Short Takes: News From All Over: February 16, 2006

By Staff and Utne.Com

Just Over the Horizon

By Sharon Weinberger, Defense Technology International

The US Air Force is developing technology that would actually allow it to control the weather. Military scientists have been experimenting with plasma technology that would “reconfigure the ionosphere” for military purposes. The idea is to sneak up on enemy fighters and change the atmosphere to prevent them from receiving satellite signals. (Thanks,
Defense Tech
.) — Bennett Gordon

The Night the Lights Went Out

By Maya Schenwar, AlterNet

Starting February 15 a group in Chicago will begin a monthlong electricity fast aimed at highlighting the daily realities of life in Iraq. The action is part of the Winter of Our Discontent, a 33-day food fast going on in Washington, DC. Both fasts are calling for full war reparations by the US to Iraq. — Nick Rose

In the Can: Philadelphia’s Innovative Bathrooms

By Jordan Rockford, Rachel Buchman, and Sarah Ruddy, Dragonfire

Public bathrooms, once a site of fear, apprehension, and bald utilitarianism, are being transformed into sites of experimentation, beauty, and play. These photographs of bathrooms in Philadelphia show that the powder room is as diverse as the names we’ve cooked up for it. — Nick Rose

Return of the Native Movement

By Staff, Grist Magazine
Evon Peter, the executive director of Native Movement, has been an outspoken leader for Native Americans in the environmental movement for years. Grist editors and readers interviewed him on everything from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to climate change. Links throughout the interview serve as great resources for deeper research into the issues raised. — Bennett Gordon

Scorecard: The Pollution Information Site

By Staff, Scorecard

Curious about what’s going into your air and water? Just plug your Zip code into — a website that identifies the major polluters in your neighborhood. The site also contains valuable information on chemicals, watersheds, superfund sites, and animal waste. — Nick Rose

“Hit” Songs Unpredictable, Thanks to Peer Pressure

By David Biello, Scientific American

Why is Britney Spears so popular? The answer might be peer pressure. Scientists tested two groups of people in terms of song preference. One group downloaded songs based solely on the title or band name, while the other got to see how many times a certain song had been downloaded before listening. The conclusion was that people are more apt to like a song if others liked it, which can make it tough to predict the next big hit. — Bennett Gordon

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