Today on the list: Britain’s new prime minister flies business class, one-third of U.S. cities face water shortages, the history of canned laughter, and the art professor who squirts paint from the worst possible place.

On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies.

The links below open in a new window. Newer ones are on top.

British PM flies biz class… CASH-CONSCIOUS David Cameron flew out to meet President Barack Obama last night on a regular British Airways — astonishing other passengers.

Media History: TV’s canned laughter The concept actually goes back at least 500 years. History tells us that there were audience “plants” in the crowds at Shakespearean performances in the 16th century. They spurred on audience reactions, including laughter and cheering—as well as jeers.

Jordan River Too Polluted for Baptisms An environmental group is urging a halt to baptisms in the Jordan River because the waters are so polluted.

Depression really does make everything look grey Depression not only drains life of its pleasure and its purpose; it also drains the visible world of its contrast. This “greying” effect may even be a factor in causing, or maintaining, the depression, the researchers suggest.

Twitter mood maps reveal emotional states of America America, are you happy? The emotional words contained in hundreds of millions of messages posted to the Twitter website may hold the answer.

PUBLIC WANTS END TO CORPORATE INTERFERENCE IN ELECTIONS Results of a poll conducted by Hart Research Associates for People For the American Way revealed that Americans across the political spectrum are intensely concerned about corporate influence in our democracy and disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC.

Renowned street artist Banksy tags Detroit, ignites controversy It’s just a little graffiti, and yet its existence has caused a firestorm of legal wrangling as to who actually owns the work and the building that once housed it. Seems rather odd, until you take a closer look at who is responsible, where it was created and why it exists in the first place.

Milestones in art, rectal squirt dept. Over the past few centuries, artists have successfully developed a host of imaginative and unusual methods for applying paint to canvas. But few are more colorful than the rectal squirt method developed by Keith Boadwee, adjunct professor of fine arts at California College of the Arts and visiting faculty member at the San Francisco Art Institute.

ONE THIRD OF U.S. COUNTIES FACE WATER SHORTAGE Climate change will have a significant impact on the sustainability of water supplies in the coming decades. A new analysis, performed by consulting firm Tetra Tech for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), examined the effects of global warming on water supply and demand in the contiguous United States.

Betty Draper’s Guide to Parenting Come Sunday night, the long wait for the fourth season of “Mad Men” finally ends. Among the many things to look forward to—including, but not limited to Roger Sterling’s one-liners, Joan’s remarkable competence, the mere sight of Don Draper—is the resumption of Betty Draper’s campaign to go down as one of the worst mothers in TV history.

Voters Rate Political Parties’ Ideologies In broad terms, voters view the Democratic Party’s ideology as the opposite of the Republican Party’s: 58% say the Democratic Party is either very liberal or liberal while 56% say the GOP is either very conservative or conservative.

Water as Human Right Threatens to Split World Body A long outstanding proposal to recognize the right to water as a basic universal human right is threatening to split the world’s rich and poor nations.

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