Short Takes: News From All Over: February 12, 2004

The Next Great Wall
By Mike Davis, Mother Jones
Far from creating the era of borderless freedom that jubilant Germans envisioned after the destruction of the Berlin Wall, neoliberal capitalism has in fact created a world of more dangerous, though less visible, borders. Using strategies like Europe’s ‘Electronic Curtain’ and Australia’s offshore interventions, anti-immigration warriors are beefing up border enforcement like never before. European ‘Noborder’ activists fear that distinctions between immigration policy and the ‘war on terrorism’ are blurring and alien-policing strategies could eventually be turned against local anti-globalization movements. — Andi McDaniel

California Approves Rules for Water-Efficient Washing Machines
By Anna Oberthur, Environmental News Network/AP
An easy-to-overlook villain in the world’s water crisis is the washing machine, a water guzzler if there ever was one. California’s new washing machine efficiency rules would save an estimated 80 billion gallons of water annually by 2019, and would be a much needed response to California’s ongoing water shortage. Water-efficient machines will be more expensive than standard machines, but will make up the difference with decreased water costs. — AM

Janet Bares All
Ward Sutton, cartoonist for the Village Voice, weighs in on the recent half-time show incident with that (other) nutty Jackson. Take a look. See anything that shocks you? — Kyle Cohen

The Bottom Line on Child Labor
Nearly everyone of good will agrees that child labor is an evil, but the UN’s International Labour Organization decided to run the numbers. What would it cost to eliminate it worldwide? Would developing and transitional economies benefit? The research report concludes that the benefits would far outweigh the costs. — AM

For those lacking the know-how or the energy to create their own vitriol, a nasty but useful site called comes up with complex putdowns and denigrations for every occasion. And check out the ‘Swearsaurus’ for instructions on cursing in 133 languages. — KC

Harassment Law Sparks Outrage
‘Our beautiful women are independent, they can protect themselves, but on the other hand, they want to be courted.’ This was the negative reaction of a conservative member of the Czech parliament to a new section of the country’s labor code that defines and forbids sexual harassment. The measure has stirred up a storm in a country where the line between sexuality and sexism is vague at best. — Jon Spayde

A Funny Thing Happened at Recess…
The Boys and Girls club of Los Angeles has created a program to make sure the comedy clubs of the future stay booked. Louise Palanker started the Kid’s Comedy Club in 2000 to teach kids how to write and perform their own stand-up material, and have since performed at fundraising banquets and comedy events. — KC

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