective, ‘diplomosexual,’ can’t be far behind. — Brendan Themes

Bottle Racket
By Umbra Fisk, Grist
Sorry, folks, it was only a dream — the honeymoon with your beloved, be-stickered Nalgene bottle is finally over. Bottles made of polycarbonate (#7), or ‘Lexan,’ contain a chemical which may cause chromosomal disruption, miscarriages, birth defects, or obesity. Looks like it’s time to de-evolve a little bit: metal bottles may be clunky, but at least they don’t mess with your hormones. — Brendan Themes

Brain Not Body Makes Athletes Feel Tired
By James Randerson, New Scientist
Thought that obstacle course was tiring, athletes? Chill out, it’s probably all in your mind. At least, according to recent studies conducted by scientists at the University of Capetown. Traditionally, people have thought that the reason we feel fatigue is due to overworked muscles that no longer function at an optimum level. But mounting evidence suggests that fatigue is actually a chemical process in the mind. The brain, wise as always, releases a signaling molecule called interleukin-6 (IL-6) after high muscle activity. With IL-6 signals, you may opt to rest instead of running the next lap, preventing the possibility of really overworking your muscles. — Elizabeth Dwoskin

Convene Green
By Amanda Griscom, Grist
When it comes to environmentalism, the Democratic National Convention put its money where its mouth is. Biodegradable balloons, recycled confetti, and renewable energy all helped fuel the festivities in Boston, thanks to the newly-formed Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Conventions. Attendees were given food for thought as they munched their locally-grown grub: League of Conservation Voters president Deb Callahan called Kerry ‘the greenest presidential candidate America has ever seen.’ With such a green convention, this assertion seems more plausible. — Brendan Themes

The Death of Tallulah Prison
By Xochitl Bervera, Color Lines
Louisiana is the state with the highest incarceration rate in the world, and the Swanson County Correctional Center for Youth, or Tallulah, nicknamed for the bordering river delta, was known to be one of its cruelest. Broken bones, black eyes, rapes, and the selling of drugs to the youth by the guards were daily occurrences. But a powerful coalition of parents of incarcerated youth, lawyers, and organizers, came together to pass the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2003 last June, mandating major reforms in Louisiana juvenile justice system that are currently underway, and the closure of Tallulah. — Elizabeth Dwoskin

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