Short Takes: News from All Over: January 22, 2004

The Bush Administration Cozies Up to Obesity
The White House hasn’t certified Chee-tos as a vegetable for school lunches yet, but a press release issued by reports that the Bushies are trying to curb a World Health Organization initiative to decrease obesity and related chronic diseases. Among the Administrations assertions is that there is no sufficient link between fast-food and obesity. — Eric Larson

A Thai Factory Makes Worker-Friendly Capitalism
By Marwaan Macan-Markar, InterPress Service
Striking a blow against the very idea of the sweatshop, Bangkok’s Solidarity Group operates a factory in which employees are given a say in the business, paid a decent wage, allowed to wear whatever they want, and permitted to listen to music. Simple stuff, but revolutionary in the totalitarian garment business. Their label, ‘Dignity Return,’ will hopefully give Nike a run for its money. — Erica Wetter

A Global Offensive Against Water-Guzzling Multinationals
It’s official: Coca Cola and the French private water-development firm Suez Degremont are the worst water pirates on earth. The People’s World Water Forum has announced the beginning of a worldwide movement against water privatization and predatory mining of groundwater. Activist Vandana Shiva kicked off the campaign by fingering the two companies as ‘the prime exploiters of global water resources.’ — Joel Stonington
Related: People’s World Water Forum

Bush and Science Don’t Mix
Whether it’s via the politicization (and weakening) of the EPA or the promotion of a bogus link between abortion and breast cancer, the Bush administration has been eager to shoehorn science into Republican policy. ‘Politics and Science’, a web site presented by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), takes a critical look at science and health issues under Bush. — Kyle Cohen

No Mark of Distinction: Let’s Junk the Colon
By Jennifer Jacobson, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Okay, the average person may not worry much about the colon (the punctuation mark, not the body part), but if you are mired in the depths of academia, then you’re unlikely to see a paper or a book title without the little double dot dividing the first part from the second. Jacobson suggests we abolish it forever – and then take aim at the semicolon! — JS

Beyond Murphy’s Law
‘Everything leaks.’ So posits Indiana University philosophy professor Andy Clark, and he’s willing to call it ‘Clark’s Law.’ Each year, John Brockman, publisher and editor of, asks a dedicated group of thinkers a question for the coming year. For 2004 he is seeking new laws of the natural world, serious or tongue-in-cheek, to be ‘widely disseminated’ and to ‘stimulate discussion and the imagination.’ — KC

On the Road On Line
Roadtrippers and romantics in search of the mythic American roadside might find it hard to see behind the Wal-Marts, malls and perpetual golden arches that greet us in many small communities these days. The American Highway Project, a non-profit online photo-gallery devoted to road-related images (old motels, roadside sculpture, highway history) bills itself as both ‘a voice for preservation and a resource for study.’ — EL

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