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 10, 2009



Politics 1 -
House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) is calling on his Democratic colleagues in the US Senate to oppose the prospective nomination of CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta as the next US Surgeon General. "The severity of the current health care crisis in America requires a Surgeon General of serious stature, with deep roots in the public health community and a record of compassion towards America's 47.5 million uninsured. In what I have read about Dr. Gupta, he seems to have given little thought to the serious problems facing our health care system," said Conyers. Gupta engaged in a public feud last year with filmmaker Michael Moore over the accuracy of several parts of Moore's film Sicko.


Alternet -
Last week in Maricopa County, Ariz., more than 200 Latino immigrants were chained, dressed in prison stripes and forced to march down a public street from a county jail to a detainment camp in a desert industrial zone outside Phoenix. Along the way they were filmed by television news crews and guarded by at least 50 Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputies, wearing body armor and combat fatigues, armed with shotguns and automatic rifles. At least two canine units were present; a Sheriff's Department helicopter hovered overhead. . . . According to a MCSO press release, 220 immigrants were transferred to a "Tent City" surrounded by electrified fencing. "This is a population of criminals more adept perhaps at escape," Arpaio stated in the press release. "But this is a fence they won't want to scale because they risk receiving a shock - literally."



Slashdot - The Internet Shrike82 writes "Mozilla have described plans for the next version of their popular web browser, Firefox. Mozilla's Ubiquity project is set to become a standard feature, allowing "users to type natural language phrases into the browser to perform certain tasks, such as typing 'map 10 Downing Street' to instantly see a Google map of that address, or 'share-on-delicious' to bookmark the site you're currently visiting on the social news site." Also of interest is so-called "lightweight theming" allowing users to customize the browsers design more easily. The launch date is still somewhat unclear, and Mozilla are apparently unsure if version 3.2 will be released at all, apparently considering going straight to Firefox 4."


The USDA 2007 Census of Farms
reports a net increase of 75,810 US farms in 2007. USDA says, "Compared to all farms nationwide, these new farms tend to have more diversified production, fewer acres, lower sales and younger operators who also work off-farm." The Census observes an acceleration of the trend towards larger numbers of small farms, and more very large farms. The average income of farmers is around $34,000 with less than half that coming from the farm itself.

Tree Hugger
- Green Ocean Energy Ltd has announced that it has developed the Wave Treader designed to mount onto the tower of an offshore wind turbine. Each Wave Treader is rated at 500kW and can turn to face into the waves to ensure optimal power generation. The first full-size prototype is expected to be built later this year, with commercial versions being made available in 2011. (There's a video of how it works at the site)

Asahi Shimbun - Residents living near wind turbines are increasingly complaining of headaches, dizziness, insomnia and other ailments, sparking fears that the new energy source could pose a risk to public health. Although the cause of the problem remains unclear, the Environment Ministry is investigating the possibility that low frequency sounds produced by the turbines are to blame. The ministry is concerned that reports of ill health could spread as more wind turbines are built near residential areas. . . Low frequency sounds, which measure 100 hertz or less, are difficult for humans to hear. They are typically produced by air-conditioners and factory boilers. For years, people living within the vicinity of such equipment have complained of similar illnesses. So far, more than 70 people living near wind turbines have reported ill health.


Crain's NY Business -
Regional magazines like Niche Media Holdings' Atlanta Peach and Greenspun Media's Las Vegas Life led the pack in shutting their doors last year, with 33 publications ceasing operations. They had plenty of company, as 525 magazines overall went out of business. Travel magazines were hit second-hardest, losing 18 titles. Home and automotive lost 17 publications each. . . So far in 2009 40 titles have folded, . . . In addition, 13 titles now publish online-only, including PC Magazine and Playgirl. As bad as it was to have 525 magazines disappear, 2007 had an even bigger casualty count with 591. Regional titles topped the list then too, but that year also saw 22 crossword magazines and 20 college student publications shut down.


USA Today -
Army and Marine Corps officials knew nearly a decade before the invasion of Iraq that its workhorse Humvee vehicle, was a "deathtrap" even with armor added to protect it against roadside bombs, according to an inspector general's report. Reports distributed throughout the Army and Marine Corps after the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the Somalia conflict in 1994 urged the development of armored vehicles to avoid the devastating effects of roadside bombs and land mines, but the Pentagon failed to act, the report says.

The Pentagon
has 27,000 people employed in recruitment and propaganda. The entire State Department work force is 30,000


- An Abba tribute band says it has performed a private concert for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Bjorn Again says it was paid L20,000 to play the gig 200 miles north of Moscow on 22 January. Bjorn Again's manager Rod Stephen and other band members said Mr Putin danced to Abba hits and shouted "Bravo!" The PM's spokesman denied the claim. Mr Putin - a former KGB spy who has a black belt in judo - is known in Russia and the West for his macho image. The four-member group says Mr Putin and about seven other guests, including a woman, were present at the concert, but they sat on a sofa veiled by a curtain. "It was the smallest audience we have ever performed to but Mr Putin was really enjoying it, shouting 'Bravo' and clapping with the others," Aileen McLaughlin, who performs as Abba's blonde Agnetha Faltskog, was quoted as saying by the Times newspaper. "He [Putin] was dancing along in his seat to Super Trouper and raised his hands in the air during Mamma Mia when we asked the audience to," she said.



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