Short Takes: News From All Over

By Staff and Utne.Com

Earmark Watch
By Taxpayers for Common Sense and the Sunlight Foundation
Americans have a new tool at their disposal to track the how the government is spending their tax dollars. Earmark Watch, created by the nonprofits Taxpayers for Common Sense and the Sunlight Foundation, sheds light on the often-shady add-ons (also known as “pork”) to congressional bills that appropriate money to a specific person or project. The new website details the particularities of each earmark, including which representative sponsored it and who or what that recipient is. Visitors are encouraged to help out by contributing research or comments to the site. (Thanks, Future Tense.) — Chris Gehrke

The God of Sperm
By Steven Kotler, L.A. Weekly
California Cryobank houses the father lode of all sperm — enough, reports Steven Kotler, to “repopulate the planet several times over.” But its founder, Dr. Cappy Rothman (a.k.a. the King of Sperm) reigns over a 30 percent share of the $75 million sperm-bank industry. Kotler reports that “a mostly inept series of somewhat bizarre FDA rulings” has allowed the Sperm King to shape the course of many important reproductive ethics issues, ranging from donor anonymity to accidental incest. — Anna Cynar

In the Future, Your Recycling Will Be Monitored and Dumpsters Will Be Trashed
by Nina Shapiro, Seattle Weekly
Chris Martin has made a career out of Dumpster diving. Martin’s Seattle-based company CleanScapes goes through individuals’ and companies’ trash to educate them about recycling, proper garbage disposal, and composting. The process is known as a “garbage audit.” CleanScapes is now in the running for lucrative government contracts, and many companies are turning to if for help implementing innovative and cost-effective trash removal policies. Through CleanScapes, Martin hopes to build a world where Dumpsters are no longer necessary, and everyone knows what to toss in the can, and what not to. (Thanks, –Chris Gehrke

Spinner of Yarns, Maker of Floats
By Ray Sikorski, High Country News
Trekkers hankering for a frothy root beer float after a vigorous hike, should be sure to visit Black George Simmons, an 84-year-old volunteer ranger in Grand Teton National Park. Simmons claims to have served up 576 free root beer floats in the course of one record-setting year. “I realized that I had a mission, that I gave people hope,” said the “hobbit-like” man, who sports an impressive white beard. In spite of his age, Simmons says he’s “having fun and doing people good at the same time.” — Anna Cynar

Guiding Himalayan Treks, Nepali Woman Scales Mountains of Social Taboos
By Jasmine Scott, the Christian Science Monitor
Nepali women are usually expected to dutifully accept their roles as housewives. Kamala Biswakarma, however, chooses to spend her time leading foreign travelers through the Himalayan mountains. Biswakarma is a vital part of Empowering Women of Nepal, an organization that trains women as Himalayan guides. The group works to empower and employ Nepali women, and also helps female travelers avoid the harassment and abuse experienced by many on tour groups guided by men. — Cara Binder

Male Day Laborers Turn to Prostitution
By Claudia Núñez, La Opinion via New America Media
Immigrant day laborers, who often assemble on street corners or in designated worker centers, are increasingly being exploited as prostitutes. Day laborer Ricardo Ceniceros explains that “Gringos see us as cheap brothels and not as day labor centers.” Some workers enter the sex trade knowingly, in exchange for cash. Others, Núñez reports, are either drugged or tricked into prostitution with the promise of jobs cleaning or painting. — Anna Cynar

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