Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

January 23, 2009



Declan McCullagh, CNET
- Obama has selected the Business Software Alliance's top anti-piracy enforcer and general counsel, Neil MacBride, for a senior Justice Department post. Among other duties, MacBride has been responsible for the BSA's program that rewarded people for phoning in tips about suspected software piracy. Neil MacBride, vice president of antipiracy and general counsel to the Business Software Alliance, Obama's pick for associate deputy attorney general. MacBride was also an aide to Vice President Joe Biden. . .

The elevation of RIAA and BSA lawyers must feel like a poke in the eye to the copyleft and progressive crowd, who spent over a year showering Obama with praise. . . BSA has opposed changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-circumvention section, once saying that legislation to allow backup copies of DVDs or video games would provide a "safe harbor for pirates who could easily claim that the 'intent' of their actions were legal." Early in the campaign, Obama told CNET News that he would support such a law, but hedged it by saying his support was "in concept" only. (He also claimed at the time to oppose retroactive immunity for telcos that illegally opened their networks to the National Security Agency, and we know how that turned out.)

Politico - President Obama made a surprise visit to the White House press corps Thursday night, but got agitated when he was faced with a substantive question. Asked how he could reconcile a strict ban on lobbyists in his administration with a Deputy Defense Secretary nominee who lobbied for Raytheon, Obama interrupted with a knowing smile on his face. "Ahh, see," he said, "I came down here to visit. See this is what happens. I can't end up visiting with you guys and shaking hands if I'm going to get grilled every time I come down here."

Someone should explain to Obama that reporters are hired to ask questions and not shake hands.


Channel 4, DC
- The musical composition heard by millions at the inauguration was actually an audio tape, recorded days earlier. Carole Florman, spokesperson for the Join Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, says it was too cold for the instruments to stay in tune, so the famed quartet decided to use the taped version. It was 28 degrees at 12:00 pm, when Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Izhak Perlman, pianist Gabriella Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill began their performance. . . Ceremony attendees with seats near the musicians could hear them play, but the instruments were not amplified


Discover Magazine -
According to the first rigorous nationwide survey of how evolution is taught in U.S public schools, as many as one in eight high school biology teachers presents creationism or intelligent design as a viable scientific alternative to evolution. . . About one in six of the surveyed teachers espoused young earth creationist views, and most of them taught their students those views. Only 23 percent strongly agreed that evolution was a central theme in their teaching.

Press Watch - The European Medicines Agency said that patients prescribed Novartis's Ritalin and other similar hyperactivity drugs should be screened for heart and psychiatric problems before and after they start treatment. The EMEA said the drugs were safe for use in the treatment of children and adolescents over the age of 6, but recommended that all patients be checked for heart-rate or blood-pressure problems and asked about any family history of heart disease. It also warned that the drugs could cause or worsen depression, suicidal thoughts, hostility, psychosis and mania.


Mashable -
Monty Python's You Tube channel? [has] a selection of their brilliant (as always) clips, and it's got links to buy their DVDs on Amazon. As those crazy Monty Python dudes put it, "We're letting you see absolutely everything for free. So there! But we want something in return. None of your driveling, mindless comments. Instead, we want you to click on the links, buy our movies & TV shows and soften our pain and disgust at being ripped off all these years." And you know what? Despite the entertainment industry's constant cries about how bad they're doing, it works. As we wrote yesterday, Monty Python's DVDs climbed to No. 2 on Amazon's Movies & TV bestsellers list, with increased sales of 23,000 percent. Similar approach worked for Nine Inch Nails and other artists. And yet, lately we hear more about various restrictions to free redistribution of copyrighted content than ever before.


MSNBC - A Nebraska Lottery official says the winning numbers for the state's Pick 3 lottery on Tuesday were exactly the same as the winning combination from the night before. Lottery spokesman Brian Rockey says one of two lottery computers that randomly generate combinations picked the numbers 1, 9 and 6 - in that order - for Monday night's drawing. He says the other computer picked the same three numbers Tuesday in the same sequence. The odds of such an occurrence? One in a million.

Illinois Governor Blagojevich says his arrest was a surprise like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but, like America, he will prevail.

An Israeli is going through customs at JFK. The customs officer asks, "Occupation?" and the Israeli says, "No, I'm just visiting."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the probabalistically challenged (at MSNBC or elsewhere): while the chance that 1,9,6 would be chose 2 nights in a row is indeed 1 in a million, the chance that the same sequence chosen one night would be picked again the next night is only 1 in 1,000.

January 23, 2009 4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, I wish RIAA would understand that letting people hear music and see programs and movies on the tiny pixeled screen can sell CDs and DVDs.

In October, Weird Al Yankovic released his latest single,"Whatever You Like" on YouTube and iTunes, while the original song by T.I. was still at #1. Weird Al's parody premeired at #104 on the Billboard Charts that week, all because of YouTube and iTunes exposure.

I know that I have found music and movies I like on YouTube and seeing it there has caused me to buy products from the performers. If those vids weren't avilable, I never would have seen the artists or bought their CDs, t-shirts or attended their shows. I won't buy music from a performer I'm not familiar with from a written description of their music, and most other people feel the same way.

Anyone who doesn't understand that is really confused or worse.

January 24, 2009 1:06 PM  

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