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

February 6, 2009



The Obama administration
is thinking about letting the Pentagon take over the Sandia and Los Alamos national labs from the Department Energy. Jeff Bingaman, chair of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee has told the president budget director Peter Orszag that the move would be shortsighted: "I will fight it tooth and nail."

Intelligence boss Dennis Blair has asked disgraced former CIA director John Deutsch to sit on his advisory panel on spy satellites. Deutsch lost his security clearance afte he was found to have stored hundreds of classified files on his home computer and had done the same thing in his former job at the Pentagon. The highly dubious CIA director Michael Hayden gave Deutsch his clearances again. Deutsch was involved in the cover up of reports that the CIA worked with Latin American dealers importing drugs to the U.S., making the fatuous claim that "
I know of no evidence that the CIA has ever directed or knowingly condoned drug smuggling into the United States." In fact, the CIA had a long history of outsourcing its dirty work to drug runners and other criminals. There is strong corroborating evidence such as that from Oliver North's diaries and Senate hearings.

Politico - Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) thinks the White House decision to strip Commerce Secretary-nominee Judd Gregg of control over the Census Bureau is a bad idea - and giving control to the White House is even worse. Hill sources tell Politico that the bureau - which collects data used for the 2010 redistricting - could fall under the control of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, former head of the DCCC. And that caught the attention of McHenry and Darrell Issa (R-Calif). "We are deeply concerned about Rahm Emanuel getting control of the Census Bureau," said McHenry, who has a history of run-ins with the hot-tempered former Illinois congressman. "The concern is that he would politicize the bureau." Asked if he was suggesting the move was an Emanuel power play, he replied, "Sure."


South African
dock workers are refusing to unload Israeli goods in support of the Palestinians.


Arizona Central
- Colorado police say a man set his phasers to rob when he used a sword modeled after one on the television show "Star Trek" to demand money from two convenience stores. Investigators say the man took an unknown amount of cash from a 7-Eleven store but left empty-handed when he tried to rob another store about 25 minutes later. The StarTrek.com Web site says the double-pointed sword used by the Klingons on "Star Trek" is crescent-shaped and about a yard long. Police did not specify what material it was made of.

Star Ledger, NJ - A large inflatable rat placed at a job site as a labor protest is protected speech under the First Amendment, the state Supreme Court ruled . The high court overturned a municipal ordinance that bans any inflatable signs not being used for a store grand opening. The court ruled the sign ban was overly broad and violates the First Amendment right to free speech. . . The first inflatable rat was used by a Chicago union in 1990 to catch the attention of nonunion employers. There are about 50 throughout New Jersey and the Lawrence union's rodent is used about 50 times a year, union officials said. . . "The goals of the Lawrence Township sign ordinance are to maintain an aesthetic environment, to improve pedestrian and vehicular safety, and to minimize the adverse effects of signs on property. Although those are salutary goals, they do not justify a content-based restriction of non-commercial speech," the justice concluded in the unanimous ruling.

Reuters - A homeless Czech man smashed a police car window, an entrance door and a cash machine in a failed bid to sort out his accommodation problem by getting into police custody and eventually prison. "He said during interrogation that he had no job, nowhere to live and thus wants to go to prison," a police officer from the northern city of Usti nad Labem told daily Mlada fronta Dnes. Police took the 30-year old identified as Karel G. to a psychiatric clinic after the first offence but he was discharged after three days. He immediately trashed the door of a trolley-bus company depot, and waited patiently on the site for police to arrest him again. When that did not qualify him for custody, he smashed a bank machine, causing 110,000 crowns (3,428 pound) in damage. But that was still short of what was needed to lock the man up pending trial, the paper said, and he was freed again.


Treehugger -
The City of Montreal is banning [wood stove] installation in new construction or renovation. Andrew Chung of the Star notes that using a wood stove for only nine hours, or a high-efficiency stove for 2 1/2 days, produces as much fine-particle pollution as does a car in a year, according to a study by Environment Canada. Since Quebec gets almost all of its energy from electric hydropower, in winter 47 per cent of the air pollution is attributed to stoves and fireplaces, far more than either industry sources or cars and trucks.


Telegraph, UK
- Researchers have calculated that up to 37,964 worlds in our galaxy are hospitable enough to be home to creatures at least as intelligent as ourselves. Astrophysicist Duncan Forgan created a computer program that collated all the data on the 330 or so planets known to man and worked out what proportion would have conditions suitable for life. The estimate, which took into account factors such as temperature and availability of water and minerals, was then extrapolated across the Milky Way. Mr Forgan believes that the life forms would not be amoeba wriggling on the end of a microscope but species at least as advanced as humans. Mr Forgan believes it will take 300 to 400 years for us to make contact with our neighbors.


Obama Werds
According to California NORML press release, while the DEA continues to stage medical marijuana raids in California, nearly three-quarters of voters think President Obama should honor his campaign pledge to end the raids, according to a poll of 1,053 likely voters by Zogby International.


A study has
found that the Pentagon has upped its propaganda budget by 63 percent over the past five years.


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