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

January 12, 2009



Wall Street Journal -
President-elect Barack Obama has banned corporations and big donors from funding his Jan. 20 inauguration. But 90% of donations received so far have been raised by well-heeled fund-raisers, including Wall Street executives whose companies have received billions of dollars in federal bailout money. A total of 207 fund-raisers have collected $24.8 million of the $27.3 million in contributions disclosed by Mr. Obama through Thursday, according to an analysis by nonpartisan campaign finance group Public Citizen. Wall Street employees, as a group, have been the biggest single source of these private donations, according to the analysis. Much of their donations -- $5.7 million total -- has been channeled through financial-services executives who each have bundled together donations worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.


NY Post -
Chrysler hired ad/marketing legend Peter Arnell as its chief innovative officer last year, and later this month you'll be able to order the first fruit of his labor - the GEM Peapod, a $12,500 electric vehicle designed for cities and gated communities. Arnell, who was marketing healthy snack foods with Muhammad Ali the last time we looked, brags, "These vehicles use no gasoline and emit no pollutants . . . The GEM Peapod is the ideal way to contribute to a greener planet and a healthy lifestyle." The top speed is only 35 mph, but the 2010 model will supposedly do 60.

Salt Lake Tribune - The rumbling appears to have abated, but University of Utah scientists are busy analyzing a "swarm" of 900 earthquakes that have struck Yellowstone National Park since Dec. 26. In the meantime, federal officials say the seismic activity, clustered around the north end of Yellowstone Lake, is no cause for alarm even as a swarm of alarmist warnings shakes cyberspace.. . . Earthquake swarms -- small and modest earthquakes close in time and space -- are hardly unusual at the park, which normally experiences up to 20 quakes a day. But this swarm is noteworthy for its intensity and the speed with which it appeared, then dissipated, said U. geologist Robert Smith, who leads seismic research at Yellowstone.


News, Australia
- Australia's top-selling mouthwashes can cause oral cancer and should be pulled from supermarket shelves immediately. Leading independent experts have issued this strong warning after investigating latest scientific evidence linking alcohol-containing mouthwashes to the deadly disease. Their review, published in the Dental Journal of Australia, concludes there is now "sufficient evidence'' that "alcohol-containing mouthwashes contribute to the increased risk of development of oral cancer''. . . . . . Listerine, the nation's biggest-selling mouthwash and a brand endorsed by the Australian Dental Association, contains as much as 26 per cent alcohol.

Health Day News - Alzheimer's patients who are prescribed antipsychotic drugs face a higher risk of death than similar patients not given these medications do, British researchers report. While the short-term use of antipsychotics has been found to benefit Alzheimer's patients, studies have found that prolonged use can have serious side effects, including Parkinson-like symptoms, sedation, chest infections, decline in brain function, stroke and death. "It's an eye-opening study since it was one of the few non-company sponsored studies to look at long-term risks," said dementia expert Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, chief of the biological psychiatry division at Duke University. "Antipsychotics are not and never were indicated for use in people with dementia," he added. "But millions of elderly [people] were put on antipsychotics in nursing homes, often with little or no evidence to support such use."


Charlotte Observer -
Two economists. . . found that when government revenues dry up, police write more speeding tickets. After analyzing 14 years of data in North Carolina, the pair found that for every 1 percent drop in government revenue, the number of traffic tickets issued per capita increases by 30 percent the following year. . .


Boston Globe -
Thursday will mark the 90th anniversary of the Great Molasses Flood. Around noon on that fateful day in 1919, a massive tank filled with 2.3 million gallons of molasses burst, sending a wall of molasses - estimated to be traveling at 35 miles per hour - down Commercial Street and through the quiet Boston neighborhood. Overall, 21 people - ranging from age 10 to 76 - died in the flood. Additionally, 150 people sustained injuries. Houses were destroyed, as were the elevated railroad tracks. Streets and sidewalks were flooded. . .


Nothing to Do - Reuben Powell is an unlikely terrorist. A white, middle-aged, middle-class artist. . . With a studio near the 1960s shopping centre at the heart of this area in south London, he is a familiar figure and is regularly seen snapping and sketching the people and buildings around his home – currently the site of Europe's largest regeneration project. But to the police officers who arrested him last week his photographing of the old HMSO print works close to the local police station posed an unacceptable security risk. "The car skidded to a halt like something out of Starsky & Hutch and this officer jumped out very dramatically and said 'what are you doing?' I told him I was photographing the building and he said he was going to search me under the Anti-Terrorism Act," he recalled. For Powell, this brush with the law resulted in five hours in a cell after police seized the lock-blade knife he uses to sharpen his pencils. His release only came after the intervention of the local MP, Simon Hughes, but not before he was handcuffed and his genetic material stored permanently on the DNA database. . . Every week photographers wielding their cameras in public find themselves on the receiving end of warnings either by police, who stop them under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, or from over-eager officials who believe that photography in a public area is somehow against the law.


Open Left -
A study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Washington think tank, shows that Blacks were employed in manufacturing at about the same percentage as whites "from the end of the 1970s through the early 1990s." But then, black fortunes in manufacturing took a turn for the worse. According to the study, "By 2007, blacks were about 15 percent less likely than other workers to have a job in manufacturing.". . . In the period between 1979 and 2007, the Black share of manufacturing jobs went from 24 percent to less than 10 percent, a drastic, community-destroying decline. . . Since 1983, the share of Blacks covered by union contracts has declined by half, from almost 32 percent 25 years ago, to less than sixteen percent in 2007.


George Bush
is leaving office in style. He has announced he plans to write a book but, according to Politico, "the president hasn't settled on a theme.'


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