Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington under nine presidents and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review is an online journal and archive of alternative news. It has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Project on Government Oversight - President-elect Barack Obama has selected retired Admiral Dennis C. Blair to be the Director of National Intelligence. A POGO investigation revealed-and a Department of Defense Inspector General report confirmed-that Blair violated financial conflict of interest policies while serving as the head of a defense research institute. Over the course of an investigation of multiyear procurement for the F-22 in 2006, POGO found that Admiral Blair--then president of the Institute for Defense Analyses, which was evaluating whether or not the F-22 met the legal requirements for multiyear procurement--was also a stockholder and board member for the EDO Corporation and Tyco International Limited, both subcontractors for the F-22.At the time this conflict was revealed, Admiral Blair told the Washington Post he did not recuse himself "because his link to EDO was not of sufficient 'scale' to require it." Following the news, however, Blair resigned from EDO and from the IDA. GAZA
Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian, UK - The incoming Obama administration is prepared to abandon George Bush's doctrine of isolating Hamas by establishing a channel to the Islamist organization, sources close to the transition team say.The move to open contacts with Hamas, which could be initiated through the US intelligence services, would represent a definitive break with the Bush presidency's ostracizing of the group. The state department has designated Hamas a terrorist organisation, and in 2006 Congress passed a law banning US financial aid to the group. The Guardian has spoken to three people with knowledge of the discussions in the Obama camp. There is no talk of Obama approving direct diplomatic negotiations with Hamas early on, but he is being urged by advisers to initiate low-level or clandestine approaches, and there is growing recognition in Washington that the policy of ostracizing Hamas is counter-productive. A tested course would be to start contacts through Hamas and the US intelligence services, similar to the secret process through which the US engaged with the PLO in the 1970s. Israel did not become aware of the contacts until much later. INAUGURATION
Examiner Yeas & Nays - 49,000: Meals the MarriottWardmanPark hotel is expecting to serve over the five-day period surrounding the inauguration. . . 71: Miles of linens the hotel is expecting to use during that period. ON CAMPUS
Inside Higher Ed - This year's decline in academic jobs in history may be 15 percent or higher, according to preliminary data presented at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association. . . . Reports abounded of job searches being called off, or of people in interviews being warned of the strong possibility that the openings might not be filled this year. People leaving the job interview area of the meeting were trading stories about which jobs might actually be filled. Job candidates who a year ago had goals of four or five interviews here were thrilled to have one. . .The data are being released just weeks after the Modern Language Association reported drops of 22 percent for English language and literature positions and 20 percent for foreign language positions. Other humanities associations have also been seeing jobs disappear. FREEDOM & JUSTICE
Baltimore Sun - Baltimore police will no longer release the names of officers who kill or injure people, changing a long-standing practice that the department believes put officers at risk. The decision is prompting criticism from several Baltimore leaders, who said withholding officers' names will only endanger an already tenuous relationship between the police and the community. Baltimore police shot 21 people last year, 13 of them fatally - the same number killed by police in 2007, when 31 people were shot. Those numbers are up from 2006, when 15 were shot and five killed. "If we're ever going to get to a point where the community trusts the police, we need to have some transparency and full disclosure about what's happening," said state Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, a West Baltimore Democrat who is a public defender.
Judith Miller, Fox - The New York Police Department is looking for ways to disrupt cell phone calls and other forms of electronic communication among terrorists in the event of another terror attack in New York, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly says. The need to disrupt communications is one of several conclusions that the NYPD has drawn from studying the November attack in Mumbai, India, a three-day rampage by machine gun and grenade-wielding Islamic militants in which at least 165 people were killed and 304 were wounded. Kelly stressed the need for law enforcement to be able to disrupt cell phone calls and other communications during an attack, pointing to threats posed by the media when they disclose law enforcement tactics during live coverage that can get passed back to the attackers. Kelly says that in the Mumbai attack, the terrorists' handlers used cell phones and other portable communications devices to order the killing of hostages and to adjust other tactics while the attacks were underway. MONEY & WORK
Neal Karlinsky, ABC - Daniel Seddiqui has worked as a lumberjack in Oregon, a medical equipment manufacturer in Minnesota, a hydrologist in Colorado, a farmer in Nebraska, a meatpacker in Kansas and more -- all within the last 17 weeks. The 26-year-old from Los Altos, Calif., struggled to find a job after graduating with an economics degree from the University of Southern California in 2005. He sent out 40 job applications for positions in finance, but interview after interview, he didn't get a single offer. . .Eager to explore different career options, Seddiqui crafted a plan to beef up his resume: He would work 50 different jobs in 50 states in 50 weeks, driving cross-country. . . To Seddiqui's surprise, employers have bought into his experiment -- some even paying him. At a medical device manufacturer in Minnesota, he made $2,000 for one week of work. . . Ten of his first 12 employers were so happy with him that they offered him a full-time job. ECO CLIPS
BBC - A US airline has completed the first test flight of a plane partly powered by biofuel derived from algae. The 90-minute flight by a Continental Boeing 737-800 went better than expected, a spokesperson said. One of its engines was powered by a 50-50 blend of biofuel and normal aircraft fuel. . . The biofuel used in the demonstration flight was a blend of two different types of alternative oils - algae and jatropha. Jatropha is a plant that can grow successfully in poor soils and marginal land, yet it yields four times more fuel per hectare than soybean. However, algae is viewed by many as a key fuel for the future because it is fast growing, does not compete with food crops for arable land, and yields up to 30 times more fuel than standard energy crops.
Union of Concerned Scientists -Poultry trucks spread antibiotic-resistant bacteria Scientists at Johns Hopkins have reported that antibiotic-resistant bacteria from open-air poultry trucks can spread to cars driving behind these trucks. Their study, published in the Journal of Infection and Public Health, found increased levels of pathogenic bacteria in the air and on surfaces in cars that followed trucks carrying broiler chickens. The bacteria were resistant to three antibiotics that are widely used in human medicine and also approved by the FDA as poultry feed additives. POST-CONSTITUTIONAL AMERICA KMOV: A St. Louis man who was jailed and charged with making a threat about a shoe bomb was released Tuesday. Michael Shafermeyer, 30, was arrested Saturday boarding a flight at LambertAirport Saturday. After spending 3 ½ days in jail, he spoke with News 4 to give his side of the story. Shafermeyer said he was flying to Maryland to get married and because he was anxious about the wedding and nervous about flying, he had a few drinks before getting to the airport. His friends describe him as a guy with a non-stop, quirky sense of humor. When a flight attendant asked him to close his laptop after boarding, Shafermeyer says he was just trying to make a joke when he asked her, "Are you the one who checks for shoe bombs?" He said within minutes federal agents whisked him off the plane and he spent the next 2 ½ days in solitary confinement at the St. Louis County Jail. The final day in jail, he was put in general holding with 20-30 other people, who he said stood and gave him a standing ovation when he first walked into the room. Shafermeyer said he's charged with making a false bomb report. He still plans to go to Maryland to get married, but will take the train to get there.
SUSTAIN YOURSELF Wendy Koch, USA Today - For the first time in at least a decade, builders are substantially reducing the size of new houses. "We're trending toward smaller homes," says Gopal Ahluwalia, director of research for the National Association of Home Builders. He says growth in the average size of new single-family homes, which went from 1,750 square feet in 1978 to 2,479 in 2007, is starting to reverse. His analysis of Census data shows that homes started in the third quarter of 2008 averaged 2,438 square feet, down from 2,629 square feet in the second quarter. Ahluwalia, who began the quarterly analysis in 1999, says there have been slight dips before, but the latest drop was much steeper and is likely to hold even after the economy recovers. PROBLEMS WE HADN'T STARTED WORRYING ABOUT YET Seattle Post Intelligencer - The honey business is plagued with international intrigue, where foreign hucksters and shady importers sometimes rip off conscientious packers with Chinese honey diluted with cheap sugar syrup or tainted with illegal antibiotics. . . Antibiotic use could taint honey's reputation as a miracle drug The United States imports most of its honey and China was the No. 1 source -- until 1997. HEALTH & SCIENCE
America Blog - Ignoring sex education does not appear to be working very well. . . Mississippi now has the nation's highest teen pregnancy rate, displacing Texas and New Mexico for that lamentable title, according to a new federal report. Mississippi's rate was more than 60 percent higher than the national average in 2006, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The teen pregnancy rate in Texas and New Mexico was more than 50 percent higher. . . The lowest teen birth rates continue to be in New England, where three states have teen birth rates at just half the national average. . . Not bad for godless communists. CRIME BLOTTER
Patriot News, PA - The wobbly video shows a group of adults mulling inside Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant in Susquehanna Twnship. Suddenly it pans left and captures a fight breaking out. The 22-second clip. . . is the latest example of what police describe as a disturbing and bizarre crime trend: escalating violence among adults at a place designed for children's birthday parties. SusquehannaTownship police have been called to the restaurant on Union Deposit Road 12 times in the past year for reports of disorderly conduct, assault and theft. Those calls have resulted in 13 arrests, including six women -- five adults and a juvenile -- charged with disorderly conduct in a Saturday-night brawl. ELITE ETHNOGRAPHY
NY Post -Those who associate Miami Beach with wrinkled retirees will find their jaws dropping when they read Steven Gaines' new exposé, "Fool's Paradise," out Jan. 27 from Crown. The book details the city's hedonistic decadence, which includes how threesomes have become the rage, how the population of bisexual women is exploding and how easy it is to score drugs - "You can buy a tab of Ecstasy as easy as a pack of gum," Gaines writes. Among the bigger-than-life characters he chronicles are Thomas Kramer, the kinky German playboy whose $60 million StarIsland estate has video cameras in every room. FURTHERMORE. . .
Caragh Brooks, 21, of Australia and Paul Brooks, 30 have gotten married. The only really interesting thing about that is that they took their vowes at a Taco Bell. Said the groom's mother, "This is the way to go - there's no stress."
Your editor has been a
musician for many decades. He started the first band his Quaker
school ever had and played drums with bands up until 1980 when
he switched to stride piano. He had his own band until the mid-1990s
and has played with the New Sunshine Jazz Band, Hill City Jazz
Band, Not So Modern Jazz Band and the Phoenix Jazz Band.
APEX BLUES Sam
playing with the Phoenix Jazz Band at the Central Ohio Jazz festival
in 1990. Joining the band is George James on sax. James, then
84, had been a member of the Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller
orchestras and hadappeared on some 60 records.More
notes on James