Short Takes: News From All Over: March 17, 2005

Mexican Officers Brought to Book
By Claire Marshall, BBC News
If words are more powerful weapons, then maybe cops would be more effective crime fighters if they wielded books instead of guns. At least that’s the thinking behind a new policy in Mexico City’s crime-ridden district of Nezahualcoyotl, where mayor Luis Sanchez has decreed that every officer must read at least a book a month. They don’t need to turn in their firearms yet. But if they don’t read, they lose any chance of promotion. — Marca Bradt

Touching the Untouchables
By Chip Chipman,
Homelessness, one could say, is today’s version of leprosy, rendering its victims untouchable except by other homeless people. Mary Ann Finch is mending the rift, and she is using her hands to do so. One massage at a time, Finch enters the exclusive world of the homeless by ‘caring through touch,’ an act of compassion she learned in India from Mother Teresa herself. As you can see in this photo essay, her patrons are convinced she is heaven-sent. — Marca Bradt

Adopt Orphan Works!
By Staff,
Thousands of creative works — books, photos, music, and films — are lost in copyright limbo. Known as ‘orphan works,’ because the creator can’t be found to request permission for licensing, the US Copyright Office is asking for ideas to make it easier for people to access this orphaned intellectual property. The Electronic Frontiers Foundation and Public Knowledge have launched a new website to make it easy for you to send the government your ideas. But act fast. The deadline for public comments is March 25. — Leif Utne

There’s Nothing Sexier Than a . . . Nursing Mom?
By Jocelyn Selim, Biology & Medicine
Women with low libidos might have a new way to increase their sex drive: hang around breast-feeding mothers. Psychologists at the University of Chicago found that smelling the pheromones — chemical compounds our bodies secrete to communicate with each other — absorbed from the breasts of nursing women resulted in increased sexual motivation in other women. — Grace Hanson

Lent and ‘Pop’ Theology
By Will Braun,
The Lenten season can be a great time to participate in what Braun calls ‘practical liturgy:’ scaling back on the consumerist excesses that we all fall victim to. He gives up brand-name soda, and in the process becomes more in tune with the abundance of Easter. — Grace Hanson

New Research Opens a Window on the Minds of Plants
By Patrik Jonsson, Christian Science Monitor
Do plants think? The question is not new, but mounting evidence that certain plants can tell friend from foe, exert power over their surroundings, and plan their growth and migration patterns long in advance, have turned up the volume in this long-running biological debate. — Leif Utne

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