Short Takes: News From All Over: June 3, 2004

Battle Over Organic Standards Continues
By Corie Brown, Los Angeles Times
Maybe George W. does eat his homegrown greens after all. The Bush administration saved face last Wednesday by withdrawing four changes in organic food directives that had organic farmers, the $11 billion organic food industry, its advocates, and bipartisan supporters in Congress in an absolute uproar, worried that the changes would undermine the public’s trust in the word ‘organic.’ USDA staffer Barbara Robinson, the author of the directives, plans to pursue the revisions. — Jacob Wheeler,1,1686859.story

FBI Abducts Artist, Seizes Art
By Staff, CAE Defense Fund
Apparently we should be afraid of artists too. Steve Kurtz, an art professor at the State University of New York, Buffalo was detained by the FBI after calling 911 to report that his wife had died in her sleep from cardiac arrest. Responders discovered A DNA extraction unit that Kurtz uses in his biotech-themed artworks, and seized it, along with manuscripts, other art materials, and even Kurtz’s wife’s body. As the CAE Defense Fund puts it, the lawmen couldn’t distinguish art from biological weapons. He will be indicted before a grand jury on June 15. — Jacob Wheeler

Monikers Progress
By Staff, The Economist
Girls are sugar and spice and all things nice, and apparently they are also more likely to have unique names. Alexander Bentley, of University College, London, found a higher ‘mutation rate’ in names of girls than boys. In other words, writes The Economist, parents ‘are more liable to be inventive when choosing a name for a baby girl. The researchers have found that for every 10,000 daughters born in America there is an average of 2.3 new names. For sons, the figure is 1.6.’ — Jacob Wheeler

Iraq ‘Supermax’ Prison Won’t Wipe Away Abu Ghraib Stain
By Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Pacific News Service
Oh, this will make the Iraqis embrace us with open arms for sure. President Bush proposes to tear down the infamous Abu Ghraib prison and build the kind of supermax prison so popular back home that it has been the targets of lawsuits in Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, California, and Illinois. Should we call them ‘correctional facilities’ in Iraq too? — Jacob Wheeler

Hip Hop’s Gender Problem
By Mark Anthony Neal,
The landmark decision by the Spelman College Student Government Association and others at the Atlanta University Center to hold Nelly accountable for the sexism, misogyny, and homophobia in hip hop today is a bold and honorable move. But, asks Mark Anthony Neal, of, in asking hip hop to fix its gender problem, are we asking the culture to do something of which it’s fundamentally incapable? — Jacob Wheeler

Montreal Police Shut Down Critical Mass
By Staff, The Dominion
Police in Quebec might be taking lessons from cops in the United States, who are known to be a little overaggressive with their handcuffs. A Critical Mass gathering of cyclists occurs once a month in at least 17 Canadian cities, but in Montreal police are through playing Mr. Nice Guy. ‘According to eyewitnesses, police forced several cyclists from their bicycles, issued fines, and threatened other cyclists with fines if they did not disperse,’ writes The Dominion. ‘According to cyclists, this was the first time that Montreal police had forced a critical mass to disperse.’ — Jacob Wheeler

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